When university friends Sam and Aileen reconnected once they became mums, they discovered a shared passion in their businesses for health and fitness – and decided to start a blog (Ladies, Lunch and Lunges) together. They share their story with us.
How did you meet?
Sam: We met at the University Officer Training Corps. We both attended the selection weekend to join. So we were in the same intake.
Aileen: Sam and I were both university freshers in 1997. I was at Glasgow Uni and Sam was at Strathclyde. Both universities were part of the local Officers Training Corp (OTC) – the student part of the Army Reservists.
What happened after you left university?
Sam: I carried on with various post grad diplomas in massage and set up my own business working in Complimentary practices in Glasgow, which also included working offshore on North Sea Oil rigs.
Then after several years I wanted a change (to be some sort of action woman HaHa!) and became a Police Officer with Strathclyde.I loved the Police as I am a real people person – I loved the chase, the scuffles and the challenges of investigation.
Aileen: Having really enjoyed my experiences in the OTC I decided to join the Regular Army. In May 2001 I started the 44 week Commissioning Course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
On completion of the course I became an Officer in the Royal Signals where I served for a further three years. Highlights of which were taking part in the ‘liberation’ of Iraq and living in one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces in Basra, trekking through the Peruvian Andes and training 16 year old school leavers to become British Army soldiers.
How did your respective careers change after becoming mums?
Sam: I was still a serving police officer when I fell pregnant with Murray and I really wanted out of Glasgow and back to my home village of Kenmore. I also wanted back to my original profession – which I never really left as there was always an abundance of people looking for advice.
So I heard about Kettlebells (I needed something different that would help keep me fit and I didn’t have to go to a gym as I had much less time to spend on me) and I became one of the first IKFF qualified instructors in Scotland. Since then I have expanded into health and lifestyle coaching.
Aileen: I had left the Army a few years before I had my first daughter, Izzy. Just prior to having her I was working for a TEFL school in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
I decided to leave work then since my husband was still in the Army and we moved every few years. I couldn’t guarantee that I would still be living in the same area after my maternity leave ended. I therefore embraced the world of a full time mum – scary and slightly lonely place! I found my new situation extremely challenging and turned to exercise to help me overcome my PND.
What inspired you to start Ladies, lunch and lunges?
Sam: We met up after a few years apart and spoke very excitedly about our businesses to each other and because of our solid friendship we decided that it would be great if they came together at some point and there the blog started!
Aileen: In a word SAM! She had the idea to start a blog and I basically jumped on board! We both felt that there was a lot of conflicting information out there for women in a similar situation as ourselves.
It has worked out really well as Sam is devoted to nutritional and wellness coaching whereas my talent lies more in physical exercise, antenatal and postnatal especially.
What’s the aim of your blog?
Sam: To inspire woman of ALL ages to get more from their health and fitness. Too much conflicting evidence out there and too many short term quick fixes and sometimes they don’t even do that!
Aileen: We both believe in the old saying that you ‘only have one body, so look after it’ and thought that through a blog we could give ladies access to good information.
This will then hopefully give them the confidence to help them make the correct choices for their body and lifestyle – choices that will help them adopt a healthier, fitter and more balanced approach to everyday living! Writing the blog also keeps us on our toes and motivates us to stay on top of our professional development.
How do you help women?
Sam: Speaking about my experiences of my own health and my biggest educators – my clients. I want to help them see that what appears to be the impossible can be tackled with the simplest of things.
Aileen: Sam is our nutritional and wellness lifestyle guru. I deal more with the fitness side and aim to explain the benefits, type, method, and progressional nature of physical exercise.
We hope to give them a balanced approach to improving their health and fitness by encouraging them to make small changes that add up to big results. Ultimately we want to give them the best (realistic and practical) advice, and by doing so educate them in how to tackle this crazy game of life in a shrewd, strong and confident manner.
Who is your ideal reader?
Sam: Someone who is open minded and willing to take control and responsibility for their health and happiness.
Aileen: Any lady who is interested in improving her own health and fitness. My area of expertise is with the antenatal and postnatal market so I would love to appeal to those readers too – I have so much good, practical information on how to exercise safely and effectively during these stages and a blog seemed like a great way to do it!
What’s been your biggest challenge in starting the blog?
Sam: The name!!!
Aileen: Firstly, how to embrace my inner blogger! It takes a while to have the confidence to publish what you write! Secondly, becoming familiar with the software for publishing the blog and then finding the best way to let people know about us.
How do you plan to grow your blog?
Sam: Get as many people as possible to share the link and comment on their progress and usefulness of the blog.
Aileen: We would love to give the blog more exposure and increase the amount of comments and feedback from readers. We would also like to add our own film clips to it (of various topics that we are writing about).
What’s it like starting a venture like this with a friend?
Sam: The best thing I have ever done. I have worked alone for years – although I have had great mentors, they have not been involved in my business and I miss not having someone to bounce ideas off of.
Aileen: It’s been great. Sam and I have always got on really well and trust each other too – we even shared a flat together at one stage – so it has been a pleasure to start working with her.
We are lucky to share a passion and I have already learnt a lot from Sam. It can be lonely being self-employed so it is great to have something like the blog to work on together.
How do you balance work with family life?
Sam: Ooh – the daily fire-fight. Despite practicing what I preach, I still hit the road running of a morning, but my priority has always been my children. I have made sure I am here every morning before school and always at home for them getting in.
I still have one at nursery so three of my five day week is half days so as we get a little bit of time together. My business is at my home so sometimes it can be very difficult to turn off as appointments come through at all times. Discipline is required to try and not be on a gadget updating things!
Aileen: It’s tricky, there is no doubt about it! Trying to fit everything in takes skilled planning and organisational skills, and thankfully that’s something most mums are blessed with!
I have only recently started working properly again since having my girls, and I think being self-employed gives you the flexibility to make it work as best you can.
As both of my girls are at school now I use the time that they are there to do my work. This includes teaching my classes, writing the blog, planning and admin for the business as well as trying to do the other stuff to keep the family ticking over. I don’t teach on a Friday so try to do something just for me then, quite often involving a trip to a coffee shop!
What’s your best secret fitness tip?
Sam: Digging deep and listening to your body. Only you know how you feel and if you listen hard enough, you will know what and when to eat, sleep and move.
Aileen: I have three:
- Find an activity that you enjoy! There is no point plodding around the streets if you would enjoy a funky dance class instead.
- If you are serious about committing to your fitness try and find a training partner. It is a proven motivational tool!
- You can always do one more rep!!!!