My Fitness Rules: Sarah Lindsay
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It’s all about flexibility. Sometimes you need to train when you’re tired – that’s the point and you need to be fatigued. Other times, you’re not going to get what you need out of a session, and it’s time to back off. I coach clients using quite a different style to most, and I encourage my team to do the same. My background in sport was very militant. My own coaches had military backgrounds and it was super tough. I think positive encouragement works just as well, especially for women. I don’t think you need to yell at people or make them feel bad. That doesn’t work well with women especially, and you can get just as much out of them by encouraging them to realise what they’re capable of.
The earlier you build your body, the better. Maintaining it is much easier than building it in the first place. So, while you’re young and you’ve got good recovery, and you’re able to build muscle and strength, that’s when to do it. I don’t train really hard anymore. I’ve got loads of injuries from crashing on the ice, so I have to be quite careful, but I am still strong and that’s because I trained heavily in the past. It's never too late to start training but the earlier you start, the better.
When I retired from sport, I went straight into personal training, working with the national figure skating team on strength and conditioning. But when I started spending more time on the gym floor, it seemed something was missing. What I wanted from personal training didn’t exist. As an athlete, I had all these people looking after me – a technical coach, nutritionist, strength and conditioning coach and psychologist – and as a personal trainer you’re expected to do it all. But you can’t be at the top of your game in every area all the time. I set up Roar Fitness so that when clients came in, they had separate people handling their training, nutrition and progress.
I don’t actually love training. People think you have to embrace the pain, but I don’t enjoy my muscles hurting, or being out of breath and sweaty. I’d much rather sit down with a cup of tea. But I do love what it gives me: the endorphins and feeling strong and confident. It all just comes down to habit. For me, training is non-negotiable. I exercise most days and I do it because it makes me feel good. I get serious cabin fever if I don’t move.
My attitude to fitness has changed over the years. As an athlete I only thought about performance, whereas now my health is the priority. I have two long-term goals: optimal health and longevity. I want to be fit, healthy and strong for as long as possible so I always consider those things when I make decisions about sleep, nutrition and training. I want to be strong. And it’s something I’ve seen decline as I get older and I’m really hanging on for dear life, to be honest. I don’t want to deteriorate. I’ve seen people age past the menopause and get into older life – the stronger you are, the easier everything is. I want to be capable and able to look after myself.
There’s no secret to getting the best results. I always tell people the truth about what it takes to really do the business. It takes commitment to get there, but once you’ve achieved your goal, staying there is much easier. Everyone is different but everyone has barriers – you need to work out what yours are and commit to doing whatever it takes to break through them. It usually requires having an honest conversation with yourself.
I always have a set of goals I’m working towards. Then if something comes up – such as Turf Games Dubai, which I’ve just signed up for – I train accordingly. Even though I’ve been retired for 12 years, if you turn up to something like that as an Olympian, they expect a certain kind of performance, so I can’t lose! I’ll be changing my training to prepare for that. I’m going to compete in the Engine part of the competition, which is rowing and running, so it’s a very different style of training for me.
I don’t love wearable tech. When I was a professional athlete, I used to train with a heart rate monitor every single session – but there was always a target in mind, and I felt really under the microscope. Now, I’ll only wear a training watch if I’m doing something like intervals or traditional cardio. It can also be useful if you’re doing weights or something where you need to monitor recovery in between sets. But I won’t wear it all the time – it’s a bit intense to have it constantly telling you to go for a walk or to sleep better when we’re all just trying our best.
I don’t tend to plan for rest days. But that’s only because things come up and I end up not having time to train. If I’m particularly sore, then I’ll visit London Cryo for an infrared sauna. After three minutes in the cryo chamber, I’m fresh as a daisy. But don’t forget that sleep is critical for recovery, so if you’re struggling, take some magnesium and get an early night.
With nutrition, I eat to fuel then eat to recover – and then try not to eat too much chocolate on top of that! I always have a pre-workout espresso and a post-workout shake. I don’t get on with whey, so I tend to go for a vegan protein. I’ll add raspberries as they break down easily, and a plant-based milk. For me, you can turn shakes into a real treat, or they can taste like medicine. I like them to be like a dessert – you deserve something nice after a hard workout.
I’m lucky I gained a lot of resilience through sport. I exercise and meditate daily, and I don’t allow any negative self-talk. I am healthy and I am loved and these days I have a very sunny disposition, so I consider myself very lucky from a mental health perspective.
I learned to meditate when I was an athlete. Back then it was mainly so I could get into the mental state I needed to be in to compete and, ultimately, to get off the starting line with maximum force. Meditation also helped with visualisation techniques, which is essential for a good race. These days, I use it just to clear my head. If I feel calm and happy, the way I make decisions and interact with people is better. I’m far more productive and a much nicer person if I take care of myself.
I have medical facials as often as possible. I go for hydra and collagen wave facials, and I do red light therapy at home. I have a Morpheus 8 treatment booked this week – I’m not 100% sure what it is, but I was recommended it and practitioner Alice Henshaw has the skin of a 20-year-old, so I trust her. I’m very lucky that I’m able to do these things to keep my skin looking fresh, as I used to have real problems in my 20s; it killed my confidence for a long time.
As an athlete, I wasn’t really into supplements. We had to be so careful about what we took and the protein powders we used, because there’s so much cross-contamination and we were drug tested on a weekly basis. I was terrified of taking the wrong thing. But a couple of times a year, I would get really ill – mainly because we were training so hard. My nutritionist recommended taking vitamin C, magnesium, zinc and proflavanol, a grapeseed extract that’s an anti-inflammatory. That was the first year in 14 years that I didn’t get ill, and that can’t be a coincidence. I’ve been taking them ever since.
I also take collagen every day. I’ll have Correxiko collagen powder in my coffee twice a day without fail and then perhaps in a hot chocolate in the evening or in a post-workout shake. I’ve been doing that for years – it’s great for my skin, hair, nails, joints and gut health. Other than that, it’s just a case of trying to remember to drink lots of water.
For more information or to sign up, visit Roar-Fitness.com & follow Sarah at @RoarFitnessGirl
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