Wendy MacLennan is a Responsible Adult

Wendy MacLennan is a Responsible Adult

NP
January 30, 2019

Third in our responsible adult series is Wendy MacLennan, the inspiring founder of Train Body Brain, a hybrid fitness class designed to help both physical and mental health, and initially developed for teenage girls suffering with low confidence and self-esteem. We caught up with Wendy at home in Camden to talk about her bourgeoning business and thoughts on the power of meditation, failure and venturing out of your comfort zone.

Train Body Brain is a unique hybrid fitness class - I designed it specifically to support the mental and emotional, as well as physical, fitness of anyone regardless of fitness level or previous fitness experience. In a nutshell the class combines high intensity cardio, meditation and positive self-talk. We started off teaching teens and children in schools, colleges and universities. We quickly found that the class was equally as effective for adults and so we also take Train Body Brain into the corporate sector to help support the wellbeing of employees. We’ve also launched our online classes - a selection of Intentional workouts and meditations. Depending on what you need: Confidence, Calm or Self Love.

"I feel passionately that fitness should be an opportunity for everyone to have access to learning reusable tools that support their own mental, emotional and physical wellbeing immediately.”

I was originally inspired to start Train Body Brain partly in response to the awful mental health statistics which were rife at the time and remain so. I feel passionately that fitness should be an opportunity for everyone to have access to learning reusable tools that support their own mental, emotional and physical wellbeing immediately - without waiting for the government or anyone else to do it for them! My other main inspiration for starting Train Body Brain - and in fact my inspiration for pretty much everything still! - is my daughter Mia. She is now 18 - but back then when she was 14 I couldn’t find her a suitable fitness class. If you weren’t into dance, yoga or netball there didn’t seem to be much else on offer for that age group.

Around that time I read the statistic that 37% of 14-year-old girls feel worthless and unable to concentrate. On top of that there was a study done where 98% of teachers said that there was evidence of self-harm in their class. Both those stats compelled me to do something about it. Depression used to be a disease of the middle aged. Data in the ’70s and ’80s saw depression and anxiety showing up more in younger adults. The new twist in this data is that it’s now increasingly evident in children age ten and younger, which is why we also take the TBB programme into primary schools.

In the first year, I did all the classes myself and I ran around London winning new business. I started with pop-up classes and every time I did a pop-up class in various London day schools, I would give pupils a questionnaire on how they found the class and if it helped them. This is because I feel passionately the opinions of teens should be respected and they should feel autonomous in deciding what sport they do in school. The questionnaires showed consistently that anywhere between 96% -100% wanted TBB available as a weekly class. Subsequently, it is now run in London day schools both as part of the curriculum as well as an after school club. We teach girls and boys from year 4 right up to sixth form, as well as in colleges and universities. We now have a roster of schools that also get us in for specific wellness days or weeks that they hold through the year. We do a whole day of classes along with talks around subjects such as managing anxiety and abandoning perfection.

The Train Body Brain method combines an arrival meditation followed by a high intensity cardio section, strengthen and stretch, and concludes with a deeply relaxing departure meditation. The whole idea in devising this method was to make it accessible to everyone whatever your fitness level. The thing our clients consistently say they like about the method is that you get all the fitness benefits you would get from an hour’s run in just 20 minutes, and yet you have feelings after the class more associated with having done a yoga class. This is due to the combination of aerobic exercise with meditation in the same session. I didn’t realise when I designed the method that a study had been carried out at Rutgers University in the US - they took 200 participants who for twice a week over a two-month period combined aerobic exercise in the same session as meditation. The results showed participants reporting a 40% drop in symptoms of depression. This is what we see in our clients week on week.

I wish I had understood at a much earlier age that you are not your negative thoughts. Each class enables you to notice what your negative self talk is - what your go-to thoughts are - and to replace them with kinder thoughts that don’t self sabotage. TBB classes introduce this idea of intentional thinking not autopilot thinking.

"Meditation is not rocket science – it’s not this mystical thing. It’s literally noticing with curiosity and kindness.”

