Ep 84 Lift Yourself with Laura Hoggins

Jan 13, 2020 | Blog, Podcast

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On this week’s Calmer You Podcast, I really enjoyed speaking with Laura ‘biceps’ Hoggins, PT & Head of Brand @foundryfit. She has introduced a form of fitness that celebrates effort over results and empowerment over appearance.

We chat about:

  • How to overcome gymtimidation 
  • The mental and physical benefits of lifting weights (some of these will surprise you)
  • Getting back into exercise after a break 
  • Weight lifting for anxiety and confidence

My confidence challenge is coming up at the end of Feb:

5 days to become more confident, connect with others of the same path and have fun. It’s one of my favourite offers and totally free. Join at www.calmeryou.com/confidence


Chloe B.:                Hello, and welcome to the calmer you podcast. This is your host Chloe Brotheridge, I am a coach and a hypnotherapist, and I’m the author of the anxiety solution and brave new girl. Thank you so much for listening today. I’m talking to you, Laura Hoggins, and she is sharing all about the power and the magic of weightlifting and why it’s so amazing for us, particularly if we are struggling with anxiety and confidence.


And she gets into telling us about how to overcome gymtimidation, because this is a real thing guys, I’ve experienced it myself. A sense of walking into the gym not knowing what to do, intimidating people everywhere how do we overcome that and start to feel confident enough to go into the weights rooms and try something new, and we talk all about that. We also get into what are the mental and physical benefits of lifting weights, and some of these actually really surprised me, I wasn’t expecting one or two of these. And as a way of hopefully motivating you to want to give it a try.

We talked about getting back into exercise after a break; this was just a personal thing that I’d experienced recently. It can be so difficult if you haven’t worked out in a while to then get going again. How do we overcome those barriers and struggles? And Laura tells us exactly how to do that. And we also get into weightlifting for anxiety and confidence specifically, and what is it about weightlifting particularly that can really change our perception of ourselves and our bodies, and how we feel about ourselves, and calm us down in a different way than other types of exercise.

So I think you’re going to love this episode. If you’re looking to grow your confidence in 2020, I’m running a free challenge in the next couple of weeks, the brave New Year confidence challenge. The last time I ran it, I absolutely loved it. Seeing you guys, helping each other, taking action, growing your confidence noticing real shifts in how you’re speaking to yourselves, and how you’re feeling about yourselves in the world. It was really moving for me, and I’m so excited to be able to offer this again. It’s a free challenge, you can enter your details at Calmeryou.com/confidence, and you get all the details of when that’s starting and how to get involved. So let’s get into the interview with Laura Hoggins.

Chloe B.:                So welcome, thank you so much for joining me. How are you today?

Laura H.:                I’m excellent, thank you. How are you?

Chloe B.:                Yes, I’m really good, thank you. Please could you share with us a little bit about the work that you do, and the journey that you’ve been on to get to where you are today?

Laura H.:                How long have you got? Well, that’s one question. Well, where I am today is very different from where I ever thought I’d end up actually. But I am today a PT; I’m an author of a book called lift yourself. I have a podcast biceps and banter, and I do various other works writing, etc. but I mainly spend my time in the gym. I guess I always wanted to be a coach, but I spent the first ten years after University in corporate life.

In fact, I wasn’t in the gym at all I was in an office, and yes I’m just very fortunate that ten years later in that career, I kind of had the balls to do what I always hoped I wanted to do, which was very scary at the time. So yes, I guess I always felt like I was meant to be a coach, maybe took me a little while to get there through various reasons, I guess a lot through self-confidence.

But yes, so as I am today, I’m very happy and have so much satisfaction in the career that I do. And I guess essentially my role is to show people that they can very broadly, and in all senses not just in the gym. Because for me fitness and health and wellness mentally and physically, it’s not just about the weights that you lift, its how you feel. And I think that for me is what saved me in life through going through difficult times when I was growing up. So I’m just very grateful to be able to share it with other people now.

Chloe B.:                And were you always into fitness? Was there a certain point where you kind of got into that passion?

Laura H.:                Yes. I kind of went in waves. I started off, so I’m an only child, and as a young girl I didn’t want to do ballet, I didn’t want to do dance, I didn’t want to do anything actually that girls wanted to do. I wanted to be playing football, basketball, hockey, rugby, judo I always did canoeing, some chess club that my poor parents. But I always just loved sport and fitness, just love team sports. And as I grew up I kind of became less okay as a young girl, it’s like what are you doing playing football coming into your teens, so I took a slightly different path and focused on my education.

