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  • Finding Yourself And Celebrating Individuality With Sandy Martin

    1st October 2021

    1st October 2021

    By Allison Strang

    Fitness instructor and wellness enthusiast, Sandy Martin, radiates confidence when it comes to knowing who she is. In a world where it's easy to lose yourself to whatever is going on in the chaos, she finds a way to stay grounded, to be true to herself and to enjoy the experience. We sat down with her to discuss the significance of individuality, the challenges she's faced and her advice for those who are struggling to find their identity.

    Tell us about yourself! Where are you from and what do you do?

    Hey, I’m Sandra but everyone calls me Sandy. Born and raised in North west London and I’m a rigorous multitasker. I love keeping busy - fitness instructor by day and superhero at night (joke). Seriously I’m a spin instructor, model, creative and wellness enthusiast.

    How did you get into fitness originally?

    I always loved being active. I got invited to try out classes through my agency and started training. Because I was at the studio so often, I got offered an opportunity to train and audition to become an instructor. It all kicked off from there really.

    There’s a ton of fitness instructors out there - how do you stand out as an individual in your field?

    I’ve been called the queen of smooth and complimented on my playlists. To be honest, I think it’s easy to stand out when you’re being yourself. No one can be you, and we all have our own superpowers. There’s so much room for what everyone has to offer. For me, I know I have a purpose and reason to move and be active. I am grateful that I can move because I had days where I couldn’t. For me, that makes me stand out.

    How would you describe your identity?

    I actually wouldn’t be able to describe it, you know. My purpose is to keep growing towards a better me, so my identity is always changing. I don’t ever want to stay stagnant or to be defined by words. I don’t think I was made to be described but made to be experienced.

    What does individuality mean to you?

    Freedom in just being and living authentically - feeling as free as water, having the ability to flow and grow and expand where needed. Being myself and growing in myself and choosing myself every day. Individuality should make you happy.

    How does your identity define who you are?

    I think we define who we are to be honest. We don’t have to fit in a box or have to be labelled. I just enjoying being with no expectations. Just being and growing in the directions that make me happy.

    What challenges have you faced, if any, in discovering what makes you, you?

    I think the biggest challenge for me was when I got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. It changed my life. It’s difficult accepting a part of yourself, especially a weakness that is unexplainable. It's been difficult, mentally and physically, but I had to learn to accept this part of me. My physical weakness became my greatest mental and emotional strength. I feel grateful for the things I used to take for granted about myself - a weak part of me is just as important as the strong parts. My challenging moments make me, me. My ability to overcome and persevere.

    What advice would you give to anyone who’s struggling with finding their identity?

    Stop looking for what you think you want to find. Explore, be open to learning and growing and, most importantly, make mistakes because those are the biggest lessons and biggest life growth spurts. Lastly, stop overthinking. We are tuned to be who we are, take the focus off the external and switch it internally. We have all of the answers we need within us.

    To keep up with Sandy, 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