We’re delighted to introduce our new Associate Coach, Georgina Mitchell. As a Gymnastics Coach with years of experience in the wellbeing industry, Georgina will be running courses and seminars for our customers and their employees.
We catch up with Georgina to find out more about her career and her passion for wellbeing…
How long have you been working in the wellbeing industry?
I have been an advocate for participation in physical activity for as long as I can remember. As a child I was always on the go, busy doing something different every night of the week. I was into swimming, tap dancing, ballet, brownies, roller skating and my lifelong favourite sport, gymnastics. As I run around after my son these days taking him to football here, there and everywhere, I can only imagine what life was like for my mum running my sister and I around to our sporting and after school pursuits.
I went to an all girl’s school which was quite academically focussed. PE was low on the priority list and I recall writing a letter to the headmistress upon leaving the school expressing my disappointment in the lack of encouragement for students to be fit and active.
At 14 I quit gymnastics and swapped my leotard and three-hour long training sessions for the local underage disco, but within a matter of months I was missing being a part of the gymnastics scene so much that I began my coaching journey.
It became apparent early on that I am a somewhat of a natural coach; loud voice, highly energetic, a little crazy and for some reason children tend to listen intently to what I have to say. I coached on and off throughout my teens and twenties, doing it around study and full-time work, until I purchased my own gymnastics club in Australia in 2009.
I moved back to the UK in 2017 and, over the last two years, have run a mobile gymnastics club here also. As well as the coaching, I personally love to keep fit and active and share the benefits of healthy eating, movement, and positive lifestyle changes to anyone who will listen. I have dabbled in personal training, created fitness-based Facebook pages and coached friends and family members towards living a healthier lifestyle among other things.
What first inspired you to choose this career path?
I am someone who loves to be busy and be challenged in their work. I’m at my best when I feel passionate about where I’m working and what I’m doing. I’ve done the 9-5 office based jobs. I enjoyed my time in many of these roles and learnt a lot over the years. But it is the variety and ever changing environment of working in the health and fitness industry that I love the most. Nothing stands still for long. There is always something new to learn, a new challenge to overcome and someone new to teach and inspire.
What would your advice be to someone who’s not currently enjoying an active lifestyle?
My advice to someone who isn’t currently enjoying an active lifestyle would be – try it. You might like it and your body and brain will definitely thank you for it. But I would also add that it’s very much your journey and that whatever that looks like for you is perfectly OK. I think there is still a misconception that being active and healthy means it has to become an obsession. Some people feel that unless you’re training 10 hours a week and eating egg whites and rice, you aren’t doing it right. This is very much not the case. Something is better than nothing and small steps are equally as important as the big steps and the key is to not give up. Making small changes often and being consistent is the key.
What are the benefits of physical activity, and how can we motivate ourselves to keep fit?
I could talk all day about the benefits of being active but the ones I would put at the top of the list are – improved physical and mental health, increased energy levels, weight loss and helping to reduce the onset of cardio vascular and other preventative diseases. Plus it’s fun and makes you feel so good.
Motivating ourselves can be tough. On the days when we jump out of bed invigorated and ready to face the day, it’s easy to talk ourselves into going for a walk or a run, or maybe a bike ride. It’s the days when even getting out of bed can be a chore that we really have to pull out all the stops and talk ourselves into doing something physical. I have used a variety of techniques over the years, before and after photos on the fridge door, notes on my bedside table telling me to get up and go, paying up front for my gym membership…
We either want to do it or we don’t, and if we choose not to do it, we have to be OK with the consequences and how we feel about that for the rest of the day. I find that sometimes it’s best to not think, set my alarm, have my clothes ready to put them on and just go, before my brain has had chance to catch up with what I am doing. And there is never a time when I don’t feel better for having done it, and it always sets the tone for the rest of the day.
You also have a background in business consultancy – could you tell us a bit more about this role and what it involves?