And then I’ve always just loved fitness, but as I’ve had quite a difficult relationship with myself and my body. And there were times where I was quite overweight, I had what I would describe as very low self-esteem, going through difficult relationships at the time and it just took me a while to find myself. I went from really loving sport and not worrying about what I look like, to loving sport and really worrying about what I look like.

Finding a fitness community

And maybe I’ve made different decisions because of that, and my journey has meant that through finding sort of lifting and fitness in a community, again finding that team element, I managed to find myself again. And surprise I didn’t find happiness in a certain weight on the scales which I think many women can relate to, the scales can sometimes dictate our mood, and for a long time, I wanted to be a certain way. Now I pretty much know who I am, but it doesn’t affect me anymore.

Chloe B.:                That’s so amazing. When was that change taking place? And how did you sort of change your mindset around that?

Laura H.:                Yes, I think I kind of just got a bit fed up with myself. I was going through; I talk about it like in my book. I’ve been on every single diet that there is, you can imagine the scenes in the office, everyone’s going right come on summers coming, we’re all going to go on a diet and usually the word diets really actually describes your eating habits. But a diet is within sort of diet culture that we have at the moment is normally associated with restriction, so we can only eat a certain amount.

And I think from a relatively uneducated view everyone thinks that eating less weighing less is positive. And I think I just had to go through that and realize that at the end of my goal weight, I didn’t find happiness. I remember many years ago I came out of a very long relationship, and you know that kind of like revenge body style feeling. You’re like right stuff it; I’m going to get into the greatest shape of my life; I’m going to feel good again. So I decided to run the London Marathon, I mean how extreme.

But I thought in my head if I’ve committed to this and I’ve told everyone in the office I’m going to do this, I’ll have to do it, and by the end, I’ll have to have done all the training, I’ll definitely be thin by the end of it, and to me thin equaled happiness. I got to running the marathon, I was very injured, but I got to my goal weight, but unfortunately, I didn’t find the happiness that I hoped.

Associate fitness with what you enjoy

And I kind of did that, and I thought God, that was a lot of effort for not a lot, and when I started to associate fitness with doing things that I enjoyed, and it became less about what I look like or how much I weighed that was the difference, huge difference. And when I was working for L’Oréal and for many years, and I found this CrossFit box that opened down the road from my office and Scott, my mate said yes stop all this running it’s not really for you, I think you’d be really good at this CrossFit thing. So I turned up absolutely petrified, this is about six years ago now.

And there was this incredibly athletic wonderful loud woman screaming at me, going okay we’re going to do this work out now, and it was like a hundred box jumps where I couldn’t do one box jump, I was absolutely petrified, so it was a very humbling experience for me. But for some reason I loved it, and I wanted to go back, and I wanted to do better, I wanted to do one box jump, and then it was two. And it started to give me goals that had nothing to do with how much I weighed or what I look like, and that change in my head was the game-changer.

And yes, weirdly enough my body composition changed because I was looking after myself better, I stopped smoking, I didn’t drink as much because I wanted to be alive to go to training the next day. And I had a team around me; I had people that wanted me to do well. So yes that was it, and then I was like okay right I’m back in that headspace where I feel like there’s a coach inside of me that what I’ve learned and how I’ve changed my self-esteem and my self-confidence that isn’t associated with how much I weigh or what I look like, I need to share this with as many people as possible, and that’s my life’s purpose now.

Chloe B.:                So amazing, so good to hear. Yes, the journey that you’ve been on, how you’re now helping other people to discover that actually lifting weights maybe isn’t as scary as they thought. But why do you think people are reluctant? Because there is still this sense of reluctance that a lot of people have or fear around gyms or CrossFit or anything like that? Why do you think that is?

Laura H.:                Yes, I mean, totally. Gymtimidation I talk about a lot, and it really is a thing, because of course, if you’re in that position where maybe you don’t know what you’re doing yet, you assume that someone’s going to judge. What if I can’t lift it, what if I can’t do it, what if I make a fool out of myself? It’s almost not worth the stress to start. But I would say everyone starts somewhere, and I was that person once who made the bold decisions to just turn up. No, I wasn’t amazing at it, but I went, and I did it, I did my best, and I decided to come back and be better the next day.

