Meet the FitFest Oxford team: Emily

Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies
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Emily, FitFest Oxford team


Mar 21

Meet Emily, our fun-loving, madly motivated, fitness fanatic team member. She’s forever setting herself goals (like being able to do handstand push-ups) and working her way to success. Let’s find out more about another FitFest Oxford team member.

When would you say you fell in love with sport?

I’ve always loved sport. I’ve been playing it ever since I can remember. I’ve been able to horse ride pretty much since I could walk, and was always at sports after school and lunchtime clubs.

What are your favourite sports?

Currently my competitive sport is rugby, playing, training and watching it!

My main love is the gym, which has really become the focus of my sporting efforts and fitness over the last 5 years.

I also still love my horse riding and playing any ball games recreationally, whenever I can. I just love to be active.

What do you do to keep fit?

On the days I don’t play rugby, I will mainly be in the gym. My training is very focused on functional fitness. I structure it around three element usually: a strength based element, a WoD (workout of the day) and then accessories (if my body can still manage it by then!)

I am a big advocate of NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) as an additional motivator for staying active. NEAT is the energy you use up during the day from movement that isn’t exercise related. In other words, avoid being sedentary for long periods and wherever possible find a way or an excuse to move (even standing to have a conversation or take a phone call instead of sitting will help).

On top of gym sessions, I will complete run and cycle sessions (aim for at least once a week for these). My rest days are always filled with something active, whether it be a long dog walk, a steady bike session, a yoga session, or just a kick about!

Who inspires/d you to progress your sporting goals?

Nick Skelton was always a huge idol for me in the equestrian world. He broke his neck in 2000 in a horse riding accident, and was told to retire. However, he made an amazing recovery and decided to complete again. In the Rio Olympics he won Individual Gold in the Showjumping, and he holds medals from previous Olympics too. His horse even came back from an injury to claim the Gold!

I am totally inspired by the other girls on my current rugby team, and all in previous teams. It’s so amazing to see lots of people from different walks of life come together on the pitch for a common goal and love for the sport.

Laura Keates was one of my coaches when playing rugby at university. Laura was a prop for the England Women’s rugby team when they won the World cup in 2014. It was great to work with her week in week out, and really helped drive my love for the game and reach new heights with my progress.

What do you love most about your job/working in sport?

I have been with Ignite for just over a year now and I am absolutely loving it!

I love the interaction with people who also have a love for sport. Working in the education sector, it is really great to follow the progress of our students and watch them develop as a player/coach and see them grow into young adults – that’s really rewarding!

Ignite Sport is a fantastic business to work for and has really helped me gain such a wide range of skills and knowledge within the sector.

How have you stayed active and motivated to keep active during the pandemic?

I usually HATE home workouts, the travel to the gym is my time to get ‘in the zone’ and motivated to complete sessions, so I found it really hard to not have that initially; I had to learn to adapt. I got frustrated at the beginning as I couldn’t develop my strength in the way that I would have been able to at the gym.

However, I sat down and took this as an opportunity to develop areas of my fitness that I could control more. I have worked on developing my ‘engine’ more through a variety of cardio sessions, as well as CrossFit style WoDs with a pair of dumbbells. Some of the tactics I’ve employed include AMRAPs (as many reps as possible), EMOMs (every minute on the minute), and For Time.

It has also allowed me to go back to basics and really work on my movement patterns, improve mobility, and develop my core strength.

I invested in some new running trainers so I was excited to get out and run! (I am a sprinter so usually hate running long distance!) . Discovering some great podcasts to listen to also really helped this.

I set myself some new goals that would still develop my strength – these were handstand push ups, and trying to learn a muscle up on my gymnastics rings (rigged up in a tree in the garden!) – the latter is still getting there!

I do workouts with friends and the rugby team over video calls, these really helped motivation and provided some social time too.

As a rugby team, we completed REDJanuary – raising money for Mind charity. This was tough but a great cause to get behind and definitely helped beat the January Blues!

I have been joining in with Under Armour’s Turf Games Home Games. These are a series of CrossFit workouts done over a few weeks – has been really fun to test my ability!

How do you fit your own fitness regime around work/home life?

I try and keep to a routine as much as I can. This will be completing my training session pretty much straight after work finishes as (out of lockdown) I would drive straight to the gym after work anyway.

It has really helped to keep to that routine, and know the time has always been put aside for that. On days where I have been working from home, I have used the spare 30 minutes’ commuting time to complete a quick yoga session – an activity I have been doing a lot more since COVID hit!

To me, workouts are ‘my down time’ – they really help me process my thoughts and clear my head, especially after a busy day. I would much rather spend my time doing a session, or planning future training sessions than being sat in front of the TV.

Any sporting accolades?

My highest achievement is being capped for Worcester Warriors Premiership 15s squad. Sadly this was only one game as I got injured, but loved my time there all the same.

Clubman of the year & Players’ Player of the Year 2019 for Birmingham University Rugby Union Club (not a big achievement but one I really cherish as university was where my rugby career started).

Emily will be part of this year’s FitFest Oxford Live event – join us in July, and bring a friend for a fun and fitness filled day. Get your tickets here

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