In the first of my series bringing you the secrets of women who inspire and motivate me to become a better person, I introduce to you Kaisa Larkas. Kaisa is a Finnish-born fashion writer, PR, mum of three and fitness enthusiast who encouraged me to get off my bum and do something about feeling so unfit and lethargic. The woman made me run four times in a fortnight, she must be magic!
I met Kaisa by chance on Twitter and it transpires she and her husband not only lived opposite our old apartment in Shoreditch but she also lives in the village we’re moving to; we’ve met up a few times for lunch and dinner and I can confirm she is as gorgeous and fabulous in real life as she is online.
Kaisa has recently started running a Cavewoman Conditioning class locally to motivate women in the area in their quest to keep fit (I expect it will form part of my post-pregnancy weightloss regime come this summer…) and is one of the earliest risers I know. She’s not above a ‘woohooh!’ at 5am whereas you’re lucky if you get a ‘good-morning’ out of me. Here’s how to bring a bit of Kaisa’s motivation into your life:
You are a very busy mum of three. Has fitness and running always been part of your life or is it something you needed to do post-motherhood to burn off a bit of steam?
Kaisa: I’ve always been active. I started playing basketball when I was very young and later on combined that with the gym and group exercise classes. I started instructing classes myself (from aerobics and spinning to circuit and body pump) when I was 16 and have been doing it on the side of my studies and journalism work ever since. I exercised through all my pregnancies, which I think helped with the births but also contributed to getting back into shape relatively quickly afterwards. Running is something new to me though. I used to hate it with passion up until a year ago. I decided to give it one more go and to my surprise, started enjoying it! It’s very addictive and because you see the progress pretty quickly, it’s motivating. I’m running my second half marathon in less than a month and I never thought I would even run the first one…
How do you motivate yourself to get up and get on with running or your day-to-day tasks after a bad nights sleep with the kids, or when it’s dark and cold outside?
Kaisa: People ask me that all the time and I honestly think that running and the Cavewoman and Caveman Conditioning classes that I do are the reason that I am able to juggle so many things and cope with the lack of sleep! I no longer have gym membership so all the exercise I do is outside and it is hard to sometimes motivate myself to go when it’s wet and grim. But then I just need to think about how good I feel afterwards and that forces me to go! I also mostly run with a friend, which I would recommend to anyone as you push and motivate each other. It’s harder to slack when you’ve made a pact with someone…
Do you find it hard to balance motherhood, work, and activities you enjoy?
Kaisa: Of course but I honestly think that if you are dedicated enough to exercise, you will slot it in no matter how busy you are. Not everyone can find the time to do something many times a week but even if it is a quick 20-30min run 3-4 times a week, a fitness DVD on a few evenings that the kids have gone to bed or even some resistance training at home a couple of mornings a week, you will feel so much better for it! I’m lucky I have a very supportive husband and an amazing au pair who enable me to find quite a lot of time to my fitness!
Do you find music helps motivate you to run? What music do you like to run to?
Kaisa: I can’t run without music! I went through a phase of listening to the latest Foo Fighters album a lot because when you stick to the beat of the songs, you have to be pretty speedy… But mostly I just put on something my husband recommended on Spotify or listen to mixes that my friend made for the Cavewoman Consitioning classes that I teach. They have anything fro Arcade fire to Rihanna on!
What treats do you enjoy to reward yourself?
Kaisa: I’m not majorly into sweet things but I have a healthy appetite and can eat a lot and often. I eat a healthy balanced diet but if I feel like having cake or ice cream, I go for it as I think that as long as you exercise, you can allow yourself to do that. I can easily eat a litre of ice cream in one go. Shameful, I know!… ;)
One thing I have learned from listening Kaisa speak so enthusiastically about her training is that it’s rare you will actively want to go and exercise – in fact my husband says that putting your trainers on is the most difficult part of going for a run. But the good feeling you get after exercising is unbeatable and really does give you a spring in your step for days afterwards. I will be heeding Kaisa’s advice and taking 20 minutes 3 times a week to run around the block or do my Davina McCall DVD, and hopefully feeling all the better for it.