How to get started if you feel intimidated

And I just think that if we allowed these feelings or this feeling of intimidation to stop us from making that first step, we’d never do it. So for me, I would say do your research, maybe find someone that you can sort of teaches you the basics to start so you’re not going in completely cold. Find a group class, so you don’t feel like you’re on your own, rope in a friend. It could be a fun Saturday activity to go to your first circuit class. And you don’t have to go to CrossFit, that was what was for me, but it’s not for everyone to find that thing that is for you and you’ll know once you get it.

I actually started off doing body pump at my local gym, and yes it’s sort of like a different type of weightlifting, but it just sort of gave me that start so that I kind of knew a bit about how to squat properly, what’s a deadlift and all these words that can feel really intimidating. But trust me when the instructor wants the best for you, and they’re there they’re doing their job, because maybe once they were the first person in the gym. So they want to help you, and people are more supportive than you think, and I promise when you leave, you will feel amazing.

Chloe B.:                So Gymtimidation is a real thing, definitely. But finding a class, finding a friend to go with you, make it a bit easier. Try to put things, find out what’s for you.

Laura H.:                Start at home maybe, in front of your TV. Maybe once you come home from work you could do things with just your body weight, this is a thing I think people look at CrossFit and they look at people out there, and they’ve quite far down their journey, they think I can’t lift a hundred-kilo deadlift.

But whoever can do that didn’t start there; they started mastering the foundational movements, your squat, get some press up practice at home, and start to feel a bit more confident in the movements before maybe you venture out.

Chloe B.:                And I can really relate to feeling intimidated by the gym. I remember when I first started dabbling with weightlifting, going into those kind of a women’s kind of weightlifting room, and then like the men’s weightlifting room. And I would go into the men’s one because the women’s one didn’t have very heavy leg weights, and there were guys who looked really intimidating like wearing kind of string vests and things.

And I kind of made an assumption that they were going to be like unfriendly or intimidating, but actually, everyone was really lovely, it’s just getting over that initial fear. Like it was a bit difficult at first, but actually, I see inside to feel much more home, it’s just like going for it, I think.

Laura H.:                Yes. And also I think going to the gym with a plan, maybe don’t just go and just think I’ll see what happens or I’ll see what machines are free. Like find a plan, find a trainer that you can trust or programs. I do a lot on my Instagram of little workouts that maybe you could follow, go with a plan so that in your head I’m going to do this. So you don’t get there, and you get intimidated, and you get sideline to the cross trainer again. Because you absolutely deserve the space in the gym, and you should feel confident that you can do it and sometimes the gym bro’s might be friendly, like your experience.

Chloe B.:                Yes, definitely. What about this myth or is it a myth even about getting really muscular like after one session of the gym, I think that’s a fear for some people that we’ll suddenly be like so bulky that none of our clothes will fit.

Laura H.:                Well, I’ve been trying for many years now, and this is as far as I’ve got. So if anyone does find out how to get the bench in one workout, please do let me know. Unfortunately, for females, especially, it is actually very difficult to bulk up or to gain muscle for a number of physiological reasons. But weight training doesn’t necessarily mean muscle gain; the theory of gaining mass depends on your lifestyle, depends on your genetics and also depends on your nutrition.

So if you are aware of how energy balance works, if you are looking for a fat loss goal, for example, you would want to be in something you’ve possibly heard, which is a calorie deficit, which is consuming less calories or energy than you give out in a day. And if you are in a calorie deficit, it is very challenging for your body to build muscle. You could also be in maintenance, which is sort of calories in and the same as calories out, and again that could also be challenging to build muscle.

If you really are trying to gain, you would want to look to be in a calorie surplus, which the majority of us is potentially not our goal. So I think it’s having an awareness of your nutrition, supporting your training with good quality food, good nutrients, macros, and micronutrients, high protein, but really it does take a long time to gain, and strength doesn’t always equal mass. You could be gaining strength, you could be performing better in the gym, lifting heavier, and you don’t necessarily mean you’re going to get bigger.

So I would say consult a professional that can help you with your nutrition for the goals that you have, and everyone’s different, and it’s actually really hard. So to put an end to the myth, Chloe, you are not going to get turned into the Hulk after a few sessions, but yes if anyone does know how to do that, let me know, I would love that.

Chloe B.:                I wanted to just ask for some personal advice, seize the opportunity. So I’ve been away for a few weeks, and I haven’t been working out for maybe like five weeks or so. It can be this thing I think probably for lots of people listening if you haven’t worked out in a while how to get back into it after a break when it feels like it’s going to be the hardest thing in the world. Do you have any advice for me?

