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 home 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). After a couple of years as a personal trainer, I decided I wanted to step up my game; so completed the MacNutritionUni course and became a certified-nutritionist. And in 2019 I completed the pre & postnatal coaching certification with Girls Gone Strong.

I try to make sure I am always learning and growing, and make sure that I put everything I’ve got into my business and my clients and my constant education. There is always more to know and the human body is incredibly interesting. In 2020 I joined RealMVMT to start learning from legends like Ben Patrick, AKA thekneesovertoesguy, and I’ve been part of Lift the Bar for years – a personal trainer education platform. Both platforms constantly help me grow in my knowledge and skill as a coach.

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 and online coaching 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. People spend so much time obsessing over the number on the scale that they miss out on all of the many wonderful benefits you get from training that aren’t weight-related. 

You are more than what your body looks like.

Strength training is a wonderful tool that helps people start to know themselves, and love themselves. It allows you to appreciate your body for what it can do. The strength you gain in the gym can translate the strength you feel in the rest of your life. 

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.

There’s nothing wrong with having aesthetic goals. I just think strength goals are more fun.

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, and there’s evidence that shows it can be very successful in helping manage symptoms alongside proper medical help.

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.

Coaching clients benefit from a programming system designed to help strengthen minds, not just bodies. Helping you love and respect yourself through small daily and weekly tasks.

Top 5 most listened to episodes of 2020

Ban Hass - on feminism, fitness and mental health (iTunes)

Kelechi Okafor - on fitness, spirituality and motherhood (iTunes)

Michaela Breeze - on weightlifting, technique and sexism (iTunes)

Gregg Slater - on health, longevity and training smarter (iTunes)

Ben Patrick - on building unbreakable knees (iTunes)

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