We first interviewed Flora Beverley for C-Heads in October 2016 since then she’s climbed a few mountains and punched a few opponents (in the boxing ring). We catch up with the Wonder woman again and this time for a for a more in-depth interview.
Interview and Photography by Ola Ajani
all images are unretouched
So tell us again Flora.. What got you into fitness?
I first started to focus on keeping fit when I was around 15, after I found a sport that I loved (squash). Before that I was never really ‘sporty’, but now I realise it was just because I hated team sports! I’ve always been pretty active though and competed in gymnastics throughout my childhood.
Was it seen as a normal thing back then?
When I first started opting to go to the gym in my free time, people thought I was crazy. Not only was smoking far cooler, anyone who did anything vaguely outside the norm was seen as super weird, and I definitely fit into that category!
Did you find people judged you for the way you looked?
I don’t think anyone did openly, but it always played on my mind that the skinniest kids were the most popular, and I was definitely not the ‘heroine chic’ look that everyone else was. When I joined the school aged 13, I was already muscular from years of gymnastics, which led me to think I was ‘fat’ because I couldn’t fit into the same clothes as the other girls, who were essentially still children. As I stopped caring and found a niche in sport, people started to comment that I was getting a little ‘too muscly’, but I also realised that there was a big group of people online that thought that muscle was awesome, so I just chose to identify with those people instead!
Do you see a shift with the trend of keeping fit nowadays? Why do you think most people try to keep fit?
Definitely – when I was at school keeping fit wasn’t a thing. Working out to keep skinny definitely was, but no one thought of anything other than the number of calories burned. Now there’s been a huge shift towards making fitness mainstream, and with that has come the rise of boutique fitness classes, fitness festivals and mainstream fitness wear you can wear all day long! Now I think most people have some awareness of the physical and mental benefits to keeping fit, and there aren’t the societal barriers to working out that there were before (for women especially).
Sustainability is important to you. What does sustainable fitness mean to you?
For me, sustainable fitness has two meanings:
The first is creating a fitness routine that you can keep up. It’s a lifestyle that benefits you both physically and mentally, and doesn’t leave you hating the gym after one week! I think it takes people a long time to get there, but without that balance, a fitness routine can never be sustainable. Find what works for you!
Secondly, sustainable fitness is to do with the clothes we wear. Unfortunately, with the rise of the fitness industry has come the rise of new gym wear every month, all contributing to environmental degradation in some way. I’m trying to take a more sustainable approach to the clothes I wear – I have so many workout outfits and really want to reduce the impact that each of them has!
“Unfortunately, with the rise of the fitness industry has come the rise of new gym wear every month, all contributing to environmental degradation in some way.”
What are some of your favourite sustainable brands?
A definite favourite would have to be Girlfriend Collective (pictured). Their clothes are made out of recycled fishing nets and water bottles. My Mantra Active and Stay Wild Swim (pictured) also have amazing sustainable swimwear, and I think other brands are moving in this direction too!
What would you say to yourself as a young woman heading to the gym for the first time?
First, have a plan. The gym can seem so overwhelming, especially when it seems like everyone else knows what they’re doing and you have no idea how to use the machines. Thankfully, often the simpler the better – dumbbells and some floor space should be enough, and by having a plan you feel less out of place. If you’re concerned about your form or how you should work out every week, my second piece of advice would be to get a personal trainer, even if only for one session. They can teach you how to do all the exercises and show you how to plan your workout. One session goes a long way to making you feel more confident and get the most out of a workout!
When and why did you become vegan?
I became vegan around 18 months ago, after being pescatarian (fish but no other meat) for 18 years. I decided to start eating a plant based diet after studying conservation, marine and environmental biology at university and deciding after learning all I had learned, I couldn’t keep eating fish and dairy.
What does a typical day look like for you? Foods?
There is no such thing as a typical day for me really! As a freelancer I have the joy of having a super varied life, and all the craziness that comes with it! I usually get up at around 7am without my alarm and try to work for a couple of hours in the morning (with a decaf mocha) before doing anything else. Breakfast is usually a couple of hours later when I start to get hungry. Getting some work out the way first thing makes me less anxious for the rest of the day. Assuming there are no events on, I’ll continue doing work such as messaging my social media consultancy clients, filming a YouTube, shooting some Instagram content or writing a blog post and maybe pop into the agency before lunch. I’ll head to the gym (which currently involves a lot of physio for my post-marathon injury) or go to boxing in the afternoon, before the 5pm rush. Evenings are usually filled with events and socialising, but I’ll always try to get to bed by 9:30pm! I always like to get 9h sleep a night, especially if I’m working out a lot. I’m almost always asleep by 10pm and try not to go on my phone right before bed!
“There’s literally something for everyone! Just get moving and enjoy it!”
As an influencer you get to work with some amazing brands: what are some of your favourite food and fitness brands?
I do! I am very lucky to be able to work with so many fantastic brands, including some that I’ve been using/wearing since I was a child, so that’s pretty cool that they even know who I am! Some favourites to work with are Philips, Nike, Asics, Mitsubishi and a bunch of hotels – i love travelling so anything that means I get to visit somewhere new is always a winner in my books!
Ok so we’re starting to come into warmer weather… how does this affect your approach to your diet/training and general routine?
I like to keep fit year-round, and don’t make a special effort to ‘tone up’ in the summer. Having said that, the sunshine and warmer weather tend to mean I spend more time outside, so that means I’m out and active more of the day. Diet wise, I’m less likely to eat carb-heavy meals as it gets warmer but again that’s not on purpose, I just prefer lighter meals (and more of them) as we move towards summer. A meal with plenty of veg, different colours, sourdough and olive oil is my favourite!
What advice can you give those who are now looking to Kickstart their commitment to fitness due to summer being around the corner?
What I would say is find a routine that’s sustainable for you. It can be really tempting to give it 110% for the first 4 weeks and then give up, because you’re hating what you’re doing. Finding a routine that gives you slow but steady progress is the best idea. Mix up your workouts – incorporate resistance training (yes, that means weights!), cardio, HIIT (high intensity interval training, like boxing) and LISS (low intensity steady state training, such as long walks) – as this means you’re less lily to get bored. Don’t like “gymming”? Go to a dance class! Prefer working out alone? Go for runs or do home workouts. There’s literally something for everyone! Just get moving and enjoy it!
What are you looking forward to in Spring/Summer 2019?
Summer is my favourite season, so mostly I’m just looking forward to the sunshine and warmth! Also, I’m doing physio at the moment to heal my knee from the marathon – hopefully by summer I’ll be recovered enough to go on some runs/big hikes up some mountains :) I’m doing a 10k race in a couple of weeks but have no more competitions/big events coming up other than that! Maybe I’ll do another boxing match just to keep me on my toes ;)
Photographer: www.instagram.com/t.h.e.o.a – www.ajani.me