Living the simpElle life: Abby

It’s time to share some inspiration again in the form of this mini series – Living the simpElle life – where I talk to someone who has inspired me with their story. 

I heard a great phrase last year – 

“The Universe is made up of stories, not of atoms”

– so that is what I want to share with you, stories, to open up the Universe to us all! 

Each individual we meet embodies what this blog is about. They have dug deep to find motivation, they have sought inspiration and in doing so become inspirational to others. They have been empowered with knowledge to change and that is what their story will do for the rest of us…

Meet: Abby Ajayi

I met Abby through Nike Training Club (NTC) having taught in Stratford and Victoria Park. Every single class Abby has attended she has given her all to! It’s been amazing to watch her progress and even more special to have her share her journey with us…

– {THEN} – 

Elle: What made you decide to start training / running? …What was your plan / goals?

Abby: I was a sporty all-rounder at school and at University I played basketball and rowed (badly) for a short time. I’ve always been a gym-goer but my training used to stay very much in the gym using the static machines with maybe one outdoor run a year. 

But, when I lived in New York for a year, where training seemed much more integrated into people’s social lives, I found running a great way to explore the city and I started to use the Nikeplus app a bit more seriously. Once friend’s started adding me and connecting with me on the Nikeplus app – the leaderboard became a great source of motivation and I started running a bit more and increasing my distances. Myself and a bunch of friends then signed up for several runs in 2013 including the Olympic Park Run, the Gloanna Yoga run and the Nike We Own The Night 10km all of which motivated me to keep training and running both alone and with my local Nike + Run club.

Abby on the Olympic track

My training also evolved too. I mainly trained alone in the gym with the occasional personal training session or spin class but after discovering the Nike Training Club (NTC) app and attending Nike’s NTC supercharge week, I sought out the NTC live classes. From training alone I now really enjoy the group classes, the full body workouts and the social aspect of NTC.

– {HOW} – 

Elle: What’s your favourite way to work out?

Abby: My favourite way to work out is probably the Saturday NTC classes I attend in Victoria Park – I love being outdoors. I also enjoy solo runs on a Sunday morning.

Abby and the NTC Victoria Park crew

Elle: What’s your typical weekly exercise schedule?

Abby:  My weekly exercise schedule usually involves two Nike Training Club Classes, one NTC yoga workout either a live class or on the app and then 1 – 2 runs. When I’m away from home I tend to use the NTC app, where the minutes and badges are a good incentive.  

Elle: What / who has been your inspiration?

Abby:  My biggest inspirations are my family who are all active – my brothers train, cycle and run and my sister went from hating running to doing several half marathons. In particular, my mum, who having been sedentary her entire adult life, took up swimming, Zumba and hiking in retirement, which is a big inspiration and shows it’s never too late to start.

I’m also hugely inspired by the amazing community of women I train with at NTC and the trainers who are incredibly supportive and approachable. Instagram fitness pages are also pretty good at giving me a quick motivation boost, as do blogs, like this one and the Team Naturally Run Facebook community started by fitness blogger Leah Evans. I also work pretty hard to inspire myself – this usually involves shopping for new kit.

post class at 1948 🙂 

Elle: What was the first big difference in you, that made you feel proud and excited?

Abby: There’ve been lots of milestones that have made me feel proud of my progress – being able to do full press-ups, doing a supported handstand and a couple of chin ups, Crow pose in yoga, holding a plank for 2 mins and also running a half marathon. The first time I went out for a run in the rain was also a big one. As was training in the snow with the Nike Training Club. Learning to enjoy the elements has definitely been a big change for me. Next stop… conquering the swimming pool! 

Elle: Did you make any changes to your diet once you started training?

Abby:  I keep trying to improve my diet but this is a work in progress. I experimented with a Paleo diet for 30 days which was interesting but ultimately too restrictive for me to continue with longterm. I’m now much more aware of needing adequate food and sustenance to fuel me through my training and I’m much more committed to eating clean – though my sweet tooth still gets me into trouble.

– {NOW} – 

Elle: How do you track your progress?

Abby:  I track runs with the Nikeplus App and Nikeplus GPS watch – this data helps me see if I’m improving. I also monitor my daily activity with a Nike Fuelband. For walks and cycling, I use MapMy Run. On the whole the most important measure of progress for me is how I’m feeling and how I’m sleeping…. this is generally the best indicator of if I’m training effectively, taking enough rest days and eating well.

Elle: Have your goals changed since you started your journey?

Abby:  When I started training I tended to think short term – I’d train for a run and then slack off after the race. Now I think running and training are much more integrated into my life – I always have the NTC app with me when I’m away and now I even use it. When I travel I always take running shoes and running helps me see new cities and explore new places and also make new friends.

Abby in action while I teach

Elle: How do you keep yourself motivated?

Abby:  I keep myself motivated by booking races in advance to look forward to and by signing up to things with friends so we motivate each other. I also attend talks and events like NTC week, when I can and I also read books about wellbeing and exercise that reignite my enthusiasm for running and training. And of course, I reward myself with new workout clothes with a promise that the expense is justified, if I get out there and use them.

NTC Week 

Elle: If you could go back and give advice to the “before” you…or any other person contemplating changing their lifestyle…what would you say?! 

Abby: The advice I would give myself or anyone contemplating changing their lifestyle is start today. It really is a case of Just Do It. I avoided going to a running club because I was worried I’d be too slow and people would be in cliques. I kept waiting to convince a friend to come along with me. Once I started I wished I’d done it ages ago – people are incredibly welcoming and supportive and I’ve learned that whether I come last or not – I’ve done something for myself and a run is a run. I’ve never come back from a workout and regretted going out. So even if you can only run for 1 min start there and build up gradually. Yes try to encourage friends to come out with you but be willing to go out there by yourself. It is an incredible confidence boost.

…so what d’ya think?! 

If you’d like to leave Abby a comment below please do or you can connect with her via Twitter, IG or Tumblr:

Twitter: @abbyajayi
Instagram: ajayiabby

…and if you would like to share your story please get in touch with me here: {Contact Elle}

Until then, keep living that simpElle life 😉 

Elle 🙂 


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