Just do it

Laura H.:                Yes, totally. So just do it. It’s the first one. Honestly, there will never be a good time; it doesn’t really matter how long you’ve been away because it doesn’t matter where you start from you just identify where you are now, and that’s okay. A lot of the things I talk about is you’re training for life, and Usain Bolt doesn’t sprint every day, so having time off is not a big deal. And I can very much relate personally in that I’ve taken about two months off, and two months off for me is just not following a program.

I went from huge weight training to competing in two strong women, novice strong women competitions last year, and then I decided to run the marathon, which by the way, is the opposite training, and I was just fed up of following a program. And I’d done my races, and I was like, do you know what I just need a bit of time off, and I’m going to move, I’m going to go for long walks. And yes, I guess I’ve been off, but I haven’t really because you’re training for life.

So try not to think about it as being on or off the wagon, just think okay life’s taken over for a little bit, I’ve still been active, but now I really feel like I want to get back in the gym and focus on that as being a positive. So find that thing that you really enjoy first; just make a start and then find out where you are and slowly grow back into whatever your goals are. I’m set today; I’ve just started an eight-week plan, so it’s going to be from now until the end of Christmas, and I’ve sort of invited a lot of my Instagram followers along with me because it can be really hard.

I think people think especially me as a trainer; I’m in the gym all the time it’s alright for you, I can very much relate to what happens during your day that might mean by the time you get to the end of the day, the last thing you want to do is go to the gym. So I would just say set yourself some realistic goals, if you’re looking to get back into that training and just say this week, I’m going to go once or twice. If you do more great, next week, just try again, it’s just getting started. And try to lower your expectations I’d say, I think we think a lot of ourselves and five weeks in the grand scheme of life is nothing, so don’t worry.

Chloe B.:                Good, okay. I feel inspired and also reassured, that’s amazing. What about the benefits of lifting then, what are some of the benefits both physical and mental?

Why muscle mass

Laura H.:                Yes, I’ll start with the physical. So physically improving your body composition and having more muscle mass and will improve your posture, your bone health, especially as we’re coming into our late thirties, late forties whatever you are at risk of losing muscle which is called sarcopenia. So if we have as much muscle mass as we can now, that will help us later on in life. Being strong is really cool, which means that you can take all the shopping in from the car in one go.

Functional strength, it doesn’t have to mean that you have to lift hundreds of kilos; it can help with your muscle mass in terms of what I hear a lot of people say is they want to tone up. Toning up isn’t really a thing, toner is what you put in a printer, so I prefer to call it muscle definition. So when people say to me I want to lose weight and tone up, actually in order to do that toning or have some definition, you need to do some resistance training to actually have some muscle.

And then you can work with your nutrition and any sort of cardio work to sort of get that fat loss goal that will improve your body composition, and then you will start to see that definition. So there are so many physical benefits to it, and I guess the mental side for me is just so important. Because when you’re weightlifting, it’s almost like you have to focus so much on the technique. You’re taking each breath at a time; you’re focusing on your breathing; for me, I describe it as like a therapy. It’s like this bizarre mindfulness where at that moment in time, nothing else matters, you are just focusing on that one rep, and it is so amazing to be able to lift something that maybe once you didn’t think that you could.

And being able to go in there, press some weights whatever is it you’re doing with the gym bros, they’re actually very friendly, and you’re leaving, especially as a woman it feels incredible to be physically strong. And I think for me developing my strength, yes, there are lots of physical benefits to it, but the mental side for me is just that small investment in myself every day or four or five times a week whatever it is it just feels incredible.

Chloe B.:                And have that idea that it’s about mindfulness, and actually, you do really need to be present in your weight lifting. And I find for me cardio may be a bit stressful, versus weight lifting which is quite controlled and slow, it can be quite calm. So for me, just for my own sort of mental health, I like it for that. And I’ve just noticed if I exercise a few days a week in the morning particularly, I’m just a happier person, I’m just a better person in general.

And yes, for me the weightlifting is that way of being mindful and coming back to my body and slowing down. And it doesn’t all have to be slow, as it depends on the class that you’re doing, but yes, that’s what I really like about it. So I know in your book you talk about some surprising physical benefits of lifting, like even reducing your risk of dying of cancer by 31%, which I was really surprised about.

