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Sophie Kennedy Personal Trainer

by Alexandra Parren
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sprint training triathlon running

Sophie is an experienced athlete as well as a personal trainer. She tells Sundried about her adventurous childhood and how it has shaped her into the person she is today. 

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

I’ve completed a number of triathlons from sprint to middle distance and have regularly placed top ten. I recently completed Race to the Stones 100km, my first ultra marathon and surprised myself coming 19th female.

I’ve also completed obstacle course events such as Tough Guy and Brutal10, a couple of trail marathons and I take part in Wiggle Sportives mainly for fun with friends and/or as training rides.

I’m currently in search of my next challenge!

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

I have a sport and adventure loving family. Growing up, my brother and I were never told we had to be the best or that we had to love sports, we just loved sports and would naturally try and train hard. I did every sport going and was a pretty good all rounder. I remember my ballet teacher not being so happy that I was also captain of the mixed rugby team!

Family holidays were always active: camping, cycling, canoeing, abseiling, the list goes on. It was clear early on that I loved challenge and adventure. My parents would spend money on adventure and not material things which is a value that has really stuck with me.

I don't know what my childhood would have been like without sports and I certainly wouldn't be the person I am today if I didn't have it in my life. It gives me confidence and a passion. I did have a challenging time early in life as I had anorexia nervosa for a number of years so sport was not possible. When I was well enough, sport and fitness came back into my life and it has really helped me to build myself back up mentally and physically. I want to help others discover the benefit physical activity has on all aspects of well-being. It's not just for the avid gym-goer, it's for everyone.

What are your training goals now?

I've just had a week of calm after my two big events this year.  I want to build up my strength for climbing for a holiday in Italy. But aside from that, my goals are just to enjoy spending time outdoors and keeping fit and active. At least for now. I've had some big goal and life challenges this year so it’s important I don't overload and burnout. We are human and rest is important.

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

I’m also a climber. In 2017, I went to Yosemite to climb up and sleep on a rock face 100s of meters from the ground on a 'portaledge', essentially a portable canvas ledge. I loved it!

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

Invest in yourself. This is time and money. It doesn't have to be a lot but it has to be often. We spend a lot of our lives doing things for other people, spending time and money on lots of things (work, family, household, social), but not necessarily directly investing in ourselves. For many of us, the thought of paying for a coach or personal trainer or a course is seen as a 'luxury’. Yet these are the things that can help us to learn about and better ourselves.

I've always found it easier to spend money on experiences over materialistic things, but would never spend on an organised sporting event. After I did my first event I realised the sense of achievement was worth every penny.

I also went to a workshop recently and one of our pieces of ‘homework’ was to invest one hour in ourselves that week. It shocked me how for some people this genuinely wasn't the norm. It should be!

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

I eat a plant-based diet in the week. This mainly started since living in London I've had eczema and allergies and I don't like taking medication if I believe there are lifestyle changes I can make first. I had read up about a plant-based diet and decided to give it a go. The eczema has since completely gone as have the allergies which is pretty life changing. I also like to eat plant based from a sustainability standpoint.

I tend to be a little more relaxed over the weekend and may have some dairy or fish, generally if I’m eating out or at a friend's house.

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

I think it is really important to be able to find the client’s intrinsic (self) motivation. I won't be there at every workout for the rest of their lives so they need to find what it is that motivates them. They are likely to feel a greater sense of achievement if they are motivating themselves to their goals too. Obviously in the earlier stages this is harder but celebrating successes and learning from failure can help people feel in control of their workouts and their health and well-being.

My top motivation tips would be:

  • Find something that you love! Any workout can be an effort to start but if you can find something where you think at the end ‘wow that was hard but fun’ or 'I can't believe I manage to do that and enjoyed it!’ that's a great place to start.
  • Find something that is more than the gym. Use the gym as a fitness tool but find something more than that. Adventure outside, sign up to an event, join a club, use your fitness for a greater cause (like GoodGym). Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.
  • Focus on what your body can do and not what it looks like. You'll be much more likely to stay positive and the aesthetics will follow.

Talk us through your training regime.

This really depends on what I'm training for. My constant is cycling to work, and then swimming, running, cycling, bouldering/climbing and strength-based work in the gym. The quantity and type of training is dependant on what I have planned for the year. Weekends are for outdoor adventures as much as possible using fitness to do fun stuff with friends and hanging out at camp.

How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?

Since qualifying as a PT I've taken on many more courses to further my knowledge and understanding: Pre and Post Natal Exercise and Nutrition, Nutrition for Sport, Behaviour Change Coaching, Advanced Resistance Training, Exercise Referral, and Level 4 Lower Back Pain to name a few. I love learning and doing it alongside my work ensures I put my learning into practice.

What are your top 3 trainer tips?

  1. You'll never know if you can until you try. Dare yourself to try something. Learn from failure (it's ok to fail) and celebrate success.
  2. Connect with and hang out with people who inspire you. They may open your eyes to the possible and add fun and friendly competition.
  3. Find something you enjoy. I don't mean try something and quit if the first session didn't invoke a flood of passion, stick with it and see what the successes bring you. Learn to love moving, looking after your body and feeling good.

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

This might be cheating slightly but I love a smoothie as I can have them on the go and you can pack a lot of nutrients in them! The flavour combinations are endless.

Why work with Sundried?

I absolutely love what Sundried are doing. I previously worked at a sustainability not-for-profit called Forum for the Future and can appreciate the brilliant product supply chain tracking, creating a new range made from 100% recycled materials, and working with charities such as Surfers Against Sewage, Havens Hospices and Water to Kids. It's so important that companies give back, as important that as human beings we do too!

Sundried is trying to be a pioneer in its area and not just using the term 'ethical'. Companies can no longer wait for things to happen, they have to be the change and a read of the website will show you that they are. Like Sundried, I too believe the next generation will be focused on low carbon and ethical production and if we want our planet Earth to survive, we all should be too!

Favourite fitness quotes:

Until you step into the unknown, you have no idea what you're made of.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

-Mark Twain

Real change is difficult at the beginning, but gorgeous at the end. Change begins the moment you get the courage and step outside your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.

- Roy T. Bennett

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