As a 20-something I’d had my own issues with depression and the way I’d always coped from a fitness point of view was to dart around doing high intensity cardio classes. I was very resistant to things like yoga or meditation. My solution for managing difficult feelings was fitness for the quickest release of serotonin and endorphins, which we all know are really helpful for depression. But then I started to read a lot about the effect of mindfulness on depression and became intrigued as to how I could combine the two components. So I trained to be a personal trainer and embarked on mindful meditation courses. This was where I discovered a hero of mine - Jon Kabat-Zinn who was a molecular brain scientist and he came up with the mindfulness-based stress relief programme (MBSR) in the US.

Meditation is not rocket science - it’s not this mystical thing. It’s literally noticing things as they are in the present moment with curiosity and kindness. That’s what Jon Kabat-Zinn said and I reckon it all goes back to that - and he said it back in the 1970s! Noticing everything as it is in the present moment with curiosity and kindness, without having to change anything. Mindfulness has become a bit of a throw-away word, a bit like ‘self-care’. All of these things have got a bad rap but actually you can adapt them to what you need. Maybe a one-minute meditation focusing on the breath is what works - it doesn’t have to mean endless hours in the lotus position without thoughts to be of huge benefit.

I’m one of life’s slow burners - everyone comes to their thing at different times.I say this to my daughter, I’m 48 and only now feel I have found my passion. Originally I wanted to be an actor - that was my dream. What changed my mind was having to pay the rent! So, instead of treading the boards I found myself working in advertising instead, which I don’t regret for a moment - I made some wonderful friends, learnt a lot and met my husband! Time spent working on a passion, even if it doesn’t come to the fruition you imagined, is never wasted. I still draw on everything I learnt in my acting training in the job I do now.

When I had my children I revisited the acting. I got an agent and really went for it.I had some commercials and some really nice parts in short films but then it got to the point where I got so frustrated because you can’t control your own destiny with acting. I think this is what carried me for my first year of Train Body Brain, it was the novelty of having decided I wanted to do something and being able to do it. Whereas with acting, you decide you really want to do it, you’re really passionate about it, but you can’t control it - you’re literally at the mercy of other people.

If something really scares the shit out of you, it means you should really do it. If you are resisting something, it means you are about to have a massive breakthrough. And also, even if something feels negative at the time and you are demotivated and disappointed this is the stuff that makes you grow and change. Things like that have happened to me, not least my challenges with depression over the years, I do believe there is a reason for it and you just have to keep getting up and buggering on! Try to remain authentic to yourself and remember why you started something. I started Train Body Brain because I wanted to help people, and through that journey I have helped myself, too.

Find out more about Train Body Brain.
 

Quick Fire Five

 

What’s your most overused phrase?

Oh Serweet Jesus!

 

Who inspires you and why?

My two teens Mia and Kit - life for a teen in the
digital age we live in isn’t easy!

 

What is your screensaver?

INHALE COURAGE
EXHALE FEAR

 

What are you 90% sure of?

YOU ARE NOT YOUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
Positive self talk is life changing and causes a chain reaction.
Positive self talk = changing your beliefs =
changing your life! TRY IT!

 

What’s your favourite joke?

Dentist: "You need a crown."
Patient: "Finally someone who understands me"

Third in our responsible adult series is Wendy MacLennan, the inspiring founder of Train Body Brain, a hybrid fitness class designed to help both physical and mental health, and initially developed for teenage girls suffering with low confidence and self-esteem. We caught up with Wendy at home in Camden to talk about her bourgeoning business and thoughts on the power of meditation, failure and venturing out of your comfort zone.

Train Body Brain is a unique hybrid fitness class - I designed it specifically to support the mental and emotional, as well as physical, fitness of anyone regardless of fitness level or previous fitness experience. In a nutshell the class combines high intensity cardio, meditation and positive self-talk. We started off teaching teens and children in schools, colleges and universities. We quickly found that the class was equally as effective for adults and so we also take Train Body Brain into the corporate sector to help support the wellbeing of employees. We’ve also launched our online classes - a selection of Intentional workouts and meditations. Depending on what you need: Confidence, Calm or Self Love.