Laura H.:                Yes. There are many studies that are coming out at the moment about sort of the bigger benefits of it, and yes, all the physical things but then as we’ve talked about also the mental health side of it. That actually having a stronger body can help you in life; you could live a longer life and a happier life. And as I said, everyone’s version of what resistance training or weightlifting looks like for them can be completely different.

At any age, being strong is a good thing

I just happened to fall in love with start CrossFit and later now into strongman training, pulling buses and all of that stuff, and that doesn’t have to be for everyone. But you can just take whatever path that you want. And so my mother had breast cancer, and throughout the treatment, she lost a lot of weight, and she lost a lot of muscle mass. And now posts treatment, and thank God she’s now free of cancer, but she is now doing her own version of weight lifting. She’s realizing that actually, she wants to have a good posture; she wants to be able to lift things in and around the house, the gardening, etc. So just at any age, it is a very positive thing to be strong.

Chloe B.:                And in terms of confidence then and kind of self-esteem, and you mentioned how it really helped with you with that. What is it about weight lifting that gives us that do you think?

Laura H.:                Yes. So I think, and I’ll be very open with it, I very much associated my self-confidence or my self-worth with how much I weighed, because I used to be all sorts of weights actually. I’ve been up and down throughout my sort of teens and in my 20s, and lots of sort of life circumstances that have pushed me one way or the other. And I genuinely just felt like if I was thin, I would be more socially acceptable.

And I think for me now I associate physical success with my performance in the gym, so it’s sort of athletics over aesthetics for me in that I’m the happiest and probably the most body confident I’ve ever been, but I’m nowhere near the goal weight that I want it to be. And I think it’s just because I feel physically capable, you know I’m on the tube or ever and someone is struggling with their suitcase I’m there, I’ll help you.

Like I just feel it’s such a positive for me. Like even on the way here, someone we actually went to Topshop and the shopkeeper said oh do you go to the gym; she said she noticed me physically. Do you go to the gym? And I was able to give her a little circuit that she’s going to do in the shop today.

And she was like well it’s amazing, and it was just so good because in all of our jobs sometimes we feel like we’re sat at a desk all day, so we’re slumped down, our posture is not very good, or whatever we’re at actually investing that time, or just focusing on just becoming a little bit stronger or doing whatever, it can just be such a positive thing for your headspace, and you feel like I’ve done something successful that day.

Chloe B.:                So athletics over aesthetics, it sounds like that’s focusing on what your body can do rather than what it looks like. And that’s just a good reminder for all of us, whether it’s in the gym or whether it’s how amazing our bodies are just being able to breathe and digest food, and [Inaudible 00:26:05.00]

Laura H.:                Life is stressful enough as it is, and I just think that if we can like you were saying like especially with weight lifting, if we talk about different training intensities, weight lifting can be at a slow tempo, it’s lower intensity, so it’s less of high heart rate. You talk about hit and cardio training, and you don’t have to smash yourself into a heap on the floor for it to be a good session.

I think it’s important that we recognize how is our CNS, so I think if you’re doing it every single day, you might constantly be in a sympathetic state where you’re in that fight-or-flight, and if you’ve got a stressful job then add that training on, it’s a lot to recover from. So for me, weightlifting can provide that kind of slightly different intensity, and that definitely helps me relax weirdly.

Chloe B.:                That’s an interesting point actually about those really high-intensity things like hit training, because I hear from two counts of people, that some people they have anxiety and they do the hit training they say it really calms me down. But then is there an argument actually you’re stressing your body more, and you should do something a bit more calm. Do you think?

The endorphins rush

Laura H.:                Totally. I think we all know how amazing that endorphin rush is, once you’ve done a big hit class and you’re sort of in a sweaty mess on the floor and everyone’s high-fiving and well-done guys, all you just completed a session, It feels pretty amazing. But then your heart rate has to recover from that, and obviously, it’s very taxing. So just try and focus on whatever it is that you’re putting your body through in a physical and mental stress situation, make sure you’ve got enough time for recovery.

So you’re managing the intensities of your life over a period of a week. So hit training as a fitness professional is very good, it’s very effective depending on what your goals are but don’t do it every day. Can you get in a yoga session, something that’s a bit more mindful that’s still movement, it’s working on your mobility, it still counts as a session.

You don’t have to be going 100 miles an hour all the time, because potentially depending on your recovery, they’ll become a point where it’s harder to recover from, and that’s when burnout occurs. And then you lose that thing that you rely on so much to make yourself feel good; it actually has a detrimental effect. So yes, use it sparingly.

