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James Pook / Q&A

29th January 2021

29th January 2021

By Caitlin Bell

James Pook, a.k.a. Coach Pooky, broke the chain attached to his 9-5 desk job and pursued his passions, becoming head coach at CrossFit Putney. 

I used to use Fitness as a way to deal with stress (I used to be a director for a media agency), but the more I got into it I found that the more right I was with myself. Then I had time for others and in the process could help them get right with themselves. A quote I live by is “You are the most important person in your life.” My interpretation is that I need to be 100% with myself so that I can help others; if I'm not 100% how can I be 100% with someone else. The focus of health and fitness shouldn’t be on aesthetics. If we focus on nutrition, training and having our heads in the right place then those pieces of the puzzle will all come together with the best result for you.

Hey Pooky! Could you tell our readers a little more about yourself? 

Hey all! So my name is James Pook aka CoachPooky. I'm 31 and currently the Head Coach at Crossfit Putney, and I compete around the world in different functional fitness competitions. Originally from South Africa, I have been in the UK for 14 years but am still very much a beach baby at heart. 

What does #liveinnermost mean to you? 

It means expressing myself through staying active with a positive attitude everyday and being the best person I can be.

Your two favourite Innermost products, and why? 

The Strong Protein (OMG that taste!!) and The Detox Booster. As my focus is to keep my strength at a level I can compete on any given day, the Strong one gives me everything I need to maintain and gain when needed. The Detox Booster is the first thing I drink every morning to revitalise my body after a night's sleep. 

What do you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

I train twice a day. My morning session is more cardio focused, then the PM is weightlifting, gymnastics and a few workouts. I eat around 4000cals a day and make sure I get 7 1/2 to 8hrs of sleep.

How did you get into CrossFit? How did you find the change in career from your 9-5 desk job?   

So until I got into coaching, I was a director in a media agency and used to train at Gymbox. I was always a sporty kid but only found myself in an actual gym for the first time at the age of 22. During my time at Gymbox. I used to train with one of the PT's who started doing Crossfit while I was doing olympic weightlifting. He put me through a few WODs, and I was hooked (it reminded me of the feeling after a tough rugby match). After doing my Crossfit Level 1, the PT I used to train with moved to a Crossfit box, and after a visit they offered me a job! So I shadowed the head coach there while I worked through my notice period, and then I was in and never looked back. It has honestly been the best decision of my life. 

How has being a Head Coach at Crossfit Putney changed since the pandemic and how have you adjusted?

It hasn’t been easy especially with the constant changes. It has felt like I’ve been riding a yoyo, but one amazing thing has come out of this is our community. The support we have gotten from them has been truly amazing, and my coaching team has been amazing! So we have managed to keep our heads above water and are constantly looking at ways to improve our offering.

In your opinion, how has the fitness industry in general adapted to the various lockdowns? Do you think any practices have changed forever?

I think some handled it very well and some very badly. We needed to understand that at a time where people’s money was more important than ever to them, we couldn’t take anything for granted and that a gym membership is a huge luxury. That being said it is also a lifeline to so many, so if gyms and PT’s were open-minded, then there could have been some amazing stories to come out of this lockdown. Another big plus has been to see the advancements in technology within this sector. Apps specifically were super expensive to build, but now PT’s and gyms can get them for a far more competitive price. I think one thing that will change forever is that even after gyms reopen, they will still offer some form of online membership or offering.

Why do you think that the ability to adapt is important?

It's hugely important, and I have seen it first hand. We need to realise that everyone is replaceable, so how do you make that thing that needs replacing not you? Think outside the box and be willing to take a risk.

What are your top tips for adapting to a new situation or environment quickly?

Communication and research. Talk to your team and community, and get them involved in your thought process. Do polls on social channels, and get real time feedback from the people who are clients or potential clients. 

Have you upheld your new year’s resolutions?

Yes, myself and Becs (another Innermost ambassador) have gone refined sugar free, and while it can get pretty interesting while shopping, we also find it a fun challenge.

Has there been another time in your life where you felt you had to adapt to a situation? How did you handle this?

5 years ago, I decided to quit drinking. At the time I was still working in media and had a regular Thursday night out with the lads, so this wasn't an easy one for me, but I stuck to my guns. Also if the people around you are truly your friends. they will accept you for who you are. So pints became orange juice, but I still got my rounds in so no one was short changed.

