Libby Hancock, a personal trainer from Ponteland with 4,000 Instagram followers
Anyone with an Instagram account will have come across the new generation of tech-savvy coaches who post details of their workouts, sports gear and healthy recipes online to motivate others. We speak to Libby Hancock, a personal trainer from Ponteland

‘I work out because I love my body and appreciate what it can do,’ says Libby, ‘and I love how good healthy food can make me feel.’ So, Libby’s made it her mission to help other people experience this positive transformation, by documenting a variety of different exercises, which cater for all body types. 

‘For me, health is wealth, as cheesy as that sounds,’ Libby says. She was already a qualified personal trainer when Instagram first started, so it made sense for fitness to feed into her posts. After hanging out with The Body Coach, Joe Wicks on a modelling shoot in London about three years ago, Libby was inspired by the impressive portfolio of transformations and lean recipes on his Instagram, and began making short and snappy workout and cookery videos herself.

‘A typical training day for me involves doing a few stretches as I get out of bed, taking the dogs for a walk, sometimes doing a HIIT workout before seeing clients, and ending the day on a sculpting session to tone target areas of my body,’ Libby says. ‘Sometimes I’ll wake up tired, and I’ll have a rest day or just do a little bit of yoga, and I feel like it’s important to let people know that that’s absolutely fine.’ Eating well is also a huge part of Libby’s life, and having a balanced diet is one of the many ways to #LoveYourBody – a hashtag which Libby created to celebrate body positivity. ‘My mum used to be a cookery teacher so I’d get recipes from her and adapt them to make them healthier.’

One of the most unique features of Libby’s Instagram is that she records herself singing each recipe with a piano accompaniment to get more people engaged in clean eating, and to shun the stereotype that it has to be boring. ‘I love music so have always hummed my way around the kitchen.’ Libby is used to receiving messages from mums, for example, ‘My kids love your crispy kale song – they know all the words and always want it for dinner.’ Libby’s proud of the fact that getting a jingle stuck in people’s heads helps them eat more nutritiously, and she hopes to release her very own recipe book album in the near future. 

Loads of wholesome recipes have been shared with Libby’s followers through the power of song, but she tells us that her favourite is sausage hotpot. ‘That’s basically a hearty stew made in a slow cooker with lean chicken sausages.’ Her butternut squash lasagne is another fat-free take on a popular classic. 

There are so many Instagrammers out there really helping people get fit, and Libby shares a few of her favourites with us. ‘Dr Hazel Wallace, better known as @thefoodmedic, shows her followers how nutrition is capable of preventing illness, and @bradleysimmonds and @aliceliveing also post great workout videos.’

Top of Libby’s list is @cathyking22, an aspiring fitness model from Cambridge. ‘She always shows off her body in different ways and angles, which contrasts with the unrealistic images of bodies in the media.’ Like Cathy, Libby aims to have a positive influence on young people who are exposed to a constant stream of amazing bodies on Instagram, which places them under a lot of pressure and can make them feel anxious. 

‘It’s important to remember that a lot of these incredible photos can be distorted with lighting and filters,’ Libby advises. ‘On the other hand, honest photos of people’s bodies can be inspiring, and they can make others stop and think, “if they can do that, so can I.” 

The ultimate key to loving your body, according to Libby, is doing exercises and eating food which makes you feel good about yourself and gives you a sense of achievement, which varies for each individual. It can be as simple as lifting a few weights or as extreme as running a marathon. Sharing her own experiences of that feeling of accomplishment is a successful way of keeping them engaged in exercise, and Instagram is a fantastic platform for that. ‘I want to show people that your body’s the greatest thing you can own and it’ll surprise you if you push it, so you should look after it.'

Published in: January 2018

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