Chloe B.:                Yes, good advice. Do you have favorite exercises or things that you love to do or that you recommend people do a lot, there are some favorites that you have?

Laura H.:                So well favorites that I have, so I’m a trainer at a gym called the foundry in London. And basically, our core training concept is around modified strongman training. And so like the strongman that you see like on the TV, like when they pull the buses and at the stones and the farmer’s carriers, we have a class where we teach this sort of method of training, and it’s super functional.

What I mean by functional is the movements that you’re doing are mirroring the strength that you need in your everyday life. So a farmer’s carry, for example, is like holding two big bags of shopping, so you would pick up something really heavy, and you would walk with it. It’s very challenging to your core, your upper body, works the heart rate, but it’s functional in that you’ll be doing that in your daily life.

Squatting, deadlifting, upper body pushing pull these are all big compound movements that work for multiple muscle groups. So it’s kind of big bang for your buck in terms of efficiency. And also they’re very good at you can kind of track your performance on them. So the weights on the bar, if you’re doing a deadlift maybe over time, you could start to increase the weights that you do. So do you deadlift?

Chloe B.:                Yes, I do.

Laura H.:                Okay. So ideally we would with weightlifting if we want to improve our strength, we want to apply a principle called progressive overloads. And what that means is over time you’re slowly increasing the intensity, so that could be over time maybe you’ll be able to lift heavier. Have you experienced that?

Chloe B.:                I have, although I’m not doing that at the moment, but I need to get back on.

Laura H.:                That’s okay. So you basically over a period of time that you’re working on, you say okay if I can do ten reps of this weight maybe next week could I do twelve reps of it, or could I go a little bit slower or more controlled or have less rest. So there are many different ways in which you can increase the intensity to improve your strength or your ability to control the weight, and that is what we call progressive overload. And you can apply these to the big compound lists, which are my favorite, so your deadlift, your squats, and upper body press or push-ups.

And then I just personally, modified strongman training is where is sort of my happy place. That’s the big stones and pushing the prowlers, and it just feels incredible. And at the gym that I work at, it probably looks, going back to the gym intimidation, it probably looks absolutely petrified, and we’re very aware of that.

But we have people who have never been to the gym come to us, and I promise you they leave feeling amazing. It’s just one of those things where you look at it, and you think no, there’s no way I can do that, and then actually people realize that they can, and it’s just incredibly empowering. So yes group fitness for me is very important, because doing things on your own is cool, having a little team or having a buddy to train with that can be really fun.

Chloe B.:                And so much of that is missing from our lives, that kind of community and fitness gives people that community maybe they haven’t had before, I think it’s amazing. Just going back, what is a prowler?

Laura H.:                Oh yes, so this is the thing I always talk about these things, and I sort of look at people go do you know what that means? A prowler is essentially something that you hold on to two handles, and you’re going to push it along a track. So it’s essentially it’s working, a lot of people say oh what muscles does it work, all of them.

So sprinters use it, so you’re pushing, you’re sprinting against resistance, so you can push it, you can pull it, you can put hundreds of kilos on it, whatever you want. And so it can be used in many different ways for athletic development, or just a load of fun.

Chloe B.:                I’m just having a memory of yes I have used a prowler before, yes it was exhilarating.

Laura H.:                Yes. Because it turns out aerobic very quickly, so you get that lactic build-up in your legs because it’s hugely taxing, and so yes, after about 20 steps, I start to grind to a bit of a halt, but yet it is brilliant.

Chloe B.:                And there is that feeling of achievement, I’ve actually yes I lifted that, I did that at the end and it gives us this we think if I can do that, what else can I do? If I can lift that, what else am I capable of doing? What other challenges can I take on in my life? And I think so many of us need that when we’re doubting ourselves, and we don’t have that confidence, it’s just a physical way of giving ourselves more confidence.

Learning failure is ok

Laura H.:                Totally. I think we are very risk-averse in life, or let’s talk about in a work perspective. Not going for the promotion or not giving your point of view in a meeting or whatever it is. And for me, weightlifting just gives you that self-confidence to say actually I can be heard or I can ask for it, or I can go for something that I’m perhaps worried about not getting. And I think what weightlifting has taught me most is that failure is okay, I fail daily, and I post about it on my Instagram a lot. And there’s another thing called the log, or the strongman log it’s a very awkward thing that you pick up from the floor, you clean it to your shoulders, and you press it above your head.

