People November 6, 2019

“What you truly want in life doesn’t come easy”


Having relocated to Dubai from the UK, Sophie is on a mission to help people not only improve their physical stature, but their mental well-being and adapt to a healthier lifestyle. “Get outside in the fresh air and move, whether that’s walking, running, cycling or yoga. A lot of people are stuck in A/C offices for hours a day, so get outside and take a moment to disconnect,” she advises.

Please introduce yourself:
Hi, my name is Sophie. I’m a fitness enthusiast and personal trainer from the UK, currently living in Dubai.

Tell us about your education.
Continuing from high school, I went to college and did a Diploma in Sports Development, Fitness and Coaching in which I also obtained various coaching qualifications over two years. Never was I sold on attending university however I did exceptionally well at college, finishing my Diploma earlier than most and my lecturers believed it would be a shame for me not to develop my knowledge further and therefore persuaded me to attend. I went onto study Coaching and Sports Science. The shift from a diploma was a slight shock, but I grafted my way through three years and gratefully achieved my Honors degree. From here, I decided it was time to take my level 3 personal training qualification.

How long have you been into fitness and training?
I’ve been active since a little girl. I started horse riding and dancing at the age of six; fitness has always been a passion of mine. With regards to personal training, I have been working in the industry for around six years, and 11 years including sports fitness-specific studies.

If you had to define all that you do in a title, what would you say?
I strive to assist individuals both physically and mentally to unlock the happiest, healthiest and most confident version of themselves.

What is the difference between working with a personal trainer than exercising alone?
There are so many benefits working with a PT. First off, all you need to do is turn up to training and get your session done; there’s no thought process behind it. Even I have days where I have no motivation to get to the gym, so we all need that encouragement from time to time. Many fitness professionals have worked with other PTs or coaches before for precisely the same reason; we don’t have to worry about our programme structure as that’s in their hands for the time being. You will also gain greater knowledge about what exercises and foods work best for you. It’s easy to get lost in the vast amount of information that’s out there not knowing what will give you the most beneficial results.

How would you describe your philosophy about being fit and healthy?
You have to integrate fitness into your lifestyle, do not think of it as ‘extra hours’ – once you envision this, leading a healthy life becomes much more realistic and sustainable. I believe I’ve very much adapted a life coach role during my years of personal training as people can speak to me in confidence about problems they may be having in their lives and we discuss ways on how to move in a more positive direction. It’s so important that people are mentally healthy as this causes barriers within your physical health such as hormonal imbalances, which in turn affect your metabolism, general health, and slows down your fitness journey if your coach/PT can educate you in all aspects then, bonus points all around.

What are some tips you have for people looking to get into shape?:
Increase water intake: Staying hydrated helps the body flush out toxins and achieves homeostasis
Eat whole foods: You will consume a vast array of nutrients in whole foods over processed produce. They decrease the risk of health-related diseases like diabetes and heart conditions
Eat regularly: Consuming the right foods every 3-4 hours fuels metabolism optimization, helps reduce fat and maintain lean muscle. This helps keep your energy levels up throughout the day
Ensure you are sleeping well: 6-8 hours is recommended and keep stress levels to a minimum. I can’t express how much these two tips are overlooked. The inability to achieve these barricades your progress massively
Schedule in time to train: Even if you only get 20 minutes, this is enough time to carry out an effective HIIT workout that for sure will burn away those calories. Dependent on available time, aim to train 3-6 days a week.
If you are trying to lose weight/burn fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit. In correspondence, if you are trying to gain weight and achieve more lean muscle you need to be in a calorie surplus
Seek advice: If you are unsure of what it is, you need to do to make your body goals then ask a professional. This is what we are here for, so don’t feel afraid to receive some guidance, whether it is exercise, diet or both.

