Hazel Pithers Athlete Ambassador
Hazel comes from a dance and gymnastics background but now trains and coaches in weightlifting. She talks to Sundried about a life in fitness.
Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?
I started gymnastics aged 3 and dance aged 6. Dancing was my entire life and doing both these sports from a young age really gave me an advantage. With my work ethic, I knew that if I practiced something enough, I could do it, and with my physical ability, there wasn’t anything physically that I couldn’t do.
During this time, I regularly performed and competed nationally and internationally for Great Britain in hip hop and completed my degree in Dance. Then a few years after I stopped dancing, I found strength training and weightlifting, which is my sport now and I’m a coach for a club that I set up and co-run with university friends.
What are your training goals now?
My training goals now are to be pain-free every day as I’ve had a long-term injury, and to build my numbers back up to compete at national level next year. As well as improving my flexibility over the year and getting back into tumbling, a standing back tuck, free cartwheel and free walkover are on my list.
Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:
I have an identical twin.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
I think the main advice I would have liked to have heard when I first started strength training is that it takes time. It takes time to build muscle, to get stronger, to change your mentality, to change your body fat. But that time is worth it and once you reach a certain threshold, maintenance is easy, but you still need to put in the work every day, and remember that every day counts.
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?
I’ve tried a few different types of diets over the years, like non-dairy, paleo, clean and macro-counted, so now I roughly know what I eat and how my body reacts. The one key nutritional advice I would give is cut out sugar; any added, processed sugar isn’t necessary, you don’t need it and neither does your body. Apart from that, I pretty much live off fruit, veg, white meat and fish, home-baked goods and sugar-free chocolate.
What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated?
I like to make my clients’ fitness journeys about them, so each journey is individual and specific to them. That way, what we work on are things they want to do and learn about and that helps to keep them motivated, as they know and can see the end goal.
The best way to keep anyone motivated is setting goals, understanding how to break them down into smaller steps that can be achieved and ticking them off as you go along.
Talk us through your training regime.
My training regime is pretty simple: train pain-free, move as often as possible, eat good, wholefoods and do things that I enjoy, both in and out of the gym. In the gym, it is definitely weightlifting but also, in the other type of gym, gymnastics. But being outside and just walking through trees is the best supplemental exercise to me.
How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?
I’m currently doing my Msc in Strength and Conditioning, so am learning from some really knowledgeable and experienced lecturers and coaches that know more than I ever could, and constantly reading through journal articles helps to understand the history of sports science and coaching and the research that is happening right now. But the main way of keeping my fitness knowledge up-to-date is to learn from other coaches around me and to question why we do what we do.
What are your top 3 trainer tips?
- Marginal gains.
- Movement quality matters.
- Mobility and flexibility are keys to unlocking everything else.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
What do you like about Sundried and what's your favourite bit of our kit?
Pretty much everything. The whole ethos about using plastic and coffee to make sustainable, long-lasting clothes is worthwhile and timely and is a really simple way to help the planet.
I have three pairs of the cropped leggings and pretty much live in them. Most days I forget I’m wearing them as they're so soft, comfortable, and well-fitting.
Favourite fitness quote:
“Little and often over the long haul.” - Dan John