International Women's Day 2019: Fierce faces of fitness
With International Women’s Day approaching it got us thinking, who are our favourite faces of fitness? Sure, there are a sea of fitness personalities that we follow on the reg, but who is REALLY lifting us up and inspiring our daily wellness journey?
From studio instructors to medal winners; these nine fitness personalities have badass authenticity down pat. Read on to see The Sports Edit fam's nominations and why we'll be celebrating them this International Women’s Day.
Olympic champion, 3x World Champion and European Champion, all before the age of 30. Just your average CV then! I first came across Jess at national track events as a young teen, and later as training partners under the guidance of UK Athletics coach Toni Minichiello. Even at a young age, Jess was a big inspiration to aspiring female athletes. Her dedication, focus and sheer talent both in training and on the track was super human, but she also exuded a warm, kind, humble nature and great sense of humour - the same traits that saw an international audience quickly warm to her in London’s Olympic Year.
Now retired and a mum of two, it’s been incredible to follow Jess’ happy journey into motherhood. Her instagram feed feels down to earth, happy and real, which is refreshing amidst the shiny, filtered and curated profiles of so many fitness stars. Nonetheless her star quality shines through and like a true pro she still sticks to a tough training regime - early morning hill runs are never compromised by a sleep deprived evening with the kids! Now that’s goals.
Relieve our top moments of Jess' golden career >
Follow Jess' journey over on instagram: @jessicaennishill
For me it has to be Kajza Ekberg, Founder of Boxing Yoga, Fight FX Martial Artist, Professional Dancer - she’s probably had the biggest influence on my perception of finding strength in grace and meditation in movement. As a person Kajza is like the freaking Ocean - both strong and calm, powerful and free. A childhood spent in India following her Mother who was a revered Ashtanga yoga teacher, Kajza trained and competed to elite level internationally as a boxer, gymnast, contemporary dancer and martial artist. She’s pretty much Lara Croft.
Boxing Yoga is a direct fusion of her passions and incredible breadth of knowledge to form an intelligent strong form of training to improve sporting performance and coordination for boxers, prevent injury and bring the science of yoga to a new audience. It’s a beautiful badass balance of something of both the masculine and feminine. It really broke down a lot of barriers of how things “should” be and look like for me and I began to see so much connection between different sports and yoga. Her work and philosophy have made me not only a better teacher but also more curious and as a result see me fall in move with movement as a whole.
Follow Kajza's inspiring BoxingYoga concept over on instagram: @boxingyoga
If I could nominate anyone, it would be a Man… namely Andy Murray, for his awesome talent on court as well as his unfaltering stand against casual sexism in sport.
He hired former number one Amélie Mauresmo as his coach, saying that he “looked at all the positives Amélie could bring and couldn’t see any negatives at all. Amélie was the best in the world at what she did, and whether you’re a man or a woman, or in any sport or job that’s an incredibly difficult thing to do”. Later when she experienced a staggering amount of unfair criticism and prejudice he declared himself a feminist, and wrote a column in French sports paper l’equipe saying:
“Have I become a feminist? Well, if being a feminist is about fighting so that a woman is treated like a man then yes, I suppose I have,” he wrote.
While participating in the Rio Olympics in 2016, Murray was interviewed by broadcaster John Inverdale who congratulated him on becoming “the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals”.
Murray’s sharp response to this statement “I think Venus and Serena have won about four each,” he said.
We need more men like Andy Murray in sport, not only to stand up for sexism that is still prevalent in sport but to expose it so that it can no longer be ignored.
Follow Andy's journey over on instagram: @andymurray
Esmee Gumner is the ultimate fitness inspiration, firstly for overcoming paralysis and learning to walk again to then becoming a well-renowned PT. Enough of an achievement in itself, but she’s also now getting recognition on a national scale for being one of 12 women selected to take part in SAS: Who Dares Wins on Channel 4.
She’s personally inspired me to push myself in her 1Rebel Ride spin classes, thanks to her infectious energy and amazing playlist. She’s a truly great reminder to appreciate your physical fitness and strive to be healthy and strong, especially on those days when you don’t feel like getting up at 6am to workout!
