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  • Being A Fierce Female With Kate Parr

    31st March 2021

    31st March 2021

    By Caitlin Bell

    Kate Parr (she/her) is an expert trainer at boutique fitness studios Boxx London and BLOK London, teaching boxing, strength and cardio, and dance. Kate is also an actor, scoring lead roles in UK musicals and more. Kate's passion is helping others feel inner strength through fitness, and instilling the empowerment that comes from feeling strong both physically and mentally. We sat down with Kate to learn more about what inspires her, her hopes for gender equality in the fitness industry, and the positive change she wants to see in the world. 

    Tell the readers a little bit more about yourself and your background?

    So I'm Kate, a personal trainer specialising in strength, movement and boxing. I’m also an actor trained in Musical Theatre.

    Who or what inspires you?

    I find my inspiration in many people. I’m constantly learning! Everyday I’ll see something in a friend, client or even someone I follow on social media that I want to emulate.

     

     

    How do you define female empowerment?

    Female empowerment to me is an awareness of the struggles women face, an acceptance of who we are, and always striving to be the best version of yourself. All of the above but as a collective force. It’s the drive to do something and the confidence to go for it.

    Do you think fitness has a role to play in female empowerment?

    Absolutely. I truly believe the power that comes from whatever sport or type of fitness you enjoy is huge. Whether that comes from the community, from the strength you gain, or discovering the potential of what your body and mind can achieve.

    What inspired you to take up boxing?

    So I’ve always loved movement. I’ve danced literally from when I learnt to walk and then trained professionally from the age of 11-21. However, throughout this whole time, I was never good at sports- couldn’t kick a ball to save my life! I discovered the benefits that came from strength training which is still a big part of my routine. However there was always something missing. For me, that was boxing. I took a class at BLOK London not having a clue what I was in for and straight away I was hooked. The agility, power, coordination, endurance and focus that it teaches you is huge and I haven’t looked back since.

    How do you think boxing could become a more inclusive sport to both genders?

    Take away the perceived violence of fighting and underneath that there’s a huge amount of agility and power. In terms of inclusivity, I think there's a huge shift already. The more women to just start and go for it just like me the better. It’s a humbling sport and there is always more to learn. So, whether you're a novice or someone who has boxed for years, know that whatever level you really will be accepted.

    Do you see more women taking up the sport?

    I definitely do! I teach classes Boxx London and BLOK London and its definitely got a lot more female heavy over the last three years. There’s something special in that. It gives me goosebumps when I see a full class of women absolutely smashing a bag!

     

     

    Why is fitness so important to you as a woman?

    What ‘fitness’ means to me has changed drastically over the years. I’ve gone through many different stages. I've used it as a weight loss tool, as a way to build my strength both in and out, and as a form of meditation and escapism. Through all that, I’ve found passions. Things that aren’t a way of changing my body, but goals that are strength focussed, agility and skill focused etc. For me now fitness is me time, playtime. Something fun that I enjoy and as a by-product it's a way to improve and better my health and mental wellbeing. That is a huge shift and one as a PT I want to help all of my clients find. And still there’s so many more areas that I want to explore. 

    Best advice you’ve ever received?

    This is a hard one! I think, "cancel, reset and continue". If something hasn’t gone as well as you would have wished, or you haven’t smashed your goals...park it, take a breath, reset the goal... then keep going.

    What is your proudest accomplishment?

    I have a couple. My latest one would be leading the International Women’s Day Strength class for @bloklondon. There were just under 400 people working out at once and even though it was on Zoom, the energy that came from each and every one of those people was massive.

    My other one would be when I got my first lead role in a UK tour of a musical. After a whole life of working towards being a professional actor, to be a lead was an amazing feeling. I’m focused on getting another role like that. 

    What change do you hope to see in the future?

    To see gender neutral phrasing and language across society. For society to be truly inclusive.

     

     

    What are 3 ways that you think women should lift each other up?

