MEET THE MAESTROS | LJ
"I quickly realised that my true passion in life lay with helping, motivating and inspiring others through fitness" - Maestro LJ. Read on to see how LJ discovered her calling of helping others achieve their fitness goals and her top tips for staying healthy as well as her favourite post-workout recovery recipe.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m originally from Cornwall, and moved to London after graduating with a journalism degree as I wanted to work in television (my childhood ambition!) I did for several years (as a sports presenter and reporter) - something people never imagine is that I’m a huge football fan! I’m also a massive animal lover and do my bit wherever possible to fundraise for animal charities, as well as spending as much time as possible with my two Abyssinian kittens Simba and Rafiki.
How did you get into the fitness industry?
After I worked in TV, I then moved into Sports PR and Events - an exciting role I loved, but I worked very long hours and socialised a lot for work. This ultimately meant no time for the gym and a lot of eating out and social drinking and in my 20s I put on a lot of weight. I had no idea how to lose it on my own, so I hired a Personal Trainer and started going to Group Exercise Classes (like circuits, step and Body Pump) and although I hated it at first (mostly because I was so unfit and embarrassed of myself) I slowly grew to love it, and loved the euphoria of achieving something with a studio full of other people. Classes became a huge part of my life and in 2007 I decided to train myself as an Instructor and taught classes around my day job. I quickly realised that my true passion in life lay with helping, motivating and inspiring others through fitness, and so studied to become a Personal Trainer, quit my corporate career and started my own fitness business to help inspire people to become the best version of themselves. I’ve never looked back!
Why did you want to become a cycling instructor?
I did a few Spin classes when I first started at the gym, but found them quite samey and presumed spinning was just not for me. Then a few years ago I got invited to the launch of a new boutique spin studio in London and was absolutely blown away by how much group cycling had evolved - incredible music, flashing lights, an upper body workout at the same time…. I became completely addicted. Even though I had been an Instructor myself for years at this point I had never considered teaching on a bike - but when I saw what was possible and how much fun it was I knew one day I wanted to be the one up on that podium, and change people’s perceptions of spinning just as the instructor that day changed mine.
When do you feel most empowered?
When I’m lifting weights. I was actually bullied at school for being “skinny” and “weak” and those words stuck in my head - I believed for years I was weak. When I started working with my own Personal Trainer all those years ago he started to get me to lift weights which terrified me at the time, and although I started very small, I quickly progressed to heavier weights and couldn’t believe that all this time I WAS actually strong, I’d just let some nasty words said to me at school hold me back. Once I discovered that I did actually have some strength of my own I never wanted to let it go, and I absolutely love the feeling of picking up heavy things, because in my head every time I deadlift or lunge or shoulder press I’m proving the bullies all those years ago wrong. It’s the most empowering feeling!
How do you stay balanced?
Every day for me is a balancing act with running my own fitness business, teaching classes at FirstLight and at other studios in West London (I’m also a coach at F45 Shepherds Bush) and managing my Blog (www.wildcatfitnessuk.com) as well as my social media accounts (I spend a lot of time creating content for my @wildcatfit Instagram account). No matter how busy my day is, I always try and schedule at least an hour at home during the day to prepare and eat my own food, take some time away from everyone and spend a bit of time with my cats. They’re always so happy to see me, it’s just the boost I need to help get me through a busy day. I’m also fanatical about post-workout recovery and do things like foam rolling, epsom salt baths and regular sports massages to help keep my body as balanced as I can.
Top tip for staying healthy?
Stay hydrated - if you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated. I carry a (reusable) water bottle with me everywhere - I start to feel lethargic if I don’t drink enough so I try and stay on top of my water intake which to me makes a big difference - to my physical performance and post-workout recovery too.
Top three ways you love to sweat?
- Lifting weights - either on my own in the gym or in a class like F45 Panthers or Romans
- HIIT classes - if I know it’s only for a short time I love pushing my body in short, sharp bursts and think anything’s possible if you’re only doing it for 45 seconds at a time!
- In my fellow Maestro’s FirstLight classes - they’re all so much fun!
Your proudest moment?
The first group exercise class I ever taught on my own. To be the person standing at the front, on the microphone, with the whole class looking at me and following my instructions was something I never would have imagined was possible. When I first started going to classes I was worn out by the end of the warm up and hid as far in the back row as I possibly could, wearing baggy clothes as I was so embarrassed of my weight. I would never have dreamed that I could make the transition from the back to the front of the class.
Favourite song to ride to?
“Keep on Rising” by Fedde le Grande vs Ian Carey. The original version of “Keep on Rising” was in my very first FirstLight playlist and I included it because it was a song that I used to hear on the dance floor back in my clubbing days and it held so many good memories. It was fellow Maestro MJ that found this amazing Fedde Le Grande remix for me and it makes the most perfect Night track - it has great vocals, an amazing build and a beat drop that you can’t help but rise out of the saddle for!
Best place you've travelled to?
Dubai. I actually lived out there for a while and try to go back at least once a year. To me, it’s one of the most incredible places in the world and has much more depth and character than people realise. That and the sun shines all year round!
If you were an animal, what would you be?
A cat - of course! Although actually maybe a leopard, although I practically am anyway with the amount of leopard print I wear…..
Something you can't live without?
Music, my cats, and lipgloss.
Favourite post-workout recipe:
I love making protein iced smoothies after I train.
- One frozen banana
- Handful of ice cubes
- 1 spoon of nut butter
- 1 scoop or protein powder - I use Missfits Nutrition vegan protein in either chocolate or vanilla flavour
- Almond milk
If you want to have this as a breakfast replacement then you can also add a handful of oats and/or chia seeds to bulk it out and make it a little more filling. So quick to make and so good!