We were joined by fitness instructor and free-surfer Sophie Everard who hosted a very special 'scenic fashion route' for our Wednesday 5K run.
She gave us the low down on her love for surfing, what motivates her and how to motivate yourself to begin your fitness journey.
'I am a big fan of mixing up my training'
To keep it fun, challenging and to keep my body guessing and adapting. It has to push me but also make me smile. As a voracious surfer, I also need to keep my body fit year round. I love high intensity workouts especially using my own body weight, kettlebells and weight training, boxing, yoga, sunny runs and cycling! I train hard to feel good mentally and physically, and so my body can do the sports I love the most, which include surfing, cycling, free-diving and generally chasing adventures in the outdoors.
'When I first moved to Manchester fitness became less of a priority'
As a child I had always been extremely sporty, but then I was sucked into the social side of the city which I threw myself into with abandon (easy to do!). One day I realised I was often feeling quite sluggish and lethargic – exercise had always made me feel, physically and mentally, so energized, vibrant and alert. I made a decision to really start exercising, signing up to classes at fun gyms which are now so accessible in London. I quickly re-discovered my love and passion for fitness, and the stronger I felt, the more the adaption to living healthier, and ultimately happier, the easier it was to leave behind hungover mornings! I eventually trained as a fitness instructor and haven't looked back.
'Surfing is an incredible sport'
I love it being so complete – it involves aerobic fitness, swimming, endurance, mobility and balance, and an interaction with nature which I adore. I am a real water baby having grown up in Greece, and think I prefer being in the water to land! Surfing is also amazing for how it makes you feel – the physical charge and energy, and being in nature is amazing for you cerebrally, too. The amount of swimming you do when paddling, the strength and flexibility you develop creates a powerful, lean and toned physique. I would recommend everyone tries surfing, the wonderful thing about it is that you can be a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, you still have that intoxicatingly amazing, free feeling when you're on a wave, and interacting so closely with nature.
'Taking that first step into a fitness journey can seem daunting'
Once you develop that routine and begin to reap the benefits of just how good you can feel, and how it can help you day to day to feel that more energised and prepared for whatever is going to come your way, it becomes easier. That is motivation enough, and it's something that isn't a chore, it's something to look forward to, and with so many incredible gyms, workouts and gear to feel good in, it's never been easier.
'I very much view mindfulness and exercise as going hand in hand'
They absolutely work in harmony with each other. I believe and like to show that exercise is a simple, accessible tool sometimes overlooked in feeling happier, and more capable and positive. Finding that balance with exercise is key, it's not all about driving yourself hard with relentless workouts. Making time for yourself to do things you enjoy like a yoga class, a gentle walk, or a daily meditation, compliments the hard sweat and work you put in at the gym, ensuring that cerebrally, you are balanced and also giving a chance for your body to recover.
'Fitness is an amazing release'
We all have days where we may come out of the office feeling wound up, stressed and exhausted. Quite simply, it makes you feel happier through the release of endorphins, and equally, if you've found the time workout whilst feeing stressed, mentally that is a pat on the back to yourself. If you spend an hour on something you personally love to do, whether that's an energising yoga class, a feel-good spin session, or simply a walk around the park, whatever your hobby is, it's there to make you feel happy and is a great release for stress.
'Once that ball gets rolling, it becomes much easier'
Weight loss is often a big goal for people embarking on a fitness journey. I would say to view the process as a nourishing journey, and to make healthy habits which might at first seem overwhelming, like committing to a fitness regime or implementing changes to diet, but the rewards for living a healthy and active lifestyle seep through. I think for someone who is a beginner, pursue physical activity that interests you – that might be you used to love ballet as a child, or there's a new class which looks fun and exhilarating. Compliment your training with physical activities that exhilarate you.
'Your fitness regime and diet entirely compliment each other'
It is true what they say – you are what you eat! Unlike myths of bygone times, your body requires nourishment after exercising to really leverage the hard-work done in the gym, feeding the body and allowing it to recover and adapt. I think the stigma of healthy-eating involving bland looking salads and minuscule calorie intake has definitely and fortunately evolved massively in recent years thanks to the proliferation of brilliant nutritionists, healthy eating hot-spots and chefs.
'Do cardio, but add high-intensity intervals to really torch fat'
People can be mistaken, and highly put-off by assuming weight-loss workouts predominantly involve long stints at a regular pace on the treadmill or outside. Add weight training and use your body in fat-stripping circuits. A lot of women have been a little apprehensive of utilising weights, I do think this is changing but there are still some of us who think they are suddenly going to bulk up and look like Arnie if they start lifting. For toning I really recommend heading into that weights room or signing up for a class like kettlebells, incorporating weights into a circuit style format to really tone and create lean muscle.
'It is always possible to fit in even a 15-minute workout'
I think it is possible to exercise anywhere. You can use your own body weight and run through high intensity circuits which are incredibly effective at boosting fitness, strength, and shifting abdominal fat. I am running a series of fitness videos that show just how easy if it if you are limited for space or time, including workouts from hotel rooms if you are frequently traveling for work, and coming soon, the living room, office, and kids play-park.
'Fitness is an incredible tool to feel physically and mentally stronger.'
It is quite simply able to make you feel great, and the human body is capable of some quite extraordinary things when a body is fit, healthy and balanced. Don't focus too much on too many images of daunting six packs on social media, do whatever it is that makes you feel exhilarated, happy and sweaty, and pursue it.
Find more fitness motivation from Sophie: / Instagram: