Melissa Weldon; Personal Trainer, 1Rebel Master Trainer & Program Manager and Fitness Consultant will be joining us on the podium for this month’s Bloggers Meet up.

Don’t forget to check out the Blogging superhero course in the HBC Academy to learn how to take your blog to the next level! Melissa talks to us about fitness and the impact of social media on the industry.

What has been the main difference in the health and fitness industry over the past 10 years?

I qualified as a fitness instructor in 2002, I was 21 years old. I left a well paid job in the city to follow a career I loved. There was no Instagram likes, no free kicks and a starting wage of £5.73 per hour. Fitness was a passion then, and is now.

When I began working in the fitness industry, gyms generally were very divided with men in the weights area and women in the cardio zone and studios. As always there were the exceptions to the rule but generally speaking, men and women trained very differently.

Now it is great to see the gender split change, often men and women train together and we’re realising the benefits to a wide range of training which suit anyone.

 

How do you think the phenomenon of fitness going ‘mainstream’ has impacted the way people, especially women, look at their body?

In all honesty, I don’t see it as a positive for the most part. People have a very warped idea of what their bodies should look like based on contrived, posed and filtered images on Instagram. Whereas before, we were influenced by media, we knew to take it with a pinch of salt. I don’t think people realise to the extent how “fake” the ideals they try to live up to are.

 

What opportunities did your blog open for your career and other projects?

I started blogging when my son was a baby, 8 years ago. It was an outlet and a way of being heard when I was going through a particularly challenging part of my life, becoming a single parent a month before he was born. It connected me to the world and over the years it grew as I did. Over the years I have had some amazing experiences and opportunities which I would say have partly come from relationships formed through my online work and my dogged determination to not become my “situation”.

 

You are very active on social media, as we can see from your online work. How do you like to keep in touch with your audience?

I use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook…oh and tumblr too although through being connected to the latter it runs itself. I have a love-hate relationship with social media. It’s an amazing tool and great things can be done through it but I hate the way it can make people feel. I make a concerted effort to keep my social media honest, open and ugly when the ugly is needed. Sometimes we have bad days and it’s important to share that when you have people looking up to you. People need to know it’s not always eggs, avo and six packs.

What was a moment you really struggled in your career, and what helped you getting back in the saddle (excuse the pun!)?

When I moved back to London, in 2013, I was going through a period of unemployment. I did a little online coaching but I felt really lost as to what I should be doing day to day. I went for job interviews but I was often considered “not commercial” enough. It was really tough…but I’m tougher. Turns out, not become commercial is why I’m good. I made a decision that I needed to get back to teaching spin, which was terrifying to me but I went ahead and got a job working at a gym chain to get my confidence back. 8 weeks later I was teaching for Boom Cycle and I’m forever grateful for my time there. It helped me rediscover my calling.

 

Why do you think more and more people are now committing to a healthier lifestyle, looking for gyms and places that provide a much more well-rounded experience like 1Rebel?

Honestly? Social pressure. This of course is a generalisation but fitness is the done thing now. If you don’t work out, you feel guilty because everyone else is doing it. If you don’t capture your workout on Instagram, it didn’t happen. I guess this is a good thing, anything to make people fitter, stronger and less sedentary is positive but I do wish people would train just to train, to make themselves feel good and not just for likes. It’s a great feeling. I asked myself a while back, what exercise would I do if there was no social media or no accountability and now I do just that. If I want to run, I’ll run, if I want to squat heavy, I’ll squat heavy. Simples.

Let’s talk about fempower: how did that idea come about?

FEMPOWER has been a LONG time in the making…and when I say long, I would say as far as 14 years. I’ve always wanted to work with women in a health and fitness capacity. I can remember wanting to run dance classes for local women back in the day. In terms of more the more recent development, FEMPOWER was born in response to the overwhelming need to talk about how we can work to create healthy relationships with our bodies. Fitness has gone from one extreme to another, where getting the average person to just move three times a week was the challenge, now people are obsessive over food and exercise and it’s not having a positive effect. FEMPOWER is about challenging body ideals and encourage balance.

Were you expecting such a great response from the team? Is there a particular story you’d like to share that really inspired you?

I really wasn’t. If I could’ve got 10 people to sign up, I would’ve been happy and today I’m looking at a team list of over 40. It’s incredible. I think what inspires me the most is the sheer expanse of stories and diversity in the team. That’s the genius of it I guess, there is a least one person that every follower on social media can relate to. I love that.

What’s the main aim of FempowerUK? There’s much more than just a bunch of ladies training together: you have a blog, workouts and recipes in the planning as well…

We want to make some noise. Social media particularly can be poisonous to people’s perceptions of themselves and we want to say to people “you are enough”. This won’t just be a voyeur experience, there will be online workouts, challenges and fitness events open to all. It’s all about engaging people.

 

What’s your plan for the next ¾ months heading to the Toughest?

Building a community is my sole goal. We want to talk, make some noise and have some fun doing it.

How do you see FempowerUK impacting the health and wellness industry overall?

Can we be the Spice Girls of fitness? The Spice Girls came at the perfect time and really championed an age of Girl Power. I hope we can contribute to that and rebuke this recent trend of contrived perfection. If each woman on my team can influence 5 people positively, that’s *does math* 200 people with a healthier outlook to their fitness and bodies. I’ll be good with that!