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We recently sat down with Lavina Mehta, a British Asian award-winning personal trainer, speaker and mum of three! In 2020, Lavina was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to health and fitness.
Lavina was inspired by statistics that revealed Asians are less physically active, with a higher risk of illness, and has been dedicated to helping people of all ages stay healthy and mentally positive throughout lockdown and beyond.
We sat down with Lavina to learn more about her journey and what she’s learned along the way.
For those who may not know your journey so far, can you give us an introduction to yourself?
Before lockdown I launched a national campaign to “Get UK Asians Fit”. I left my corporate career as a Project Manager, after my 3rd son 13 years ago and helped my mum self-publish her healthy cookery book “Feel Good with Food.” I started my own wellness journey only 10 years ago when I joined a gym and fell in love with the power of Strength Training. I requalified 3 years ago as a PT and have trained women 1-1, in groups, & now in my virtual online Facebook community & via my Online Training App. I also work with businesses to promote workplace wellness. I have written & contributed to numerous articles on Health & Fitness, have my own column, as well as being a Keynote speaker on events.
I provided free twice-daily virtual workouts through the lockdowns with my family, aimed at keeping people of all ages healthy & mentally positive. I also continue to provide my free specially designed chair workouts, in English & Gujarati, with my 74-year-old mother-in-law, which have been featured on TV & radio.
We can see you do a lot of exercise with your mother-in-law and that you're a mum yourself. What advice would you give to someone who's just starting their fitness journey, particularly if they are a mum or elderly?
Start “exercise snacking!”. It’s quick, easy, fun, time-efficient and officially the healthiest form of snacking there is! Remember every minute counts and my concept of "Exercise Snacking!" helps break the barriers of time, cost & motivation.
You don’t have to have fancy equipment or join a gym. All my workouts can be done from home, and I know how busy life can be as mums and women. Be kind to yourself and set small, short term realistic goals and keep a track of your progress.
Remind yourself why it’s important. Make it your “me time!”. An opportunity to escape from your everyday stresses, reenergise and practice some self-care. It’s so important to look after yourself so that you can look after those around you well. Be consistent, realistic and patient. Remember that every minute counts and will help you Feel Good!
What would you say are the key components for a good workout?
Strength Training is a key, often overlooked/missed component which is key in helping us maintain our muscle mass as we age, reduce risks of osteoporosis, helps lower blood sugar levels, is an antidepressant and will help you hit/maintain a healthy weight. We should all be aiming to do 2 strength training workouts at minimum a week, as well as hitting our cardio/aerobic targets.
Mobility is so important especially with the rise in sedentary lifestyles and the challenges of working from home and sitting for too long. Simple mobility snacks will help reduce risks of back and neck pain and keep the joints mobile.
All my workouts are designed to cover my ‘Feel Good Fitness Prescription’ of Mobility, Cardio, Strength Training and Stretch.
Do you have any mantras to live by that have helped you achieve better wellbeing, that you'd like to share with our readers?
My slogan is to "Exercise for Sanity not Vanity.". It’s not about how we look but how we feel and how exercise helps boost our mental health which is of utmost importance after the pandemic.
“Use exercise as medicine!” my mission is to help ALL ages Feel Good physically & mentally. Use exercise as medicine to help reduce risks of common chronic illnesses.
“Age is just a number/it’s never too late!” this has been proven by the thousands of elderly people that have joined my free workouts. I even have a 100 year old lady join every week in a residential care home which is incredibly inspiring!
You do a lot of work with charities like Diabetes UK and have received an MBE, we'd love to know what achievement you are proudest of in your journey so far?
Never ever did I imagine that studying in the evenings once my kids were asleep, for my own knowledge about fitness after seeing how it helped me physically and mentally, would ever even lead onto a new career path!
From only becoming a PT 3 years ago and then being hit by the pandemic, and just a wild idea to go live on my Instagram in March 2020 (before other PTs had even started) just to help boost people’s mood, combat loneliness, boost our immune systems and help people…to where I am today.
I never imagined I’d receive an MBE in my wildest dreams or that I would be in a position where I can help raise awareness, help people become healthier, be a role model and give back through my charity work. I hope it helps inspire others to follow their passions and dreams. I am most proud that I can help people Feel Good!