Follow Esmee's journey over on instagram: @esmee_ldn
Finding positive, influential females in the world of fitness is an easy and enjoyable task for me. My social media is packed with messaging and images that make me feel good about myself, or that make me think about how I can be a little braver, a little kinder, or just more curious about the world in which we live.
There are however, two women who stand high above the rest and who’ve become firm friends over the last few years. Laura and Sarah blend together the two most effective antidotes to millennial anxiety and depression: exercise, and inclusion. Oh – and the real clincher is their wicked sense of humour, which is really important when you’re trying to flip a tyre that looks twice your size, or it’s your first day at a new gym and your nerves are so high it feels like there’s a gang of butterflies having a full-on rave in your stomach.
Laura Hoggins, AKA @laurabiceps, previously known as Biceps and Bronzer, is my favourite London-based PT for many reasons. I have an unwritten rule about surrounding myself with talented, competent and compassionate people and Laura is just that. I’m generally confident in my ability to train (I used to be a PT) but I still get that rush of nerves walking into a new class, and with Laura that just doesn’t happen. You walk in and this woman instantly puts a smile on your face – and it’s still there when you leave, even if your face is a bit redder and sweatier than when you arrived. Laura focuses on lifting other women up, not tearing them down – and for that, she is without a doubt one of my favourite women in the fitness industry.
Follow Laura's journey over on instagram: @laurabiceps
Sarah Harradine, AKA @squatbot first came over and started chatting to me at a Reebok Nano launch event and we’ve been friends ever since, working together as influencers and colleagues. Since going freelance last year, Sarah has taken me on as a personal training client and it has reignited my passion for training in the gym.
Sarah is hardworking, always learning and has an authenticity IRL and on her social channels that few people manage to achieve. Sarah reminds me that gym environments don’t have to be intimidating, and to remain true to yourself no matter what other people might say. The fact that I can nerd out around Sarah (there is nothing she doesn’t know about the Marvel universe!) is also a massive plus – my PT session with this one is something I look forward to every week.
The theory goes that we are the average of the people we spend the most time with: I love how much these two contribute to my circle of Fierce Females.
Follow Laura's journey over on instagram: @squatbot
In my experience, runners are a particular type of person. I think the love of the sport must be born from some careful ratio of ambition, perseverance… and masochism. As an active member of London’s running community, I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing people who have taken on mind-blowing feats.
Shelayna Oskan-Clarke is right up there with my running heroes. She’s a decorated 800m athlete and accomplished Olympian – and somehow she’s still so kind and personable. To me, Shelayna embodies the importance goal-setting and progress. This superwoman recently took home the gold at the 2019 European Athletic Indoor Championships too (congrats!).
Shelayna’s commitment to her sport is inspiring in itself, but I also truly admire her commitment to the community around running. When she’s not earning medals on the podium, Shelayna is organising her own runs around London through myCrew, a platform built to connect runners and make running more social. Now I can say I’ve trained with an Olympian too (evidence below!), someone pinch me!
Keep smashing it, Shelayna, you’re doing great things.
Follow Shelayna's journey over on instagram: @shelayna
My absolute girl boss is Alice Liveing. She inspires me personally because of how much she's changed her way of life over the last few years. She makes it seem like anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Alice has built up her name and personal brand from doing something she genuinely loves, and that is such an admirable goal.
Despite her success as a trainer, author and activewear designer for Primark (all by her mid-twenties) she still remains the ultimate 'girl next door'.
I also love her positive attitude and outlook not just on health and fitness, but on life in general. Her social media isn't just flooded with workouts, it is very well rounded, featuring everything from her friends, food, fashion family and travels too.
Follow Alice's journey over on instagram: @aliceliveing
My nomination has to be Lauren Slater. She is a personal trainer who shares her non-bullshit, inclusive and education approach to exercise, her journey navigating the challenges of diet culture whilst working in the fitness industry and her experience living with epilepsy and a brain tumour. She is so enlightening, has a great sense of humour and I love reading what she has to say.
Follow Lauren's journey over on instagram: @laurenswellbeing