Live the brand. A maxim that’s never been truer than in the world of health and fitness; a maxim that Lauren Harpham has no trouble sticking to.
Arriving in gym wear, with a massage chair under one arm and other fitness paraphernalia under the other, sporting a grin from ear-to-ear and stacks of enthusiasm, I knew from the moment Lauren arrived at Knapton HQ that this would be a fun #KnapChat.
Born and raised in Grimsby, with a degree from the University of Leeds and now enjoying a fledgeling career in Perth, Australia, Lauren’s knowledge of – and unrivalled passion for – sport, nutrition, exercise and health has motivated her on a remarkable journey.
I was fortunate enough to chat with Lauren before her big move to Australia (she returned to the UK after working for five years in Aus between 2010 and 2015), and recently caught up with her once more now that she has got settled into her new life in the Commonwealth, having moved back there just a couple of months ago.
If you’re interested in healthy living – from dieting and nutrition to exercise, sport science and wellbeing – this is the #KnapChat you’ve been waiting for!
KW: When and how did your health and fitness journey first start? Was it something you were always interested in?
Lauren: At the age of 12, I started running for Cleethorpes Athletics club and absolutely loved it! I then went on to run at county, regional and national level and that fundamentally was where my love for all things fitness started.
After finishing school, I went onto study sport science at college and then at university. I’ve worked within the Health and Wellness industry for over 15 years now and have never looked back. I’m really lucky that I discovered my lifetime career at a young age and all these years on I still absolutely adore what I do!
KW: Are there any common misconceptions of your job?
Lauren: That all personal trainers are physically fit! There are a lot who definitely don’t practice what they preach!
KW: What are the most common muscular aches, pains and issues you see in clients?
- Lower back problems due to poor posture or lifting technique.
- Shoulder and neck problems due to hunching over mobile phones and computers all day. Sitting is the new smoking!
KW: How have you been able to build such a strong relationship with clients?
Lauren: I’m a real “people person” and love meeting new folk! I find people in general really interesting…everyone, no matter who they are, has a good story to tell and everyone can teach you something new!
I’d also like to think that I can relate to most individuals, admittedly I’m not the quietest of creatures so I think that has massively helped me build strong relationships along the way.
KW: Is social media a damaging or useful tool for self-esteem/body confidence?
Lauren: Hmmm this is an interesting one! If you’d have asked me this question six months to a year ago I’d have probably it was more damaging than useful in relation to self-esteem and body confidence, however, more recently I feel there’s been a push to reinforce that things are not always as rosy as they look on the ‘gram!
I feel that the whole “Insta vs reality” content, the increase of ‘plus-size models’ marketing and the increase of mental health awareness has really helped. I do however really feel for the younger generation. Adolescents are at such a vulnerable phase of their life in relation to forming their own identity and I personally think that the rise of social media just adds to those ever-demanding social pressures.
KW: What can be done to make the digital world more positive and motivational in terms of self-esteem and body confidence and reduce the issues we often see reported in the news?
Lauren: Keep promoting the fact that not everyone has to look or act a certain way to be fit, sexy or a cool kid! Love and accept who you are and cherish the fact that only you are you and that is your superpower! Total cringe but I remind myself of this daily! It’d be such a boring world if we were all the same!
KW: What are your thoughts on body positivity in the media? Are we now seeing a more proportional representation of our society’s diverse range of body shapes and sizes?
Lauren: The media and brands are doing much better with this whole game now. It used to be very “you need to be skinny and look a certain way”, whereas now I feel that everyone is embracing a range of body sizes and physiques.
There are loads more plus-size stuff now, with the likes of ASOS and Nike offering huge ranges of plus-size clothing and sportswear.
KW: What, in your opinion, is the key to a healthy diet?
KW: So what food(s) do you find yourself recommending the most?
Lauren: Proteins, good fats and green veggies!
KW: What is an average day at the office like?
Lauren: I work as a Health and Wellness Coordinator on a remote island in Western Australia. I’m what you a call a FIFO (Fly In Fly Out) worker. The particular island that I work on also happens to be a class A nature reserve. I work on a 2-week-on, 1-week-off rotation. Once I’m flown onto the island I stay there and work 12 hour days for 2 weeks straight and then fly out and have 1 week off back in the city before flying back onto the island again.
