Jessica Ennis-Hill On Why We Need Progressively Positive Fitness Role Models

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Jessica-Ennis Hill

Jessica Ennis-Hill shot to fame as the poster girl of the London 2012 Olympics, where, while the nation screamed at their televisions, she won gold in the Heptathlon on the now-legendary Super Saturday. In her words: “I was thrown into this world of fame. Everyone was watching me, everyone wanted to do an interview and put me on a billboard. It was overwhelming But, I kept myself focused in on training. I think that really helped me not get swallowed up by the madness.”

Her proudest achievement of all time? There’s two. “Winning gold in London. I’d never imagined I’d win an Olympic gold medal, but winning it at home and on a stage like that was just phenomenal,” she says. “But, coming back after having my son and winning the World Championships that following year was an equally proud moment. It had been such a journey and a struggle to get to that point.”

Now retired, Ennis-Hill is launching a fitness app with the goal of inspiring women to take the confidence to work out and work out properly with exercises inspired by her career, and by her return to fitness post-pregnancy.

In a crowded workout landscape, Jennis Fitness was born from Ennis-Hill’s desire to create. In her words: I was so lucky that after my first pregnancy I received so much training and advice when it came to returning to compete, and I was able to apply this myself following my second pregnancy, I wanted to make that available to other women, and make other women feel empowered to exercise. The Jennis Fitness app itself is an all-inclusive training programme of 20-minute workouts, all coached by Ennis-Hill. They’re no-nonsense training plans that focus on feeling good and creating a body that’s fit, healthy and functional – not just one that takes a great selfie. Motherhood is also at its centre, and it launches in tandem with Jennis Pregnancy and Post-Natal, which features specific body conditioning exercises for mothers, all reassuringly branded as “realistic and achievable.”

School PE has a lot to answer for the way many young women reject all ideas of sport, sweat and mud as soon as they reach university. Too many hours spent freezing on the hockey pitch sidelines in scratchy kit, or, god forbid, in the school swimming pool, have had a scarring effect. This Girl Can has made waves in tackling the low self esteem in the female fitness space, but there’s still a way to go – especially for women’s athletics. According to her, “We need to understand girls better, especially that period of their life where they are going through puberty and feel self-conscious of their bodies, There needs to be a better variety of sports on offer, far and beyond just cross-country and hockey.” This is where Jennis Fitness comes in. “I want women to take confidence from it, Role models are important, too.”

In fact, fitness role models who are not only positive but professional and qualified have never been more necessary in a fitness landscape that has in the past five years become the Wild Wild West. On Instagram, anyone can set themselves up as a “fitness influencer”, attract a six-figure following, and dish out completely unfounded advice. According to her, “I think things are going to change, It’s this Instagram world at the moment. Anyone can decide they’re an expert now, it’s crazy. There are so many positive female role models within the sport itself, but Instagram is making women want to aspire to certain body types.”

The harder-better-faster-stronger approach of overtraining in Instagram fitness is one Ennis-Hill hopes to tackle, too. “I don’t have time to do an hour and a half in the gym, I want to exercise for a short period of time at a high intensity, but to take proper rests and keep good form. I do my workouts two to three times a week – you need to let your body rest.” Sound advice indeed from the Olympian.

Jennis Fitness and Jennis Pregnancy & Postnatal launch on June 10th, available globally for £9.99 a month.