Noa Ries

Leopard print and bravery: how Vie Active Founder Noa Ries made leggings from life’s lemons

Words: Gemma Dawkins in conversation with Noa Ries

It’s no secret that our Barre Body instructors know a good legging when they meet it. You’ve no doubt seen a few of them sporting Vie Active’s signature leopard legs in the studio – but you might not be familiar with the story behind the activewear.

Originally based in Bondi Beach, the brand quickly won over the discerning crowd of fitness loving locals. But with even bigger goals in mind, the company had their sights set on America.

We caught up with Vie Active founder, Barre Body lover and all round inspirational powerhouse Noa Ries, to talk bravery:

“A few weeks ago I sent an email out to our followers about what it means to be the modern day Wonder Woman. My point being that she isn’t as perfect as we make her out to be. This is a hard thing for many women to accept and takes the bravest of them all to comfortably embrace this.

When my father died suddenly and very tragically 10 years ago, exercise became therapy for me. I realized the incredible effect that investing in your own health and wellbeing has on your state of mind. Fast forward a few years and as a personal trainer, marathon runner, triathlete and rather fitness-obsessed mother, I was spending a lot of time in my workout clothes. About five years ago, I had an epiphany. It was 4:00PM and I was still in my workout clothes, hadn’t had time for a shower and felt fairly gross. That’s when I thought to myself, there has to be another way! A way that I can live a truly active life, workout with intensity but also easily and gracefully transition through my day while still feeling stylish and put together. That’s when Vie Active was born. A brand that was designed from the very beginning to inspire and women to realise the benefits of living an active life and empower them to do so.

There have been a lot of milestones that have tested my bravery over the last four years in business. My dad always said “if you’re not on the edge you’re taking up too much room”. I think about that often in life, in workouts (!) and in business, and I know that strength and resilience comes from those moments of being uncomfortable outside your comfort zone. When I launched the business, I was four months pregnant with my second child (frankly not an ideal time to launch a business) but I just knew it was something I had to do. I could not imagine not doing it. I think it was rather brave, perhaps also a little foolish, to launch a fashion business with no experience in fashion. But I also think this naivety meant I was not limited by what I thought was possible.

I set out on a journey to create clothing that I wanted to wear. Clothing that would make me feel a certain way and enable me to help other women feel that way too. I wanted to create clothing that would enable women (even when they are wearing all those hats and juggling all those balls in the air each day) to feel strong, to feel graceful and to feel joyful. When we moved to America to expand Vie Active, my husband and I said to each other, at the very least, this will be a great adventure. Sometimes I think that the greatest risk in life is to not take any risks.

The idea of our motto #BeFlawsome is about embracing the imperfections which make us who we are. Rather than strive for the false sense of perfection I think the greatest gift we can give ourselves and other women is the acceptance for who we are, imperfections and all, and to support and celebrate each other’s strengths rather than try to pull each other down. Women have an astounding capacity to be vulnerable and empathetic. It is brave to not only recognize but celebrate our strengths and be open about our flaws. It’s certainly not the standard norm.

To me, a true Wonder Woman is someone who constantly strives to do, give, and be more than she did yesterday. But, she also gracefully accepts that she can’t do everything and be everything to everyone all the time. We are all imperfectly perfect in our own way but I think it takes guts and bravery to admit that.

I believe that the more we honour these qualities that make us who we are the braver we all will be.

To me bravery comes down to embracing who you are, celebrating rather than hiding your imperfections, and being bold in the way you live your life.”