Meet a real life wonder woman, Laura Brown. A dancer, part time adventurer and Master Instructor at Psycle.
In need of a distraction and a challenge after an 8 year rocky relationship, she turned her attention to Ironman. A performance that led her to be snapped up by Team GB. She’s now in training for Everest.
Prepare to feel inspired…
Tell us about your early life as a dancer and journey to becoming a Master Instructor at Psycle.
I was always active as a child but this wasn’t through dance at first. I originally swam competitively as a child representing my home county and loved the idea of training hard and achieving success through hard work.
In my later school years, I found dance and fell in love. The body is such an incredible thing and movement is such a joyous experience. This journey took me to University and then on to performing professionally in my early 20’s. A key highlight was dancing in the Olympic Closing Ceremony in London 2012.
Even though I loved dancing, the industry wasn’t for me. I went back to teaching dance in the North of England but always intended to come back to London.
I found a job advert on a dance website about this new company called Psycle – so new the studio didn’t even exist, It was just an idea with some really passionate instructors.
As soon as Psycle opened its doors, the London community realised this wasn’t just your average spin class, this was an experience that took people away from the stress of city life and gave them a feeling of euphoria and strength all in one 45min workout.
I knew I’d found the perfect job for me and pursued the role of Master Instructor. My role now involves training and developing instructors from their first day on the academy right through to mentoring them 3 years on.
It’s an incredible honour to work with people who are so creative and passionate about changing people’s mindset through exercise.
What made you sign up to Ironman 70.3?
I actually signed up for my first Ironman 70.3 after breaking up with my ex after an 8 year relationship. My confidence and self-esteem was at a real low and I think I needed both a distraction and a challenge to help me get strong both physically and mentally.
I’d never even completed a triathlon, nor did I own a road bike but that didn’t matter. I set my mind to it and just figured it out as I went along!
It’s such a gruelling fitness challenge, did you have any fears or self doubt?
Loads! The first time I tried to ride my cleated road bike, I fell off – literally in the first 10 seconds! It knocked my confidence massively and I suddenly thought ‘What have I done??!!’ But these situations don’t define how far you can go, they simply set your starting point and you just have to suck it up and move forward from there.
There were a number of tears and tantrums along the way but there were only smiles when I crossed the finish line all those months later!
Do you think events like Ironman are female friendly or could more be done to appeal to women?
I definitely think there are far too few women taking on these sorts of challenges. On first glance, the Ironman events can be quite intimidating with lots of men racing around like absolute speed demons but the triathlon community is incredibly friendly and supportive!
I think women fear not being able to keep up in cycling/running clubs and therefore don’t try but there is definitely a change happening with more and more female focused groups appearing.
Social media often suggests that women’s fitness is more about elegant yoga poses with a flower in your hair or trendy athleisurewear as you work on your squats with a perfect french plait. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either of those but there’s also a place for women like me – covered in mud, bike grease, hair every wear and feeling just as happy with my body!
What would you say to encourage more women to take part in endurance event like Ironman?
That you don’t have to be great to start but you have to start in order to be great!
If it’s something you keep thinking about then you should go for it! Maybe to build your confidence, start with a shorter event like a sprint triathlon, olympic distance etc and build from there. Very often we talk ourselves out of things before we’ve even started and we let fear dictate how far we can go. This approach needs to change and maybe there’s something to be said for the more masculine approach of not over thinking and just trying!
Additionally, I personally like to train in unisex groups but if that doesn’t appeal to you, find a women’s cycling/running group where you feel comfortable.
4 months later, you entered your second Ironman 70.3. Did you get the bug?
Absolutely! I picked the wrong course for my first ever one as the bike course was extremely challenging and half way through the bike ride I swore I’d never do it again! But as soon as you cross the finish line all that pain completely vanishes and what you’re left with is unapologetic pride and a real love for your body and what it can do. Why would you not want to feel that all the time?
How did you feel securing a place with Team GB for the European Championships?
Securing a place in Team GB was a massive shock and the most incredible honour! To go from not being able to ride my bike to being selected in under a year was quite the journey!
I can’t describe how proud I felt and it just confirmed that if you work hard enough for something, you can do absolutely anything!!
How does training outdoors in nature make you feel. How would you encourage people to step outside those gym walls?
Training outdoors is my favourite! The views and scenery are constantly changing and if you pick your routes well then you spend most of your time distracted by some beautiful and breathtaking sights rather than focusing on how much time has passed or how many calories you’ve burned!
Nature also has a very calming effect and I think when you become connected to something that is so much bigger than you and all the things we can get so wrapped up in in our day to day it’s just as healthy for the mind as it is the body.
We hear Everest is next! How is training going so far?
It is, I cannot wait! Training for Base Camp is very different to anything I have done so far. My fitness levels are in a really good place so now it’s a case of building my body’s ability to cope in high altitude!
To do this i’m using an altitude training mask which limits the oxygen supply to the body and allows it to adapt. Hopefully this will limit the chance of me experiencing altitude sickness during the trek which can become really dangerous up at that height!
Find a way, not an excuse.