Strong Friends Interview: Asha Hibbert
Welcome to the Strong Friends Series
I will be chatting to inspirational and outstanding personalities in this series to learn more about how different people manage their health and wellbeing, get an insight into their various journeys and find out what makes them tick.
You will meet some of my peers in the health and fitness industry, business professionals, athletes and more.
My first victim is the delightful Asha Hibbert, who is very much much a kindred spirit of mine and, as you can see, our philosophies on health are very closely aligned.
I chatted to Asha about her life, work and training.
Asha is a Yorkshire born and bred, self-confessed health and fitness fanatic. From being in every school sports team going, to competing in Heptathlons at National level, becoming a Personal Trainer (and now yoga teacher) was a natural career route for her.
She loves all things training, nutrition (basically anything involving food) and yoga related and finds sharing her wealth of knowledge with her clients one of the most rewarding aspects of her job.
Having a keen interest in functional medicine means she takes a very holistic approach to her clients wellbeing. By looking at all aspects of health (such as digestion, mindset, sleep, energy levels etc) and addressing any areas that are coming up short, her clients feel supported and results are inevitable.
When she isn't whipping her clients into shape on the gym floor or teaching yoga, you will probably find her exploring a new country and culture or tucking into something delicious. Her love of the health and fitness industry has taken her around the world to continue her learning and also to a 4 year teaching stint in some of the top studios in Hong Kong.
Do you have a favourite quote or mantra?
'You don't have to be great to start but you have to start to be great'
Where do you work and train?
I personal train and teach yoga at The Sporting Club. A boutique gym in the heart of Wapping, East London.
Tell me about your sports and fitness background?
I was involved with many sports at school including netball, hockey, cross-country and athletics. By the time I reached high school I focused more on athletics and heptathlons to be specific. I actually competed against Jess Ennis back in the day and am proud to say that the only person who beat me in that competition went on to become an Olympic Gold medalist :)
What do you like most about working in the health & fitness industry?
It is a very rewarding job. You often see physical changes in clients as they build better nutrition and exercise habits which is really great but the most inspiring and rewarding part for me, is to see the internal blossoming that comes about through realising how strong and capable they are.
Who’s your inspiration in the industry?
Serena Williams is my ultimate girl crush. She is so unapologetic in all that she does. Strong, muscular, outspoken and also happens to be one of the best tennis players of all time. She has overcome some major hurdles to get where she is today and, for me, that shows strength of character and makes her real, relatable and inspiring.
Can you summarise your training philosophy?
Do what you can, where you are, with what you have available to you. Every single person can find a way to be the best version of themselves.
Do you have a favourite place to train?
I love training outside. When I lived in Hong Kong I used to do a Modified Strongman class every Sunday morning at The Hong Kong Football Club. I love being out in nature whenever I can.
Where’s your favorite place to eat in London?
This is a tough one as there are just so many places but the one that springs to mind right now is Shot, just off Fleet Street. They serve up delicious healthy meals at affordable prices with many vegetarian, vegan and allergen-free options too. They really have thought of everything.
What’s the story behind starting your business and becoming a yoga instructor?
I guess I have been lucky in the sense I have always been sporty and enjoyed all things physical. I enjoy exploring what my body is capable of in terms of strength and learning new skills but am acutely aware not everyone feels this way.
I started personal training over 8 years ago now, with the main goal of sharing my passion and hoping to inspire others to stay fit and healthy too. Along the way, I realised a huge proportion of my clients were extremely stressed and an hour of intensive weights workout might not actually be the most beneficial thing for them, which is why I decided to train as a yoga teacher too. I will often start or end my sessions with some yoga flow to clear the mind and bring some balance back my clients' hectic lives.
Tell me about your favorite Client Success Story?
I have crossed paths with some truly inspiring people through my work. To the client recovering from cancer, who still managed to turn up to sessions exuding positivity and with a beaming smile, to the pregnant mum of three (soon to be four) who still managed to prioritise her training and health. There really are so many I could talk about but my favourite would have to be (let's call her) M.
M was my first ever client after I qualified. Her goal was to lose weight and get fit. When she first started, she would only train at 6am so the gym would be empty and no one would see her. She would always position herself so she didn't have to look at herself in the mirror and her posture reflected her low self-esteem. Through sheer grit and determination dedicating herself 3 times per week for 2 years, she lost a whopping 20kg. More importantly, she gained self-confidence and pride in her body's strength and abilities. We also completed a sprint triathlon together and the Brighton 10k race for life. I still look back and wonder how the hell she managed to rope me into that Triathlon!!
She left London when I moved to Hong Kong probably not knowing that she also taught me many things. Namely to believe in myself and my abilities and the huge potential I had to make a positive change in people's lives. I am pleased to say we are still in touch to this day and are hoping to meet up in London soon.
Any advice to people wanting to start their fitness or yoga journey?
I'd say do it. It's as simple as that. Find a way and make it happen. Years ago, I read a very thought-provoking quote that has stuck with me ever since...
'If it's important enough, you will find a way, if not, you will find an excuse'
For every barrier, there is a solution. Whether it is real or imagined make it your mission to work around or through it and keep your eyes on the prize. Investing in yourself, your health and your happiness is the greatest gift you can give to yourself. You only get one body, treat it well and most importantly enjoy the ride.