Do you think the events of 2020/21 have made you more resilient? Are you proud of how you’ve managed to adapt?

I have certainly learnt not to sweat the small stuff, to focus on the bigger picture and to really appreciate what I have around me. I can honestly say that I wake up every day with a smile on my face.

Need Expert Advice?

Other Insights

Navigating Indulgence with Chloe Thomas
Chloe is a life, nutrition and fitness coach from the South East Of England. She has been a coach for 7 years now, working mainly with women. Her goal is to help women become their healthiest and become the best version of themselves, Innermost helps to achieve this.    View this post on Instagram A post shared by CHLOE THOMAS || ONLINE COACH 🦋 (@_chloeinspires_) Our topic for July is Indulgence. Tell us what indulgence means to you, and what are your favourite ways to indulge. Indulgence for me is having time away from the chaos of life - relaxing in nature, reading a book, going on a hike, seeing a friend or family. I love being outdoors and going on adventures like kayaking or surfing and I love to travel! It brings me back to “me” and allows me to re connect with myself and my values. I do also like to indulge in some yummy unhealthy food every so often too- on my holiday recently I indulged in a delicious pizza and yummy scones! How do you strike a balance between indulging in something you enjoy and overindulging to the point of excess? I think this is important as it can become unhealthy if you over indulge too much as this can lead to an addiction. If you are indulging in something excessively it may be because you are unhappy in your life elsewhere, and are using that thing to avoid the pain or discomfort you are feeling in your life. For example, I see sometimes in my clients over-eating due to emotions (emotional eating), which is where they are over-indulging to try and avoid uncomfortable feelings - which inevitably doesn't work and leaves you feeling uncomfortable and guilty. In what ways can indulging in something be beneficial to our mental health and well-being? I guess it is important to take time out from our “go-go” lives where our brains are constantly being stimulated - especially due to our phones. So taking time to indulge in having time out with your friends or alone is important. I also think it is important to indulge in nice foods from time to time - especially in social situations.   View this post on Instagram A post shared by CHLOE THOMAS || ONLINE COACH 🦋 (@_chloeinspires_) How can indulging in certain activities, such as eating or drinking, have negative impacts on our physical health? Over eating or drinking can leave us feeling low in energy, low in mood and tends to exacerbate anxiety, aka “hangxiety” when it comes to alcohol. It can also cause weight gain and inflammation within the body which can lead to auto-immune diseases and illness. It is important to be conscious of not over-indulging in these two things too much - it's about striking that balance between a healthy amount and an excessive amount. How can we practice self-control and limit indulgences in order to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle? I think it is important to think about our future and what damage over indulging can do to our health long term. I try and remind myself of this. And even thinking of how you will feel the next week or day if you over indulge. For example, when I drink too much alcohol I sleep bad, it effects my training, my mood, my cravings etc - so I don’t drink often or in excess. I remind clients to think of their ‘why’ and also where they want to be in 5 months and 5 years time. Can indulgence ever be considered a form of self-care, or is it always a potentially harmful behaviour? I personally think it’s about that balance I mentioned before. For example, on my recent holiday I had a big pizza to myself which was overindulgent BUT I rarely have pizza - think the last time was February! So it’s fine for me to do it once in a while. I think too much indulging in anything is a sign that you may be not content in your life and are looking for something on the outside to soothe something uncomfortable on the inside (mentally speaking). What Innermost product(s) have you been loving recently? Definitely the The Digest Capsules I love them and so do my clients! They help with my bloating and IBS massively. I also love The Relax Capsules for around my period when i have PMS and trouble relaxing. They are great! Our final question is ... What’s your innermost desire that you’re hoping comes true this year? To reach even more women across the world to join my community of women and reach their healthy and fitness goals, build a better relationship with food and learn how to love their body again! I want to get women off fad diets and know there are easier ways to be healthy and lose weight! I would really like to be at the point where I can hold retreats for them by the end of the year. That's a wrap on this months interview questions. Thank you so much Chloe for your time! it’s been a pleasure chatting with you! To keep up with Chloe be sure the follow them on _chloeinspires_ Read more
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