British #Girlboss Laura Lansley talks all things fitness and wellbeing with House of Coco. If you’re reading this and haven’t started your fitness journey yet, she gives you the low down on how to get started, because as Laura says, everyone had to start at the beginning at some point.
House of Coco: What inspired the creation of your fitness businesses Ballet Beats and the Strong & Happy Plan?Laura: I danced from the age of three until I was eighteen, dancing was and still is my passion. After college I went off to work in London, all the while training religiously at the gym. After having my daughter at thirty I decided to train as a PT. After I had my son in 2011, I left my job in London and started in the fitness industry, it felt so right working in a career that I loved.
Having been a PT, bootcamp and HIIT coach for a few years I knew that I wanted to bring an element of dance back into a fitness class. I wanted a class that everyone could take part in, feel the benefits of ballet inspired moves and with no dance experience required and so after a few brainstorming sessions with good friends Ballet Beats was born. The Strong & Happy Plan was created out of my own struggles with food and how I felt about myself. In my late teens I developed an eating disorder and consistently struggled with body image. At the time, like so many people, I chose to see what I saw in the mirror as negative (something that only later we begin to recognise as Body Dysmorphia).
Looking back, everything I did was about control, every other aspect of my life felt so chaotic, whereas the one thing I could control was my food intake. In the end, after seeking help I managed to change what I saw and in part came to the realisation that I am not alone – and that what I had learned I could put to use helping others.
The other source of inspiration was my frustration with the fitness and lifestyle industry’s approach to guiding people to make lasting change. Ignoring for a moment the sheer level of noise out there (the ever present whirlwind of superfoods, quick fixes and fads).
We all have shelves of books showing us how to exercise and cook the right meals (which of course I provide too !) but what the industry consistently underestimates is just how important it is to be tuned into your emotional state and the enormous impact this can have on the success rate of people trying to make a lasting change.
There are many pieces to this of course, but helping people to learn to recognise what happens to their thinking when they are stressed or tired or in pain (or all of the above) is critical to helping them realise when they need to employ a specific tactic to help them through. Sometimes this can simply be reaching out (certainly in the case of my plan) to me and/or a group of like minded people suffering similar challenges – often at the same time.
HoC: Who is the Strong & Happy Plan for and what can participants achieve?
Laura: My approach is really for anybody who wants to make a lasting change. My focus however has been on women who maybe have struggled to lose weight on their own, but feel they haven’t succeeded, just do not know where to begin or simply feel lost in their own fitness and weightloss journeys. In a different context, I also work with athletes who may benefit from small changes to how they fuel their bodies for upcoming sporting events. For example, I have recently trained a lady who took part in the London Marathon and helped her to smash through her PB.
To give people an idea of the type of results you can see, I consistently see clients who are losing 2-3lbs per week and see equivalent results in terms of inches. Whilst the body comp metrics are of course a focal point, this isn’t just about fat loss, but about starting with something and sticking with it.
The best thing people tell me they get (which also happens to the be the thing I love about it the most) is the sense of accomplishment and pride that people feel as they continue to achieve what they set out to. I don’t think there is a more powerful feeling than that and it is something that ends up radiating into the rest of your life.
Hoc: What impact do you think dance and fitness has on someone’s well being?
Laura: A huge impact both physically and mentally. I know that if I am feeling rubbish, getting outside or into the gym or studio will completely reset my mind and my emotions. I firmly believe that your mind follows your body – the idea that you can always think your way out of an emotional state is not my experience. Any exercise can have this affect, but dance for me is another level entirely – this as it combines movement, music and emotional focus into one activity. I have also recently returned to dance classes for myself and I cannot tell you how it has made me feel.
“For me movement is life.”
HoC: You believe in a holistic approach to fitness, what can our readers start doing today to start feeling better?
Laura: My advice would be to begin a daily routine that’s going to make you feel good, these pointers are a great way to start:
1. Wake up an hour earlier than you did yesterday, but don’t touch your phone for that first hour. You can exercise, or read or have breakfast – it doesn’t matter. If you own the start you will own the rest. If you are going to read, read something that inspires you – not the front page of the daily mail. (I love reading the ‘I Am A Badass’ series of books by Jen Sincero always makes me feel positive)
2. Get into your body – book a yoga class, start pilates, barre or simply start meditation. The benefits of these are endless.
3. Get into a habit of drinking 2-3 litres of water per day – the benefits are huge for your skin, hair, vital for the function of your internal organs, concentration and energy levels.
4. Work on getting your first meal of the day right, making sure it is protein based.
5. Make time for yourself and schedule exercise into your diary like you would an important meeting.
6. SLEEP. You body needs it. Repair, reset, recharge. This is the one. Be in bed, asleep by 10pm. No phones, no TV – no compromise.
7. Be grateful. The more you practice gratitude the more you appreciate what you have in life. This doesn’t mean you have to settle, but it removes the fear of not being enough or not having enough. This is liberating. I like to write in my gratitude diary every evening when I get into bed – gratitude diaries have been known to help depression, make you happier and can improve quality of sleep.
HoC: What do you think are some of the challenges of running a fitness business in 2019?
Laura: Running a small fitness business is tough these days as there are so many fitness professionals out there on social media all competing to win followers and members and they all have conflicting beliefs and messages. I try to stay true to who I am rather than trying to compete with anyone else. I know my plan gets results for all my clients and I just keep working hard to help them achieve their goals.
The biggest challenge I face with my barre classes is that I am up against big box gyms, class numbers are challenging sometimes, but I refuse to give up as I know nothing compares to the sense of community small fitness classes bring. It helps people feel like they belong and this is so important. You have to stay real and this will eventually attract your tribe.
HoC: What would you say to our readers who are at the beginning of their fitness journey and might feel intimidated by joining a plan such as Strong & Happy?
Laura: Remember that everyone has started from the beginning at some point, a few weeks into your new regime, you will thank yourself that you took a leap of faith. Try to imagine how you will feel when you are stronger, happier and more energised.
HoC: What piece of advice would you give to our readers who want to set up their own business?
Laura: Having your own business is extremely tough but so incredibly rewarding. I would say do your research thoroughly on your chosen industry and don’t be afraid to ask for help, when you start a business on your own, you are the admin, marketing, customer services, tech and planning departments and so much more, but it is the best thing you will ever do. “Celebrate those small wins as it is ALL about the journey” Don’t worry what other people think, if you are passionate enough about your business you will succeed – learn to be brave and fearless.
HoC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given in setting up your business?
Laura: Don’t be afraid to fail. One quote I liked was from Theodore Roosevelt, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse to never to have tried to succeed”.
The other great piece of advice I have been given is always deliver more than is expected. You always remember someone who goes the extra mile for you.