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Oct 24, 2019

Roar your way to strength and fitness

Tony James talks to former Olympian and one of the UK's most successful personal trainers Sarah Lindsay

What have Melanie Sykes, Caroline Flack, Pixie Lott, Christine Lampard, Ellie Goulding and Sheridan Smith, to name but a few, got in common apart from being rich and famous?

They will tell you that their health, appearance, and almost anything else you care to mention, have all been changed by a former world class British speed skating champion with the uncanny ability to use personal training to motivate her clients to previously unimagined levels of fitness and wellbeing.

As a result, since retiring as ten times British speed skating champion and three times Olympian, Sarah Lindsay has become one of the county’s most successful personal trainers with an ever-growing list of celebrity clients and a reputation for inspiring people to achieve levels of fitness which they had assumed were far beyond their reach.

Drawing on her two decades of elite disciplined training and nutrition, Lindsay’s style is heavily focussed on weight training in order to burn fat and build muscle. She is passionate about passing on the benefits of building a toned trim figure through strength training and clients can expect to find themselves lifting loaded barbells or doing shuttled runs pulling a weighted sledge.

At 39, with the energy and physique of someone at least a decade younger, Lindsay is no taskmaster. The caring approach of the Roar Fitness gym she runs, with husband Rich Phillips, in London’s Aldgate, now overflowing with 300 clients, has paid off so spectacularly that two more London gyms will be opening in the next few months - both double the size of the original.

What is the secret of her extraordinary success since creating Roar Fitness in 2016? Simply, it’s: eat well, train three times a week and that’s it… But Lindsay maintains it’s the way you train that makes the difference and is adamant that weight-training is the only real answer to lasting weight-loss.

“We don’t do any cardio. I’m not anti-cardio but I don’t think you should pay a trainer to watch you run on a treadmill. Cardio is a calorieburner but in my experience it doesn’t deliver weighttraining’s long term results.”

What is just as effective, according to her celebrity clients, is Lindsay’s warm concern that clients will have the best chance possible of success. She listens to their needs, provides a non-daunting programme they can follow, and gives them the confidence to see it through in order to achieve whatever they set out to do.

“We provide a friendly environment and we have gone to the ends of the earth to get the best team of trainers there is. Our sites area not like normal gyms - they’ve got a real club feeling.”

Many clients become friends - singer Pixie Lott sang at Lindsay’s recent wedding - and many find it hard to believe what a difference becoming stronger, fitter and slimmer can make to their lives.

“A lot of people come to us because they don’t feel good,” Lindsay told us. “People are very nervous of the gym and the idea of using weights. Being able to put people’s minds at ease, having them come in feeling out of sorts and leaving feeling brilliant is very rewarding.

“A high percentage, particularly women, will actually be able to change their personality. Some people tell me they are self-conscious and ashamed of how they look and have reported an improvement in their sex lives after our course.

“We can literally change lives. We have cases where husbands haven’t seen their wives without clothes for five years. Others don’t go on holiday - one client had never been on holiday as an adult. After improving her health and figure, she went travelling for a year.

“I love being strong. Being physically capable of doing anything gives you huge confidence, and more and more people are looking for a more athletic, stronger, physique instead of just getting thinner.

“The secret of Roar Fitness is maintaining strength and muscle. With the right approach, almost anyone can achieve a flat toned stomach within 12 weeks, but that definition is ultimately dependent on being lean.

“People usually come to us to change what they look like but it always starts with strength. When you’re stronger you can train harder. The first thing you do is make somebody strong and then they can decide what they want to do with their body

“A transformation course is usually 12 weeks .You can do almost anything in that time if you have full commitment. You aim to give clients a taste of how it feels to be looked after like a world class athlete.

“As an elite athlete I had several people looking after me - physio, coach, nutritionist, psychologist,” Lindsay remembers. “So when I started personal training I put together a team of experts to provide a holistic experience.” For instance, clients have regular consultations with a nutritionist who adjusts meal plans based on their progress.

Recommended diets include an increased intake of fats, protein and vegetables at breakfast, lean meat or white fish at night. Daytime meals should contain most of your calories.

She believes that Roar’s focus on strength over cardio is down to her belief that calorie-counting is not a longterm solution. As soon as you stop exercising or eat more you will probably gain fat. But to become strong and increase muscle will improve your metabolism and keep fat off long-term.

“With weight-training you are changing your body composition. If, for example, you manage to gain 3lbs of muscle you are using an extra 150 calories a day by doing nothing. So if you have a break, go on holiday, or perhaps eat a bit extra you’re not going to gain weight straight away.”

Three-times Olympian and ten-times British short-course speed skating champion, Lindsay began her career as a figure-skater and was talent-spotted during a competition. After making the British team in 1996 she appeared in the 2002 Salt Lake City winter Olympics, Turin in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010.

A European gold medallist, double world silver medallist, she retired in 2010 and became strength and conditioning coach to Team GB figure-skaters before making the transition into full-time coaching and personal training.

“I wanted to help and inspire people to feel confident in themselves and achieve their personal goals,” Lindsay says. “I am passionate about health and fitness and what we do at Roar Fitness is based on performance, smart training and eating in order to perform.”

She also finds time to be an ambassador for Right to Play, which uses sport and play to educate and protect vulnerable children in some of the world’s poorest countries. “Sport continues to have a huge impact on my life,” she says. “And I feel passionately about its power to change the lives of children for the better. Every child deserves a chance to succeed.”

Lindsay met Rich Phillips at a gym in which he worked as a personal trainer. Now partners in life and in business, Roar Fitness is a brand leader with exciting times ahead.

“Rich became my mentor,” Lindsay has said. “He was way ahead of the game, the best in his field and taught me all about personal training, which is very different to training as an athlete. I have learned everything from him.

“I’m also inspired by so many people who give me the ‘getup- and-go’ every day,” she says, “...my clients, who overcome their fears and insecurities and put themselves on the line to make huge life changes, in fact anyone who can be successful…and stay kind.”

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