Arguably Australia’s best-known lifeguard and long-standing member of the Elixr family. We caught up with Harries to find out how he juggles being a TV star, dad, lifeguard, Pilates instructor and what's in store for the year ahead.
You won’t find Harries Carroll without a suntan, a sense of humour and his trademark megawatt smile. Arguably Australia’s best-known lifeguard, thanks to his years on Bondi Rescue, he’s been a long-standing member of the Elixr family and we’re delighted that he is now also an Elixr Ambassador.
Harries truly embodies what Elixr stands for and cares deeply for his community.
Pilates enthusiast and instructor, we’ll be teaming up with him to host Blackroll workshops for Elixr members, Surf Life Saving Club community classes and Elixr Swim School water safety talks.
We caught up with him to find out more about his Pilates journey, how he maintains a work/life balance and what he’ll be focusing on in 2019.
1. You’ve been an Elixr member for over 10 years. Why did you join and what has kept you coming back year after year?
I joined for many reasons, but the number one reason was that I had a back issue I couldn’t fix, and I’d heard that Pilates was the best thing for it. I’ve competed as an elite athlete, so I knew corrective exercise movements, but I couldn’t execute them well. Initially I was intimidated by some of the Pilates equipment and it didn’t seem like a typically male form of exercise, but after one class I was hooked.
The feeling I get from Pilates is amazing. It’s the same feeling I get when I catch a wave, and it just keeps getting better and better. Pilates helps to centre you. It switches on all the stabilising muscles in your body that are often overlooked in other movement patterns, and it gives you a heightened state of awareness of your body in your everyday life. I’ve got my wife doing Pilates now too. It’s hard for us to get time together and this really is our happy place.
2. How’s your back now?
I used to have recurring back pain about once a month. I’m hypermobile and at the time I was doing seven different types of sport and going as hard as I could, and my weakness was my lower back. Over the past ten years there’s been an incredible improvement – I think I’ve only had about two days of back pain in this time – and that’s thanks to Elixr’s exercise principles.
3. What does your weekly Pilates routine look like and what are your favourite exercises?
I’ve got so many favourites and everything is challenging, but I think the exercise I love most is the long stretch – it works your shoulders and glutes and you have to use your whole body to go out on that line. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing Pilates, it continually challenges you. I visit Elixr about four times a week – more if I can – to do Pilates and weights. I work with Andy and James, who teach functional movement systems, and do Pilates with Karl – those guys are the best practitioners in Australia. And what I love about Elixr is that their exercises are broken down, they’re scientifically proven and evidence based.
4. You recently became an Elixr ambassador. What is it about this community that you love sharing with others?
I’ve had so many friends join Elixr and many of them are lifeguards. Some of them have been through a lot of stress and trauma, and Elixr has really saved their lives. It’s not just the Pilates, it’s the whole environment and what Elixr stands for as a community. It’s been amazing, and I love sharing Elixr with people because I know they’re going to feel what I feel. And if that’s the legacy I’m leaving, I feel pretty good about that.
5. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to make fitness their career?
You’re mad if you don’t. But I’d tell people to focus on the corrective stuff, not just fitness. Society is so focused on what we’re doing wrong – like sitting is seen as the new smoking. But you have to sit. We’re sitting now. The idea, though, is to do the corrective stuff so you can maintain your posture while you do everyday movements.
6. Did you always want to be a lifeguard?
I was always in the ocean, I found so much happiness there. And I was always helping or saving people, so I felt I could do the job. It was quite different back then and I used to work by myself on the beach. I really had to think on my feet in some very difficult situations.
7. How do you juggle your different roles – dad, lifeguard, TV star, Pilates instructor – and maintain balance in your life.
It’s highly demanding and highly competitive. Managing it is all about mindset and there are three things that keep me going. Elixr and surfing keep me happy and positive, and, of course, looking after my family is the ultimate gift and prize for me, so I don’t mind working hard – and I’m lucky to work with amazing companies throughout Sydney. I love what I do and I’m so grateful for everything I have.
8. Your gorgeous wife, Emily, is also an Elixr member. How did you meet and was it love at first sight?
I met Emily on a blind date. I was a bit of a ladies’ man before I met her and really enjoyed being single. I thought, yeah, I’ll go on the date, but I was in no way looking for a relationship. I walked in and she had a red dress on and was just glowing. She was so beautiful, and I was worried I was going to blow it. The next day I had to leave for a job in the Maldives, so I had to explain to her that I’d be doing a magazine photo shoot with six bikini models. When I got to the Maldives, I started telling the models about how beautiful Emily was and that I’d fallen in love with her overnight. So yeah, it was love at first sight.
Emily’s the perfect person and she keeps me real. She’s so natural and full of energy, and apart from her inner beauty, she’s absolutely stunning. I knew I better marry this lady!
9. What were your big achievements for 2018?
Reflecting on what was happening daily, which could be going from a Pilates class to morphing into my lifeguard role and saving someone in the water. It’s something I’ve been doing for most of my life but sometimes it hits me that, wow, it’s saving lives. It’s amazing. I also help some of the young lifeguards by sharing the knowledge and skills I’ve built up over the past 22 years. 2018 was a good year because we got to work with so many new lifeguards. Everything is a rush for them but once you slow them down, their thought process becomes clearer and they can deliver and execute saving a life so much better.
10. What are you looking forward to this year?
I really want to give back to others. A lot of people out there are struggling with depression and anxiety, and I’ve seen this first hand with people who’ve taken their own lives in the ocean. I always wish I could have chatted to them, made some kind of difference. We all know someone who’s suffering. Tell them how much you love them, tell them how much they’re worth and that they do have purpose.
11. Where do you find your strength?
I find my strength in bettering myself so that I can be a better person for my children. I try to be a good role model for them and the community. I’m not perfect but I really try to engage with people. I talk to the homeless, the parking police, to everyone I come into contact with. If there’s a God out there, he loves us all equally, so we might as well treat everyone equally.
12. As you’ve entered your early 40s, are you where you want to be?
You’ve got to be happy with who you are and where you’re at. I’m really stoked to be who I am. If I can keep doing what I’m doing, if I can help others and my family, then I’m happy.