My workday starts at 7:30 am and finishes at 7:30 pm and involves instructing fitness classes for the residents, nutritional advice, personal training, cleaning the gyms, developing health and wellness programs, the planning and delivery of health promotion events, nature spotting (the turtles are my fave) and training.
KW: Wow, sounds amazing! Drawing from your own experience and learnings, how interlinked are health and happiness?
Lauren: Personally I think they are so interlinked! It’s all about finding a happy medium and balancing everything accordingly!
KW: From Cleethorpes to Perth is quite the journey. How proud are you of your Grimbarian roots?
Lauren: Extremely proud! Cleethorpes is somewhere I will always call home. Even though I’m pretty settled here, it is always the place I go to just completely zone out.
I loved growing up by the seaside and still love running down there. I’m very proud to be from Cleethorpes; it’s full of good people and I tell everyone all about it when I’m out here. Your northern roots definitely determine who you are – we love a good brew after all!
KW: What’s the best piece of advice you can provide for someone hoping to lead a healthier lifestyle?
Lauren: Make small, realistic changes.
KW: What’s the biggest misconception people have about dieting?
Lauren: That you have to starve yourself to lose weight.
KW: You worked in Australia a few years ago, then moved back to Cleethorpes, before recently venturing back down under. How difficult was it to up sticks and move back to Australia?
Lauren: Ironically it was probably one of the easiest, most stress-free things I’ve done! I know it sounds crazy but when things are meant to be, everything seems to fall into place so easily!
KW: What’s the best thing about the job?
1. Our team – it’s so full of huge happy characters! Morale is always high and they’re absolute crackers!
2. Kangaroos, turtles and running by the ocean!
3. The site that we work on – the facilities are incredible! There are not many mine sites in the world that have the facilities and services that we do. I’m a lucky gal! I also have the pleasure of instructing spin (my fave) on state of the art bikes in a banging room on camp.
KW: How do you fit exercise into your busy professional and social life?
Lauren: When I ran my own business, Soul Healthy Nutrition, I found it incredibly difficult, so I just used to take part in my clients’ sessions. I actually very rarely got to go for my own run and do my own exercise, which for me is my therapy.
However, now that I’m up on-site down here, it’s completely different. Every lunch break I go out and train by myself. It’s my own time when I can be in my own head. It’s like a little therapy session running along the ocean.
We teach one class each (sometimes two) every night. So every day I do two workouts, which is fantastic. Then, when I’m back in Perth, I have six days of R&R (rest and recuperation), which gives me time to do as much training as I want.
I find that I try not to train every day when I’m back in Perth because I’ve been doing two sessions a day every day for two weeks and my body needs a break.
KW: How has physical exercise helped you in your personal life in terms of mindfulness and happiness?
Lauren: It’s no secret that I am massively into anything to do with mental health, and exercise is the one thing that helps me regulate and keep balance in my life.
I’ve suffered from anxiety since I was 24, and I’m not ashamed to talk about it. Exercise is the one way that I can help manage that. If I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I’ll just go out for a run and come back thinking: ‘It’s all good. I’ve got this.’
I’m a massive believer that exercise is one of the medicines of life and I recommend it to anyone, for anything. Get out there and get moving!
Exercise and healthy eating are scientifically proven to improve mood and energy levels. That has never been made clearer than in the presence of Lauren, whose enthusiasm, passion and energy are so refreshingly infectious.
From thriving in her own business in Lincolnshire to being part of a wider organisation in Australia, Lauren not only lives her brand but also, through her own devotion for and excitement to health and fitness, ensures her many clients – who are now spread across multiple continents – do so too.
There are few people who represent what they preach as powerfully and undoubtedly as Lauren, and the only thing that makes that more impressive is when you consider what her brand illustrates: warmth, healthiness, mindfulness, peace, positivity, connection, confidence… Many things the world certainly needs more of; many things that we as a society should never get tired of experiencing.