So, from the start – did you always know that sport was going to be your vocation? How did you get into fitness in the first place? What does it mean to you?
From the age of 12 I can’t honestly say that I knew I was going to become an Olympian. But what I did know is that I had I had fun doing sport. It allowed me to build a really big community around me, a diverse community you know, and that’s the power of sport. Sport allows you to meet people along the way – people with similar mindsets, similar focuses, and yeah, you know, that was for me, it was like my second family at the athletics track in Wembley where I grew up.
Fitness has always been magnificent for me because it’s it helps me not just my physical self, we all know that being fit and in keeping an element of fitness and a routine allows you to really look after your mental health as well and your well-being. So, all these things I learned from very young, like I said to you from 12 years old, right through to when I retired in 2006 35 years old, sport and fitness has been an integral part of my life. I qualified as a personal trainer in 1999 and again, that having my expertise and my experience and being able to give that to others has allowed them to thrive, but at the same time, it’s allowed me to broaden my horizons as well and recognise again, you know, the impact of physicality in today’s world.
How much of a role does our mindset play in our daily lives? And more specifically mindset as regards working out and fitness?
People talk about mindset. Mindset is integral when you’re talking about you know, having that get up and go and that fire in your belly. Mindset is everything. And you know, sorry to harp on about it, but it definitely comes from you know, having that, that sporty background where, you have to dig deep some days. When I used to be out on the track on my own or with a group and it’s cold, it’s rainy, it’s wintry, you got to have a good mindset. You have to think to yourself, right what’s the next goal? You know, when you get disappointments, again, you have to think, how am I going to get over that disappointment and it’s about looking at your deep, deep, innate qualities that you that you have within yourself.
How has your view on sport changed over the years? How do you view exercise now and how do you fit it into your busy lifestyle? How do you find balance with your career, being a mum of 3 etc. What does self-care mean to you?
People do ask me all the time so how do you manage to you know run a successful career as a life coach, motivational speaker and mentor with three children as well. So how do I do it? Sometimes really bad if I’m being really honest. You drop the ball, we have all dropped the ball. I think there’s that level of pressure that you feel that you always have to be on your A game and, you have to always try and be on your A game but it’s okay. Some days you just aren’t up to it and your plate is overflowing and spilling and you’re you’ve got meetings coming out of here and there, you’ve got deadlines to meet, and it does become overwhelming. So, you know, it’s about again, having people in your corner, supportive people in your corner, for you to say to them, “look, I need some time out, this is a bit too much”. I think that’s when you talk about self-care. Self-care is recognising actually this is going down the road but I’m feeling a little bit too vulnerable and overwhelmed and then speaking up.
I always say vulnerability is strength because it is so you know, it’s about being able to own the fact of how you’re feeling rather than pretending that you can do it and then compromising your health. We are nothing without our health. You know, so it’s, again, that self-care to me would mean having timeout having a nice meal, you know, taking some time away from my phone, chilling reading a good book and just really just enjoying my own company. Not necessarily anybody else’s but enjoy my own company and seeing the value of who I truly am.
How do you motivate busy career women to set goals, find motivation not just for fitness but for their lifestyles and handle midlife struggles at work and at home?
Women come to me all the time, you know, in coaching and whether it’s to climb up the next ladder in their career they want that motivation to go the next step. And I often say to them, how important is this to you? And it sounds like a such a cliche question, but how important is this to you, tell me the relevance this will have on your life if you were to achieve this goal. And then you start to really unpack and unravel. Is this really that important to that individual? Or is it that individual is just saying that they would like that in the ideal world and that way, you really get to get the sense of how important is this what at what lengths are they willing to go to, to achieve this goal.
This is sometimes quite difficult for people because the reality sets in. The easiest thing to do is to start with the smart model. How specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and in what timeframe do you want to achieve this goal and then the aha moments happen during that period of time as well. So again, it’s about really thrashing out with the client, which is what I do, how important is this role to them, ask how, what, when, why, simple, simple little things that allow them to really dig deep into their goals, their own personal goals, whether that be a fitness goal, whether it be a career goal. I’ve got a woman that comes to me says she wants to start a family, but she’s conflicted as she’s worried about her career at the same time. And I’m like, okay, so let’s look at this. Look at the whole situation, put it on paper. I often think when you put things on paper, it allows you to see the vision a lot clearer.
As an expert with women in the menopause years what do you find clients struggle with the most? Tell us about your work in that area and what the common misconceptions are for women at this time?
A lot of my midlife clients are those who are menopausal or perimenopausal ladies who come to me generally for weight gain.
When it comes to personal training, they’re often talking about the midlife spread and, and I say to them – look, my biggest, biggest thing to everybody out there who’s reading this article is get yourself equipped with as much knowledge as possible so that you can then look at your options. We always feel powerful when we’ve got options that we can explore. We feel paralysed when we don’t have any options and that’s probably the biggest thing for me. Utilise what’s within our grasp. Find out explore, ask the questions, speak to other women then you know that you have supported other women but you’re also supporting yourself as well. Yes, I’m an ambassador for the menopause charity and I’m a patron for menopause mandate, but at the same time, I’m also a female that’s going through it and goes up and down – menopause is like a moving target. As a woman you think you’ve got it all right, and next, you know, you’re feeling low again. And you start to question Is this a lifestyle? Is this something that’s going on with your life? Is it circumstantial? Am I tired because of menopause? Or is it that I’ve taken on a lot of stuff that you know, sometimes it is without your control. So, it’s about really identifying what’s going on. I think being 51 that I am now allows me to be playing really smart and be honest with myself of how I’m feeling. So, this is how I how I live my life is also how I want to tell other women explore your options, and that way you don’t feel paralysed and fearful.
Which charitable causes are you passionate about and why?
Like I said, I’m an ambassador for the menopause, charity, diabetes UK and women’s aid. These three charities are very dear to my heart. I’ve been with them for now for the last few years. And I guess the reason why I joined these charities is because they all resonate with me, and I think it’s important to pay it forward and give back to charities or to organisations that you feel have helped you in your life or potentially will help somebody else in their life. So that’s why I belong to those three charities. I’m the one of the patrons along with Lisa Snowdon and Davina McCall of the menopause mandate. So that’s where I am my charity, charitable work and actually, that’s the thing that gives me a lot of hope and I have a lot of passion and purpose around, I absolutely love belonging to three charities.
What’s next for you?
People ask me all the time in life what’s next for you? I guess I just want to stay true to myself about where my passion lies, really honing in on what’s important to me. Making an impact on society is a big thing. I don’t have a lot of followers, but I have a lot of followers. You know, I have a lot of people that when I speak, I think listen to what I say. And like I said, all you want to do is impact one person’s life and that can have the ripple effect that took them to spread the word to help other people. You’d be surprised to know in my years of mentoring, how many young people’s lives are transformed, and just from them being around me, and that’s what I want to continue to do. I also want to continue to grow me as an individual. I want to be global with my public speaking. And I want to be recognised as a really, as a strong female, a strong black female that is there to use her voice and to make a change and make a difference.
If you could share one motivational tip, what would it be?
The one motivational thing that I leave everybody else with is a dream is nothing if it’s left on the pillow. Make it happen. It’s down to you. Don’t blame anybody else. Don’t look at anybody else. A dream is nothing if it’s left on the pillow. It’s down to you to go and get it or make it happen. Thank you.
In case you want to listen to Michelle’s great words here are the audio files from our chat for you.