This week I spoke to Frances Roe, a recent English Literature graduate from the University of Edinburgh, about her experience of leaving the university bubble. For her, leaving university was a ‘terrifying’ time, but she is now revelling in her post-university life as a personal trainer. After completing her qualification over the summer, Frances now works at PureGym Quartermile six days a week. She runs several of their exercise classes, including her personal favourite, spin class, and offers personal training as a business with a discount for Edinburgh’s students. Whilst this might not appear an obvious option coming from a literature degree, it proves the range and depth of opportunities available after university and stemmed from Frances’ fitness activities whilst at Edinburgh.
Looking for a way to juggle her university work with personal hobbies, Frances looked to sport to find the perfect “balance between mental activity and physical activity”. Her involvement with The Student as TV and Radio Editor and then in the infamous position of Editor in Chief gave her unlimited confidence in talking to new people. Previously, it was in front of a room of students, most of whom she knew, but now she is doing it “every week, telling strangers how to get their sweat on”. Being Editor in Chief lent itself so well to this progression; Frances looks back on it as “a great experience which I would recommend to everyone”.
Following her third year exams, Frances suffered from back pain due to the time she spent in the library hunched over her desk revising: “When you sit in the library for 12 hours a day you are so tired mentally, your body itself is just going to be in a terrible state.” We know the pain too, but unlike the more common technique of lying in bed for a few days to recover, Frances did something more productive about it.
In fourth year, she pushed herself to strengthen her back and improve her posture (at this point in the interview, I noticed my own horrific posture and straightened up…) by going to the gym six times a week. This gathered her the strength needed to finish the long stints in the library and her English Literature degree.
By using exercise to create “a change in your day” and as “something that you can actually enjoy in a different way and can push yourself and challenge yourself in” is really important to Frances. It was the Christmas of her third year which first introduced her to Muay Thai Kickboxing, which she says ‘changed everything’ for her and inspired her fitness ambitions. “I just had the best time. I must have been the fittest I’ve ever been, and I think that learning the technical skill overtakes the fact that you’re exercising so you don’t think about it […] It’s fun, exciting, and physically and technically challenging.”
After boxing for the whole of the following summer, Frances was hooked on the martial art and began training her own friends and family in the skills she had learned. This motivational drive, stemming from having boxing as a hobby, is what resulted in the desire to teach other people: “The more I started to enjoy it, the more I wanted to get other people involved with exercise, so it’s not a task or a chore […] It was just so satisfying to get people to use their bodies in ways they’ve never done.”
I asked Frances for her top tips to help current students to make the most of their time at university. At a basic level, she urges you to make time for your fitness. To complement this, she also encourages healthy eating. “Make sure you eat well, that’s crucial for studying and for fitness […] Eat vegetables, it sounds stupid, but it’ll help and make sure not to over-carb […] Balance is everything.”
Her main tip, however, is to enjoy every second of university by taking every opportunity possible: “You will never regret going to the gym and you will always regret not going”, Frances advises – and this is transferable to exercise, university and a night out with your friends.
As a newly qualified personal trainer, Frances is working very hard to build up her brand – the insecurity of being outside the university bubble is real when paying your rent relies on gaining and maintaining clients. However, her business Fitness with Froe is off to a confident start; if you feel like you need a motivational physical boost to complement your studies, Frances Roe is a good place to begin.
[Image: Frances Roe]