About Pennie Varvarides

Pennie’s Story

My journey into fitness started on my 10th birthday, when my dad took me along to a Taekwon Do club he’d joined a week or so before. I was the only kid in the class at the time. I’m not sure my dad was even supposed to take me with him to be honest. I fell in love with training and slowly over time I worked my way up to black belt. Just before starting university I achieved my 2nd dan, was teaching in a couple of different schools and even started training with the England Squad.

Unfortunately, the pull of student life proved to be too much and the training was soon traded in for boozing. After uni I did a post grad in magazine journalism and started my new life as a journalist. A few years later and I was stiff, over-weight and still drinking on a daily basis. One office I worked in even had a drinks trolly on a Friday afternoon. I looked at my old TKD friends, who were still training, still climbing the ranks and still bringing homes medals on a national and international stage and I wondered how I let this happen.

So, inspired by their successes, the ill health of family members and the desire to be able to run for a bus without gassing out, I went in search of a solution. I joined a local kickboxing club. On the surface this was about losing some weight and being more healthy. Little did I know this was the first domino to fall towards a whole new life for me.

Becoming a personal trainer was a fortunate stroke of serendipity. As was the England Athletics run coach training (and the running of New York Marathon with New Balance in 2017). The 12-month MacNutritionUni course I’m undertaking was very much on purpose though.

I have written for and edited numerous publications over the years, both print and online, with topics ranging from LED lighting to aerospace to health and wellbeing. These days I mostly work with 1-2-1 coaching clients and online and in-person nutrition clients, but the door is always open to the journalist life and when inspiration calls I’ll still pen the story. 

Pennie On Strength Training

Strength is often over-looked by newbies, runners, those looking to lose weight, and various other people really. People focus too much on the number on the scale or whether you can see those abs pop through, and not enough on making themselves stronger. The problem with this is twofold. For one, spending all your energy focussing on aesthetics and kilograms will leave your mental health a little beaten. This allows insecurities to grow and eat you from the inside.

Focusing on strength goals or skill goals allows you to change perspective. The motivation to keep training will grow as you get closer to your goal, which means if you want to pick up 100kg, you’ll keep practicing. It also means you can let yourself have a snack sometimes without beating yourself up for it.

Most of the time when someone wants to lose weight, what they really want is to feel comfortable in their body. And if you want to feel comfortable in your body, you have to treat it better. Strength training will give you the confidence to not only strut around life in your wonderful body, but it’ll give you the confidence to try new things, meet new people and generally be an even more awesome you.

Pennie On Mental Health

In a society like ours, mental health is often ignored and stigmatised. We are told to pretend to be ‘normal’ or to go somewhere where nobody has to see. Exercise can be a way to help cope with whatever ails you; it’s been proven to improve mental wellbeing.

I am always open to talking to my clients if they need a chat and am always understanding if someone feels anxious or distressed. I’m not the sort of trainer that is going to yell at you and make you do things you could never do. I’m going to teach you how to do the things as we go along, safely and controlled, and I’m going to help you feel comfortable enough that you can even do it on your own.

We’ve all had our own mental struggles and I don’t see why these should be seen any differently to any physical struggles. So I have a ‘don’t be a dick’ sort of policy. I’ll always have your back.

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