Former Portsmouth University Geology student Natalie has been described as:
"‘one of the UK’s leading personal trainers, a co-author of a number one best best selling book with Survivalist Bear Grylls, a kick ass writer of fitness programs, an awesome idea driven and creative fitness entrepreneur with a huge heart.’"
Natalie herself says: "I’m not sure I am really any of the above but I do love my job with a passion, I do have some incredible clients, I have co-authored a number one best selling book on amazon with Bear Grylls and I have a ridiculous amount of ideas with a hope that one of them will stick and change people’s lives for the better." Natalie founded all things Accomplish Fitness back in 2005 and co-founded BG EPIC Training with Bear Grylls in 2013. Recently Natalie has been busy opening gyms with Bear Grylls and joins us at the Fitness Festival on Saturday 3rd June 2017 hosting a very special workout straight from 'Your Life - Train For It'
You work with Bear Grylls as his personal trainer – how did this come about? "Initially, Bear’s wife Shara came for a one-to-one session as a friend of hers had recommended my services. Bear came with Shara. We chatted and he was surprised that I specialised in express 30-minute training regimes. He had a one-to-one session the next day and has been a client for years now. Bear’s requirements for fitness were very different to my existing clients and over the years his fitness needs meant I needed to educate myself on functional movement and exercises. The relationship from client, to friend, to business partner all happened over several mornings of mountain climbers, back flips, pull-ups and wall handstand regimes."
Tell us more about your business partnership together and what it involves. "I have a hands-on role in the running and development of the company and fitness brand BG EPIC Training. Responsibilities include anything from marketing, project management and instructor training to my favourite role as performance director. Bear is very hands-on and assists with designing the fitness programmes and our brand vision, and of course he is the inspiration for the whole company. We work and train at the same time... meetings are often done with sweat dripping!"
You are promoting express fitness programmes of effective workouts in 30 minutes or less. Can you tell us more about it? "Express training is all about High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. We choreograph different blocks of functional compound exercises back to back to maximise fat loss using the ‘after burn effect’. There is a great chapter on this in our book Your Life Train For It, which looks at the benefits of HIIT training compared with traditional training systems."
You have co-authored a book with Bear Grylls on the principles of healthy workouts in under 30 minutes, as well as supporting this with the right diet. Can you give us a bit more insight into Your Life Train For It? "Bear and I decided to co-author a book about express training to inspire people to train and to educate people on a new style of training that would fit into their daily lives. We advocate training for 30 minutes, 4–5 times a week. The reality is that it is only 2–2.5hrs a week – time really shouldn’t be a barrier to exercise. I was thrilled when Bear suggested we wrote a book together. He had listened to me wittering on about express training for so long and it is something that Bear is really passionate about. Bear’s story is authentic and it tells a good tale, not to mention great transformation pictures – at 39 he is in better shape than he was as a young man in the SAS."
Do you feel that going to university has benefitted your career? "Ok, so I don’t work in the geology industry, I chose a different route after graduating, but every day without fail I use the skills both professionally and in my personal life that I learnt at university during my degree. University really is about life skills."
What are your favourite memories of university here in Portsmouth? When did you graduate? Where were the best places to go as a student? "I graduated in 1999 and one of my fondest memories is still the vibrant buzz; it really has a warm, welcoming feeling. The music scene and skate park form part of my favourite memories! My top hangouts were The Wedgewood Rooms, Clarence Pier and the Pyramids, and of course the Old Vic with the geological society every other Wednesday."
Have you always been involved in a healthy and fit lifestyle? It must have been harder to commit to this as a university student. "Studying geology, you had to have a love for the outdoors. I don’t know how many wet field notebooks I wrote in. I used to roller-skate along the seafront, go to the skate park and BMX to University, and of course late night dancing! I was a keen mountain biker too."
You have been nominated for ‘Functional Gym of the Year’ at the National Fitness Awards – how did that feel? "Being nominated and then shortlisted for the National Fitness Awards was amazing. Seeing my studio name shortlisted against so many high-end fitness venues was a real honour. Winning would have been awesome but coming top six in the country was a real achievement."
What do you do in your spare time? "My spare time is all about spending time with my daughter Amelie, husband Mike and my family and friends. We spend a lot of weekends in Cardigan, west Wales, where we are fortunate to have a log cabin. It is not the Ritz but there is no better place to feel grounded, read a few books and re-charge your batteries. It truly is a magical place and of course it has some great geology!"
Words taken from Update: Portsmouth University Annual Magazine for alumni and friends (Summer 2014)
Photography provided by Natalie Summers