July 29, 2022 9 min read
We are delighted to announce Zoe, the founder of MacFit, is joining our ambassador team! Zoe has been a good friend of the brand since our very first Meander jacket launched back in 2018. We share a love of the outdoors and we’re always inspired by Zoe’s positive mindset and belief that anyone can do anything they set their mind to. Zoe runs holistic mind body fitness classes and has built a truly amazing and supportive community that inspire lot of Edinburgh southsiders to run, jump and burpee way more than we would have otherwise!
Find out all about Zoe’s inspiring journey and how she’s completely turned her life around to one that inspires many others to lead and fit and healthy lifestyle.
Can you tell us a bit about how MacFit first got started? Have you always been into fitness?
8 years ago, I changed my life completely. I was in a very dark place – I’d smoked for years, I drank (a lot), I was struggling as a solo parent and I was trying to manage the acrimonious break-down of my marriage 3 years previously. I had little self-worth, I feared rejection, I didn’t believe in myself, I put other people’s opinions over my own, I didn’t speak up, I had no idea what being true to myself even meant. I didn’t believe I deserved happiness and I certainly didn’t love myself, BUT I knew deep down that life could be better. So without thinking about it, or what it would entail, I signed up to run a half marathon for a local Edinburgh mental health charity the @joshuanolanfoundation, never having ran in my life. I had no idea of the ripple effect that this one positive decision would have and how it would change life as I knew it.
I had committed. I took the steps I needed in order to achieve my goal and in just 12 short weeks, I stopped smoking, started training, raised over £1k for charity and ran my first ever half marathon in May 2014… and I have never looked back.
For the first time in my life I believed in myself and knew that I could achieve anything that I set my mind to. However after running the half marathon, I hit a brick wall where my fitness was concerned. The initial high and endorphins of the achievement eased, and at that point things took a turn for the worst with my ex-husband. I was at a real low point with my mental health but it was also a real turning point and I decided to sign up with a PT. I suppose because I already knew that I could challenge myself physically and I knew how good I had felt, I think I was chasing that feeling. Signing up with the PT was one of the best decisions that I’ve made. I initially signed up for a 6 week block but continued with that PT for almost 2 years, whilst I got my first qualification and even right up until I started Macfit. I stuck with it because I was becoming aware of the positive impact that fitness was having on all aspects of my life and for the first time, I felt like I was being a good and positive role model for my two girls. I was getting stronger, fitter, faster and I knew that before this I had only just been surviving. I wasn’t quite thriving yet but I was definitely heading in the right direction. Baby steps and stepping stones…
It wasn’t straight away, I think it was just over a year from the beginning of my fitness journey when I knew that I wanted to support and empower others to feel the same as I did, to get that buzz and natural high from fitness but also the sense of achievement that comes with it. From doing something you once thought impossible like exercising outdoors, to being part of a community and ultimately feeling fitter and stronger, both physically and emotionally.
I went on to qualify as a fitness instructor and then later as Personal Trainer. In September 2016 I set up Macfit Edinburgh which runs outdoor, all year, all weather fitness classes. When I started Macfit, I was hugely naive, I just went for it with no business knowledge or plan, just a burning desire to make it work. This was a bit like when I signed up for the half marathon, I didn’t really know what I was doing but I just knew that it felt right and I had faith that it would all fall into place. In all honesty, I’ve been winging it ever since and I am constantly adapting to the worlds ever-changing environment, but I am able to be authentically ME and be true to my core values.
In the last 4 years I have also qualified as a globally accredited ‘Life Coach’ and have trained as a teacher in meditation and transformational breathwork, I am currently studying nutrition
My vision is to inspire, support, encourage, motivate and empower as many people as I can to love, honour, respect and accept themselves and to live a full, healthy and balanced life that feels true to them.
Exercising regularly takes a lot of motivation and especially when you’re doing outdoor fitness classes throughout the year in all weather conditions! How do you stay motivated and motivate your Macfit crew?
When it comes to classes & motivation, and getting outdoors in all weathers, that's easy - I decided to be an outdoor fitness instructor when I started Macfit because I love being outdoors and in nature, so I needed to embrace the elements that we are faced with in Scotland. I knew that if I complained about the weather, no-one would come to my classes and the community wouldn't grow, so I became very persuasive with my powers of enticing others outdoors regardless of the conditions. I'm sure Team Macfit would testify to this, and actually the classes with the worst weather are the most memorable. There are a number of classes that I (and others) will remember forever - Kettlebells in the snow and Metafit during the Beast from The East.
When it comes to exercising myself and my own training, motivation definitely isn't always there, so I rely on discipline a lot. I love to give myself a goal to work towards, if I want to achieve my goals, then I need to be disciplined.
It also helps that I have a community of like minded people, I prefer to train with others and it's never difficult to find someone to go on a run, cycle, swim, workout, go for a walk with.
This is something I am so so grateful for!
This year we spotted that several Macfit members took part in the Edinburgh marathon in the form of relay, ½ marathons and full marathons. Can you tell us more about the training sessions and the community involved in this?
This year at EMF it was incredible, so many Macfitters took part. We had kids in the children's runs, half and full marathon runners and a few relay teams too. Not only did we train together for our long runs but we committed to weekly interval training too, tough sessions but these really cemented friendships and helped grow the Macfit community even more.
