Saturday 1 October 2016

'There is really no excuse not to exercise'- Model and personal trainer Laura Scanlon

Model and personal trainer Laura Scanlon set her fitness goals up for life when she started athletics training aged just eight. She tells our reporter her efforts consist of 30pc workout, 70pc food, and why she believes strong is the new skinny

Published 03/05/2016 | 02:30

Laura Scanlon has modelled internationally in Dubai and South Africa. Photo: Cameron McDonald.
Laura Scanlon has modelled internationally in Dubai and South Africa. Photo: Cameron McDonald.
Cheat meal - a burger.
Green juice
Oats with cranberries
Sweet potato
Broccoli
Yoghurt with blueberries
Omelette with spinach

Fitness is not a fad for Laura Scanlon, it is and always has been a state of mind. Laura began running at the tender age of eight and has been adding different strings to her fitness bow ever since.

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"Throughout all of my teens I competed in athletics and I was quite good," Laura explains. "I won the All Irelands when I was 14, continuously did well at the Dublin level in cross country, and at a school level we won some national relays and that went on until I was 18."

Laura's love of sport and fitness made her choice of college quite a natural one; she studied for a degree in Leisure Management in DIT and followed this up with a course in Exercise and Health Fitness at the University of Limerick.

It was during this time in Limerick that Laura was asked to take part in the Miss Ireland pageant, which was to become the catalyst for her modelling career.

"Modelling was always just a part-time thing, but then it took off in Ireland quite well and after college I moved to Dubai for a year with my boyfriend, and I got a lot of modelling work there," Laura says.

In Dubai Laura discovered CrossFit. "I didn't get 100pc hooked on it like a lot of people do, but it is good," Laura explains.

"Initially I loved it and I thought the changes that I saw in my body were great; I leaned out and I got stronger and it was all very new to me.

Read more: 'I find it quite tough emotionally' - Irish Bodybuilder Jenni Murphy on why you need more than physical strength to compete

"So CrossFit really opened up my eyes. It made me aware of how the body moves. People don't realise that we squat more than 100 times a day and if you are not squatting properly, then you are not moving properly. CrossFit really taught me about the way the body moves and the importance of having good mobility and it was a great platform for me to then move on from and add to."

Laura even studied for her Level 1 CrossFit training certificate and did a year-long apprenticeship in Ireland on her return.

"I learned so much in that year of training and it's not that I don't enjoy CrossFit now, but I just decided to combine everything that I have learned along the way, from CrossFit, my college days and my time competing in athletics," says Laura, who uses this multi-disciplinary approach in her new online training programme BodyZone.ie.

"I wouldn't have your typical size-zero model figure, I have always had an athletic figure," Laura says.

"I think it's really healthy for young people especially, to see that strong really is the new skinny; being healthy and fit is so important."

Laura also practices what she preaches and brings this varied approach into her own personal fitness regime.

"I love changing it up every week, I might do spinning a couple of times a week or get on the treadmill and do sprints, one minute on and one minute off for 20 minutes.

"I really love high-intensity stuff and getting a great sweat on," she explains. "I do a lot of weights too, but not too heavy, I like to keep it at a nice level."

And as Laura is currently living in the fitness-conscious city of Cape Town, there are always lots of options to choose from.

"South Africa is such a fitness-loving country, there are so many different classes that you can do and I love trying out all the different high-intensity classes I can.

"I go to a class called Switch for example, which is a mixture of plyometrics, boxing, high-intensity functional movement, so every week I will try something different," Laura says.

"I am constantly coming up with new fitness videos for my website too so I am mixing exercises from a number of different areas into various combinations."

And Laura certainly doesn't mess about when it comes to getting a sweat on.

"I think keeping things at a high intensity is really important because it can be a long old slog if you are just jumping on the treadmill and going for a long slow run, plus you are not going to see results that way; you have to mix it all up," Laura says.

"I will definitely workout at least six days a week. Then on the seventh day I might just rest or I might go for a walk - down here there are beautiful hikes you can do - and some days I might just do Pilates; it is about listening to your body and what it needs.

"You don't want to overdo it either," Laura adds. "I think my body is so used to training from such an early age and that really contributes to my schedule.

"I wouldn't smash it every day in the gym, but I would definitely be physical for at least 30 minutes to an hour every day. There really is no excuse not to exercise. That's what life should be about; feeling good and moving correctly."

So how does Laura approach nutrition?

"I don't believe in diets," she answers immediately. "I think that what works for me is just eating well and having three meals a day. Breakfast is so important. If you don't have breakfast it really sets you up on the wrong foot for the day.

"I just eat well, good carbs - sweet potato, brown rice, fruit - everything in moderation is my policy.

"It's simple if you are just cutting out the crap, then you are paying attention and will realise what you are taking in," Laura adds.

"Exercise is 30pc and food needs to be 70pc of the effort; you can be exercising to the extreme, but if you are not eating well it is not going to happen for you and a lot of people get that the wrong way around."

* For more information on Laura's training programme, see bodyzone.ie

Laura's day on a plate

Breakfast:

Overnight oats (which I would have soaked in almond milk) with some cranberries, raisins, flax seeds and chia seeds. An almond milk cappuccino.

Snack:

Nuts or a Greek yoghurt with blueberries (and I might add some almond butter to that for energy if it's before training).

A green juice with spinach, celery, spirulina, apple, ginger.

Lunch:

An omelette with spinach, avocado and cottage cheese.

Dinner:

A chicken breast with herbs, extra virgin olive oil, sweet potato, broccoli and carrots.

Treats:

If I wanted a bar of chocolate I would have it. I definitely have a sweet tooth, but I would opt for a darker chocolate of maybe 60pc with a flavour in it. I don't deprive myself and at the weekends I would definitely have a cheat meal; pizza or a burger.

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