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Sophie Bankes Personal Trainer

by Alexandra Parren
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personal trainer fitness coach

Sophie is a personal trainer who has her own goals of completing a full Ironman. She talks to Sundried about training and racing.

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

For as long as I can remember I have been involved in sports. During my time at school I played numerous team and individual sports, ranging from netball to golf to basketball to cross country. After finishing university, I really got into long distance running and worked my way up to marathon distance. As time has gone on I have prioritised strength training and it has had a really positive impact on my running. In recent years I have added cycling to the mix and the occasional swim!

Before moving into the world of fitness full time, I worked in the property industry for 5 years. A key part of my role was to encourage, motivate and train my team to help them reach their full potential. These abilities have enabled me to transition in to the fitness industry and ensure my clients reach their goals.

What are your training goals now?

I am always aiming to improve my half marathon running time. Sub 1 hour 30 is the current goal. Alongside this, I like to set myself mini challenges to improve some strength PBs in the gym, including squat and deadlift 1 rep max. Having completed a 70.3 Ironman in 2019, my thoughts are now turning to doing a full Ironman.

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

At age 13 I competed in the Surrey Indoor Rowing Championships and walked away with the gold medal – a very niche competition!

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

Rest days are just as important as training days. Over the last few years I have really made sure that my body is having enough rest and recovery between training sessions. Previously I would think I was invincible and I could just keep pushing and pushing. However over time this wouldn’t benefit my training. Being rested before each session enables me to work harder while training and therefore get better results.

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

I don’t follow a specific plan but I am conscious of what I am eating and I have a balanced diet. My diet can change depending on the training I am doing. For example, if I am doing more endurance training then I will increase the amount of carbohydrates I am eating. Whereas if my training sessions aren’t as long or I’m focusing on strength work, I will decrease the carbs and increase the protein. I’m obsessed with chocolate so I always make sure there is room for that each day!

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

When trying to stay motivated I think it is important to keep asking yourself ‘What is the end goal?’

When working with clients, I like to keep asking them this question. It helps people to remember why they are getting up early to train or why they are pushing themselves to finish those last few reps.

For me, knowing that each training session is helping me to get stronger and fitter keeps me motivated.

Talk us through your training regime.

I am currently training 5-6 times a week. This will include 3 cycling sessions on my turbo, with each one having a different training focus. For example, one would be an endurance session, one would incorporate some sprints and another would be a threshold training session where I am really pushing myself. I also do two sessions a week focusing on mobility and strength work. In these sessions I add in some exercises I enjoy but also some that I know are going to help with my running and cycling. And then my final session of the week will be a run or a cycle on the road. These sessions don’t always have a focus they are more just for a bit of fun and a time to get out and about.

How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?

I surround myself with people with more knowledge than me. Even though I’m a PT, I think it’s very important that I also have a coach or take part in coached sessions. There are always opportunities to learn from people with more experience and I love soaking up their tips and tricks.

I really enjoy reading so I am always on the look out for new books. I find endurance athlete biographies fascinating and I try to learn from their experiences.

I think Instagram is a great resource for learning too. There are some amazing strength & conditioning coaches that I follow and I’m constantly picking up new ideas from them.

What are your top 3 trainer tips?

Consistency. You cant expect to see results if you’re not consistent. This is true in all areas of life. It is very hard to run a marathon without any training. But if you consistently train, when it comes to race day, the marathon turns into more of a victory lap where you can show off you all your training rather than it being a challenge.

Find your why. Really think about why want to achieve your goal and all the positive feelings you’ll feel when you’ve reached it. Whether that is crossing an Ironman finish line and placing the medal around your neck, or dropping a dress size and showing off a new bikini on the beach. Having that why fixed in your mind will keep you pushing to get to where you want to be.

Find an exercise or sport you enjoy. It is all too easy for people to feel like training is a chore. But if you find what you enjoy and work at it, it will never be a chore again.

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

Easy – chocolate granola! I would have cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could. It never fails to disappoint!

What do you like about Sundried and what's your favourite bit of our kit?

I really feel as though Sundried care about everything they produce and journey their kit goes through, from production to delivery to the customer. Plus the fact it is made sustainably is bonus! I have a few pairs of the Solaro leggings and I love how flattering they are, plus I never have to worry about them falling down when I’m running.

Favourite fitness quote:

I have two favourites – depending on the scenario.

1. ‘Your health is your wealth’. Very cheesy but I truly believe everyone should make time for their health. If you make time for your mental and physical health it will make everything in life a lot easier.

2. ‘Pain is only temporary, but quitting lasts forever’. This is a good quote I often repeat to myself during long runs when a part of my brain is telling me to stop and my legs are feeling heavy. Just repeating that quote helps me to push through to the end!

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