I met Imogen Money when I took my first class at FORM studios in Notting Hill. I turned up totally nervous, not sure what to expect, with an injured ankle so my balance was (and is) less than desirable but Imogen has such a friendly and warm demeanor I quickly relaxed and I ended up laughing and smiling throughout the class (even when my muscles were burning like crazy!). Since then I have been to many more of Imogen’s classes and it is always one of my favourite workouts of the week. She runs her classes with absolute precision, they flow so well and her attention to form and detail is brilliant, yet she still makes them fun. (She is also always so kind and encouraging even though I still fall off the MOTR about 20 times a class!) Imogen has recently become a PhD Woman ambassador and shares some pretty awesome recipe ideas on her instagram which has quickly become one of my favourite inspo accounts to follow!
Where/when did your own fitness journey begin?
It all began in my childhood years. I was in all the school teams and my hobbies included gymnastics, county hockey, dance, sailing, tennis, cycling. You name it, I did it! At the age of 18 I went to study at Laine Theatre Arts College where after three years I was well and truly prepped for anything. Honestly, this college prepared me for life, but what I learnt most of all was how important it is to look after yourself, both mentally and physically through fitness, food and wellbeing. After graduating from Laine’s, I headed to Paris for a year where health and fitness simply didn’t exist for me. Looking back now I think of the copious amounts of Nutella and wine consumed, combined with the fact that wholesome meals didn’t really exist and neither did exercise – I was what you call, skinny fat! Coming back to London in 2012, the health, fitness and well being industry was beginning to boom. I became inspired and began training, initially through lifting weights, coupled with crazy amounts of Zumba classes. Instructing Zumba was my first pathway into the industry where in this position, I realised I was helping other people on their fitness journey as well as being appreciated for it. I was filling my fridge with nutritious and delicious foods, creating sweet, savoury and raw recipes. I was falling in love with fitness, food, looking after myself the right way and my passion for sport that I had as a child was all coming back and that’s when it clicked. Before I knew it, I was a qualified personal trainer on a journey to helping people gain a passion for fitness, food and well being while having fun all at the same time. At the age of 25 I am now in an industry that I love.
What can someone expect from one of your classes at FORM Studios
My METcore classes at FORM are hard-core. For those that want something a little less intense I take the PUREmotr class, 9:30am Friday. It’s designed more towards ante/post natal ladies, rehab and when you are feeling a little less hard-core (we all have those days). In my METcore class, expect a high heart rate, rosy cheeks, sweaty clothes and a burn using muscles you never knew existed. The FORM concept, Pilates with a twist, really is great for those that want to sculpt lean muscle, burn fat, boost the metabolism and leave the studio with endorphins flying. Elissa and Jerry, Founders of FORM have introduced London to one of the finest boutique studios around with the very effective concept of combining Pilates and metabolic conditioning all in one class.
You also offer Personal Training – what can someone expect from a Personal Training session with you?
It very much depends on the client and their personal goals. Pregnancy, wedding, weight loss, happiness, stress relief and lifestyle, to name a few. I provide an extremely personalised lifestyle service to each individual. When it comes to the physical side of their session, I base my training around HIIT, High Intensity Interval/Resistant training. The benefits of HIIT go beyond the session. The great thing about HIIT, is that post workout a cocktail of hormones begin to work their magic leaving you on a high and your resting metabolic rate remaining elevated for longer periods of time, continuing the process of burning fat.
What is the benefit of combining Personal Training and classes in a fitness regime?
There are huge benefits of combining both personal training and classes into your fitness regime, especially with the variety of concepts we have available to us now. Mixing your routine up will most definitely have positive benefits to your training programme when it comes to results. Booking time with your personal trainer and classes means you are making a commitment. However, I do think it’s very important to try and not fit several different classes into your week. Consistency is key and results happen through sticking to something long enough for change. Finding a personal trainer that works for you is one thing, finding a class that works for you and your body is another, so try everything out and then narrow it down to what you think your mind and body benefits from. Remember: Don’t over train! Rest is just as important.
Some people work out but don’t see the results they are expecting – what common mistakes do you see people making?
