Founder Focus with Shona Vertue
While some of us are convinced we are sitting on a goldmine, an idea that will one day make someone rich if not ourselves, some lucky people are able to turn what they’re already doing into a thriving business.
And that, that’s what happened to Shona Vertue. In fact, The Vertue Method was several years in the making, has since been practiced in over 56 different countries and, refreshingly, combines movements that make you look good on the outside with those that make you feel good on the inside.
We caught up with Shona to find out more…
WHAT WAS YOUR EUREKA MOMENT?
I don’t think I’ve had just one. I think my work life has been an accumulation of very small realisations and discoveries that have led me to where I am today. That and a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and help from my peers.
I have always been passionate about health, movement and exercise but probably the most life-changing ‘eureka moment’ was realising that an office job was not for me. I was on my 7th tea of the day, hadn’t moved from my desk in over 2 hours and was constantly battling the flu and many other common illnesses.
I couldn’t believe that I had gone from being a dancer and gymnast to being frozen in front of a computer screen for the sake of a bit of pocket money and financial security. It wasn’t worth it and it took me to get tired, sick and bored to realise just how much health truly meant to me.
WHAT WAS YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH?
A truly healthy body needs to be strong, fit, and flexible however most of us only have the time (and/or inclination) to work towards one of those aspects. The Vertue Method is a combination of weight training, yoga, isolated glute activation and meditation to get you stronger, fitter and more flexible in the mind, body and butt.
HOW DID YOU TEST YOUR IDEA?
The method itself grew from the sessions I would give to my London based clients who were busy, stiff, stressed out but hungry for health and fitness. I never intended on creating a ‘method’, my clients would come in for a personal training session that consisted of meditation, yoga, mobility and weighted strength work because I felt it would give them both a mix of what they wanted (to look and feel good naked) and also what they actually needed (the slightly less sexy stuff like pain-free joints, better energy levels and a calmer mind).
After several years of taking this approach with my clients, I created a group fitness class version of those PT sessions. It was a huge success and was booked up 10 weeks in advance. I’ve since written a book and created an online fitness programme that is practiced in over 56 different countries.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE THINKING OF STARTING A BUSINESS ON THEIR OWN?
Be prepared to be in a full on, deep, intense, sometimes very testing, long term relationship with your business. There will be times that you will feel exhausted, vulnerable, apprehensive and doubtful but if you can learn to handle the stress (enter the cue for regular meditation and yoga) you will thrive and flourish, or you will fail and that’s ok because you will have learned some invaluable lessons that only failure can bring.
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR OR ARE YOU ONE?
Absolutely! I don’t call them my ‘mentors’ (well, not to their faces or they might feel slightly awkward). One of them is my talent manager Francesca Zampi of the Found Agency in London. She is one of the most intelligent, diligent and hardworking feminists on the planet. I owe so much of my success to her vision and passion.
I have had and continue to have countless fitness industry specialists as mentors who have helped me to develop my knowledge as a personal trainer and yoga teacher. I think a mentor is one of the most important things a health professional can and should have at every stage of their career.
WHAT IS THE BOOK YOU WOULD RECOMMEND THAT EVERYONE READS AND WHY?
The Vertue Method of course! It will change the way you approach your health and fitness, ultimately changing your life.
Ok, but if it’s too narcissistic to recommend my own book then I would say the Examined Life by Stephen Grosz. In the book, he condenses 50,000 hours of conversation as a psychoanalyst into beautiful and digestible essays discussing topics that are often avoided in life, like death.
It’s a really powerful, humbling and grounding book and all walks of the human race can relate to it.
WHAT IS THE MOST WORTHWHILE INVESTMENT (TIME, ENERGY, MONEY) THAT YOU HAVE MADE?
Aside from the health and preservation of my body and mind, it’s probably my cameras, computer and editing software so that I am able to share, in the form of Instagram and YouTube content, the practices I undertake to preserve the health of my body and mind.
WHAT ONE FAILURE ARE YOU GLAD YOU EXPERIENCED?
I didn’t fail, I quit (although some would argue that quitting is a form of failure). I’m glad I did because I would have never had the childhood, life or career I’ve had, had if I continued gymnastics at an elite level.
True failure to me is when you actively choose a path that ignores your own happiness and if I continued to do gymnastics, I most certainly would have not been happy.
WHAT’S YOUR PLAN B?
I don’t have time to craft a plan B, I’m too busy with plan BE. Sorry – that was cheesy, but there is some truth to it. I would rather spend my time ensuring that Plan A works and only focus on plan B if and when I need to.
WHAT PIECE OF INDUSTRY ADVICE DO YOU OFTEN HEAR THAT YOU DISAGREE WITH AND WHY?
I don’t think this is industry specific, but I definitely disagree with the statement ‘leave if you’re not passionate about it’. I think it’s naive to assume that you’re going to wake up every day and feel ecstatically excited about your job.
There will be days that you’ll love it and many, many days that you’ll hate it or at least feel uninspired by it – however, the same could be said of your partner or spouse, your life, your family even. If you’ve lost passion, don’t give up – use it as an opportunity to ask why. Perhaps you’re being pushed to increase your scope of knowledge.
TALK US THROUGH YOUR MORNING ROUTINE.
I wake up, take my liquid probiotic (called Symprove), Meditate (for 20 minutes, I am obsessed with Vedic Meditation), Hydrate, Caffeinate and then workout. If I’m lucky I get to the gym, but most of the time I have a jam-packed day and need to work out and get my sweat on at home. I try not to check my phone until after I’ve finished training, or I will end up skipping my workout time to respond to emails.
My morning routine is an absolute non-negotiable aspect of my life because if I don’t do it I feel rubbish for the rest of the day. This is why I’m so passionate about the Flying Start campaign with AXA PPP Healthcare for National Fitness Day. I’ve created a series of exclusive fitness and yoga workout videos for AXA PPP healthcare, very similar to the ones I do for myself, that you can follow along to in real-time – and they only take 10 minutes to do! Not only will you feel great about dedicating time to your body, but you’ll also feel energised and alert for the day ahead (thanks to the neurotransmitters like endorphins and dopamine!).