1Rebel UK, Gurls Talk and Nike women teamed up to #GetGurlsmoving for International Women’s Day.

To celebrate 80 girls took part in an aspiring, sensational riding session at their Victoria studio and became part of the rebel army. Every girl that took part received a work out kit courtesy of Nike.

Gurls talk also sat down with one of 1Rebel’s trainers, Jess to find out what motivated her to get into fitness.

“When I moved to London my Dad had just died from sudden heart failure. It was a new city and I had no real friends here. Very soon after relocating my mother got diagnosed with an incurable cancer – not long after she died too. Within to years I had lost both of my parents and was in this crazy city with no friends or support network. Exercise was probably one of the main things that has kept me sane and I am all about excreting for a health mind as well as body.”

Jess discussed in depth the benefits of exercising, it’s effects on mental health and her personal tips for maintaining optimum health and happiness.

  1. Tell us about how you originally became so into exercise? Was it a release for you When I was a teenager/early 20s I didn’t really do any “exercise” I always loved to dance and move but also loved to hang around with friends and smoke lots of cigarettes unfortunately then, approaching my 21st birthday I decided to quit the cigs and replace it with the gym – best decision ever. So initially it was a ‘release’ to help to overcome my cigarette addiction, but it soon became much more than that
  2. After moving to London, did you find being active gave you a sense of community? Moving to London, and knowing no one I met all my friends through being active – dance classes, the gym, fitness events etc but the biggest sense of community came from 1Rebel
  3. How did you get involved with 1Rebel? I remember one night feeling pretty lonely, although I interacted with many people each day, I still craved a more concrete core community. I was friends with some of the Rebel trainers already but never thought to audition because of so many other commitments then I saw the 1Rebel Christmas party on my friends insta stories. I could feel the sense of community and support. I knew that this was what was lacking in my current situation, so I made some changes and auditioned asap.
  4. What is it about 1Rebel you think makes the experience different from any other gym or class? Every element of the classes are thought about in such detail, from curating the playlists, to the incredible lighting and sound to programming the workouts and then tying it in with music drops and lighting – even the audition processes and how trainers are selected. Each class is a sensory treat. On top of that every Rebel trainer is so passionate about what they do, about the 1Rebel family and about the people who choose to come and train with us. Being genuine, kind and really giving a shit are qualities that are essential to be a 1Rebel trainer
  5. How do you think exercise benefits mental health? I could write essays on this question alone!!! I believe physical and mental health are integral to one another. I believe they are connected and if one isn’t cared for then the other will suffer. On a scientific level physical exercise increases endorphins which make us actually feel good and on an emotional level exercise can teach us so much about who we are, what we can handle physically and emotionally. It also helps us actively work through our “stuff” I always refer to the exercise “burn” as a fire that is helping us to burn something – some people may choose to burn calories but to me that fire is for burning stress, anxiety, insecurities and anything that gets us down. Like in the yogic philosophy I believe in “tapas” I fiery discipline that helps us burn through “impurities” of the body and mind – I relate this to all forms of physical exercise.
  6. Is mental health something you heavily focus on at 1Rebel – It is something I focus on heavily in all realms of my life, so it definitely spills over into my style of training at 1Rebel
  7. How many hours of exercise do you do a week? Talk us through your routine – I like to keep as active as possible so I always try to avoid the tube and walk as much as possible, it takes me around 40 mins to walk to work. Then in addition to my classes (which keeps me on my toes) I like to train myself every day, but Thursday is my rest day. My training evolves depending on if I am training for something in particular, or if I am in the mood for classes. Right now, I am really in to my own training at the gym mixing cardio and weights. I think it is good to try a variety of things to avoid boredom, challenging your body and mind and strengthening weakness At weekends I usually present at fitness festivals in the UK and abroad so I will take part in sessions whilst there if not I would go to the gym or 1Rebel. I believe in working up a sweat daily and having one total recharge day a week. I also try to do some form of yoga daily, but it usually ends up as a yin practice to balance out my days.
  8. Why do you feel exercise should be important to women? I think there are so many parts of society where, obviously or subtly, women are still under-mind. Exercise reminds women of their strength, power and determination facing adversity – whether that adversity is a really heavy weight or on a larger scale some societal challenge or pressure.