    1. Celebrate the wins. No matter how small just acknowledge that accomplishment. 

    2. Support female businesses. Change that narrative. 

    3. Just be there. Share the experience, the joy and the pain. We’re in this together.

    Who’s an inspiring female role model in your life and what have you learnt from them?

    My mum. She works in motorsport, which is a very male dominated world. I think the most amazing thing about her is that she can do absolutely anything she puts her mind to. Whatever challenges come her way, she still manages to be kind and always always looks for the good. She manages to take a breath and calmly respond to anything, and get the job done.

    As a woman, what’s the one thing you’d like men to do more of and to do less of?

    Less watching me and my clients when we're in an outdoor PT session. Accept we’re there you don’t need to look, comment or catcall please! And more acceptance of our strengths and abilities without gender stereotyping. 

    To learn more about Kate, follow her on Instagram.

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    Hi Amy! Can you tell us a bit about how you got into your fitness journey? Hey my Innermost faves! I was always involved in sports at school and loved running, but it was on my travels to Sydney, Australia, that my passion for fitness as a real, positive, daily part of my life, kicked off. I love the lifestyle in Sydney. Everyone is really invested in their health and fitness and that fuelled me to get my Personal Training qualification and start going to the gym (I’d never stepped foot in a gym before this!), where I learnt absolutely everything I could about functional and resistance training. I read books, I watched technique videos, and I put all of it into practice in my own training and programming. But this was just the beginning! How did your passion for fitness begin to translate into your full-time job? Whilst living in Australia, I met Mike, who is now my fiancé (woo) and my business partner in the fitness empire we are building!  It actually started when my Aussie visa was due to expire, and we were game-planning ways that we could stay together and avoid doing the long-distance relationship thing. At the time I was coaching at an F45 studio in Sydney, and after a bit of research, we realised there was only one F45 studio in London - so Mike got thinking - why don’t we see if we can open one!  It then all happened very fast - within a couple of months we had signed with F45 to open our own studio, had packed our bags and were moving to London. 4.5 years later and we've built an incredible member base and community at F45 Tottenham Court Road, and also launched our own fitness retreat company, Salt Escapes, where we run fitness holidays at various beautiful destinations around the world!  View this post on Instagram A post shared by AMY COSTELLO (@amykcostello) What was more challenging, opening your F45 Studio or launching Salt Escapes?  I would have to say F45. It was our first business so there was a lot to learn and a lot to prove. We made a heap of mistakes and knew next to nothing about business, but we worked our little asses off to build our gym into what it is today.  When we launched Salt Escapes, we already had an engaged, interested customer base in our clients at the gym, so it wasn’t SO terrifying to launch! Also, with it being our own brand and company, there were no limitations like with F45. Instead we were free to branch out, be adventurous and see what works. This is how we like to do things! How has your business evolved through lockdown?  Wow, it’s been a testing year. We lost a lot of members throughout the past year. Being located in central London was a huge advantage for the first few years of business, but when lockdown hit, everyone just disappeared!  It’s almost as though we’ve had the chance to start from scratch, which has meant we’ve had the opportunity to re-evaluate everything from our finances, processes and sales strategies, to our membership offering and client-relationships.  From that perspective (and ONLY that perspective), it’s been great for us. We’ve been given the opportunity to build our business back stronger. Nine months of closure allows you to do a lot of reflecting.  How have you personally evolved throughout the last year?  Well I’ve managed to avoid packing it all in and moving to a tiny island in the middle of nowhere - does that count?!  Haha, no but seriously - I guess for me, it’s been the year I’ve actually understood what it means to look after your mental health. It’s been a really challenging year to own a gym and a travel business, and my sleep and mental health has taken a battering.  Realising the importance of “self-care” (sounds cheesy, but it’s a whole vibe) has been a game-changer. For me, it’s walks in the park, my daily 10 minute Calm, switching my phone to Do Not Disturb, and prioritising learning (books, podcasts, journals).  View this post on Instagram A post shared by AMY COSTELLO (@amykcostello) What does the word ‘growth’ mean to you? Aside from #gains? Ha.  