Hi, Shona. Thanks for accepting our interview request. Can you please tell us briefly about yourself?
I am a 39 year old mother of two originally from Aberdeen, Scotland. I have a BA (Hons) degree in 3 Dimensional Art and Design and had worked in retail since graduating, doing buying and visual merchandising before eventually moving into management. In 2011, my husband got the opportunity to move to Kuala Lumpur with his work in the oil industry which came after a particularly brutal Scottish winter, so the chance to live in a warm climate sounded ideal!
You have been an ACE certified Personal Trainer since February 2015. How have you been utilising your new qualification since then?
I have been gradually building up a client base since then. Some lovely friends let me use them as my ‘guinea pigs’ to gain confidence in working in a one-on-one environment, and things have quickly progressed. I am always researching new workouts, reading fitness blogs and following some of the fitness personalities that I most relate with. My fitness background was always endurance running, but for the last year and a half, I have been splitting my training time between running and resistance training. Having the knowledge that I now have, I am able to understand what my clients (and I) require in order to achieve their goals. I just completed my advanced Kettle bell Trainer certification as the Kettle bell is a great tool that can be incorporated into anyone’s fitness programme and next up I would like to gain a qualification in Sports Nutrition. I want to learn as much as I can that I feel is relevant to me in my goals as a trainer and to be able to provide my clients the best service that I can.
You do both personal and small group training. Which would you prefer? Why?
I really enjoy them both for different reasons. I run a boot camp three times a week which is really good fun! It’s hard work but the comradeship between everyone keeps the group going even through the most gruelling of exercises. It’s fast paced, lively and rewarding! Personal training is a lot more intimate. You work more on your clients’ weak areas, identify any imbalances and you continually modify their workouts to progress them along. Most personal training clients have chosen the one-on-one route as they may have an injury or weakness, or they may want specific areas targeted. They both challenge me in different ways from “How am I going to make 8 ladies do 45 seconds of burpees and have them smiling at the end of it”? to “How am I going build upper body strength but be mindful of my clients’ existing back problems?”
What would you consider to be your biggest achievement in the fitness industry to-date?
To be honest, I think that working as trainer is a massive achievement for me. Once I left school, I never did any kind of fitness activities until 6 years ago. I had a pretty demanding job that was very physical, and I was a typical yo-yo dieter! After I had my second child, I took up running and I could barely get to the end of the street without stopping, and it was downhill!!! But I stuck with it and very quickly fitness became a part of my daily routine. Also, I felt completing the Kettle bell course was a great achievement as I was the only female in a class of muscle men! They were all brilliant though, and very encouraging. It’s what I love about the fitness industry here in Malaysia, it’s so friendly and welcoming and not at all elitist.
Last but not least, you are a mom to two young children. How do you juggle between your work and family?
Planning and Preparation!!! Both my kids are at school now so I have the time to focus on work and my own training. I have to be very organised every evening and make sure my training plans are done the night before so that I can just hit the ground running the next day. I always plan in my own training at the start of the week so I know which days I can go running or which days will be the gym. I like to take part in running events throughout the year, but I only managed one last year as I was just too busy. I don’t train anyone on weekends as I like to spend time with my family and take my kids to their sports clubs. My daughter is gymnastics mad and my son does boxing and MMA. I love that I am a role model for my kids and that they will be encouraged to live a fit and healthy life. My daughter has said that when she grows up, she wants to be a trainer like me. This makes me all the more committed to my new career.
Shona with her young family