What mistakes do people make when working out?
Lack of consistency, so many people, start and give up too early because they go all out. Take it slow and gradually change different areas of your life to integrate healthier lifestyle choices. For example, don’t go for a run 6/7 days for an hour in a week and kill yourself. Start with three days 20/30 mins and slowly build up to an hour. Also, people believe that because you have exercised means you can eat anything and everything, NO, it’s all about balance. However, this doesn’t mean you have to cut out all your ‘treats’ limit and replace for healthier options, again do this gradually. The best way to make sure you’re consuming the right amount of food is to work out the correct macronutrient breakdown. This can quickly be done online or through an exercise professional. This way, you will know what would work best for you.

What’s your favorite quote or mantra you can’t live without?
If I’m perfectly honest, I’m not a quote kinda’ girl. However, someone once told me that everything will always work out in the end and this, I believe. As long as you keep pushing and moving forward, adjusting and adapting to obstacles that may get in the way, even though it may not be easy, it will always work out in the end, and you will essentially evolve along the way.

What are some of your other hobbies?
If I’m not working, I’m researching new things; I currently have a few projects that I’m running. Having said this, as mentioned previously, I love horseriding; this is my haven. If I could own my horses at some point, that would be the dream.

Who or what gives you the most inspiration?
My father has been a massive inspiration for me; he struggled academically but worked from the ground up to be a successful and intelligent man. He’s the one who taught me the definition of hard work. Every time I would ask him the meaning of a particular word, he would pass me a dictionary and then discuss it with me after I had tried to understand it myself first. There are many other examples like this; he drilled into me that what you truly want in life doesn’t come easy, and I am so grateful for his guidance.

Who are your fitness idols?
In terms of body shape, I’d say Rachel Dillon and Qimmah Russo.

What’s your typical meal for…
This will be a healthy option if I’m cooking myself or if I’m on meal prep. I’m also a Nandos queen, so if I have cooked Nandos it is usually first on my list, and I will treat myself to chips if I want them as I’m on a weight gain journey so more calories the better.
First thing upon waking: 500ml water
Morning: Oats with two scoops of peanut butter
Lunch: Chicken, sweet potato and vegetables (seasoned how I wish)
Supper: White fish, brown rice with vegetables (seasoned how I wish)
Snacks or sweets: Nuts, Rice cakes with peanut butter, fruit, protein pancakes – yes I do eat ‘bad foods’, but I’m just smart with it.
Favorite beverage: To be honest I only really drink water (lots of it), but hot beverage would be a caramel soya latte and an occasional Capri-sun, these are so good but FULL of sugar. A good option for a fruity drink would be the ‘VITAMIN WELL’. These taste great and include lots of vitamins and minerals.

Tell us about some of your achievements you are proud of?
In 2017 I decided to compete in ‘bikini fitness ‘for the first time, I trained intensely for nine months. I won my first two shows, and then came 2nd in the British finals, which for a first-time competitor is very good, so this was a great achievement for me as I’d worked extremely hard.

How, when, and why did you move to Dubai?

After my competitions, I felt pretty lost, something that happens to many people within the bodybuilding industry as the preparation for shows are insanely intense. There isn’t much opportunity or room for growth in my hometown, and I believe that challenging yourself in any aspect of your life is the best for self-development. An opportunity arose in Dubai, and I pretty much packed my bags and haven’t looked back since. Plus, I’ve always been a sun worshiper, so moving to a hot country didn’t seem like a bad idea.

How is the fitness scene different in Dubai compared to the UK?
What I like about Dubai is that fitness can easily be taken outdoors with some great facilities with breathtaking sceneries, which makes you appreciate life. In terms of it being different, fitness is fitness, and it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, many of us want to be healthy and remain in good shape.

If people have 10 minutes a day, what can they do?
Get outside in the fresh air and move, whether that’s walking, running, cycling or yoga. I know a lot of people are stuck in A/C offices for hours a day, so get outside and take a moment to yourself to disconnect.

So where can everyone keep up with you to learn more?
Please follow me on my Instagram platforms.
lifestyle: @sophituk
fitness: @wearesophit

Your message for CiiN?
Thank you so much for taking an interest in getting to know more about me. Hopefully, this will not be the last you hear from me.

Photography by: @av_skit @av_portraits

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