In the past couple of years - Mike and I have started saying to each other, and our team, “we like solutions, not problems”. Look, in work, training, life, there are always going to be problems, difficult people, and tough days. I used to obsess over the problems to the point they’d keep me awake at night. Now the minute a problem arises, I start thinking about the solution. Because there’s always a solution if you look hard enough, so what’s the point in stressing over things you have the power to do something about?  For me - that’s growth. Pushing forward, maintaining a solution-driven outlook whatever is thrown at you, and working out how to move past problems - adapt, reflect, learn.  How do you push past plateaus? I think the most important thing is that you recognise you’ve hit a plateau. Whatever it is you’re trying to change, be it weight loss, muscle gain, fitness levels, or whether it applies to work and productivity. I love to track everything. I write down all of my workouts, including the reps I’ve done, the weights I’m lifting, and even notes about how I felt during and after the session. This helps me clearly see when I’ve plateaued in my training, and encourages me to then reassess my goals and make a plan to push forward.  There are so many ways to mix things up. If it’s a training plateau, maybe try hitting the gym with a friend, trying out a different class, or getting a PT for a few sessions to give you some fresh ideas and perspective.  What aspect of your life do you struggle to develop most?  For me, it’s definitely finding balance. Running two businesses doesn’t usually allow for much down time, especially as I work with my fiancé, which means that we’re always either at work or talking about work. I really love working for myself, but it’s definitely had a big effect on my social life. Any 'time off' I do get, I usually feel like I just want to chill out alone. I definitely find it a struggle to maintain or build more meaningful friendships these days. Don’t get me wrong - I have a whole heap of wonderful people in my life - I’m just not that hot on messaging back or letting my hair down and going for a night out these days.  View this post on Instagram A post shared by AMY COSTELLO (@amykcostello) Do you set yourself goals? How do you make sure you achieve them? All the time! But I read a great book recently, Atomic Habits by James Clear, which taught me about the importance of goals that are specific and actionable. He says goals are good for setting direction, but systems are best for making progress. I can resonate with this from my own experiences, and from watching so many clients set themselves goals, and then feel like they’ve ‘failed' because they’ve been so focused on the end goal, as opposed to making small, actionable, daily changes to get them there.  So for example, a small goal of mine at the moment is to drink more water as I’m generally pretty bad at this. I’m making this a habit by setting out my bottle of water before I go to bed each night, so I see it first thing in the morning. I tell myself I can’t leave the house for work until I’ve had 600ml water. I also use a water tracker app, which sends me little push notifications throughout the day. System in place, and so far it’s working and I feel great!  What is your greatest life accomplishment? It’s got to be building Salt Escapes. Mike and I have been on the same page since we met. We wanted to create a life where we could work for ourselves and travel the world. We’ve achieved that with Salt Escapes, and there’s a lot more to come!  On top of that, I don’t think there’s any greater feeling than being in a beautiful part of the world, with a bunch of amazing people who have just had the week of their lives, and have been inspired beyond measure, and realising that you made that happen.  What’s one goal you’re going for now? Work goal: Building my businesses back up in a post-pandemic world. We’ve got 9 Salt Escapes trips on the schedule for this year and I’m going to do everything in my power to make them all happen. I just need Boris to play ball!  Personal goal: Mike and I want to buy our first house by the beach. It’s definitely a longer term goal, but everything in our foreseeable future is now driven by this end goal. We’re focused on a future of beach walks, BBQs and puppies!  What are the benefits of having a growth mindset? The opportunities! Personally, I didn’t do too well at school. I didn’t get the point of learning for the sake of learning. But I’m pretty proud of the fact that through hard work, applied knowledge and a lot of determination as an adult. I now own two businesses, work for myself and get to travel the world.  Natural talent or academic intelligence is one thing, but a growth mindset allows you to experience success, build resilience and overcome challenges, all through a simple shift in your perspective.  To keep up with Amy, follow her on Instagram and on Salt Escapes.  Read more