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In 2010, Olympian Steph Prem suffered a horrific injury that changed the course of her life.

Former Winter Olympian Steph Prem spent her early 20s chasing the adrenaline rush, competing on snow slopes across the globe.

But after a horrific accident at the 2010 World Cup finals left Steph unable to compete anymore, she needed to reconsider her career path.

Watch the trailer for Mamamia's podcast, Lady Startup. Post continues below.

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Steph sat down with Mia Freedman on Mamamia's podcast, Lady Startup, to discuss the accident that changed her life forever, her career change and the business she now runs.

"I'm very comfortable reliving it [the accident]. It's part of my story and I understand that. It's been a huge driver for what I now do," Steph told Mia Freedman.

"Without that accident, I would not be where I am now. And I'm a much happier person now, I believe, than I was as an athlete."


The accident

In 2010, Steph Prem competed at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in snowboard cross. Having not performed as well as she wanted at the Olympics, Steph was determined to go for gold at the World Cup finals in Italy. 

"I went to the Olympics and about six weeks after is the World Cup finals. I didn't get the result I really wanted at the Olympics, so I went into the World Cup finals pretty injured and battered from the Games, mentally and physically. To the point where my coach said, 'maybe you shouldn't be competing,'" she told Mia Freedman.

The courses at the World Cup finals were much more difficult that season. 

"There was this treacherous jump at the finish line and my coach, a lot of my colleagues and other female racers had said, 'don't do the jump if you don't feel comfortable.' And I had seen three of the top girls and guys that I admire most do a hip, blow a leg, dislocate a shoulder and another had been taken off the course with no answer as to what had happened.


"So everyone was quite psyched out by this last jump," she said.

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On this day 10 years ago I was competing at the WINTER OLYMPICS! O M G it’s quite surreal (and makes me feel old) The most overwhelming, exhilarating and life changing experience that was the Olympics that even after 10 years, still gives me tingles thinking about what it was like standing in that start gate. It’s such a great honor and a privilege to be an Olympian and be able to represent your country doing a sport you love SO much and share your experience. A sport that taught me so much and has essentially shaped this last 10 years of my life. The injury was a huge re-route and took me in a very different direction with @studiopp_ but I’m so grateful for it and to have had the opportunity to stay connected to the sport through the incredible friendships in Aus and around the world and working alongside the @7sportau and @10sportau team to commentate the last two Olympics. Being an Australian snowboarder in 90’s and early 2000’s was kind of like being on the Jamaican bob sled team. But I was a young twenty something with a lot of passion, grit and drive. A friendly reminder to myself and others that anything is possible. #olympian #winterolympics #vancouver2010 #snowboarding #stephprem

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It was the last run of the day though so Steph decided to bite the bullet and jump. But she realised too late that she hadn't accounted for the big dint in the course that had been caused by racers not hitting their jump. 


"I came up six to seven metres short of my transition, landed on the flat to what my physiotherapist would explain was like falling out of a first-floor building to concrete," Steph shared. 

"I fractured my spine in three places, broke five ribs, dislocated my hip, did severe damage to my pelvis, tore my hamstring, blew my shoulder and had severe spinal whiplash. The entire left-hand side took the impact."

Listen to the whole Lady Startup interview with Mia Freedman and Steph Prem. Post continues below.

Starting Studio PP

After the accident, Steph spent five years in rehab. It was there she was introduced to the one form of exercise that didn't give her pain - clinical pilates.

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“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness” -Joseph Pilates . Happy international pilates day everyone! Pilates has been a part of my life as a dancer, as a professional athlete, as rehabilitation of my back injury, a healer to my chronic and debilitating back pain and now the hero of my business @studiopp_ . The pilates method treats the body as an integrated whole, balancing physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing in one practice. The addiction lies in the way it makes you feel. An empowering movement practice that gives energy not depletes it, a natural spirit lifter uniting body and mind. A practice that has brought me (and my clients) back to life, back from injury and back to ourselves many times. . Grateful to be able to still share this practice with so many of you during this uncertain time keeping you all strong (and sane) body and mind. Cannot wait to be back teaching at @studiopp_ again soon. . . @katie.fergus #internationalpilatesday #pilatesday #studiopp #ppmethod #pilateslovers #stephprem

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"It killed me [not being able to compete]. But it was the only thing I could do that didn't give me pain," she explained.

"I had tried everything else. I found it because I went back to strength and conditioning, I went back to trying to sit on a bike and I couldn't do anything impact-driven."

After experiencing for herself first-hand just how incredible pilates is as a form of fitness, especially for anyone injured, Steph launched her own business, Studio PP.

Studio PP is a health and fitness destination that combines the methods of pilates and functional fitness, with the desire to help her clients move and feel better long-term.

The three studios based out of Melbourne's Portsea, South Yarra and Collins St offer Reformer Pilates, Boxing, Barre Beats, PP HIIT, Spin Core, Dance Cardio, Stretch and Restore Yoga and Personal Training.


And it was her training in top of the art facilities during her sporting career that inspired the studios.

"As a 25-year-old startup opening a 300 square metre pilates and wellness space, I'd come off the back of sport and all I'd known was incredible spaces like the Institute of Sport," Steph explained.

"So for me, I was mirroring what I wanted to offer the public and the everyday person. I wanted them to have access to the kind of thing I had access to. I wanted it to be affordable and inviting, but not intimidating."

You can find out more about Steph Prem on her Instagram and website. You can also check out Studio PP here.

Feature image: Instagram/@stephieprem