You do much more than outdoor fitness and personal training as you’ve recently introduced holistic wellbeing and life coaching to what you offer. What’s taken you on this journey?
Living a life full of purpose and meaning is hugely important for me, a life that feels balanced and true to me whilst nourishing my mind and body as one. Over the years I have continually invested in myself not only to be able to grow as a business and gain more knowledge and expertise but to grow on a personal level so that I can l can continue to connect to my core values and live my life purpose
Over the last 8 years within my own journey and in my experience with working with many clients on a 1:1 basis, what I have recognised is that fitness is only one aspect to improving our overall health and wellbeing and living with vitality.
Other key areas of life such as lifestyle, stress, sleep, daily habits, nutrition, mindset, relationships with self, others and ‘food’, connection and how we talk to ourselves is equally as important to living as healthy, happy and energised life as possible. If one or more of these area are not I sync, it doesn’t matter how much fitness we do we will not see or feel the results that we desire.
Fitness is just part of the puzzle, that's why I have started making it a more holistic journey.
As an outdoor enthusiast you must have lots of places that you love to explore. Can you tell us more about what you do in your free time/where you love to explore?
I absolutely love being outdoors, I think my love for that came from an early age. My mum and Granny always had us outdoors as often as possible as children. I was lucky enough to travel the world at a very early age (7) but I was also taken on holiday in Scotland too, to get to know my own country. I have fond memories of Shieldaig, Iona and the Isle of Lewis where we scattered my Granny's ashes when she died at Callenish.
I love the Highlands, the wild and rugged landscapes, how vast the mountains are and that on a good day you can see for miles and miles. I also love the sea, I feel so connected, sitting in silence listening to the waves and now having started cold water swimming this has made me feel even more grounded and at peace.
I love the Fife coast and East Lothian too.
My happy place in Lockdown was right on my doorstep, Braid Hill. From my front door, there is around a 45 min walk that I do a few times per week (almost daily in lockdown). I find peace in this walk as Edinburgh is such an incredible city with the best views. It goes without saying, Braidburn Park is one of my fav's - The birth place and home of Macfit.
To me it doesn't matter what the weather is, as each time you go out, each time you connect with nature regardless of the conditions, it brings a different experience, almost always, exactly what you need.
What are some easy ways we can all achieve balance and create healthy habits in our lives?
Everyone can find balance and create healthy habits in their life - First you need to be honest with yourself and bring awareness to what is not serving you and from that place you can begin to make change.
Listed below are my top tips to creating and finding balance
1. Daily movement - Walk, swim, run, dance, play with the kids, sightsee. Whatever you can fit it. No pressure, your daily movement should be stuff you enjoy!
2. Resistance training - 2-5 Sessions per week Again this should be something you enjoy, so if lifting weights in the gym isn't for you, find a way to add some in
3. Nutrition - Keep your diet varied and balanced, making sure that you get enough lean protein, fats and carbohydrates. Great time of year for salads and there's nothing quite like Scottish berries!
4. Hydration - Stay hydrated. Think little and often and a minimum of 2lts per day.
5. Core Happiness - Think of all the things that you LOVE doing, that bring you joy and figure out a way to do more of them, schedule in that ME time!
6. Prioritise SILENCE - With the kids on school holidays, it can feel more difficult to get time to yourself but I highly recommend finding even 5 mins to sit in silence daily. No phone, no podcast, no TV, no book, no doing just time to be. Connect to your breath or pay mindful attention to your surroundings.
7. Self Compassion - This is a biggie, show yourself compassion and silence that inner critic. Be kind to YOU!
MacFit is very community centred, how important can community be especially when it comes to health and wellbeing?
Community is EVERYTHING to me and I am so grateful to be part of the amazing Macfit community. During lockdown the connection of the Macfit community grew and got me and many others though a really tough time. I was on my own with my daughters during that period and I was really looked after.
Over the years, friendships have blossomed and it's been wonderful to watch and be part of.
Being part of a community encourages a sense of belonging, connection and promotes mental and physical wellbeing.
You’re clearly passionate about mind and body health, what other passions do you have we might not know about?
I am passionate about travel, my kids, about personal development and growth. I love reading and good food, great conversation, and laughing until my tummy hurts. I love music and dancing and spending time with friends and family. I am passionate about trying new things and creating as many positive experiences in my life as I possibly can.
What’s next for Zoe/MacFit? Do you have any goals/a bucket list of things you would love to achieve?
What's next for Macfit? So much, I have just launched my new 1:1 programme ENERGISE, it's a my 12 week transformational health coaching package. ENERGISE brings together ALL aspects of your health and wellbeing into one place. I have created a corporate package which I have started rolling out and there is ALWAYS lots of exciting things happening within the Macfit community...Watch this space!
I am 3 years away from turning 50, so I have set myself a 50 for 50 challenge which I am so excited about. It includes a few things from my bucket list I'll be sharing more about that in the coming weeks.
Top two on my bucket list... Base Camp and a 6 month round the world trip!
Thank you so much to Zoe, we’re so excited to have her as one of our ambassadors!
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