When Zara Williams isn't working with companies to help them reduce their environmental impact she's practising her ballet barre skills. She tells us about how important both these things are in her life.
Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?
I started dancing at the age of four, continuing to take ballet, contemporary and jazz classes until 18. When I went to University I performed as part of the Dance Committee and competitions team which lead to my love for and then instructing of barre!
For those who don't know, tell us more about ballet barre and why it's a good form of exercise?
Ballet barre is a full body workout that combines ballet, Pilates and resistance training movements. It aims to sculpt and tone whilst improving your flexibility, with lots of pliés and pulses to engage your muscles and make sure you feel the burn before finishing with a relaxing stretch. As well as using the barre to aid balance, props typically include resistance bands, yoga blocks, hand weights and balls as well as your own body weight.
What are your training goals now?
To keep happy and healthy, maintaining good posture and reasonable physical strength.
Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:
I'm scared of the dark...
What would future you, tell yourself when you were starting out?
Read a lot, go to loads of events and absorb as much knowledge as you can to inform your own workouts and teaching practice!
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?
Due to environmental concerns I aim to eat mostly vegetarian, however I do eat fish every now and again for my skin.
What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated?
I myself keep motivated to workout by booking on to exciting class events so my workout is more of an experience than just me exercising. For my clients, I like to finish working each major muscle group with a short 'burner' set (generally 8-12 seconds) where they work as hard as they can!
Talk us through your training regime.
With my full-time role as a sustainability consultant, running a sustainable lifestyle blog and weekly barre class at BodyWorksWest, I can find myself pushed for time to workout. I aim to go to 2 classes a week as I find group exercise so much easier and more motivating then working out solo in the gym. I love a morning Pilates class as it's a great way to align your body at the start of the day. There's also nothing better than a long, restorative yoga class after a long day at work to release any stresses that have built up.
How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?
My favourite way to keep my knowledge up to date more generally is attending events like panel discussions to learn about new and exciting companies or learn from inspirational individuals. Last night I went to an event about ethical jewellery to learn more about the sustainability concerns for different types of metals and stones, across different geographies and with different scales of supply chain. It was really interesting and I found out about lots of independent makers doing their bit to be more environmentally and socially conscious.
In terms of my fitness knowledge, I'm currently working through an online course about Pilates as I've really enjoyed the classes I've been attending and I'd like to undertake my Level 3 Diploma next year so that I can teach the discipline. That will involve a number of training days as well as online study which I'm really looking forward to. As we all live such busy lives, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to simply read about a certain topic. I think booking onto in-person courses is a great way to ensure you dedicate time to learning about an area of interest.
What are your top 3 trainer tips?
1. Find a style of working out you enjoy
2. Check your technique
3. Gradually make your workout harder in order to see continuous improvement.
If you could only do one workout for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I think I'd have to go with yoga - because it can be a hardcore workout but also has the power to make you feel uber relaxed!
What does it mean to be a sustainability consultant?
In my role as a sustainability consultant I advise a number of different companies on how to manage their environmental and social risks. Projects include working to improve employment conditions throughout the supply chain and monitoring and managing energy and water consumption and waste management. As we work with lots of different companies on a range of projects no day is the same which is great as it means I'm constantly learning and it rarely gets boring.
Why is sustainability important?
Increased globalisation and access to information has allowed us to see the impacts of exploitative practices both on people and the planet worldwide. Businesses do not need to operate in a way that degrades the environment and abuses human rights. Sustainability is about operating responsibly and with integrity, not compromising on ethics.
What can companies do to improve their sustainability?
Sustainability is so broad and it's extremely difficult to tackle all issues to the same degree. Companies need to understand what their core values are and what their material sustainability risks are as a result of this, what their stakeholders want and what the markets in which they operate can provide.
Why work with Sundried?
I love to support brands that genuinely care about how their operations impact both people and planet, of which Sundried is one.
Sundried have made transformational steps to reach their aim of becoming a low carbon Activewear brand; from sourcing materials in the same country they're processed, to conducting full Lifecycle Analysis on each piece of clothing from design to disposal in order to assess its carbon footprint. Similarly, as labour conditions throughout the supply chain is a major sustainability risk in the textiles industry, Sundried have carefully selected the factories they work will to ensure their high standards are continually met.
Sundried are an inspirational brand that I hope to continue to work with!
Favourite fitness quote:
Your body achieves what your mind believes - Chiara Pellegrino