And I love posting videos of me just absolutely failing it because it’s part of the journey. I think everyone thinks that everyone is just a linear process, you turn up to the gym, you get stronger like you just said you’ve been off for five weeks. So perhaps what you’ll experience or the weights you’re able to do might be a little bit different, that’s okay that’s part of your journey right. In that, we have to fail a little bit, and if we fail, don’t worry, just celebrate that you tried, because it’s all effort, it’s all work.

So for don’t be afraid of failure, it’s a part of it, laugh it off, share it, it’s great everyone does it. And also, the other thing for me is to not compare, you and I are very different, and everyone is so unique genetically, or everyone’s lifestyle is different. So for you to compare yourself to me or vice versa is pretty useless.

So I would say use things like social media or people that you’re inspired by as that purely inspiration and be positive about it but try not to look at it and go wow, that person’s lifting X amount they’re not you, it’s completely different. Just embrace your own journey and know that every session isn’t going to feel good; most of mine aren’t.

But it’s all part of the journey, and one day I’ll look back and go wow, I used to do that and now I’m doing this, but it takes time, and the best things take time. You’re not going to get abs in seven days, nor do we really want to. So just focus on training for life, feeling good, doing things that you enjoy, and for me, that’s kind of what saved me.

Chloe B.:                I love that you’ve spoken about the compassion piece. Because I imagine there are a lot of people who maybe do go down that path when they start getting into fitness of maybe like taking it too far, or it can become like almost like an addiction or an obsession, or you start comparing yourself to different people and thinking I’ve got to work harder. Is there kind of a dark, almost like a dark side to this and kind of go too far, do you think?

Laura H.:                Yes, absolutely. I mean it actually is a thing orthorexia, in that people get addicted to exercising and training, and I see it sometimes in my role, and within my scope of practice, I will try to have positive conversations with people to try and encourage them to seek professional help if they need it. But on the whole, I would say, and I guess I’ve experienced this as well, in that when exercise becomes your therapy, you then rely on it.

And there are lots of reasons why you then can’t exercise, like you may have an injury, you may have a cold. Like at the moment we’re in winter, right? So everyone’s got a cold, and everyone still feels like they need to turn up and smash the session because they plan to. Or they need a rest day and people just, they think that they can’t, and actually it is okay to have a day off.

And we need to look at our total week and say actually I was very stressed here or I’ve stayed at work late or didn’t sleep very well, it is going to have a knock-on effect. If you had four or five hours of sleep, generally, it will impact you the next day. It might impact your aerobic capacity, so you won’t be able to train as hard. So I would just say use it for its positives, but try to be aware of when you may be doing too much.

I know it’s a bit of a cheesy thing to say but listen to your body. And I find it hard to do it, but you have to do it and to say, do you know what? Today is not the day, and I’ll try again tomorrow. So yes, try not to get into that place where you rely on it; it’s a gift to be able to move and exercise and train. So yes, don’t take it too much for granted, I would say.

Chloe B.:                Totally, thank you. I guess a bit of sort of personal question about you, is there anything that you’re struggling with at the moment and how are you managing that or overcoming that?

Laura H.:                Yes, totally. So I try to be as transparent and as honest as I can from the sort of social media perspective, but it’s really hard because no one really wants to see me in my pants doing my programming 11:00 p.m. at night. So I would say Instagram is a bit of a highlight reel, and there is challenges behind what I do. And I think people think it’s alright for you you’re always in the gym, you’re always training and whatever. I’m training other people, and I’m doing lots of work. My Instagram doesn’t just sort of make itself; I have to spend a lot of time creating content, reply.

It’s really important to me that I respond to as many messages as possible. I have a full-time job; I manage the brand and PR marketing for the gym that I’m at, so I have a very busy life. And as much as I’m talking about fitness, I’ll be very honest in that I find it hard to invest the time to do my own training, because if I’m up at whatever o’clock and I’m coaching at 6:00 a.m. when I finish at 10:00 do I feel up to training? No, probably feel pretty knackered. And I find it so hard to get the right amount of sleep for me, and so I think earlier I sort of alluded to it.

For the next eight weeks or till the end of the year, I’ve set myself some really tough goals because the only person that is accountable is me. And it’s just one of those things whereas I am quite an empath as an individual, I want to be doing everything, I want to be helping everyone, and I have to remember that I have to help myself first. So I find that quite difficult to do because I want to be doing everything, but it’s actually at the detriment.

