14 Jun Health hero interview: Shona Vertue4 minute read
Shona Vertue is a personal trainer, yoga teacher, columnist and author of The Vertue Method.
On her Instagram page, on her YouTube channel and in her writing, Shona encourages her audience to see exercise as an avenue for fun. Her unique method—which blends resistance work, cardio, yoga and meditation—prioritises rest just as much as training. This self-care-centred approach to fitness has garnered hundreds of thousands of fans, including David Beckham.
Here Shona opens up about rituals, food labelling and why she loves pizza just as much as the next person…
How would you describe your job?
To strengthen people’s minds, bodies and butts using weight training, yoga, meditation and other important but basic wellness practices.
What inspired you to work in this area?
I love working with people and I’m passionate about health (and more specifically, self-care and respect).
I also grew up as an elite gymnast and had two very fit parents who valued fitness, even though neither of them worked in the industry. I have always found their love for wellness very inspiring.
What does your typical day look like?
For the last six months, I have been travelling a lot, so it’s been incredibly varied. However, I do really believe in healthy rituals that help me to remain both mentally and physically healthy.
“Rituals help me to remain both mentally and physically healthy”
In the morning, I do a non-negotiable mobility routine as well as a morning meditation.
In the evening before bed, I journal and make sure I reflect on my day, my life, my goals and my emotional state.
What does health mean to you?
Health is a practice, which aims to reach physical, emotional and psychosocial wellbeing. And because of this, it can be tricky to define. It will be different for everyone.
The Vertue Method approach is about learning the basics so that you can come to find what ‘health’ looks like for your body, mind and life.
What do you think are the biggest misperceptions about health today?
That leanness equates to health—it really doesn’t. One can be ‘lean’ or ‘slim’ while still being unhealthy.
What’s your favourite thing to eat?
Look, I love pizza and cinnamon doughnuts—but I ALSO love vegetables.
I really can’t choose because it is dependent upon so many things.
If you could give just one piece of advice concerning food, what would it be and why?
I believe in moving away from labelling foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as much as possible, as it’s a dichotomous way of thinking.
Dichotomous thinking when it comes to food is commonly observed in patients with eating disorders—so it’s something I also avoid doing with my clients.
“There is no black-or-white with food because it always depends on the context”
There is no black-or-white with food because it ALWAYS depends on the context of the person consuming it. Things like gut health, genetics, environment, the produce, the physical goals etc. can all play a part in whether a type of food is optimal or not (for that person at that time).
I never allow myself to cultivate thoughts like, ‘I won’t have chocolate’, ‘I’ll be good’ or ‘I’ll work this off later’ etc. It just creates a dysfunctional relationship with both food and exercise.
Whom do you look up to, and why?
At the risk of sounding a little earnest here, I honestly look up to anyone who has overcome adversity and ended up a ‘better’ or more evolved person because of it.
I also love Maya Angelou and have lately used her as a filter for my behaviour. ‘What would Maya do?’ is my go-to, pause-and-think phrase.
Tell us something about you that people wouldn’t expect.
This secret is going to make me very unpopular, but I really don’t like the TV show Friends! I just think Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm are way better.
In fact, if we were watching Friends right now, I would have to fake laugh.
Hope we can still be friends.
Aside from good health, family and friends, what do you cherish in your life?
The environment. We’ve got a decade to get our sh*t together—it’s not just a climate change, it’s now a climate crisis. We need to pay more attention to this as a collective.