Tally Rye on intuitive exercise

Fitness, Health, Mind

Personal trainer and author Tally Rye is a total breath of fresh air in a fitness industry that can often feel like ‘one-size-fits-all’. Here she discusses saying no to diet culture, why we need to stop punishing ourselves through exercise and her guide to training intuitively…

What is intuitive exercise?

Intuitive fitness is all about approaching exercise as a form of self-care. It allows for flexibility and promotes the enjoyment of exercise as a motivational factor to move your body. It builds a strong connection to trust your body so you know when you need to slow down and when you have the energy to move more. It’s about rejecting the diet mentality and taking the pressure off aesthetics and thinking about the positive impact of exercise like brain health and getting stronger for everyday life. It puts you back in charge of your exercise regime.

Have you always trained intuitively?

No. I was at drama school studying musical theatre and it was a really physical style of training. Performing is an aesthetically driven job and your body is your CV, so I started going to the gym but my view of fitness was skewed because I was only presented a view of fitness about losing weight and being ‘lean’. I was looking at Instagram and did a lot of weight training because I was desperate for a six-pack. I saw people training six times a week so I thought I would follow the crowd.

Since qualifying as a personal trainer five years ago I’ve been on a journey and realised I was obsessed and had a lot of rules around my training. I am now asking myself the question if exercise doesn’t affect my weight, what do I enjoy doing? I have started swimming and doing pilates which I didn’t do before because I thought it didn’t make me sweat and burn calories. I work out less now and have found the fun in exercise.

Photo: Claire Pepper

What does a week of intuitive exercise look like for you?

I am teaching my two spin classes per week and aim to go to the gym once a week to do resistance training because I know it’s good for my body. I’m also doing a one-hour swimming lessons, which I’m using as a form of meditation. This week, however, I’m feeling super overwhelmed and I need to prioritise work things and I have Christmas parties so I’ll get back into the swing of things next week. I don’t feel any pressure anymore. I feel really calm with exercise and I’m not a slave to my exercise schedule.

So you can still have a workout schedule?

Can you intuitively train for a marathon, for example? Yes. We do respect you will have a training plan but it’s about the motivation behind why you want to run a marathon and allowing flexibility. Maybe one day a week you go off plan. It’s a very individual thing.

How has it changed your life?

I heavily relied on exercise and it’s encouraged me to think about all aspects of my mental wellbeing. A lot of people say exercise is their therapy and it can support your mental health in a really positive way but I also truly believe in therapy, which I am now getting. I would also not have had the brainpower to write my book when I was obsessed with going to the gym and meal prepping. It’s helped me as well to practice body neutrality. Before I would stand and analyse myself in the mirror and grab and pinch. Now I have let go of living up to a body standard that’s not meant for me genetically. I trust my body and enjoy food without guilt or shame.

How can others embrace intuitive exercise?

Firstly, start asking yourself what would you do if exercise wasn’t about aesthetics and weight loss. What would you like to do? Secondly, take your fitness tracker off and listen to your internal tracker. Thirdly, do a cull on Instagram of the fitness people that may make you feel pressured to look, eat or train a certain way. Find people who lift you up and follow a diverse range of bodies.

What can we expect from your book ‘Train Happy’?

It’s split into three sections, Happy, Eat and Train, and includes interviews with body image researchers, dieticians and psychologists, as well as an introduction to intuitive eating and what a healthy relationship with food looks like and a 10-week intuitive exercise guide. This book is for people who are exhausted from fighting and being at war with their bodies. It’s for people who want to enjoy fitness and to help more people feel included in the fitness scene. I want this book to stand out among all the other diet books coming out in January.

Train Happy: An intuitive exercise plan for every body by Tally Rye is published by Pavilion Books – out 9th January 2020.

By Sam

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