Behind the Business: Stephanie Erivo
What do you do for work?
I'm a fitness and public health professional, so my role is always changing depending on the project. For the last year and a half I've been working as a Health Trainer as part of a health research team based at St Georges University, on a study that uses physical activity as an intervention for helping smokers cut down and/quit.
My role is to work with the participants one to one, to motivate and assist them in meeting their no smoking/health improvement goals. Aside from that I freelance as a health and fitness coach and run health workshops that are focused on inspiring people to take control of their health, get creative and have fun while doing so.
I launched Talks & Tasters in March which is an event that let's attendees try different health themed taster sessions in a fun filled environment.
When did you find the work you love?
I'd say 2015/2016 was when I first discovered the sector I love and the career path I was meant to be on, It's when I started going for roles that fit more with my passion. I wouldn't say I found my perfect position or business venture then and there but it was definitely the beginning for me. I started putting real thought into my career direction and making plans based on that. I started stepping outside of my comfort zone more.
How did you get to where you are now? What was your journey?
I'm going to try and make this as concise as possible. I've always had an interest in health and wellbeing and was always an active person, taking part in everything from basketball club to flag dancing, but at the time those things didn't amount to a career, so when uni came around I opted for a law degree and ended up leaving after the first year.
I spent the next few years working and taking a few short courses while trying to figure out my life. Around the same time, the Olympics came to London and something about having the olympics on my doorstep (or 20 minutes away in Stratford) encouraged me to want to explore my active side. So on the last day of the olympics, I decided I was going to study a Sport, Exercise and Health science degree and one month later thats exactly what I did.
The defining moment I guess I could call it, was when I took a module in my last year of uni called "special populations" which was about the way physical activity and other lifestyle interventions could be used to prevent certain conditions and improve health, coincidentally around the same time quite a few close and distant friends and family were having encounters with some of those same health conditions I was studying. I knew then that I wanted to pursue that career path.
Soon after I graduated I qualified as a personal trainer. We'd be here forever if I attempted to detail the rest of the journey so far but what I will say is there's definitely been a lot of trial and error, self reflection that's led to self development and very necessary steps of faith since then, as I've attempted to work the career big picture. Now that I have the picture in mind I'm focused on painting it my way.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you were starting out?
I'd say "take the time to get to know yourself, your skills and your interests and don't disregard your hobbies and those random creative projects you embark on as silly little past times, because they'll be the things that give you all the clues you need to help figure out what your purpose is in the future. Don't be afraid to take yourself and your vision seriously even when others may not, and be consistent in whatever you do, the rest will fall into place"
How do you stay feeling creative and inspired?
My biggest creative pick-me-up is talking to the fellow creatives I'm blessed to have around me, my sister, sister-friends and like minded people I've connected with over the years. I'm inspired by the amazing things they're doing in their lives and through phone calls and messages where we encourage each other in our individual projects.
It's the little things they do like sending me links, articles, pictures etc that they think would be relevant and helpful to me and what I'm doing, and holding me accountable when I fall behind on a projects or ventures I've mentioned to them.
Another thing that helps to spark my creativity is trying something new, a food, fitness class, city, country... anything to get my creative juices flowing!
What does a good work-life balance look like for you? And how do you maintain it?
A good work life balance for me is knowing when to switch from one to the other, it's not missing special life moments because I'm consumed with work and not dropping the ball on work tasks because I haven't prioritised my time properly or set the right boundaries.
I'm a serial list-maker so I try to use lists as much as possible to keep me on track but I find that it's mainly about self-discipline, it's definitely still a work in progress. Sometimes work and life turn into one large pot of soup, when that happens I have to take a deep breath and reset.
How does being a woman affect your work?
I remember when I first started my journey as a fitness instructor and was training in the gym mostly, me being a petite woman would always find its way into conversations I would have with colleagues and clients, I got the impression that people underestimated me. I was a bit self conscious about the fact that I didn't look like the typical trainer.
I felt like I needed to prove myself at first but overtime that's changed, it was very tiring to be honest, now I just strive to be myself, a woman, in the fitness industry who knows her stuff and enjoy's training and hopefully I can encourage other women while doing so.
Working in public health as a woman in often quite up close and personal settings with clients, I'm conscious of setting professional boundaries and asserting myself from the get go. I always try to create a welcoming environment where the clients/service users feel like they and their health needs are important.
But I've also learnt to be aware of my surroundings and interactions so that when I'm talking about balanced diets, and recommended daily activity with a client and they respond by asking me on a date I know just the response to give them to maintain control of the situation.
I usually really hate awkward moments but there's no room for timidity in lone working. I've quickly mastered the art of redirecting conversations and inserting handshakes where hugs are attempted.
How do you stay motivated when work and life get tough?
My three P's, Prayer, Pilates and planning.
I'm a Christian and taking the time to have a moment with my maker is really important to me, I'll also find and few scriptures directly related to the situation to help me gain perspective and read them daily. Then theres pilates, I'm not sure why pilates work's so well in helping me get out of a slump but it really does! Something about doing pilates helps me regain my focus and a sense of control.
Last but not least I'll go into intense plan mode, with my trusted notebook and pen (because I'm oldskool) I'll bullet point my thoughts, make an extensive to do list followed by a plan A , B and C if necessary. I'll also speak to someone (or a few people) to get different perspectives on my problem,
How do you ensure you practise self care?
I try to make sure I keep track of my health and wellbeing, and the work I do is often helpful in reminding me to do so. I keep a mental checklist of all the things I feel I need to do or change to take better care of myself from eating more greens, upping my vitamin intake or changing my deodorant recipe (I make my deodorant).
I'm someone who's always trying to do better for my health and for me that's about being more aware of my body and what it needs at any given moment to make it work well and being open to trying new things. I'm also a self proclaimed herbal tea connoisseur, I'll find a tea blend for anything!
What does money mean to you?
Money to me means independence, and not necessarily in the typical financial freedom/I can buy whatever I want sense, although that's great too. The independence I'm talking about is learning to not let money consume or control me but rather controlling it. I know how important money is in life, especially in today's world and I also know how easy it can be to lose yourself trying to attain it.
My favourite phrase is "don't let money make a fool out of you" and that's always at the back of my mind. To me, money is the vehicle I use to reach my goals and not the other way around, it's the cute accessory that compliments the main outfit.
What one piece of money advice would you give to your younger self?
THE PROPERTY LADDER AWAITS YOU!!!!!
I really try not to have regrets, but if I did, not saving more earlier and not taking more of an interest in the property ladder earlier would be some of them. All those things seem so far away when you're younger but it's really never too early to invest in something tangible for your future, even if being a homeowner doesn't seem important at the time, doing a bit of research and finding other ways to invest doesn't hurt.
What’s next for you?
I have quite a few things happening in the next few months, I'm starting a new role working on health engagement projects for the Sickle Cell Society, and i'm preparing to release my first health and wellbeing ebook with a friend of mine that we started working on back in December. it's currently getting a bit of a make over before it's launch in May. I'll also be announcing The next Talks & Tasters event date in the next few weeks and have a few special projects coming up this summer that I'm really excited to share with everyone.