Welcome to a new series where I speak to the trainers and fitness professionals who inspire me the most. Many of them come from completely different backgrounds to one another, with their own approach to fitness, movement and health. I believe that there is no single one way to move, and for many of us, training in a variety of ways is both the most effective, and most enjoyable approach. I hope that this series will inform you of new ways to move, and even encourage you to try something new.
Emily Young is a Pilates teacher, social media marketer, triathlete and author of the blog Emily’s Journal. She has to date, completed three IRONMAN triathlons, and is an ambassador for Sweaty Betty, Liv cycling and Zone3. I was fascinated to see that a triathlete came from a Pilates background and was curious to learn about how the different disciplines impact her approach to training.
Briefly describe yourself and your work.
I have one of those multi-hyphenated jobs where I do a but of everything! Primarily, I plan and create social content for brands/bloggers on a freelance basis, which also involves taking care of ambassador relations and brand partnerships. I also do some strength and conditioning coaching and teach Pilates some evenings a week, as well as run my own blog: Emily’s Journal. I really love that I get to mix it around and always be creative in my role(s)!
Pilates often gets lumped into the same category as yoga, creating confusion around the discipline. Can you explain the process of becoming a Pilates teacher, and what makes it unique?
I actually got into Pilates due to a back injury… it’s the perfect rehab (and pre-hab) for anyone doing sport. For me, Pilates is less holisitic than what I would use yoga for, and more about focusing on my strength and mobility imbalances caused from long distance triathlon. I think too many people ask so much of their bodies, be it with HIT workouts, running or competitive sports, and fail to support it with something like Pilates.
Throughout my injury, Pilates quickly became my best friend! I got my coaching qualification over a 6-8 month course and I absolutely love coaching it, and having it in my own training routine.
Training for a triathlon means you’re working on three skills rather than one, plus cross training. What does your training week look like and how does it vary pre- and post-race?
I compete in Ironman triathlon which is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and then a marathon (26.2 mile run)… as you can imagine it requires quite a lot of training! My training volume really depends on where about’s I am in the race calendar, it can vary from 7 hours of training per week, up to 19 if a race is coming up!
Over the winter which is my ‘off-season’, I am much less strict about following a plan and tend to enjoy some time doing new workouts and classes that I don’t normally manage to fit in. I also use this time to really focus on my s&c programme, which naturally reduces closer to a race.
Roughly, I swim around 3 times a week, I do a few turbo sessions and one long ride which turns into a brick session nearer a race (a run off the bike), and then run around 3 times per week. I do a minimum of 2 s&c sessions per week, plus x2 short pilates sessions.
Do you bring aspects of Pilates into your strength training or triathlon sessions?
Pilates is a permanent fixture within my week, though it’s an addition and I use as more of a pre-hab tool. I think Pilates is great because you can squeeze a great 15 minute session in from the comfort of your home, and it’s so beneficial!
Is there any room for any other sports or workouts in your week?
I really love Cross-fit style workouts and love to add ‘finishers’ to my s&c sessions – I don’t get to do this as much closer to a race as my legs are usually finding my other workouts tough enough, without adding more!
What advice would you give to someone trying to decide whether to focus their training on strength vs cardiovascular?
I would definitely say that you don’t (and probably shouldn’t) have to substitute one for another!
How do you manage stress and overwhelm from a full-on work and training schedule?
Since taking up this sport I have become really efficient with my time, and really good at planning! I pretty much have every day/week planned out before it starts, so I already know which sessions I can and can’t hit! I think always taking a moment to gain some perspective is important to stop feelings of being overwhelmed – I frequently have to remind myself that I am not a pro, I do this for fun, and so it’s really not the end of the world if I miss a session because of more important things like work or social events!
Is there such thing as a typical day or morning routine for you?
Very rarely! My training and work is so different everyday which definitely keeps it interesting! Every morning differs and I can often find myself out the house by 6am, but on a morning where I am not training/back home for after training, I always start my day with a shot of Symprove (a probiotic that I swear by), a cup of tea and a nice breakfast!
You’re a Yorkshire lady, and this site celebrates all things northern. Do you have a favourite couple of foodie hangouts?
I love Yorkshire! I’m a big Filmore & Union fan for sure, which are ideally dotted around some of the best Yorkshire towns.