On the week that Jessica Ennis Hill was awarded a Damehood, i was lucky enough to sit down with her for an exclusive interview about her upcoming Vitality Move event at Chatsworth House. When you're sitting in front of an Olympian who has achieved as much as Jessica its hard to know where to start, there are so many questions - 'what does it feel like to win a Gold Medal at The Olympics?', 'What did it feel like to win 3 Gold Medals at the World Championships' ....... this is one of Britains highest performing elite athletes to ever compete at the Olympics. The list is endless!
Thank you for joining us today Jessica, tell us all about why we're here at Chatsworth House today?
Hi! So we have two big running events this year, the first one is here at Chatsworth House in July (Vitality Move) and there are 5k's and 10k runs for your keen runner but there are also Music Miles, which are 1 mile loops around the main venue where Trevor Nelson will be DJ'ing to encourage everyone. So it's a really great event that aimed at encouraging people, families and kids to get come and get active.
So there'll be lots of family activities, will there?
Yes, there'll be a Sports Zone which will have lots of different sports and events for people to try, like rowing and netball and lots of others. There's also a Healthy Food Court where everyone can enjoy a bit of food after their run. And obviously, its all centred around music so there'll be lots of different genres of music, and different things going on.
Do you have a playlist of your own picked out yet?
I have a playlist that i listened to when I trained and competed, and i think for me music is such a big part of getting you up to do something and keeping you motivated so thats why i wanted it to be a big part of this event
Whats your ultimate playlist - whats your Top 5?
1. Jay Z - any Jay Z song
2. Frank Ocean - Pink and White
3. Alessia Cara - Here
4. Will Smith - any Will Smith song
5. Chance the Rapper - Angels
Is that what people can expect on the day?
Yes, there'll be Music Based Miles and different genres, and Trevor Wilson is amazing at what he does so he's going to create a mix for everybody so there'll be something that everyone can enjoy.
Am i right in assuming the whole idea behind Vitality Move is to get families more active?
Yes, I've worked with Vitality as an Ambassador for a number of years now and they're all about encouraging people to live a healthy lifestyle, getting active and just making those little steps that become engrained in your general life and rewarding you for that. So the events are about trying to inspire people to try and run for the first time or jog or do something a bit different and get active. Particularly for the families - if you can do it together as a family and get your children involved then that will make a huge difference.
So can all age ranges take part?
Yes, everyone is invited. Its not like its a serious timed race where you have to get really nervous for it. if you are a keen 10k runner and you want a time then take part in the 10k. But if you are just new to running then you can just do the mile loops and run a bit, jog a bit, walk and bring your toddlers along.
Isn't it true that alot of the research done has proven that if kids get more active at a younger age it motivates them to look after themselves a bit more and it gives them confidence its better for mental health? Is that why you got involved in this event?
Yes, for me being involved in Sport for such a long time, I've seen the benefits of the health benefits of being active. like you mentioned, physically and mentally, just clearing your mind and being mentally healthy. If you get to the elite level it gives you opportunities to travel the world and meet different people. I'm not saying that necessarily thats what you might want to achieve, its just about being healthy and you feel so much better when you exercise. and you're educated about how to live a healthier life and hopefully that will continue into adulthood.
When you retired, after the Olympics in 2016 how did you adjust to your schedule not being as structured? Are you still training and keeping fit?
Yes, obviously it was nice not to have that regimental activity of training every day but at the same time I'm quite structured in what i do anyway so i wanted to have some kind of routine to follow.
So now i do Yoga once a week, i still run and get on the bike and i like to do little bits of circuits that i still keep active and i want to continue keeping active because you generally feel so much better when you do. So its just a different kind of fitness regime now.
Have you given yourself any new challenges - after the first Olympics you had just had a child and getting back to fitness was the motivation.
Congratulations by the way, I've heard you're expecting again which is fantastic. Did you plan this as a goal after retirement or was it a happy accident?
Yes, we definitely wanted more children and so we had the time after the Olympics just to enjoy holidays, relaxing, having a few glasses of wine and then obviously planning for another child this year.
But its different because after i had reggie i was going back into a strict training and preparing for the Olympics so i had to really focus then so it will be a different challenge for me coming back after my second child and i imagine its harder to get back into shape. But i'm already thinking about having a bit of a plan in place because that's what i've always done.
We asked our readers to submit questions to ask you and one of the most common questions that came up was, what tips would you give a new Mum to get back into fitness or to get her shape back?
I was lucky because i had a good team around me and a really great Physio who helped me loads. I think the first tip would be that you plan all the lower level exercises like core-muscle activating exercises. Don't just throw yourself into thinking 'i want my stomach to be toned again so i'm going to do lots of sit-ups'. Thats just going to set you back even more because your stomach kind of separates, so let everything settle and just do all the Ab activating exercises that are really gentle and easy.
My Physio always said to me that during pregnancy you should make sure to stretch your quads and keep them that way. Because all your weight is at the front and everything tightens up and it tilts your pelvis and then you have back problems. So just keep everything stretched by doing things like Yoga and activities that keep your posture a little bit better. And that will all help once you've had the baby.
And what tips would you give to maintain your fitness whilst your pregnant?
I think it depends on how you're feeling and what type of pregnancy you're having because they'r all so different but at the beginning i didn't feel like doing much because i felt a bit sickie and not great, but actually these past few weeks i feel loads better and i actually feel better when i've been on the bike and when i've done some kind of exercise, even if i'm tired. If i;ve gotten a little bit of a sweat on, i feel so much better and i think it helps you have more of a healthy pregnancy if you keep moving. So i'm going to try to keep moving, not specifically training every day but just doing something to maintain a level of fitness and then its that bit easier to come back afterwards.
So your goal is to do Vitality Move in the summer and then baby is coming along. Do you have any other goals that you're working towards now that there's no Olympics - any other fitness challenge coming along?
Yes, i think its always good to have challenges, and thinks to motivate you and work towards so my immediate one is coming to Vitality Move in July here (at Chatsworth House) and to bring my son. Then once the baby is here i want to get back into shape and get my fitness level back because i'm used to being at a certain level and i know all the training you have to do so i've got that all in here (pointing to her head) so i plan to implement that and just be healthy.
So you're not going to turn into an Ultra Marathon Runner then?
No, i don't have any want to be motivated by a competition and i don't have a marathon in mind. I might want to try a 10k in a few years but its not something i want to do at the moment, i just want to keep fit and enjoy doing sport and trying different types of fitness.
So variety is what you recommend?
I think its important to enjoy what you do and don't make it a chore, just enjoy going out for a walk with the dog if you'e pregnant or a gentle run so there's no mundane-ness to it. Variety is really important so that you don't realise you're exercising when you are.
Congratulations on your Damehood, its absolutely fantastic! How did the day go - did you bring your family along?
Yes, the day was great! My Mum, my Husband and my Grandparents came so it was a really special day. I was awarded it from Prince William and it was great.
Do you get any special privileges now that you're a Dame? Do you get to live in Chatsworth House?
No, i don't think so, its the honour of the title of Dame - i'll have to google what it entitles me too (she grins).
Well Congratulations, its well deserved! You've done so much for Sport and you've inspired a generation of young women to keep active and healthy so its absolutely fantastic! No better person!
And wit that my time with Dame Jessica Ennis Hill was over. But you can catch her Sunday 9th July at Chatsworth House for the Vitality Move event.
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