Rebecca Gentry – runner, personal trainer, Nike+ Run Club Coach, and all round superstar – was one of the first people I met when I started running with Nike in 2015. Since then I have run with her – and been motivated by her – almost every single week. I remember talking to her earlier this year when she had something like 45 races and her own wedding in the space of about two days (I am exaggerating but only very slightly!). Becs took everything in her stride and helped the rest of us achieve our goals too. I was so thrilled when she agreed to be part of London ETC and she talked to me all about her favourite training spaces, her love of sweating, and why she loves training in different climates. Clue: it’s all about the clothes!
What is your favourite space to train in and why? This can be an outdoor or indoor space – or both!
London!!! Being a runner I quite literally use the city as my gym and playground, using my trainers for transport as often as I can. However knowing I want longevity in my running life I know I must get into the gym to keep my body strong so I love training at Equinox – it is one of the most beautiful, light, airy spaces in London complete with plenty of equipment and floor space. No matter what your session has in store – from heavy weights to an NTC cardio circuit – you can get it done.
Along with the gym they have a wonderful spa for regeneration and fabulous facilities packed with Kiehls products to refresh you, and not to mention you have the option of refueling in the Lounge with killer shakes and food. Equinox offers it all at a high level with some edge, so you can smash out a tough session but leave feeling brand new!!
I also love the convenience and space of The Third Space in Soho – this sprawling space has state of the art equipment set over three floors and an awesome pool. Being in central London it is the perfect location to get that daytime session done and dusted without taking up too much time.
What is a typical training session for you like?
A typical gym session will focus on building the strength in certain body parts. Currently I am working on a split body part training schedule, where I will focus on lower body push/pull and upper body push/pull moves on different days, 4 times a week. My cardio training is varied distance outdoor runs mostly at tempo pace and interval training on the treadmill or a spin class.
Do you have a particular area of London or a route which always gets you out of the door whether to run or walk?
Hyde Park and Battersea Park are my favourite locations to nip out and get the distance in. If I am going for a longer run I adore running to Richmond and meeting my husband there for lunch then we get the train back home together.
Encouraging people to run and motivating them to lace up is obviously very important to you. Can you tell me a little more about where you passion for this came from?
Personally I was always a very active child, however when university time came around I forgot about fitness and health and dived into the polar opposite lifestyle. Once I moved away from London I rediscovered my passion for running and found that lacing up and getting out there was a very effective form of meditation for me. As I increased my distance and my speed I was starting to feel more and more proud of myself and confident in my running.
Along with this I was growing as a person too, and realised that this feeling was something I wanted everyone to feel. The Nike ethos that we are all meant to be athletes has resonated with me forever, and even before I worked for the brand I knew that my career path had to change from Public Relations to Personal Training. I took the plunge and retrained and then felt at peace with the fact that my path in life was to help anyone run and become a confident happy runner.
In a world that’s becoming more and more health conscious, what does the word ‘healthy’ mean to you?
Healthy to me means happy and balanced in your own life. The world we live in is a highly affected, influential place. We are constantly surrounded by prying eyes and people want to impress everyone. I see people jump on popular bandwagons in order to please ‘followers’ but in reality I urge people to take the time to step back and look at their lives so they can figure out what works for them as an individual. Once you find that balance, happiness flows and true health can the accessed. Starving yourself, depriving yourself, exhausting yourself are not ways to encourage homeostasis in the body (its happy place) where all your functions should be working well to provide you with a completely healthy body inside and out.
Which one restaurant or café (or any food place) would you recommend to someone visiting London for the first time and why?
No.11 Pimlico Road – my husband and I had our wedding reception here because we love the vibe and the food.
The Shed in Notting Hill for British foraged food, all seasonal and deliciously cooked.
Farm Girl Cafe on Portobello Road is beautiful and clean – it’s fab for breakfast or brunch.
Can you tell me a little about what motivates you to train that little bit harder and sweat that little bit more?
I love sweating!!! I know that when I am sweating I am detoxing my body and cleansing my skin, whilst also pushing myself and challenging my body to change. My motivation to push myself a little more comes from this knowledge that if I want to alter something, be it my speed, my strength, my distance for example, it is not meant to be easy it is not meant to be pain free, it is meant to hurt a little or a lot. This isn’t pain really, it’s pushing through barriers I have set up at some point in my life and the feeling is just an acknowledgement that you want to achieve that goal and you’re ready to change gear to get there. The idea that I am the only person who can change my body and my fitness is motivation in itself – why sacrifice that gift!!
As hectic as London is, I think it is one of the best places to take a breath and relax. Do you have a hidden gem, a secret hidey-hole, or a space which you absolutely love where you can relax and recover?
Home is my most secret place of stillness and calm as I am not often there for long – even sleeping! So if I can steal myself away I’ll run a bath, load it with my favourite WestLab Epsom Salts and read.
If I am in central London and I want an escape, I head to Liberty and browse the jewellery department, specifically Maria Tash. I’m a secret magpie, anything sparkly grabs my attention so I feel like a child in a sweet shop here, fondly staring at her beautiful creations.
My ultimate recovery would be acupuncture followed by sports massage and then sitting having a manicure and pedicure. Every element of these treats means my phone is a long way from me: I am unable to reply to anyone, and my body and mind can be totally disconnect from normal life for a while!!
With London ETC I want the ETC part to go beyond this city. Is there anywhere else (and this can be anywhere in the world) where you love to be? What is it about this place that makes you smile when you think of it?
Three cities – New York, Los Angeles and Sydney make me smile and draw me to them as a person, a personal trainer and a runner. They each have their own charms and characteristics that entice me to run round the streets and their different climates means I would be able to wear all my different Nike kit!! Also each of these places has a different attitude to training and fitness, I learn new things from trainers in each place.
Becs, I loved having you as part of my LondonETC series and thanks so much for answering my questions! next week’s LondonETC is going to a little late…but it’ll be worth it, I promise!
Image is courtesy of Rebecca Gentry