Can you tell the readers of North of Here a bit about yourself and your lifestyle?
Sure! My name is Ally and I’m 25. I’m an illustrator, graphic designer, group fitness instructor, student and blogger. I’ve always been creative and enjoyed losing myself in colour, paper and imagination. In my early 20s, I also became increasingly fascinated with health, fitness and wellbeing. Combining this passion with my natural creative talents, I’ve built a niche which fuses movement and creativity together in order to find optimum balance and wellbeing. I know for myself that it’s only when nuturing creativity, alongside physical health and fitness, that I find my happy place or ‘state of flow’. I describe my vision as ‘Exploring an active and creative lifestyle whilst empowering others to do the same.’
What does a day in your life look like?
Everyday for me is different, which is what I love so much about my schedule right now – it keeps life fresh and interesting. However, most days I will wake up early (usually around 5am) and head off to teach a group fitness class before breakfast. I grab a coffee from my favourite local on the way home and indulge in a nourishing breakfast (my current favs are protein pancakes or eggs scrambled with fresh veggies and quinoa.)
The mornings are my most productive time of day so I will usually take this time to get stuck into one of my many projects (such as design work for clients or study/assignment work). I also check my emails, respond to anything urgent and plan out the rest of my day based on priority. Late mornings are time for my own workout – usually a strength session with my PT or a pilates class. I make it priority to get my own sessions in around the classes I teach to ensure I am giving back to myself and keeping my body performing its best.
My afternoons are a little more relaxed. I usually work on illustrations, learn choreography/plan for my fitness classes, go to appointments or catch up for an inspiring pow wow with a friend/mentor. Some evenings I’ll teach another class and once/twice a week I spend a few hours working for lululemon. My nights are pretty chilled – spent at home with my housemate, a favourite tv show/podcast/book and my furbaby, Lexicat. I also use this time to plan/prepare for tomorrow. I normally do a bit of journalling or sketching in bed before sleep. I like to get to bed at a decent hour so I can rise fresh and early to do it all again the next day!
Tell me why you became a Group Fitness instructor.
I started attending Group Fitness classes when I was 18 and they completely changed my life. I hadn’t been fit or active previously and within a few weeks of trying my first Body Attack class I was feeling amazing. Once I started moving, I instinctively wanted to eat to nourish myself and my personal confidence grew. I love the energy rush and feeling of pride and accomplishment gained from finishing an exhilarating workout to motivating music.
When I moved from the country to the city for study, Group Fitness classes became my way of establishing a community in my new home. Many of my closest friendships now have been formed in the group fitness room. After I’d been participating in Group Fitness for a couple of years I decided I wanted to empower others to improve their health and happiness too. Group Fitness was something I passionately believed in and I wanted to have a part in sharing that with the world. There are always challenges, but at the end of the day that sense of purpose is what inspires me to do what I do.
Of all the group exercise classes you teach, what is your favourite and why?
My favourite class is Body Attack. It is the class which I started in as a participant and the program I find the most enjoyable to teach. I love how Body Attack enables you to be athletic, strong and powerful, but also have fun and a laugh at the same time. The energy which can be felt in a room full of Attackers gives me goosebumps.
Can you tell us about some of the challenges you face when it comes to looking after yourself?
Burn out and the sense of ‘not doing enough’. I’ve done a lot of personal development work around this in the last few years and I still need to be mindful when it comes to ‘being ok with slowing down’. I think this is a really common challenge for many ambitious women. I’ve learnt that I can’t give the best to others if I am not taking the time to nourish and care for myself first.
As women, we often neglect a part of our own health/wellbeing – what is one thing that you’ve been neglecting, and would like to get on top of? (And are you working on this, if so, how?)
During the start of 2015, I could feel my nutrition slipping. I was busy and often opting for quick and easy fuel to keep me going. I knew that some of my choices weren’t the most nourishing for my body and that my lifestyle wasn’t going to be sustainable long term. I sought out some guidance to help get me back on track. I’m now enjoying exploring a range of different foods to energise and nourish my body and help it perform to it’s best. A challenge for me was that I knew what I ‘should have’ been doing, but needed that support and accountability from someone else to help me adopt and stick to those good habits.
What does your training routine look like?
Right now I teach 9 classes a week – an even split of 3 Body Attack, 3 RPM and 3 Cxworx classes. Around these I do 2 heavy strength training sessions a week (upper/lower body) and 2-3 pilates classes. I also try to get to at least 1 yoga session weekly.
You already have a communication design degree, and you’re also studying Exercise & Sports Science, you’re a Group Fitness instructor and you also work for lululemon – tell us about your passion for learning new things!
I’ve always had a thirst for knowledge. I love expanding my mind and learning about things that I am interested in. If I am passionate about something, I want to learn as much as I possibly can about it. This has its pros and cons (haha as I’m quickly becoming a professional student!) but I love the feeling of growth and achievement that comes from developing new skills, knowledge and expertise. I feel confident that these will help empower me to create a future I’m proud of and inspired by.
What’s up next for Ally, are you learning any new classes to teach?
I’m currently completing reformer Pilates training and will begin teaching Pilates fitness classes by the end of 2015. In the future I’d love to explore the more clinical side of Pilates training.
I’m hoping to complete my Exercise Science degree by the end of 2016 and then move towards a role which enables me to work with people who suffer from injuries and movement problems.
I have just launched a new online e-course, “Creating Space” it’s an e-course in which through lessons, workshops and self-paced activities, you’ll learn how to create space in many aspects of your life in order to recharge your creative batteries and fully embrace your artistic potential. Find out more about the course or enrol here.
Grocery shopping is generally a pain, what are some of your favourite foods that you buy that make you feel great?
I actually really enjoy grocery shopping! Recently I’ve been going to my local market and buying most of my fresh produce and proteins from there. This is helping me to stay grounded and connected to the food I eat. Recently I’ve been loading up on heaps of fresh veggies and greens and pairing them with quinoa, eggs or fresh salmon. Green juice or fresh berries always give me an energy boost and I love snacking on banana and peanut butter before an evening fitness class. I almost always have a baggie of almonds or walnuts with me to snack on if I’m on the run.
What are your three top health tips for living a healthy lifestyle?
- Listen to your heart and do what you love
- Take time out for yourself
- Surround yourself with an inspiring and supportive community of friends, family and like-minded people.
What are five things in your workout bag?
Group fitness choreography/music, water bottle, iphone, microphone belt, spare pair of workout socks
What is one thing you do for yourself, for your sanity/health/wellbeing that you do everyday without fail?
Move my body. Even if this is just a walk around the block on a rest day or a couple of easy stretches in my living room. Movement keeps my brain alert, my body feeling good and my mind relaxed.
Your story matters: Is a regular series where I sit down at chat with women like you about your health and fitness story. Everyone has a story to tell and we can all learn from each other. If you would to be featured please email me: hello <at> northofhere.com.au