Yoga as Saviour

‘After uni, I became a maths teacher through Teach First (teachtirst.org.uk). I loved it – it was one of the best two years of my lite. Then I went into the City and got my chartered accountancy qualification, and started working tor one of the Big Four professional services firms. ‘After a long day at work, I’d go for a run to deal with the stresses of work. I also started going with my friends to an outdoor bootcamp class. It was just what I needed; it started my love of moving. Then I joined Run Dem Crew (rundemcrew.com) with my mates – it became a social thing, which helped me keep it consistent. We’d work out, then go and eat – that’s how my blog Food & Lycra (@toodandlycra) was born.

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‘We ended up doing loads of half marathons all over Europe as well as the London Marathon. It was a challenge that wasn’t based on body image and that’s what I needed. I got into weights because I kept getting injured – my legs weren’t strong enough to do the miles. So I started lifting and really enjoyed it, but didn’t have a clue what I was doing! ‘About three and a half years ago, I auditioned to become a fitness trainer at IRebel. I didn’t even have an instructor qualification; I’d just been doing classes. I had no idea I was going to have a career change, but thought “let’s just go for it”. So I trained to become a fitness instructor then began working seven days a week – long hours in the City, plus teaching Reshape (treadmill plus strength and conditioning) at 1 Rebel at weekends – I taught six classes on a Sunday! ‘I began to understand the benefits of lifting – tor body, mind, soul and confidence – and loved the balance you get from it [combined with running].’

A good role model ‘I used to watch my boyfriend and his friends doing pull-ups and think “I could never do that,” but then I started training – and the rest is history; I felt so powerful. With consistency, you can get there. Back then, I didn’t see many female role models other than gymnasts. So I felt I should show other women they could do it, too. ‘I’ve been working with young people with Nike London as a Nike trainer, helping young people in local communities through sport. I coached a group of 17 young women on basic lifting. We also helped a young girls’ basketball team in South London with a six-week series of strength and conditioning sessions to help them with their game. I want to continue working with young people because that’s so important to me – particularly girls from inner-city areas like myself, who’ve grown up without much opportunity to do sport. So many girls are missing out on access to leadership and communications skills – so that’s my mission, to work on that through Food & Lycra. My goal is to be the person I needed when I was younger. I feel emotional to say it, but it I’ve done that, then I’m happy.’

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