Sonja’s is a Nike Master Trainer and International Fitness Presenter combining her passions of fitness, music, travel, teaching and empowering people.
We caught up with her to talk about the fitness industry, mindfulness, and boxing.
You can join Sonja in the ring, as she will be leading her next HIITBOX event in London at Ministry does Fitness on Friday 3rd November.
Sport and exercise have always been part of my life and as soon as I could, I qualified as a fitness instructor and had this as a side job as I studied for my degree.
I graduated with a BSc Hons degree in Applied Sport Sciences and lectured on the subject at various colleges and universities. I was scouted by Nike whilst I was lecturing and have worked as a Nike Master Trainer for dance and training for the last decade training trainers all over the world and teaching large scale fitness events for the brand.
My job as a Nike Master Trainer, International Fitness Presenter, and Barrys Bootcamp Trainer has allowed me to combine my passions of fitness, music, travel, teaching and empowering people through movement and mindfulness. I am fortunate enough to be able to go all over the world in between my work, and study martial arts, particularly Muay Thai and step into the ring and fight. I have imagined the life I wanted for myself and created it.
I am fortunate enough to be able to go all over the world in between my work, and study martial arts, particularly Muay Thai and step into the ring and fight. I have imagined the life I wanted for myself and created it.
My calling is to help people through motivational speaking and writing.
As I continue my spiritual development I am now in a position where I can take on clients one to one or in groups and empower them to modify their lifestyles and habits to lead a happy, stress-free, fulfilled life with no limiting factors.
I guess you could call me a Spiritual Sports Coach
I am passionate about empowering people with strategies to approach life in a positive mindful way even after all hard times have been endured. I want to give them all of the tools to unravel any limiting beliefs that they carry with them, and give them the key to understanding why they are the way they are and why they behave the way they behave. I do this through the stories of my life experience and through the extensive study that I have done over the years on creating life through thoughts.How did your degree support you when it came to your career, and mission to educate people?
My BSc Hons study taught me that there are many theories in science (I studied sports science, fitness and health), but unless you have solid research findings to back up what is being said, the theory will have no legs to stand on. I also learnt that in many cases in contrast to this, one size does not always fit all and that individual life experience is sometimes far more valuable than theoretical science.
Everyone is on their own journey and everyone is unique so tuning into your own intuition is always the best way when it comes to the welfare of yourself, combined with some solid tried and tested programming methods that work for you.
When it comes to fitness, is there anything you wish was talked about and discussed more across trainers and instructors?
For me, body image and loving the self is at the top of my list. We as humans need to embrace that loving and accepting ourselves (not in an egotistical way) is the route to happiness. When we are truly happy accepting of ourselves, our bodies naturally regulate our body fat and reduce stress. This is the key to looking young.
For example many “top trainers” posting pictures of themselves being shredded complete with abs etc… saying that if you follow this way of eating and this training, you will look like me is dangerous.
The reality is that they don’t eat, don’t do the training they say they are and have no sound sports science knowledge or life experience, and most importantly they are unhappy!
There are real trainers out there who have amazing body transformation programmes that are backed up with science and their own life experience who have mastered their own happiness or who are on the journey to find happiness. The frightening thing is that these real trainers are so hard to find in the mass of social media where everyone wants that quick fix of fantasising over a shredded body because they believe it will bring them happiness.
The amount of insecurity and self-hatred that is really going on inside is heartbreaking. In the industry, we need to start talking about this and facing the truth because we are the pioneers of the messaging that is going out to the public!
What’s your approach on training, and how would you like the industry changing with this new generation of instructors coming up?
Your realness is the thing that sets you aside from everybody else. I put the success of my career in health and fitness down to keeping everything real. I have never claimed to be something I am not, and have studied long and hard on the skills that I now specialise in.
The key is to stay humble, study, don’t copy, and pay respect to the awesome teachers encountered along the way.
Always remember the truth behind why you are doing what you are doing.
I wish there were more legit trainers out there with solid messaging and purpose when it comes to training. There are so many “trainers” out there who use lies and shortcuts to get ahead as I mentioned previously.
We have a duty of care as trainers in the fitness industry not to mislead and muddy the waters with the messages we put out there.
Being inspirational and motivational is great if it is real. Unfortunately, it is often smoke and mirrors and individual ego trips. To the new trainers coming through, my advice is to keep it real and true to you with always having the intention to help others first above your own ego.
How do you include mindfulness in the way you teach and train through fitness?
I include it in group classes by asking participants to always revisit the reason why they are exercising in the first place. What is their goal? Are they being mindful of everyone else around them and therefore and therefore giving it their best effort to help the group.
Are they being mindful of everyone else around them and therefore giving it their best effort to help the group? I just word it all in a very real way so people understand without feeling they are being preached to.
What was the turning point when you decided to commit to spirituality and mindfulness?
I started seeing some healers and Shamans 3 years ago and noticed that I was repeating a lot of behavioural patterns over and over which didn’t serve me any purpose and were making me unhappy.. I decided to commit to the pursuit of happiness and therefore a journey of being more spiritual and mindful.
What’s the biggest misconception about mindfulness?
That is just for yogi’s and hippies! Mindfulness is about honouring your purpose here on the planet by listening to your own intuition in the present moment. Becoming consciously aware of the way you feel and operate is key to leading a happy life and attracting the right opportunities and relationships onto your path.
How does boxing and fighting combine with your own training routine?
Boxing, Muay Thai and Fighting is my training routine. It is my way of life. All of my training is functional for fighting and is not done just for the sake of getting a nice butt! My running is for my endurance during the fight, my skipping is to make me quick on the balls of my feet, my conditioning movements are specific to my sport and my body.
Full body conditioning encourages muscle tone, strength, endurance, and power.
In Boxing, even though you are using your hands to strike, your legs are so important for dropping levels when you punch, being quick on your feet. In Muay Thai, you are using your whole body all the time with hands, elbows, knees, kicks, clinching into throwing your opponent.
HIITBOX is my live group empowerment experience where I can reach people on a spiritual level through music, theatrics, exercise, martial arts, and meditation.
It is a fitness experience that combines boxing and HIIT training accompanied by a live DJ and MC followed by meditation, relaxation and food. I wanted to give the people coming a fun but tough health and fitness life experience, that would awaken feelings of unstoppable self empowerment.
You can join me at HIITBOX event in London at Ministry does Fitness.