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Insider Q&A | What Does It Mean to be Strong?

12th January 2024

12th January 2024

By Hannah Belsham

We spoke to our Innermost ambassadors about what strong means to them. In this exclusive Q&A, they share their perspectives on strength, extending beyond physical strength to encompass mental resilience and self-belief. 

As we step further into the New Year, take inspiration from the ambassadors' resolutions - consistency, enjoyment of the process, and self-compassion. Find what you love, start where you are, and embrace the transformative power of strength.

Before we get started, let's meet the ambassadors, Sade, Hercules, and Dina:


"My name is Chade, i discovered yoga at 15, instantly fell in love. It became a vital part of me, helping me discover aspects of myself I never knew existed. In 2018, completed 200hr teacher training with TeganBYoga to deepen my connection and share the practice. Alongside my full time job i also teach morning classes at Hot Pod Yoga, the perfect way to start my day." 

Instagram: @chademoore_


"My name is Hercules Nicolaou. I am an entrepreneur, wellness coach and advocate of daily discomfort. I'm 1/3 of 'High Performers Club' where I spend my time helping people to reach their goals by helping them get comfortable being uncomfortable. In my free time you'll likely find me on a long run with a heavy backpack on somewhere in London!"

Instagram: @5mirky


"My name is Dina and I am 26 years old and I'm an ultra runner. I love working out it has become such a big part of my life, in the last 3 years I have done 3 ultramarathons and 2 marathons and I look forward to doing so much more in the future."

Instagram: @runwithdins

Defining Strength, what does strong mean to you?


To me, strong means not only being physically strong, I think physical strength empowers you to realise your capabilities. Strong is being really connected to your mind, body and self.

I think we often undermine how capable we are. So I think when you can strengthen your mind and strengthen your self-belief, you will really see the full capabilities of what being a strong human being is. I think strength definitely goes beyond the physical and it encompasses mind, body and everything else.


I think strength isn't just the number of weight that we move in the gym or a certain time it takes to run a distance. For me, I think strength is not just about what we do on the outside, but also how we feel on the inside when we do these things.

I think being able to find strength in our struggle is a really important aspect of life as well. More often than not in our hard times and within our discomfort, whether that be exercise or something in our career, that's where we find the most growth. So trying to stay strong within the struggle.


How I see strength is that you need to be able to overcome challenges that are thrown at you. For example, I love running ultramarathons and there's a lot of moments while running that I have to push myself beyond my limits. I think you need strength in those situations in order to overcome anything in life.

It can be your mental strength, physical strength. Once you put those together, you become such a strong person. I think if you can overcome what's thrown at your mind, you can overcome anything in life. And that's one of the main attributes that I've been working on, just making my mind stronger as ever.

How Does Fitness Empower You?:


With strength training, I think you have to be consistent to start seeing the results in your physical strength and I think consistency is such an important trait to learn. I think when you can feel empowered to keep showing up, that is when you are going to reach the best version of yourself and I think that is something that everyone should try to achieve.


I think strength training has empowered me to have the confidence not just inside the gym but also outside the gym. knowing if I'm training for an event, for a run, or even just the way that I hold myself in aspects, whether it be social or in my career,  getting a hard workout done and strengthening my body just leaves me feeling a little bit stronger than I was the day before. I think that makes over into every other part of our life.


Strength training has empowered me mentally and physically. Strengthening my mind and body has helped me so much when running ultras because a lot of the time I'm outside for hours, 20 hours and above, so working on my strength in the gym has allowed me to overcome a lot of things in life, not only in the gym, but also in my personal life as well.


What's Your Favourite Strength Exercise?


I think the plank because when you are holding a plank, it's up to you to stay in it. When your mind is telling you to stop you have to think, no, I'm staying in this and I think that's one of those moments when you feel your own strength. 


I think my favourite exercise would have to be the squat, mainly because it is the most uncomfortable and horrible exercise. Not only are you strengthening most of your body and your legs and your core, you're also strengthening your mind and you're becoming more resilient in the exercises that you don't want to do.


For me, it's RDL's. So with RDL's, you have to really like work on your core and embrace your core during the exercise. And it took me months to get a good form whilst doing RDL's.


What's Your New Year's Resolution and What Advice Would You Give For Getting Strong?


My New Year's resolution is be consistent but at the same time stop being so hard on myself. I think we are our own worst enemies in putting pressure on ourselves. So I want to be consistent, but in a way that makes me show up to my training. 

For those starting their fitness journey this year, I would say find what you love and what makes you want to get out of bed. You don't have to do anything else that you're seeing other people do just because maybe that makes them look or feel a certain way. Find what works for you and remember to do you.


My New Year's resolution is definitely to enjoy the process more. Stop being so fixated on the goal or the target or the event, but to enjoy the training building up to that.

My number one piece of advice for everyone who wants to start their fitness journey would just be to start where you are. It doesn't matter if you haven't got experience yet. Don't compare your page one to someone else's page 20. Just start exactly where you are, small steps and eventually you'll build up momentum.


My New Year's resolution is to not be so hard on myself. I've done quite a lot in my life and I feel like I need to be grateful with the journey that I've gone through.

My advice to anyone is just stop, because a lot of people are scared to just take the leap. Once you start, you'll get the hang of things and just keep going. Don't focus on anything else by yourself.

Need Expert Advice?

