Personal trainer, yoga teacher and creator of The Vertue Method workout routine, Shona Vertue knows how to kick a butt into shape. She also had the determination to kick her own butt into shape when in 2008 she pressed the rest button on her career; switching a backache-inducing 9-to-5 office job for a full time pair of yoga pants. And she hasn't looked back since...
Having worked a 9-to-5 office job, when was the moment you decided to press the reset button on your career? And what motivated you to make the switch?
I’m not sure that I ever really thought my 9-5 office job was going to be permanent – I was just attracted to the security of a salary and consistent routine. However, I soon realised that security at the cost of happiness wasn’t worth it – I decided that in order to be happy I just had to take risks for the things I valued.
Describe how your approach to health and fitness has evolved since changed your career path?
Leaving the office job didn’t create a huge evolution in my approach to health and fitness, but rather my move from Sydney to London. In Sydney it’s hot, sunny, beachy and with what feels like a 9-month summer, there is always motivation to stay in shape because you’re in a bikini for more than half the year. When I moved to London, that motivation was blanketed by seven layers of clothing and a large overcoat. Suddenly my motivation to exercise needed to come from something other than just being seen in a bikini – I had to dig deeper to find an incentive that was less superficial.
I began to exercise with other goals in mind. Rather than paying so much attention to how my body looked (because half the time I was so cold, I couldn’t even take my clothes off to see it!), I paid more attention to what my body could achieve. Chin ups, heavy squats, back flips all became a reason to get out of my bed at 6am to workout. Had I not moved to London, I don’t think my approach would have taken that healthier turn.
What is the Vertue method?
I have used my expertise as an ex-gymnast, yoga teacher and personal trainer, to create a method that combines lifting weight, switching on gluteals (butt muscles), yoga and mobility as well as meditation. It provides the body with everything it requires to become (and stay) strong, lean, agile and mobile.
What does wellbeing mean to you?
Wellbeing is the state of being healthy and happy – I think that it’s important to remember that true wellbeing includes the health of the body AND mind. It’s a big part of why meditation is included within the method – I just don’t believe that you can be healthy in the body if you’re not also healthy in the mind. They affect each other hugely.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned along the way?
Hmm, that’s a tricky one. I’m in a constant state of learning, so what surprises me today will be outdone by something new and even more surprising tomorrow.
What’s your ‘pinch me, I must be dreaming’ moment?
Holding my book in my hands.
What advice would you give to someone starting out a career in fitness?
Surround yourself with positive and knowledgeable people, stay up to date with the research and remember that you have the power to influence people to live healthier lives – that should always remain the number one driving motivation to be in the fitness/health industry.
Who or what inspires you?
I am fascinated by adversity because despite the pain, stress and negativity it causes, there is also a power within it, if you can survive it. Workouts are a diminutive version of this – it’s difficult at the time, but if you push through you will transform and become more powerful than when you began. To me the most inspiring people are the ones that have been through excruciatingly tough times and survived it, reemerging stronger because of it.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s ok to say no.
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
It’s ok to say no.
What did you want to be growing up?
I was a day-dreamer so I actually never had one vision of what I wanted to be – sometimes it was a spy other times it was a singer. It changed with the wind or with the latest Hollywood release.
When are you happiest?
When I am in the ocean, with dogs, in the middle of warm hug, reading Alain de Botton or meditating.
(obviously not all simultaneously)
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I’m not sure if I’ve reached it yet – but therein lies the seduction of the ego and its vortex of unsatisfied ambitions. Writing a book feels pretty momentous but I know there is more to come…
And what would you like to achieve next?
I would like to buy a house.
When was the last time you laughed out loud?
Watching clips of Louis C.K. telling line-crossing jokes that push the boundaries of appropriate comedy while also making poignant remarks about the contradictions and fables of our modern day life. He is a genius.
At hush we value female friendships - what qualities do all your friends share?
They like coffee, value health and hate small talk.
What’s the one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t think that ‘the big bang theory’ is even remotely funny and I hate it when people say courgette pasta. It’s not pasta is it? It’s a spiraized vegetable. There’s nothing past-ery about it. Stop lying to yourself and to us.
What are you reading/watching/listening to at the moment?
Essays in Love – Alain de Botton.
What’s your top tip to unwind?
Ocean swim or guided savasana. (relaxation)
Over or under dressed?
I think the answer is over, but I’m almost always under.
Summer or winter?
Word you over-use?
Anywhere I can swim in the ocean.
Over or under packer?
I never feel guilty about pleasure.
Desert island beauty product (we’ll give you sunscreen)?
Chanel Jasmine Oil.
Every morning we are born again – it’s what we do today that matters most.
Can’t live without…