Workout motivation: this sports star has an empowering mantra for overcoming challenges

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Looking for some workout inspiration? Welcome to our new column, ‘This is what strong looks like’

England rugby star Danielle Waterman tells Stylist about the empowering mantra she picked up from her mum, and why mental strength plays such an important role in her life.

What does strong mean to you?

For me, strength in comes in lots of different forms, but it’s mainly around the ability to overcome physical and mental challenges, and quite often the ones that people can’t see. It’s about not being afraid to be different.

What impact do you think mental strength has on your life?

From a sporting perspective, it’s mainly around around the injuries I’ve overcome. I’ve had surgeries where strength wasn’t necessarily the challenge of getting through the grueling rehab, but also having the courage to go back and play, and put myself through the challenges of playing elite sport. 

I came from a small town where there probably isn’t the aspiration to be an elite athlete and that was something that I was always encouraged to do. My parents supported me in whatever I wanted to do and that made a really big difference to my life by giving me the belief that I could become an elite player. My mum’s mantra is ‘there’s no such word as can’t’ and that has stuck with me.

danielle waterman
Workout motivation: "The biggest thing is to find something you’re passionate about."

How do you motivate yourself, not just for the gym but for life?

The biggest thing is to find something you’re passionate about. If you enjoy something, then it’s not a chore to do it. Also, I love being competitive so I’ve become competitive with myself, whether in a job or going to the gym or with my sport.

There’s a strange part of me that also likes to have a little fear in things. Enjoying the feeling of adrenaline is something you have to have in order to play a sport like rugby, but I’m now seeing it in everything I do from a work perspective, too.

Some women feel intimidated at the gym, what’s your best advice for getting through this?

Build confidence in being in that space. Take a friend and have someone there to support you and talk to you, so you don’t feel alone. That’s a good technique. Also, have a program and know exactly what you want to do in the gym, so you’re clear and have goals, as well as a bit of a routine.

The other thing I’d recommend would be to buy an outfit that you feel comfortable in. For some people, wearing gym clothes is the opposite of what they’re used to. For me, it’s the other way around, and normal clothes are something that I have to spend a bit of time working out. But feeling confident in what you’re wearing can make a big difference to your overall confidence, wherever you are – in a social situation, in a work environment or in the gym. 

england rugby
Workout motivation: "Being different has allowed me to achieve so much in my life."

What should we remember when looking at other people’s fitness regimes on social media?

Remember that it’s basically a CV or highlights reel for a sports person, so they’re not going to include the bad bits. As positive as it can be, remember that it’s not the be all and end all. There is so much more to someone’s life than the snippets that you see.

What’s your advice for women who are looking to gain strength both physically and mentally?

I think everyone has strength, so it’s about finding and building the confidence to overcome the challenges. I was one of a few girls growing up who wanted to play rugby alongside all the boys, and actually, being different has allowed me to achieve so much in my life. If I hadn’t had the confidence and the strength of mind to be OK with that, then I wouldn’t be the person that I am now. Being able to embrace confidence is something that will massively help with the strength that is in everybody, so its just a matter of finding it.

Nolli Waterman is a UK Ambassador for Guinness. Nolli is supporting Guinness’ latest campaign Liberty Fields by shining a light on inclusivity in rugby.

Stylist Strong is a fitness brand specialising in strength training specifically tailored for women. Our classes are designed to build both physical and mental strength in a smart and informed way.

So, whether you’re a beginner or already have strength-training experience, Stylist Strong has a class to suit you. Come and try our strength-based classes at our own purpose-built studio at The AllBright Mayfair.

Images: Getty

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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Commissioning Editor at Stylist. Follow her on Twitter

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