This year, the International Women’s Day campaign is all about creating a better, more gender-balanced world – something we couldn’t resist getting involved with! After all, Neat might be founded by two great guys, but it’s also been built with the help of a team and community of awesome women! So, we chatted to some of those women, to celebrate their achievements, find out their tips for success and to get to know them a little bit better!
What inspired you to create something of your own?: “Two things inspired me to start Boom Cycle: The first was that I wanted it for myself. I felt there was a hole in the market for great indoor cycling classes offered consistently. And secondly, when we started the process of creating Boom Cycle (being the first to do it in London all the way back in 2011) we realised that the people we knew were dragging themselves to the gym to accomplish an un-attainable aesthetic and get this chore of working out ticked off the to-do list.
So, we set out to create a workout that was engaging and fun, a workout that people would look forward to and could even be the highlight of their day! We wanted to focus on the mind first allowing people to get lost in the moment and just be, we took out any aspect of competition - no numbers, no measurement and we do it in the dark - and created an environment in which people could leave the pressures of modern life behind while there were in our studios!”
Being so busy, how do you unwind and switch off?:“It goes without saying that I love to get lost in the escapism of a Boom Cycle ride, but I also really enjoy being around nature and water. We live right next to Battersea Park which gives me a quick fix of both. I am a sucker for a strong massage, and I love to cook and travel. I also use Headspace a few times per week to try and capture some zen when I need it.”
Your best piece of advice for success, career-wise?: “Sometimes just continuing will set you apart. There will be a million and one things that happen that make you want to quit, but every time you keep going instead you are one step further than all the people who quit at that stage.”
What has been the most valuable thing that’s helped you progress in your career?: “The most valuable thing to help me progress my career is tending to personal blockages that arise and continuing my own personal evolution. For example, when issues arise around feeling competitive, or frustrations around the team, I know that if I resolve those issues within myself first then I won’t be projecting them out onto others. The more I grow, the more the business grows.”
What’s your favourite inspirational quote?: "“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” - Mark Twain"
How will you be celebrating International Women’s Day this year?:“I will be smack in the middle of running a retreat in Bali with a group of fearless, powerful women.”
Who’s the most inspirational woman in your life?: “My mum! She's been through so much and still manages to stay super positive! She's the most supportive and encouraging person.”
What’s your favourite quote?:"Change your thoughts and you can change your world" - Norman Vincent Peale”
What's one non-negotiable thing you do for yourself everyday?: “Coffee! Not just because I legitimately would not be able to function without my morning coffee... the ritual of picking up my coffee and walking to work or grabbing a coffee after classes in the morning is such a huge part of my day. I use it as a time to almost 'meditate' in the morning. It's time that I get for myself, with no distractions - I can pop on a podcast or music and just have a bit of me time for the day.
Sometimes that is the only moment I will get to myself so it's an important 'self-care' ritual and a nice moment to check in within myself before the day gets on top of me! Plus, everyone around me knows when I haven't had it... I'm doing everyone a favour by staying caffeinated!”
What's the biggest challenge or lesson you’ve learnt whilst creating your own business?: “Letting go. It’s not always easy, especially being someone who likes to be in control! I’ve had to learn the hard way that there are certain things you just have no control over so you can either put up a fight to try and control a situation, or, let it go and learn from/enjoy the process.”
What’s your go-to shake recipe?:“Neat Vanilla Vegan Protein, frozen spinach, banana, blueberries, hemp seeds, almond butter and almond milk.”
Who’s the most inspirational woman in your life?:“My life coach, Jacqueline Hurst, she’s an incredible woman who has taught me all about the power of the mind.”
What is the biggest challenge or lesson you’ve learnt whilst creating your own business?: “Ohhh that's tricky - I have so many. But this is probably going to sound really cheesy but it's about trusting my instincts. So, when something just doesn't feel right, it's because it isn't. I've ignored it a few times in the early days like when I decided to have the commercial model as subscription-based, even though in my heart it didn't feel right. So, now I literally listen to that feeling and try to work out what's not right about situations before deciding what to do.”
