This month at Vitality we are focusing on some of the amazing, inspirational women in sports. We’re putting the spotlight on role models from across the sporting, athletics and fitness worlds to find out their influences, how they got into their careers, and any advice they have for girls and women looking to get more active. We spoke to fitness experts The Athlete Method, who use their personal training expertise to help everyone channel their inner athlete, get fit and feel good. Here’s what they had to say.
How did you each get into your respective sports (sprinting and athletics)?
Ashleigh: My brother was a 100/200m sprinter he started training age 12 at our local track, Northwood stadium. I’m 3 years younger so after a long 3 year wait my parents let me attend too, age 12. During this wait I was part of my schools athletics, Xcountry, hockey, football, netball and even swimming teams.
Kerry: I started off as a high jumper at high school and my P.E teacher encouraged me to join the local club after winning sports day and the regional school championships. I joined sprint group as Ipswich Harriers never had a high jump coach and started training in 100, 200 and 300m sprints.
How old were you when you started getting into athletics? Who encouraged you into it?
Ash: I started athletics aged 8 but didn’t go down to my local track specifically until age 12 literally did every event possible, I really enjoyed long jump and high jump but it became apparent that sprinting was “my thing” so I focused on sprints from around age 16.
Kerry: I started quite late in terms of “athletics” I was 14/15 years old and my P.E teachers encouraged me to start training.
What were the challenges of breaking into sports? Were there any challenges specific to being a woman?
Ashleigh: Because my brother was already in the sport I think I had a more clear pathway than most. I was the fastest school girl in Europe at aged 14, so even though im female it didn’t matter, I was fast and most of the time Athletics is an objective sport, which means it usually doesn’t matter if your face fits because the clock doesn’t lie.
Kerry: Growing up in Ipswich it was the lack of professional coaching available locally to excel in certain events. Also the lack of female athletes and coaches as role models as a lot of girls drop out of athletics in high school due to the pressures of adolescence (periods, boys, social life!)
How did you both get into personal training?
Ash: I completed my PT course whilst studying at Middlesex University. I had, had an injury the previous year and it really made me think about my post athletics career so I thought why not PT, I love sports and keeping healthy so it seemed right. It was the lead up to the 2012 Olympics, so I just did it at weekends alongside my photography degree and training.I like a challenge.
Kerry: I completed my PT course after graduating Middlesex University. It was something I wanted to pursue after my degree (I got a BAHons First in Advertising, PR and Media) as something to do in my spare time as a hobby and enjoyment to help people with my experience and knowledge of being an athlete.
How did you decide to form the Athlete Method?
Ash: Although Kerry and I had crossed paths several times, attending the same university and training venue, we had never actually metyears ago. We were introduced by a mutual friend, we started talking and it became apparent that we both had a love for fitness. Also we had both witnessed some questionable trainers/sources of information about health and fitness , both in real life and more so on the Internet and felt that we had an obligation and we’re also qualified to create our own platform to educate and empower, we basically just wanted to give back and help create a positive change.
Kerry: We have both always wanted to give back and share our training experience and knowledge with the masses as our method of training is very beneficial and we also found that the internet was starting to become full of a lot of misleading fitness advice from many unqualified sources. We wanted to create a platform to educate and motivate a healthy lifestyle.
What advice would you have for women looking to get into athletics/personal training?
Ash: Start ! I think that’s the difficult point for everybody right. I know it can seem very daunting especially if you’ve never done sport before, the environment can seem very overwhelming. When something new, it helps if you start with a friend. Honestly It’s all so worth it!!!
It could be running a personal best time over 100m or a 10K, lifting a new weight in the gym or even something like learning to do a pull up. Athletics and personal training, pushes you to be a better version of yourself and who wouldn’t want that.
Kerry: For woman looking to get into athletics, try all events until you find one that you enjoy and find a group and coach that will motivate you and push you. Your fellow athletes become like family and hold you accountable and just know that boys and clubbing will always be there so focus on being the best athlete you can be! For getting into personal training, in addition to completing your course, always keep learning and also do a course in pre and post natel fitness as there is a lack of this knowledge amongst PT’s and females going through or coming out of pregnancy would be comforted by a female PT to guide them through this chapter of their life. It is all very rewarding.
What do you find most valuable about running The Athlete Method?
Ash: The positive feedback from our Athlete Method followers aka our TEAM. It’s great to see/guide their fitness journeys and share their improvements together. I guess it’s like being a school teacher and having your students pass their exams. at the end of a workout they will come and say thank you most of the time whilst they’re out of breath and sweating, they love it and it’s so rewarding.
Kerry: The feedback we get from our community of followers (we call them the TEAM!) about how we have inspired, motivated them or they have seen improvements from the different monthly challenges or classes we run. It is very rewarding and fun.
What support could be put in place to help the profile of women’s athletics and sports in your opinion?
Ash: Within athletics the drop-off rate increases dramatically from around the age of 15, I think young women need to be encouraged and made aware that athletics and sport can be a fantastic career giving you phenomenal opportunities and experiences. Elevating and highlighting women the same as men would also be great to see.
Kerry: More access to grass root funding and more visible representation of women across all media platforms and showcasing and highlighting sporting achievement. .
What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learned from running the Athlete Method?
Ash: Balance my training along with running a business. Athletics is a singular sport but Kerry and I have a great working relationship it’s balancing act of different personalities and ideas, we’ve learnt very quickly our strengths and weaknesses and have been able to really capitalise on that .
Kerry: That consistency is key!! Everyday day we aim to post content on our story or our page that is valuable to our audience and we earn their trust by staying consistent.
Looking for some more inspiration from empowering women in sports? We spoke to retired Olympic swimmer and Vitality Performance Champion, Lizzie Simmonds, about her successes, competing and how to encourage young athletes.
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