Monday, 12 September 2016

Introducing the experts…..Karen Laing

We will be introducing a range of different experts from WIFE throughout WI Sports Week so make sure you check back in regularly to hear more…

What do you?
I run a fitness business with my husband Chris teaching Pilates in classes and online, specialising in women’s health.  I also write about fitness, physical and mental health and women in the fitness industry.

How did you get involved?
If I’m completely honest, my ‘portfolio’ fitness career came about by accident.  After four years as a management consultant for PwC Consulting I took voluntary redundancy I re-trained both in fitness and as a journalist.  Since then I’ve developed my business from being a freelance fitness instructor to a fitness business co-owner with my husband.  I write.  I present.  I teach.  And hopefully, I inspire.

On reflection, my ‘portfolio’ fitness career is everything that I need for job satisfaction. I’ve always loved teaching and coaching and always craved a mixture of activity and the need to use my brain with my work. My business lets me have it all. I can write, research, interview and present but I can also do and instruct.

In everything I do, I aim to inspire and inform. I want to break down barriers to activity and exercise in order that more women can improve their life quality through small, yet informed changes to their exercise and activity levels.

Why is sport and exercise important to you?
I used to just move because I enjoyed the freedom and fun of movement.  I especially loved dance.  I was never particularly ‘good’ at sport and was never in any teams but I could dance and I enjoyed it.  I used to play tennis with my friends in the holidays but never attended sports camps.  As I’ve got older I’ve realised that anyone and everyone can learn to play sports for fun.  I felt I didn’t learn how to get better at sports and therefore didn’t enjoy them because I hadn’t naturally excelled.

Today I love to move and exercise because it makes me feel good and helps me to manage my anxiety and a chronic health condition (I suffer with general anxiety disorder and an over active thyroid/Graves disease).  I also know it helps to keep me mentally sharp and gives me the best chance of staying healthy and active as I age, vital now as I approach 40 with two young children.

Sport and activity is also important for body image. As the mum of a girl, I would love for her to learn and understand that her body is not something to be objectified but that she can be strong and fit for whatever sport she chooses.

I do Pilates, I run, I cycle, I lift weights, I play golf and tennis, and I love to try new sports.  In the past few years I’ve tried gymnastics, open water swimming, surfing, and river kayaking.

How can more women get involved?
My plea is for women to just move more. There is no snobbery in sport or activity. Find something you love. Do it with people you love or make new friends. And find a great instructor. Don’t give up at the first instructor who doesn’t float your boat - be persistent. If you really want to improve your quality of life, it’s worth sticking at it until it becomes a habit.

If you try to squeeze exercise around your busy schedule it will often if not always slip of the end. I’d recommend fitting your busy schedule around your exercise, then you can squeeze more activity around your busy schedule!


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