What inspired you to create something of your own?:“I was at a point in my life where I had been through a huge transformation - having kids, suffering with mental health challenges really knocked my confidence. But these experiences helped me to find a bigger purpose in life - which is to support and help women. I could have easily kept climbing the corporate ladder, but it just didn't feel right, and it never really made me very happy. So, I trusted my gut which said it was now time to start my own thing.”
Being so busy, how do you unwind and switch off?:“I take a lot of baths. I don't just save them for the weekend or the evenings either. One of my favourite things to do is start the day with a bath. I do this when I'm super stressed to help slow me down a bit. I also take a lot of naps. I try to have one every day for 16m using the Clementine app. I read every night before I go to bed. Not on a kindle either, it needs to be a paper book for sure.”
What's your all-time favourite workout and why?:“Rock climbing - it’s SUPER fun. It challenges your mind and body and speaks to my soul!”
What's your piece of advice for success, career-wise?:“Do what you love and just be YOU! By being true to yourself and what you love the rest will follow. I’m so lucky to have found a career doing something I’m so passionate about. One of my favourite quotes is “the grass is greener where you water it”, focus on you, stay in your own lane, do your thing, be unapologetically you.”
Who’s the most inspirational woman in your life?:“My Mum - she is my pure sunshine to my world, a complete inspiration and positive beacon no matter the circumstance. My mentor Celest Pereira (one of London’s top yoga teachers) has also had an unprecedented effect on my world, making sure I stay true to myself and helping lead me in the right direction of a career that I do so love. Thank you Mum & Cel!”
Who’s the most inspirational woman in your life?:“My grandmother is hands down, without a doubt, the most inspirational woman I know. I feel blessed to have even met her, let alone been raised by her. I think the best way to describe her - and I'm actually quoting her local butcher here - is as "one of those people who just lives in the pursuit of making the world a better place". Always fighting for someone or something she feels can't fight for itself... She's just turned 93, still looks like she's 70, and acts like she's 25. She says her secret is to keep moving, let yourself eat chocolate, and that 'we must always have hope because if we give up hope, we don't have anything.”
What's your all-time favourite workout and why?:“Boxing. Jiu-Jitsu is a pretty close second, but either way, martial arts is the one. There's something to be said for exercising using something you can actually progress as a skill, & how addictive that is. They require ongoing focus, commitment, as well as both mental and physical application... They're empowering, and they're incredibly challenging physically, yet something you can get entirely lost in the process as you're doing it. You leave the sessions sweaty, exhausted, invigorated and humbled.”
What's your best piece of advice for success, career-wise?:“Perseverance, and self-care.
Whenever I've really wanted something, it’s never been a case of ‘if’, it's only been a case of ‘how’. Don't allow hiccups, hindrances, obstacles or even barriers discourage you from pursuing what you truly want for yourself, career-wise, or in any other capacity: if one approach isn't working for you, find another route. There is always a way forward.
I have, however, fallen into the trap of prioritising work over everything. Whilst discipline and commitment are hugely important for success, no matter how much I have denied it, you can't cheat the burnout. It WILL catch up with you in the end. Optimisation and balance of all aspects of life are so, so important.”
Head of Brand at Neat Nutrition, Cat Rayson
What has been the most valuable thing that’s helped you progress in the workplace?: “Being part of a great team. I’m surrounded by people who push me to develop and support my progression, while also making sure I understand that my opinions and visions are valid and more importantly, considered. I’m also really lucky to have strong, amazing female friends who are there when I need an outside perspective and who help boost my confidence and encourage me when I doubt myself. I also can’t forget my legend of a husband, whose constant support allowed me to take a risk in joining Neat - a decision that I don’t regret for a second.”
How will you be celebrating International Women’s Day this year?: “I’ll be at a live taping of The Guilty Feminist podcast!”
What’s your go-to shake recipe?: “Super simple: dark chocolate almond milk and Vanilla Whey Neat Nutrition. Game changer.”