Having run my own businesses for the last 11 years, I have experienced many of the ups and down associated with going out on your own after years of employment. I was given an opportunity to speak at a conference run by Gymnastics Victoria about my journey, providing insight into my experiences to up and coming club owners and giving them the opportunity to connect, ask questions and seek further support and assistance should they wish.
I’ve always loved helping people reach their full potential, and that experience further confirmed this. I began being a mentor in my region for other club managers and owners and the role grew from there. Prior to moving back to the UK in 2017, I employed the services of a business coach to help me prepare for leaving my business in the capable hands of my team after my departure. I really enjoyed the process and further confirmed my desire to help others achieve their business goals and dreams.
In 2018, I was employed by the governing body for Gymnastics in the Northern Territory (GNT) to review the State Championships and provide strategic direction for future operation through the delivery of a comprehensive set of future recommendations. Although the work and timeframes for completion were very intense, I loved the process and, from that, Springboard Business Consultancy was borne.
Do you believe physical and mental health are inextricably linked?
I do believe that physical and mental health and inextricably linked. Although I think more people are beginning to understand and accept the concept, there is still much to be done to promote the physical and mental health well-being benefits of living a healthy and active life. Through gymnastics I have seen first-hand what the human body is capable of, but I have also seen how the way we think and how our brains react and interpret information can affect physical outcomes eg fear, mental blocks, negative self-talk. I think there is a happy balance to be found between physical and mental health where both are important and have a role to play in our overall wellbeing.
Can you tell us more about The Gymnastics Adventures of Sarah Katie? How did the idea first come about and what’s coming up next in the series?
Sarah Katie and her adventures first started when I was on a two-month trip back to the UK one winter. I wasn’t working and, as always, my brain was conjuring up new ideas. Having taught gymnastics for a long time, there has never been much in the way of books about gymnastics, especially for young children. I decided that I would have a go at writing one. Something that young children could read at home so that they could continue to be inspired by the sport they love, long after leaving the gymnastics hall. I wanted the books to be bright and colourful, true to real life experiences and encourage children to be active.
Sarah Katie is actually my sister, and the character is based loosely on her and the adventures she goes on. The challenges she faces are similar to those that a young gymnast would experience if they were to embark on their own gymnastics journey. The illustrator, Tiana, is a very talented graphic designer, who was one my very first competitive gymnasts in Australia. We are now three books in to the series which I have self-published and created a website for and the books are available worldwide. They have been really well-received by children, teachers and the gymnastics community.
What inspires you most?
If I think about when my brain is truly set on fire – I think back to watching The Greatest Showman. A man had a idea and a dream and nothing and no one was going to stop him achieving it. Throw in some acrobatics and wow- factor stunts, singling and dancing and, before the film had even finished, I had my notepad out planning my next exciting venture.
I also love listening to inspirational people with a great message to share, speak. I have been fortunate to attend conferences and workshops throughout my career and have listened to some amazingly influential people speak and I always leave inspired to work towards a better version of myself. My son also inspires me – I am his role model and if I am want him to participate in sport and eat well and do his best at school or in his football, then I should be prepared to do the same and set an example for him. I think I have done that so far.
What’s your biggest career highlight to date?
I was actually asked this question in a recent interview and thought long and hard about the answer. A few things spring to mind at first thought – attending 10 Downing Street for a meeting early on in my career when I worked for the Cabinet Office; my gymnastics club being awarded Community Sporting Club of the Year in 2014 by the Victorian Department of Sport and Recreation and only last year when I was named as a finalist in the British Business Awards for being an advocate for young children and participation in sport, specifically gymnastics.
While I am very proud of all of these achievements, the stand-out moment for me has to be seeing the smiles on the faces of gymnasts and family members at our annual end of year show. Each year we put on a show, 500+ gymnasts and more than 1000 spectators over two days. The smiles, the joy, the effort, the gymnastics, the choreography, the costumes, the team-work and ultimately the performances, knowing that I was the driving force behind making it all happen will always stand out in my mind as a career highlight.
Would you like to learn more about wellbeing, gymnastics and participating in an active lifestyle? Get in touch with the We Are Wellbeing team!