Technique, over training and diet. Again, it’s all so individual but correct technique is key, diet alongside your fitness regime is incredibly important and over training can cause unnecessary stress to our bodies. When I sit down with a client for their first consultation I strip it down to basics, and most are surprised by the amount I alter their current habits. Though cutting calories can aid weight loss, doing it to the extreme has the opposite effect. Cutting calories actually causes your body to go into starvation mode increasing the likelihood of holding onto fat. What you should actually be doing is eating more of the right foods and boosting your metabolism which results in burning more fat. Again, people assume that training everyday for ridiculous amounts of time is beneficial. Wrong. Mix your routine up with HIIT and resistance training, along with a rest day or two and you’ll find this is a lot more effective. NOTE: Stop plodding on the treadmill and get your body really moving, raising the heart rate and working the muscle tissues.
What is your own personal favourite workout?
I get an incredible buzz from a high intensity interval session and I do love lifting a weight or two. For women, it is so important to understand, introducing some resistant/functional training is great for the body, building strength for day-to-day activities and activates a positive hormone release.
What is your ideal breakfast?
There’s two depending on when I train and what’s going on first thing in the morning. Food preparation works very well, particularly if you are like me; up on my feet from the crack of dawn and darting here, there and everywhere between clients and classes, so for a convenience purpose, I prep 2-3days worth of food.
If I’m up and out the door by 5:30am I’ve got my overnight oats ready to pick out from the fridge, which contain 50g oats, 1 scoop of protein powder, water and a some home-made nut butter. However If I have a morning at home then I’ll take the time to make a bowl of porridge. My recipe for porridge is: 50g Oats, 150g grated zucchini (I know), 1 scoop of protein powder topped with some home-made nut butter and a handful of blueberries. Oats power me through my early morning classes at FORM and my early clients. P.s I love nut butter.
Eggs, Avocado and Greens. If I haven’t got early classes or clients and have a morning training session in the diary for myself then I’ll fuel up on protein and fats, (I’ll save my oats for post training). I’ll keep this dish very simple with eggs, half an avocado and boiled asparagus.
Do you have a favourite Pre or Post workout food/snack?
It is very important to finish your workout by re-fuelling the body to aid recovery and repair the muscles used. I prioritise carbohydrates and protein, with a tiny bit of fat. It is either something sweet, like my zoats (zucchini and oats – recipe above) or a nutritious meal along the lines of, sweet potato, greens and some grilled chicken.
Who is your health/fitness/nutrition muse?
I am inspired by cooks such as Jamie Oliver and Nigella. They are lovers of food and aren’t afraid of a little indulgence but believe in the healthy home cook. I am passionate about teaching people that you can in fact cook healthy delicious food at home and it doesn’t have to cost you the earth or take up large amounts of your day. Nigella’s first cookery books: How to Eat: The Pleasure and Principles of Good Food and How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking are two very good examples of enjoying your time in the kitchen, proving it’s not hard to create delicious food and gaining high rewards… of feeling like a domestic goddess of course! Both Jamie and Nigella have excellent advice on how to organise your kitchen (and your life), for the minimum of fuss is interspersed with moments of sheer, unadulterated pleasure.
Who has had a big influence on your life and what have they taught you?
First of all my family. Very cliché I know but it’s true. They have been behind me all the way. I like to gather as much information and honest advice that I can before I make decisions for myself and I know my family are the first people I’ll ask. My father will always say, if you are happy, then we are happy. There are tough times of course. No journey is without its hurdles, puddles and sink holes and my mother (the white witch) will always be the calming voice at the end of the phone. A problem shared is a problem halved. My parents have taught me to be kind, generous and polite. I would say strong but I believe strength comes from learning life’s lessons. We as a family are a determined bunch and my parents’ support has been more than I’d ever wish for so here’s a raised green juice to them.
Secondly, my boyfriend. We are all complicated creatures in the best way possible and when you find someone who believes in you, your vision and is there when you are at your worse, then you are onto a winner. He believes in what I want to achieve and my capabilities in getting there. He brings me down to earth and has been such a huge support with building the foundations to my business. His excel expertise are also very handy. Ladies : However geeky, It’s a bonus I promise.
How do you manage your life/fitness/health balance? What advice would you give someone that struggles with this?
