'Influential women in fitness all look the same – I'm sick of trying to fit in'

Tig has loved sport and fitness for as long as she can remember, but when she tried to break into the industry she realised she didn’t have the ‘right look’.

So, she decided to launch her own fitness space that is inclusive for diverse women and free from judgement.

‘As a female business owner in the fitness industry, you come up against a lot and even more so when you are a mixed-race entrepreneur,’ Tig tells Metro.co.uk.

‘It takes a lot of scrutiny, doubt and people questioning you, and there was always a part of me that didn’t understand who I was and where I fit in.

Tig comes from a dance background, so she is used to being judged on her appearance, but she thought the fitness industry would be different.

‘I soon realised it was quite similar and those who were supposedly “influential”, all looked exactly the same.

‘I was trying to fit the mould, but again and  I was told I wasn’t “quite the right fit”.

‘So I thought, f*** it. I’ll create my own mouldless mould where you can be who you want to be and your personality and confidence is the only thing that matters.’

So Tig co-created StrongHer – a women-only fitness and wellbeing platform that’s provides a safe, accessible community for women.

It’s a space for women of all ethnicities, abilities and cultural backgrounds to find their confidence with resistance training, healthy eating and mindset training.

‘We educate, empower and enrich women to understand that nothing is impossible,’ says Tig.

‘By opening StrongHer spaces across the UK (the first one will open in January 2020) we aim to help every single woman realise they are limitless, and for this sense of self confidence to filter down to younger generations.’

Tig loved sports at school. She played every day and was even captain of the netball team and competed at county level. But she never thought that a career in sport was a viable option, so she switched her focus to dance and performance while she was at university.

‘It was only when I began working as a receptionist at a gym when I was 25 (a solid 6-8 years of not playing sport) that I became interested in weight-training.

‘I was a super cardio bunny and people kept saying I should be a PT – so I did. I wanted to know how to transform my body for myself, and at this point it was for aesthetic reasons too, I wanted to be lean and step onto a stage.

‘But it didn’t fulfill me. It was an incredible process and taught me a lot about myself, but it wasn’t what I wanted.’

Tig changed her motivation and now has goals that inspire her every day.

‘I want to be strong, move better, perform better, challenge my mind and my body. I realise now that I love the feeling of progress, the feeling that I’m not able yet, but I will be able.’

Tig is passionate about the benefits that fitness can bring to communities.She says working out in a gym can be lonely, but finding fitness friends can be an antidote to isolation.

‘When you begin to move your fitness regime into challenges or events, like turf games, marathons or maybe climbing – you begin to surround yourself with like-minded people who can relate to you, share your enthusiasm and your woes.

‘I find this really helps me to stay motivated, and it opens you up to new experiences and possibly new friends for life, which I have definitely found.

‘It also just makes life more exciting and challenging. I have days where nothing moves forward, there is no progress in my day-to-day life, so having fitness means that something is always accomplished.’

Tig is honest about how difficult it is to launch a successful business and maintaining a work-life balance. She says she often feels like she has a million balls in the air.

‘Honestly, everything is rather difficult at the moment and so finding time to train is my salvation,’ she says. ‘It’s a lot of mental strain, I think of it like spinning plates – it’s easy to forget about yourself.

‘When your whole life revolves around fitness, the last thing you want to do is motivate yourself to go and workout … so having that goal to work towards allows me to take 90 mins out three times a week for myself and switch off.

‘There are moments sometimes where I don’t want to talk to anyone, because things can feel overwhelming, so it’s in those moments I cherish heading into the gym or to any Olympic lifting class and letting myself focus on what my body can produce.’

Tig knows that strength is about so much more than the physical.

‘A strong woman is a woman who isn’t afraid to fail, isn’t afraid to look a fool ,and isn’t afraid to not follow the crowd sometimes.

‘A strong woman is not perfect and will never try to be but what she will always do is push for progression.’

She says women need to embrace their strengths and remind themselves of who they are without all the labels given to them by society.

‘We are not just titles… mothers, daughters, nieces, aunties,’ says Tig. ‘You and I are just ourselves.

‘Remembering all the incredible moments that got you to this very point, is the first step to recognising that you are resilient and strong and that there is more to you than you think!’

Strong Women

Strong Women is a weekly series that champions diversity in the world of sport and fitness.

A Sport England study found that 40% of women were avoiding physical activity due to a fear of judgement.

But, contrary to the limited images we so often see, women of any age, size, race or ability can be active and enjoy sport and fitness.

We hope that by normalising diverse depictions of women who are fit, strong and love their bodies, we will empower all women to shed their self-consciousness when it comes to getting active.

Each week we talk to women who are redefining what it means to be strong and achieving incredible things.

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