After trying her hand in several different fields, Lesley Waldron fell in love with the health industry - particularly coaching women. Now, as a health coach specialising in working with women over 40, Lesley tells the Industry Leaders what inspires her to go to work every day.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
As a teenager, I knew that I wanted to have lots of different experiences and make a difference. I was very idealistic!
I had an incredibly varied and international career before becoming first a personal trainer and then a health coach. However, of all my experiences, this work in health and wellbeing is the most enjoyable, satisfying and purposeful.
I was inspired to change by a personal trainer I met by chance, who was SO passionate about her work with women. It helped me see it was possible to do something you loved and positively impact the lives of people you worked with. I now specialise in health coaching for women in their 40s and 50s as they transition through perimenopause and help my clients make long term positive changes for their health.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I work online and in the outdoors, so my days involve Zoom calls and walking coaching sessions. As with any small business, I spend time marketing and talking to prospective clients and companies where I run workshops. There's endless variety in my days, which I really enjoy, and, as I am client-led, every session is very different.
I also run regular outdoor group sessions as I'm a firm believer in the value of fresh air and time outside for our long term wellbeing. I love writing and have written features for the BBC Countryfile Magazine alongside my regular blogs and newsletters. In my spare time, I've usually got my head in a book or have a course on the go to keep enhancing my knowledge and benefit my clients.
What gets you excited about your industry?
I feel like there's a gradual change in how the health, fitness and wellbeing industry advertises and approaches mid-life, perimenopausal women, and I am thrilled to be a part of that. To take away the taboos around menopause and ageing and support women to live Wildly Well so that they can make the impact they want on the world is a big part of my mission. It's great to see more discussion on menopause in the media and within large organisations too. I regularly run my Perimenopause workshops within companies who are keen to support their female workforce.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
I think there are probably two key pieces of advice I carry with me:
The first is that there is no failure, only an opportunity to learn. This is key in running your own business, especially with adapting and evolving through the Coronavirus pandemic.
The second is that people will never forget how you made them feel. This helps me make sure every meeting or encounter is a positive one, which, in turn, is great for business, client results and living well.
What, or who inspires you?
Oh gosh, so many women! I continue to be inspired by the person who encouraged me to re-train all those years ago. Then there's Jenny Burrell and Jessica Drummond, whose training courses I did and inspired me to focus on where I can most make a difference and do so with empathy and integrity.
In recent years it's also the women who make an impact on a global scale, like Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, standing up for their convictions and acting with kindness and compassion too. They remind me of my idealistic teenage self and that small actions and staying true to your convictions can have a global impact.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I have several memberships with regular training and resources and undertake 1-2 courses each year to continue adding to my knowledge base. Being a part of groups with like-minded coaches is also really helpful. I have a network of fellow health coaches with whom I have regular walk-and-talk sessions. It's a great way to share resources and ideas. My Women's Health Coaching qualification also requires me to undertake regular CPD to stay certified, there is always something new to learn.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
Before March 2020, most of my work was in-person and outdoors. So I had to change my model and ways of working very quickly to adapt. It's actually been a fantastic spur to creating online courses and programmes. Since then, I've been working with clients from all over the UK and the US. I see it as a badge of honour that my small business has thrived in the last year's turbulence.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
To be honest, I'd probably try and find the owner of the ticket. But I'd still be daydreaming about taking a year off on an adventure with my family, visiting family and friends in far-flung corners of the globe, and committing the time to write the books I've got in my head but not yet on paper.
I wouldn't stop working if I won the lottery though, life needs a sense of purpose to be well-lived.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
Behind my house is an area of woodland, and I love taking the chance for a walk or a run to help me let go of my day and reconnect to nature. I might listen to a podcast or just enjoy the sights, sounds and smells around me.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
I think it would be for the health, fitness and wellbeing industries to have a more positive view of why women should take action for their health. Often it is so focused on aesthetics or body shape and size that women can't see the big-picture benefits of exercise, eating well, and stress management on their long-term quality of life. I'd also like to see education on the perimenopause/menopause on the school curriculum as well as in all GP training.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
Every woman should understand their menstrual cycle and how it connects to their physical and mental wellbeing. For that reason, I'd recommend a book like Woman Code by Alyssa Vitti, or Wild Power by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer, or Period Power by Maisie Hill. They should be on every woman's bookshelf!
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