This is something I have certainly learnt over time. Unfortunately, you almost have to go to a point of extreme to know what balance means. When I worked in Paris, I had incredibly bad habits with food, fitness and lifestyle. At the beginning of my Personal Training journey I trained twice a day (kicked myself if I didn’t), eating broccoli, fish and working 7 days a week, finding it hard to relax. I had gone from one extreme to the other with no middle ground.
NOW, I’ve found what balance really means and it’s the biggest weight off my shoulders. I eat three nutrition packed meals a day, I work out 5-6 times a week. If I’m too tired to workout then I simply won’t. I have regained my energy, which means I can provide the service that my clients and class members expect, and most importantly, I’ve learnt how to relax. You have to be able to calm the mind, body and soul. It’s not all about high heart rates and greens. It’s about enjoying the naughty things in life and really enjoying them. It’s about laughing, it’s about switching off and taking your self out of work mode and finding perspective on what really matters. The advice I’d give to someone that’s struggling to find a healthy relationship with work, fitness, food and fun is coming to the realisation themselves, that they are living an unbalanced lifestyle. Balance is dividing your time and energy on each little thing that you do, and of course, do it all with love.
Where is your favourite London wellness spot (can be fitness/wellbeing/nutrition)
Being within the wellbeing industry in London I have a great excuse for trying all the newest hot spots for fitness and foodie junkies. I don’t even know where to start… London is booming with new hot spots. My favourite at this present moment in time is Wild Bunch Juicery, Chiswick High Rd. A local healthy food and smoothie café that’s perfect for sipping on a coconut or a coffee, picking up a Saturday morning juice or re-fuelling the body with my post-workout protein shake that I designed for the menu. The staff are lovely, it’s got a warming atmosphere and the menu is delicious and nutritionally packed.
If you had to recommend one inspirational book? (can be anything – nutrition/recipes/health or just life)
My all time favourite book is The Alchemist. The book’s main theme is about finding one’s destiny. I don’t tend to get too attached to ‘self-help’ books but the meaning deep beneath the story line is about going out there and achieving what you want to achieve. BUT you have to go out and get it yourself.
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. – Paulo Coelho.
When you have an off (unhealthy) day (or more!) how do you motivate yourself to get back on track?
I actually look forward to getting back on track after a lapse period. Most weekends, especially a Friday night the red wine comes out and I’ll most probably be out for supper. I will be relatively sensible when it comes to picking something from a menu. I’m very good Monday to Friday so when the weekend approaches, I do relax (to a certain degree). I actually love eating very well so for me it’s never a chore. An unhealthy day for me I’m sure wouldn’t seem too unhealthy to others! Setting goals for myself is my motivation, whether it’s for a holiday or an area of my body I’m unhappy with, I do something about it. Procrastinating won’t get you anywhere. If you keep your week clean and healthy it means you don’t feel so guilty when indulging with friends or family. If you are out for drinks actually not wanting to drink alcohol, a soda and lime can be passed as a G&T (sometimes I wish it was a G&T). If you are out for supper during the week then be sensible with your choices so when it comes to the weekend, you can be a little more adventurous. A rasher of bacon or two can do wonders right?
Do you have a motto or mantra that keeps you focused?
Factis Non Verbis : Latin for Actions Not Words.
What’s your ideal way to de-stress?
Walking, talking, a HIIT session, surrounding myself with people that make me happy, a glass of wine and good food.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
A jar of my home-made nut butter or nutella and a spoon of which I am perfectly capable of eating the whole jar. And I do love my regular dose of reality television too!
One bit of advice you would give to HLL readers?
To those who have reached the end of this interview, you’ve stuck at it, you made a commitment right to the end. Commitment and consistency is extremely important when it comes to results and success. Whether it is your career, your health, relationships or your lifestyle, commit to what you believe in and want to achieve. I changed paths with my career and now I LOVE what I do. The hard times of having my own business only make me more passionate about what I’m doing and where I am going. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing now, or the way you look, or the way you want to live, then change and commit to those changes for a healthier and happier lifestyle, and most importantly a healthier and happier you.
Check out: FORM Studios website
Read my review: of FORM Studios here
Photo credits: Tom Byfield @tjbyfield