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From the Bedroom to the Gym: Is Your Sex Life Affecting Your Workout Performance?
The relationship between sex and workout performance is one that’s long been debated by scientists and fitness fanatics alike. It’s complicated and multifaceted, so answering the question of whether your sex life is affecting your training is difficult. That said, today we’re going to take a look at a variety of evidence, both academic and anecdotal, as well as several different scenarios and at least try to reduce some of the mystery around the subject. First, it helps to understand what’s actually happening to the body, both physically and psychologically, during both activities.   The Effects of Sex on the Body Sexual activity causes several changes to occur in the body:   Physical Changes That Occur During Sex During sexual activity and the lead up to it, the human body undergoes a process known as the sexual response cycle. This is the case for both males and females, though the cycle can be highly individual and may not be the same each time for each person. Describing the full sexual response cycle is beyond the scope of this article, however it consists of 4 phases: Desire Arousal Orgasm Resolution Factors such as elevated heart rate, increased blood flow and pressure and heightened muscle tension all come into play. If you’d like to read about the sexual response cycle in more detail, check out this great article from Cleveland Clinic.   Psychological Changes That Occur During Sex Several psychological changes occur both during and after sex. Most notable are the release of endorphins and oxytocin, which are associated with improved mood and a better sense of wellbeing. These are also responsible for reduced stress levels, which brings a multitude of additional benefits that are of particular interest to those of us participating in regular training and exercise. Cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, is catabolic in high levels, meaning it can cause the breakdown of lean tissue. So, whilst it is unclear whether sex itself affects workout performance, the reduction in stress levels it may bring is definitely beneficial for preserving our results!   The Effects of Exercise and Training on the Body Exercise and training also cause the body to undergo a number of changes. These occur both during and after the physical activity. There are in fact a number of similarities in changes that happen during exercise and sex:   Physical Changes That Occur During Exercise The physical changes that happen in the body vary based on the type of exercise being undertaken, however, there are some that are common to exercise in general: Increased heart rate Increased blood flow, especially to the muscles Faster, deeper breathing due to additional oxygen needs Heightened activity within the circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems A full summary of the changes that occur within these systems can be found here. More aerobically demanding exercise will, of course, place greater emphasis on the circulatory and respiratory systems as well as causing fat to be metabolised as an energy source. Resistance training, which often relies more heavily on the lactate and creatine phosphate energy systems, instead promotes greater muscular and endocrine (hormone) activity. Note the common physical changes between sex and exercise here, as they do crossover!   Psychological Changes That Occur During Exercise The psychological changes that occur during exercise are similar to those experienced during sexual activity and are mostly related to the release of endorphins and other ‘feelgood’ hormones. These help to regulate mood, and it is common knowledge that frequent exercise and leading an active, healthy lifestyle promotes a feeling of wellbeing.   Does Sex Affect Our Workouts? This is where things become complicated. Though extensive studies have been done on the subject, the results of these have varied massively. We must also take into account the experience of individuals, and this anecdotal evidence again has huge variance. Let’s look at both:   Sex and Training: What the Science Says Scientific studies on the relationship between sex and training are contradictory at best. There’s no denying the positive benefits of both activities, particularly from a psychological perspective, but as for the effect of sex on actual performance in the gym the results are inconclusive. A study, published in April 2021, by Kirecci, Albayrak and co. examined the effects of sexual activity of 50 men in the 24 hours prior to training on lower body strength. The study measured effects by having the men perform 3 separate squat sessions, each at the same time of day. Each of these sessions occurred after participating in or abstaining from sexual activity the night before. The men performed 5 sets of 5 repetitions of their maximum squat weight during these sessions and the difference in weight lifted was observed. The study concluded that ‘sexual intercourse within 24 hours before exercise [has a] detrimental effect on lower extremity muscle force, which suggests that restricting sexual activity before a short-term activity may be necessary.’ Aside from this study, most others found either no notable relationship between sex and athletic performance. A meta-analysis of 9 crossover studies, conducted by Zavorsky and Brooks and published on 16 September 2022, confirms this. The analysis concluded that ‘The results demonstrate that sexual activity within 30 min to 24 h before exercise does not appear to affect aerobic fitness, musculoskeletal endurance, or strength/power.’ This is perhaps more notable, because these studies incorporated different types of exercise and were not restricted purely to a strength/power based activity like squats.   Anecdotal Evidence: What About the Experiences of Real Gym Goers? The anecdotal evidence is, as expected, highly individualised. However, there tends to be a bias against the results of most studies, particularly in those participating in sports involving strength and aggression. For example, many fighters claim that they perform better when they abstain from sex in the days leading up to a contest. Similarly, bodybuilding forums are full of debate on this topic and many claim they note a significant decrease in motivation to train at maximum intensity after sexual activity. It has been hypothesised that this may be due to a downregulation in testosterone production after sex; during orgasm the mineral zinc is released in the body and this is also a precursor for natural testosterone production in the body and may, therefore, provide some reasoning as to the experience of many trainees.   Key Takeaways The relationship between sex and workout performance will always be a complicated one. The effects of one on the other in terms of physical fitness and, in particular, mental wellbeing, are clear, but when it comes to actual performance this appears to be highly individual. We’d advise doing what feels best for you but not worrying too much about it. Instead, prioritise your nutrition and make sure you’re fuelling your workouts properly. While you’re here, why not take a look at the Innermost range? We’re proud to be completely transparent about the ingredients in our products and we always ensure they’re of the highest quality. Check us out, and be sure to get in touch if you have any questions! Read more