  9. After you experienced extreme grief from the passing of your parents, how do you feel exercise helped you personally? Well first and foremost it was my job, it was the way I paid my bills, I didn’t have an option but to keep moving – and I am so grateful that I did. I never had to put on a ‘mask’ to teach it just simply made me feel better and lifted. I learnt that I could feel more than one emotion in the same moment – I could be broken hearted and devastated but also elated. Exercise gives us a natural high and at a time of extreme low it helped me to keep my head above water. don’t get me wrong the struggle was real and some days I had to have a strong word with myself to get my ass to class but it ALWAYS helped to lift me. I know I had the fact that it was job as an additional incentive but to anyone suffering I would always say to try at least ten minutes and see how you feel – nine times out of ten people will stay longer than ten minutes because they start to feel a little more lit up.
  10. Do you feel being more active has changed you as a person? I don’t really remember me as a person who wasn’t active so I would say it definitely is a huge contribution to my overall character. I recently had an operation and needed six weeks recovery and although I am very good at looking on the bright side it did start to take its toll and I totally felt less “me” – less enthusiastic, less motivated, even less conversational
  11. How do you relax and unwind after a high energy day? Yin yoga! A long bath, meditation and maybe an episode of RuPaul. These things have not only changed my life but probably saved my life (not including RuPaul ha). I think it’s so important to recharge batteries, check in with yourself and get grounded.
  12. How do you fuel your body, can you share a few recipes? I love food and I also love coffee to fuel my body and mind ha! I am veggie and my fave recipe at the moment is vegetable and chickpea fajitas – just loads of veggies (mushrooms, peppers, leeks, tomatoes etc) with a tin of chickpeas and some seasoning. Have with mashed avocado and a salsa made from finely cut red onion, tomatoes and coriander. You can have with chopped baby gem lettuce, vegan or standard grated cheese and a wholemeal wrap or a lettuce wrap for a lighter option.
  13. What are your thoughts on social media in correspondence to body image and positivity? I think social media can be a really positive or a really destructive tool. I feel people need to take ownership of what they see and try to only follow accounts that leave them feeling good. I also think it is important for people to work on their personal positivity and self-care so that they can find a genuine happiness regardless of what images are in front of them or what stupid messages pop up – kind of like a destructive social media forcefield! I really worry about young women and men growing up with social media – I think how messed up I was just comparing myself to people I know let alone millions or virtual, photoshopped, insta filtered people. That’s what worries me the most – future generations and the impact it has on them and their body image.
  14. What advice would you give to women who are struggling with their own body positivity? When I was 21, started exercising for the first time I went to a really dark place, after a year I got diagnosed with bulimia type 2 non purging. It was probably more orthorexia but that wasn’t a “thing” back then. After a lot of work my recovery only took around two years. What I learned was reaching a goal weight, dress size and image did not leave me feeling good. The opposite – it left me feeling empty, obsessive and to be honest I wasn’t an amazing friend or family member. My priority was my appearance and how much I hated it. I totally relate to the struggle and it makes me so sad that so many feel that way. The thing is, like training physically, it takes daily maintenance to improve body positivity and at first it feels false but over time shifts will happen. I think we should start by talking to ourselves like we talk to our friends so if we wouldn’t say it to a friend we need to stop saying to ourselves. For me it was also useful to shift my focus on my appearance and more into being a kind person, doing nice things for people, doing charity work etc then, regardless of how I felt about my body I felt like my contribution to the world and my life was more than just my body. It also got me out of my own head, seeing what other people go through and counting my actual blessings.
  15. Who do you admire? I actually admire most human beings. Everyone faces adversity in some way – whether gender inequalities, racism, economic disadvantage, illness (mental and physical) it is SO hard being a human and I think everyone doing their best deserves admiration
  16. What are your aspirations for the next year, with work and general life? I love my job so more of the same, in addition I am going to be running more workshops which I am really excited about. My aim is to help as many people in any way I can using and passing on all I have learnt from my own adversity and all I continue to learn along the way. A friend of mine (an incredible young women and mom of two little girls who lost her husband to a brain tumour) and I are planning to host a retreat at the end of the year which I am very excited about. I also just want to be happy and content with each day along the way and be present for my loved ones, colleagues and clients.

Thank you Jess for sharing with us here at Gurls Talk.