So that is what I find challenging is focusing on my own goals. I have some incredibly fit and strong clients, so actually not too long ago, I said to myself, wow, if only I treated myself as well as I do my clients, I’d be in incredible shape. So I’m not doing badly, but I just need to prioritize my sleep and my nutrition at the foundations and anything above that I’ll be grateful for.

Chloe B.:                Yes. It’s so easy, isn’t it just for the busyness of life to take over, and even if something is really important to us. Still, it can be hard to find the time. So I’m sure there are loads of people listening that are just nodding their heads, and relating to that struggle. Are there any other things that you do to stay calm? Or any other kind of routines or self-care things that you do for yourself?

Laura’s routine to decompress

Laura H.:                Yes. So it’s a bit of a silly one really, but because I’m working or I’m in such high energy all day in the gym, and I work until relatively late. In the week I don’t get home till about half-past 9:00, and if I’ve got to be up early the next morning, I need some time to decompress from the day because my job is to be Mrs. Motivator and then I finish, and it’s like it’s a lot. So I record every day Loose Women, and I go home, and I watch it on my skype planner, and I just watched Loose Women for an hour, and I sit, and I just focus on my breathing.

And I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it’s just like my hour of the day where I’m not a coach, no one’s messaging me or asking me questions and it’s just a very nice and easy conversation. So that’s what I do. I’m obsessed with loose women; I’m obsessed with Janet Street-Porter because she just hates everyone, so that’s brilliant. And also, and I need to get better at this, I know. But about four years ago, I learned how to meditate, so I worked with a meditation coach for nearly a year, actually.

I was absolutely rubbish at it when I started; I found it really hard to learn to sit with myself and my thoughts because I’m such a go, this is a waste of time person in my head. So I try in the mornings to sit down, I set an alarm for 10 minutes, and I close my eyes, and I meditate. And that’s been quite a big journey for me actually, just sort of being able to sit with myself and not see it as a waste of time. And one of the first things that I was told when I was learning to meditate is if you don’t have time to meditate, you need to meditate more.

Because I find I’m just living life at 100 miles an hour, and it’s so important for me at the start of the day whenever that is, whatever it’s 5:00 a.m. just to sit and just to think what do I want to achieve after today? And just maybe just think about the day as it goes so that I’m starting in a good place.

Because inevitably my train will be delayed, I’ll throw my coffee on my shoe, I’ll have left my headphones at home like there are so many different things that happen throughout the day that just are annoying and can stress you out, so if I can just try and start the day, yes. So loose women and meditation, that’s my advice.

Chloe B.:                I love that, we’re going to decompress somehow. I like the way that you start the day and end the day with something that’s just for you, to just kind of get the day going and then really unwind and settle down, that is really brilliant. Thank you so much for everything that you shared, I feel very inspired, I’m going to just think about when I can get down to the gym.

Laura H.:                Yes, that’s my next thing. When are you coming to train with me?

Chloe B.:                I know, I need to, I’m desperate to. Where can people find out more about you and your book and that sort of thing?

Where can you find Laura

Laura H.:                Yes. So on Instagram, I am at Laura Biceps; I share lots of different training videos and stuff, so feel free. If you’ve got any questions for me, please do slide into my DMs. I have recently published my first book lift yourself, which is I guess a bit more of a story of my journey into weight lifting and some very practical advice for you if you’re starting out. Yes, so lift yourself is available on Amazon.

And then also I have my podcast which is biceps and banter, which is me interviewing some incredible people actually, and we talk about lots of things from entrepreneurship to body confidence, body positivity and just what does it take to start your journey in strength training. So yes, please come and find me there, and I’m also in the gym you can come and train with me at the foundry in London, and we are found on @Foundryfit. So yes, all over the place really, most gyms you can find me in.

Chloe B.:                Brilliant, thank you so much.

Laura H.:                Thank you.

Chloe B.:                Thank you so much for listening. I really hope that you gained a lot from this episode, come on over to Instagram and let me know what are you taking from this episode. Find me @ChloeBrotheridge, and I would love it if you would leave me a review in the podcast app or in iTunes, subscribe to the podcast, leave me a rating and is there someone in your life that would really benefit from this podcast, you can let them know by sharing this podcast I’d be so grateful. So I’m just wishing you a wonderful week ahead, sending you loads of love. Hopefully, you’re tuned in again, and I’ll see you soon.

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