The Gryphon interviews Olympic heptathlete Louise Hazel

FRESHERS’ week is infamous for students around the UK drinking copious amounts of alcohol and attending over-hyped events at questionable nightclubs. For many, exercise and healthy living is the last thing on their minds as they re-acclimatise themselves back into university life.

However, here at Leeds University, one event took a new approach on the partying culture of Freshers’. “Fruity Fitness” combined the popular student night at the union with a full-on workout led by the celebrated heptathlete and Olympian Louise Hazel.

Having gained a BA in French from Birmingham University, Hazel knows perfectly well how to integrate exercise into student life. She balanced her academic work with training to be a world-class athlete, and it all became worthwhile when she won gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and participated in the London 2012 Olympics. The Gryphon had the opportunity to chat with her about “Fruity Fitness”, exercising at university, and participation in sport:

Mixing clubbing and exercise together is a unique idea. What drew you to participate in Fruity Fitness?

Leeds University is known for being very forward thinking, creative and vibrant place so it felt like the right venue to host my first Live Student Union Workout Class with DJ Odin. I thought the Fresher’s might benefit from something different for Fresher’s Week!

Louise lead a Fruity-themed fitness workout at Leeds University Union in September
Louise lead a Fruity-themed fitness workout at Leeds University Union in September     Photo: The Gryphon

How important do think it is for exercise to be a regular aspect of a student’s life while at university?

I think that a lot more could be done to engage students with exercise whilst at University; there is always a big focus on sport, but sport isn’t for everyone. Exercise should be top of the agenda as it inevitably leads to greater productivity, improved health and mental well-being!

What advice would you give to a university student wanting to become fitter and healthier?

Don’t wait until you start feeling like crap to get involved in exercise whilst at university, start straight away. I have an online plan with a FREE 60 day challenge and nutritional advice so there’s no excuse!!

My top tips:

-exercise everyday, first thing in the morning and you’ll feel more energised

– get involved in group workouts

– grab a friend and get involved so you aren’t on your own.

Having completed a degree yourself, did you ever struggle to balance university work and your blossoming athletics career?

If I’m honest it was never really a struggle, studying at University was a blessing I had more time than ever to commit to athletics and it really paid off. Use your free time wisely and go and get some work experience!

Why do think there is a lack of young women that regularly participate in sport and what can be done to change this?

I think that the number of women participating in sport will always be disproportionate to men. Sport isn’t for everyone and not every man finds sport exciting so it’s only reasonable to assume that not every woman will be turned on by sport either. However, what I would like to see more of is an increase in exercise amongst both young men and women and hopefully live workouts like the one I am hosting is a step in the right direction.

Your career highlights include competing in the London 2012 Olympics and winning gold at the Commonwealth Games, making you an extremely successful sportswomen. Do you feel a responsibility to be a positive role model to girls wanting to get involved in sport?

Yes, I would always strive to encourage any young women who are passionate about sport to pursue their dream not matter how big or small because I was once that young girl…

Nancy Gillen

Featured image: The Gryphon  


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