I’m lucky enough to have always loved exercise, and my passion for sport, fitness and health has shaped my life and career.
As long as I can remember I have been interested in physical training. I grew up in a sporty family and was exposed to many sports and activities from a young age, but it was my early experiences training for swimming and cycling that got me hooked on the process. Teaching and coaching were endemic in my family with my mum running her own swim school and my dad a passionate club cycling coach. My sister played netball to a high level too, so sport, exercise and training were just part of the household in which I grew up.
As a young athlete, I represented my county in swimming and as I became a teenager I started racing my bike, becoming exposed to more specialist training in both swimming and cycling, showing enough talent on the bike to win several national titles as an under 16. My decision to follow my sister to Loughborough University to study Physical Education and Sport Science was a natural progression for me in my further education. Whilst at University I continued to pursue my interest in cycling culture, choosing to write a final year dissertation as a comparative study of the relative under development of cycling in Britain relative to France. When I graduated with a first class honours degree in 1998 I went first to Australia and then France to race my bike, becoming the first woman to be supported by the Dave Rayner fund.
Though I loved the racing in France I found cycling full time depressing, and at the time couldn’t see a future for myself there, so I came home at the end of 1999 to immerse myself in the fitness industry. Starting out as a fitness instructor on the gym floor I very quickly learnt to deal with the variety of people coming through the door. Coming from an elitist sports institution to an ordinary gym was an eye opener and I had to upskill very quickly in finding ways to meet the needs of the typical gym goer of all ages, who often had common issues like lower back pain or other restrictions. Equally I realised how little I really knew about functional movement in the real world and got busy learning more.
During this time, I began to study Paul Chek’s courses, first with Swiss Ball training, Scientific core and back training, and program design. When I first saw Paul speak in person at the ‘FitPro’ conference in 2000 I was blown away by the depth of his holistic approach and immediately committed to learning as much as I could through the Chek institute. To this day the knowledge and skills I have learnt as a CHEK practitioner have formed the foundation for my methods and the way I live my life.
During the early days of my involvement in fitness I taught every type of class you can imagine, specialising in teaching indoor studio cycling to other instructors nationwide. But as I learnt more about peoples’ individual differences I was increasingly drawn to personal training and coaching clients one to one. Though I occasionally run workshops, talks and classes, I have focussed on one to one coaching because I believe that regular, consistent training alongside my clients is the best way to help them achieve their goals long term.
Important in my approach is my ability to assess an individual and design or ‘prescribe’ exercises that are most appropriate for them, something that seemed impossible in a class environment. This ‘assess, don’t guess’ approach continues to be important in the way I work as I seek to personalise programs and avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach that can lead to failure or injury. In the last decade, I have supplemented my skills from the Chek institute as a corrective exercise specialist with further learning in the fields of strength and conditioning and Olympic lifting, as well as ‘primal movement’ trends such as ground movement and others. I am constantly studying and experimenting to borrow and add methods to my fundamentals as relevant to my clients.
Whilst I still believe that an understanding of the science of structured training is essential, I have increasingly learnt to value the importance of unstructured daily movement in daily life. Adding up the ways we move outside of a ‘training’ sessions can be more powerful than the session itself, and I encourage my clients to find ways to move more efficiently and effectively every day to stay fit and well.
My interest in cycling and endurance sport training continues too, and in 2016 I had my first book ‘Ride Strong – Essential conditioning for cyclists’ published by Bloomsbury. It was the culmination of thoughts and ideas I had been developing as a freelance writer for various cycling publications since 2009. As well as this specialism in cycling I continue to be interested in the conditioning needs of other endurance athletes, such as swimmers, runners and triathletes, who traditionally (as I did) have focussed on sport specific physiology to the detriment of their overall conditioning and well-being. I am passionate about introducing endurance athletes to the benefits of fundamental movement conditioning outside of the sport itself, for injury prevention and improved performance all round.
◦ BSc Physical Education and Sports Science, First class honours, Loughborough University
◦ CHEK Level II Practitioner and Holistic Lifestyle Coach (pre-requisites to include: Program design, Scientific core conditioning, scientific back conditioning, scientific shoulder training, Swiss ball training, medicine ball training, equal but not the same – training females)
◦ UKSCA Level 1 Novice Strength and Conditioning Coach
◦ BWLA Level 1 British Weight Lifting Association
◦ Pilates Instructor (A.P.P.I) Matwork Level 1
◦ CPCAB – Level II certificate for counselling skills in helping roles