When Training Gets Personal: My Experience with Individualised Exercise & An Introduction to Nathalie Hayward

Strength Training
Surprise & awe – the 2 continuing emotions when I realise I have actual muscles!

I have always been an active person, even stretching back to my childhood when (much to my chagrin at the time) my Mum used to drag me & my sister outside for a walk when all of our friends got to sit on their bums & watch TV (I cannot express my gratitude for her enough now!). But yes I always thought I knew the ins & outs of exercise, how to keep myself fit & what I needed to do to look good. And with that we can just curtail this paragraph because unsurprisingly I didn’t (we can’t all be masters of everything!) & I actually ended up with a multitude of injuries & fatigue as a result. Oops.

Then I had the great fortune to meet the wonderful Nathalie. Not only is she an infectiously energetic person who will have you reaching heights in your fitness you never thought you could, she is also fantastically in-tune with what you as an individual need from a holistic health perspective, because exercise isn’t just for the body, it is for the mind & soul too.

And when I say this process has truly been eye-opening for me I 100% mean it. Within my clinical practise I advise on lifestyle & fitness, but as I mention before we cannot be masters in all things & with her specialist guidance I can only tell you I am astounded with the changes I have experienced.

If we scan back 8 or so years I loved to run. I mean I say I loved to run but I didn’t really, I did it because I thought that running was the gold standard when it came to exercise. To keep yourself trim, healthy, fit & well, pounding out the miles each week was obviously the way to go. So I did. And then I did some more.

And at first this was great, I did tone up, I felt energetic & bouncy, I could go further & further, & then I started to not feel so awesome.

When we perform cardiovascular exercise AKA forms of physical exertion that push our heart rate right up into that top range, we push our systems into a heightened state of stress (totally naturally) as all we are concentrating on at that point is the race at hand. It’s this that leads to that ‘high’ after one of these sessions as we have produced adrenaline & those endorphins everyone chats about, & this makes us feel great for that period afterwards. And that’s fantastic except when we continue to do this whilst ignoring the calls from our body that it doesn’t have the resources to recover from that repetitive triggering of said response. And that’s the long & short of what I did.

At this time I was in the throws of my own climb back from the consequences of being over medicated & malnourished as a result of misdiagnosed food allergies, so suffice to say my poor old system was in no way prepared to crack out a speedy 10k run 2-3 times a week, but I didn’t listen. So I ended up exhausted. I ended up skinny (read scrawny & ill looking) with little muscle bulk, a delightful shade somewhere between ashen & ghostly & limping on with a number of injuries that I couldn’t shift. Like I said before – oops.

But then it changed, & by it I literally mean my entire viewpoint.

Having pretty solidly run myself into the ground I also reached a critical point with an old ankle injury that basically meant I couldn’t run & so I had to re-evaluate what I was doing, & this is where Nathalie pretty much swooped in & saved the day.

Scan forward to today (it didn’t happen overnight I can tell you!) & my physique is now one I am proud of, & long gone are the thoughts of pounding it out in the gym. Under her expert eye I perform targeted strength training, incorporate specific mobility & pilates exercises to stabilise my joints & manage my hyper mobility (an increased flexibility of the tissues), oh & those injuries, well they are so long gone I barely remember them. Additionally her insistence that I scrap those long cardio sessions I used to love so much in exchange for more high intensity interval training sequences has meant I don’t find myself knackered at the end of a workout, I feel invigorated, energetic, empowered & strong. And if I do want to run every now & again I can. And my god I am faster than I used to be, I can go further & that high doesn’t crash down 3 hours later because my body is prepared.

She has also been the guiding light in my return to full function following 2 surgeries in the last 2 years (1 of which being that gripey old ankle I mentioned before) & to just layer on the praise my consultant was incredibly impressed at the speed with which I returned to sporting activities & the range of motion I now have. (I will sneak some brownie points for myself here in terms of the nutritional support I implemented alongside) but huge credit still goes to her for her patience & care when I was, let’s say, ‘less enthusiastic’ about things & struggling with that rehabilitation period.

The reason I highlight this is sadly not everyone is yet to have this moment of realisation, & I regularly have clients coming to see me where their exercise regime is entirely unsuited to their needs & lifestyle but they continue because we are told we must be physically active & if we are tired & sore we just need to work harder. Unsurprisingly as a result instead of benefitting their health it can actually reverse & become a drain on their reserves. My own progression here has provided me with unique insight into what our bodies truly need when it comes to being physically active, & as a result I have developed a special interest in functional sports nutrition working closely with Nathalie in addition to other fitness professionals & athletes to offer the most advanced form of support to those looking to achieve their peak performance. And I am of course also there to help those who have perhaps tipped in to my previous state get back to where they want to be too.

So with that in mind I would encourage everyone to think about their current exercise regime as we know that it is integral to our long term health & wellbeing, but we are not all the same & therefore our requirements for, & forms of exercise won’t be either.

Whether you are a keen gym bunny or not, I would suggest seeking the advice of someone like Nathalie (although I would hasten to add she is a rare sort & not easily replicated!) to create & tailor a routine to your particular goals, any limitations you may have, & the other elements of your life is an investment more than worth making.

I give Nathalie’s details below if any of you would like to be in contact with her directly, she is based in Central London & in addition to her great experience as a Personal Trainer & Pilates/Reformer Pilates instructor she also specialises in Pre/Post natal care, as well as endurance & elite athletic performance.

nathalie@epochfitness.co.uk                 +44 (0)7792653244

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