We've loved working with Zanna on our Bali retreat in 2016, and she will be joining us again next month for our Koh Samui retreat, but we wanted to give you the chance to get to know the real Zanna Van Dijk, so sat down for a little Q&A time.
Q - Tell us about the Zanna Van Dijk before becoming a personal trainer.
A - I was a speech and language therapist with special interests in stroke rehabilitation. I qualified from Sheffield University with a first, and was intending to go and work in a hospital. Things turn out a little differently!
Q - What sparked the interested to get healthy & qualify as a PT.
A - I had gradually become more and more interested in fitness throughout my time at university and used it as my escape from my studies. I started social media accounts related to it, which grew over time. By the end of university I was getting some pretty awesome opportunities and really enjoying engaging with the fitness industry. I figured SLT could wait and I would risk it in the world of fitness while I could.
Q - Who have you used to qualify as a personal trainer?
A - I used Train Fitness in London, a small company offering PT qualifications.
Q - What does a day in Zanna's life look like?
A - Every single day is different. I could be sat at home in my dressing gown writing blog posts, doing admin, creating content and replying to emails. I could be on a photoshoot, in meetings, travelling the world. It is honestly so diverse. I love it.
Q - Do you have a particular style of training?
A - I mix it up. My main form of exercise is lifting weights, as I find it super empowering. However I also attend F45 hiit classes and I do one on one gymnastics lessons with Mike Lee at Crossfit Perpetua. Sometimes I go for runs to give me headspace. I like to beflexible with my training.
Q - What's your approach to healthy eating?
A - Balance. My mantra is moderation not deprivation. I don't label foods as clean or dirty. I just use the 80/20 rule of eating nourishing whole foods the majority of the time, and indulging 20 % of the time. Life is for living and food is to be enjoyed!
Q - Do you believe in cheat meals?
A - No. I don't believe in "cheating" on your diet. You can of course have more indgulgent meals but I think that if you label that as a cheat, it can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and a binge mentality. Again, moderation is key.
Q - We know you're lifting a pretty heavy deadlift, how do you suggest newbies working on their technique to be able to lift super heavy?
A - I suggest get a coach. I know this seems unachievable but some online coaches are amazing and affordable, I got super strong with the help of Adam Willis. It is safest to make sure you have someone watching over you and checking your form.
Q - You wrote a book. Tell us briefly what's inside it?
A - My book is called Strong, and basically it is a comprehensive guide to lasting health and happiness. It includes a very in depth guide to lifting weights, as well as bodyweight training and recovery through stress reduction, sleep and stretching. There is also a whole section on self-love and mindset, as well as dietician approved nutrition guidance; and tonnes of healthy, easy and cheap recipes. The feedback has been incredible so far! <3
Q - Many people wish to have your job, what's your advice on achieving that?
A - I feel like this is a super tough questions to answer, as I never came into this wanting to make it my job. I started blogging as a hobby, as it just took off. I think the most important thing really is to make sure you're creating content you're passionate about and that you have a key message you're always sticking to. mine is about female empowerment and strength; both mentally and physically. Let this shone through all you do.
Q - Tell us about the different projects you've been working on in the past few years & which ones you were the most excited about?
A - It has been a whirlwind few years, but the biggest project I have ever worked on was my book and still is. I still pinch myself on a daily basis when people email me, message me, tweet me, snapchat me and Instagram me them using the book. Some of the responses have been mind-blowing and have honestly warmed my heart. I set out with the intention to make a book which could change peoples lives, and to have womentell me I have positively impacted their mindset and their health is just the best feeling in the world.
Q - You're just become an Adidas ambassador, what does that mean to you?
A - SO MUCH! I have been working with Adidas for over 18 months now, so to take our working relationship to this level is ridiculously exciting. They have resources which I could never usually access, which allows me to make better quality content. I have some awesome projects coming up with them and I can't wait to share themwith everyone!
Q - What's your focus on in 2017?
A - This year it is all about work-life balance. Last year things got a bit too mad, and self-care went out the window. This year i still want to develop my career ands move forward with exciting projects; but also keep my sanity intact. More sleep, less stress.
Q - Any new exciting projects or little secrets we may know about?
A - Let's just say I have some ridiculously cool things in the pipeline with Adidas. Things I never ever imagined would happen!
Q - January is officially the most depressing month of the year, how do you stay positive and motivated?
A - By focusing on one day at a time, and the small positives every single day. Every evening I list three positive things that happened during the day and it makes sure my mindset is in check.
Well It was great to chat, and we're looking forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks in sunny Koh Samui! If you're reading this and considering joining us for a retreat this year you can use the code: ZANNA100 for an exclusive £100 off any retreat!