The Essential Cyclist have been looking into those who have made or making the transition into business from sport. We have been lucky enough to snag a fantastic opportunity to speak with Louise Hazel.
Louise has been the senior member f the Great Britain Athletics Team since the age of 17 and has competed at European, Commonwealth, World and Olympic level for the past decade. She is an Olympic Heptathlete and Commonwealth Heptathlon Gold Medalist, is Founder of online fitness plan The Podium Effect and is an ambassador for the Register of Exercise Professionals.
Hi Louise, thank you for your time away from your busy schedule to chat to us at The Essential Cyclist.
How did you get into competing?
I started training at a local club, encouraged by my Dad. I tried a host of different events but then eventually realised that I was particularly strong at field events. By the age of ten I was taking part in local competitions.
What is your ideal breakfast before training and why?
I like to keep it light, preferring to fuel up after my session. I tend to go for a bowl of porridge or muesli with some fruit juice, and then take a banana with me to eat during training.
What were some of your best memories and achievements and why?
Winning commonwealth gold in Delhi will always be one of my greatest achievements. Crossing the finishing line and standing on the podium is definitely one of my best memories. Achieving a personal best for the javelin at the Olympics was another. Being able to perform your best at the Olympics is the best pay off for all the hard work.
What advice would you give people looking to get into competitive professional sport?
My advice would be to just go out and enjoy yourself, set some goals and work towards achieving them.
How did you start your online fitness business?
After the Olympics I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, and doctors advised me to take 6 months off. I ignored their advice and took six weeks off instead. I used that six weeks to complete my Personal Training qualification. I realised on the course that I had a much greater bank of knowledge than the average Personal Trainer, and that’s where my idea for The Podium Effect came from.
I started putting together training plans for non-athletes – for the everyday beginner to fitness. When you’re an athlete, you always have someone there to come up with your plans and schedule training for you - I thought about how difficult it must be sometimes be for people who just turn at up the gym, I realised I wanted to do something about that and make keeping fit as easy and as excuse free as possible.
Do you miss competing in sports, what do you miss?
Not really – I still compete in my everyday life. Whether it’s playing golf, going for a run or Go Karting – I like to raise the stakes! I find new forms of competing all the time.
Staying in good shape is really important to me, I feel like if you’re going to trust your personal trainer, they have to be the face of fitness. I still follow the training schedule as I did when I was competing. That philosophy is at the heart of my business, I’m always telling my clients that you don’t have to be an athlete to have the mind-set of an athlete.
How did you find the transition from sport to business?
It was quite smooth actually. I had always thought of sport as my job and as a business – I think that’s quite rare in our industry. Athletes should know how to market themselves – during and after their careers in professional sport.
Do you think you utilised a lot of the skills you acquired in sport to help your business outlook?
I used skills I had acquired in sport, like discipline, focus and drive but also practical skills I gained after I graduated from university. After graduation, I worked on a sports scholarship programme at the University of Birmingham, advising other athletes and learnt business skills like accounting and budgeting. They’ve been really important.
How did you get involved with Register of Exercise Professionals?
When I qualified to be a personal trainer, I wanted to make sure I was appropriately covered and insured. My clients deserve that level of professionalism. It’s my view that there’s just no better way to practice. PTs should not overlook the importance of insurance – they’re not respecting their clients if they do. The industry is awash with new fads and ideas, REPs set the standards and are working to bring more regulation into the industry. As an ambassador for the Register of Exercise Professionals, it’s my responsibility to be a leader and to let others know that they shouldn’t skip these important steps in their careers.
You have been on some great TV programmes, which was your favourite and why?
A League of Their Own was a highlight, I was on the show with John Bishop – who had just completed his cycle challenge for Comic Relief – he chased me while I hurdled around a circuit they’d created. I thought he would have been too tired after the challenge to keep up with me but I had to sprint flat out! It was so much fun.
How do you keep your fitness up?
Running after my niece keeps me fit, for sure! When we’re filming for The Podium Effect we often have filming days that run for 10 hours or more – that helps too!
I also film weekly fitness videos for YouTube– I’m currently working on a ‘Beach Body’ series. When I’m not filming, I find that a 30minute workout is enough, as long as you’re working at the right intensity.
You are a model, how do you balance everything in your personal and worklife?
I don’t! I’m either all work or all play. I’m a firm believer in working hard to reap the rewards later in life. I’m always filling my time with work.
What is the best and worst parts about being in the spotlight and why?
The best parts are getting the opportunities to meet really interesting people. I love mixing with people from all walks of life – the age range of my friendship group ranges from 18-65. Being surrounded by such a variety of personalities helps brings new and interesting experience into your life.
The worst parts are when you can become a little disheartened by the celebrity world. Professional sport is a meritocracy – when you’re the best you win the medals. The real world isn’t like that, it’s often just about who you know. There a lot of barriers to be broken in terms of the roles of women after retiring from sport – London 2012 helped a lot, but there’s still a lot of work to be done there. I hope more women in future won’t see those barriers to be as high as I have.
Tell us something interesting about yourself!
I’m fluent in French!
Thank you so much for chatting to us at The Essential Cyclist Louise and we shall be keeping a close eye on The Podium Effect for keep fit hints and tips!