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Leanne James Personal Trainer and Triathlete

by Alexandra Parren
Sundried Ambassador Personal Trainer PT Triathlete Running

Leanne gave up her corporate job to follow her dreams of becoming a personal trainer. She talks to Sundried about triathlon training and juggling all this with being a mum.

Please tell us about sporting events you have taken part in or have coming up.

I have been involved in triathlon for only 2 years and am hooked. The last 18 months have been a journey – especially as in January last year I couldn’t swim a length of a 16m pool in front crawl.  This year, and with the help of my coach Fran Bungay from Goal Specific Coaching, I have completed 3 Middle Distance (Fugitive, Cotswold Classic, Ironman Weymouth) and 1 Olympic Distance (Eton Dorney) triathlon – all with Top 10 placings including a podium place; achieving beyond what I thought was possible in a relatively short period of time.  To end the season, I entered a Standard Distance Duathlon which was a qualifying race and came 3rd in my Age Group – meaning automatic qualification for the European Championships in Ibiza next year as part of the GB AG Team.  Still so early on and without a solid winter block of training I am confident that next year will be even better and will include some more podium places.

I already have a busy 2018 lined up and am entered into Ironman Staffs 70.3, Ironman Switzerland 140.6, ETU Duathlon Championships in Ibiza, plus some half marathons to keep me going in the off season.

Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?

I have always been into fitness.  I was a club runner as a youngster competing in x-country, 800m and 1500m, and have always had an interest in keeping fit and healthy. It wasn’t until after my daughter was born that I got back into running and I completed a few 10ks, half marathons, and then the London marathon before a friend suggested triathlon.  My initial response was “absolutely no way am I swimming in a horrible cold weedy Lake….”.  I decided to give it a go and the rest is history! 

Recently I also took a big leap and gave up my career of over 15 years in the energy industry to pursue my dream of working in the fitness industry.  I am now a qualified Personal trainer and Level 1 British Triathlon Coach, setting up AIM Beyond Personal Training & Fitness.  This is definitely the best risk I have ever taken and I am steadily building up a good number of clients, as well as the classes that I take.

What are your training goals now?

I obviously have a big year next year.  For me, the winter is about building strength and working on my weakness which is the swim.  Maintaining consistency across the winter months can be difficult so this is a key goal.

Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:

I travelled Australia and qualified as a diver!

What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?

Learn how to switch off!  As someone who is extremely passionate, I found it very difficult in the early stages to think about anything other than the business 24/7.  I am now very disciplined, especially not taking my iPad to bed!

Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?

I do follow a plan whereby I break my diet into three phases: off season, peak season, and tapering.  I also eat healthy most of the time and I include lots of protein.  I try not to eat refined / processed foods, having said that on a long bike ride there could be some cake involved! Health, fitness and nutrition habits need to be developed over the long term and therefore need to be sustainable

Leading up to a race I do increase my carbs slightly and leave the rest of my diet untouched.  On race day I never try anything new.

What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated?

I challenge my clients and work them hard, but at the same time I ensure variation in workouts and try to make it fun.  I take a weekly circuit class where we play team games which is great for motivation and fitness.  I plan the music carefully to enhance the experience.

Talk us through your training regime.

A typical week would look like the following.  This needs to be flexible as I have to balance this around my 2 children, and also working as a Personal Trainer I am constantly on the move and taking classes

Monday – Turbo or Outdoor ride and Swim Session

Tuesday – Run and Strength & Conditioning

Wednesday – Long Bike Ride and Swim

Thursday – Run or brick & Strength & Conditioning

Friday – Turbo or Outdoor ride and Swim Session

Saturday – Long Run

How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?

I attend regular CPD courses, read a lot of material and learn from others.  I have a real thirst for knowledge so am constantly wanting to keep up date on the latest developments.

What are your top 3 trainer tips?

  1. Be consistent
  2. Adopt a routine that works for you – we are all different
  3. Do what you enjoy doing

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Soup..  You can pack so much into a bowl of soup!

Why work with Sundried?

I very much like what the Sundried brand represents, especially the values which match my own.   I think it is fantastic that you can find out the journey of each of the products, and also for each purchase a pledge is made to charity!  And of course, the clothing is fab.

Favourite fitness quote:

Nothing will work unless you do.

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