"I feel passionately that fitness should be an opportunity for everyone to have access to learning reusable tools that support their own mental, emotional and physical wellbeing immediately.”

I was originally inspired to start Train Body Brain partly in response to the awful mental health statistics which were rife at the time and remain so. I feel passionately that fitness should be an opportunity for everyone to have access to learning reusable tools that support their own mental, emotional and physical wellbeing immediately - without waiting for the government or anyone else to do it for them! My other main inspiration for starting Train Body Brain - and in fact my inspiration for pretty much everything still! - is my daughter Mia. She is now 18 - but back then when she was 14 I couldn’t find her a suitable fitness class. If you weren’t into dance, yoga or netball there didn’t seem to be much else on offer for that age group.

Around that time I read the statistic that 37% of 14-year-old girls feel worthless and unable to concentrate. On top of that there was a study done where 98% of teachers said that there was evidence of self-harm in their class. Both those stats compelled me to do something about it. Depression used to be a disease of the middle aged. Data in the ’70s and ’80s saw depression and anxiety showing up more in younger adults. The new twist in this data is that it’s now increasingly evident in children age ten and younger, which is why we also take the TBB programme into primary schools.

In the first year, I did all the classes myself and I ran around London winning new business. I started with pop-up classes and every time I did a pop-up class in various London day schools, I would give pupils a questionnaire on how they found the class and if it helped them. This is because I feel passionately the opinions of teens should be respected and they should feel autonomous in deciding what sport they do in school. The questionnaires showed consistently that anywhere between 96% -100% wanted TBB available as a weekly class. Subsequently, it is now run in London day schools both as part of the curriculum as well as an after school club. We teach girls and boys from year 4 right up to sixth form, as well as in colleges and universities. We now have a roster of schools that also get us in for specific wellness days or weeks that they hold through the year. We do a whole day of classes along with talks around subjects such as managing anxiety and abandoning perfection.

The Train Body Brain method combines an arrival meditation followed by a high intensity cardio section, strengthen and stretch, and concludes with a deeply relaxing departure meditation. The whole idea in devising this method was to make it accessible to everyone whatever your fitness level. The thing our clients consistently say they like about the method is that you get all the fitness benefits you would get from an hour’s run in just 20 minutes, and yet you have feelings after the class more associated with having done a yoga class. This is due to the combination of aerobic exercise with meditation in the same session. I didn’t realise when I designed the method that a study had been carried out at Rutgers University in the US - they took 200 participants who for twice a week over a two-month period combined aerobic exercise in the same session as meditation. The results showed participants reporting a 40% drop in symptoms of depression. This is what we see in our clients week on week.

I wish I had understood at a much earlier age that you are not your negative thoughts. Each class enables you to notice what your negative self talk is - what your go-to thoughts are - and to replace them with kinder thoughts that don’t self sabotage. TBB classes introduce this idea of intentional thinking not autopilot thinking.

"Meditation is not rocket science – it’s not this mystical thing. It’s literally noticing with curiosity and kindness.”

As a 20-something I’d had my own issues with depression and the way I’d always coped from a fitness point of view was to dart around doing high intensity cardio classes. I was very resistant to things like yoga or meditation. My solution for managing difficult feelings was fitness for the quickest release of serotonin and endorphins, which we all know are really helpful for depression. But then I started to read a lot about the effect of mindfulness on depression and became intrigued as to how I could combine the two components. So I trained to be a personal trainer and embarked on mindful meditation courses. This was where I discovered a hero of mine - Jon Kabat-Zinn who was a molecular brain scientist and he came up with the mindfulness-based stress relief programme (MBSR) in the US.

Meditation is not rocket science - it’s not this mystical thing. It’s literally noticing things as they are in the present moment with curiosity and kindness. That’s what Jon Kabat-Zinn said and I reckon it all goes back to that - and he said it back in the 1970s! Noticing everything as it is in the present moment with curiosity and kindness, without having to change anything. Mindfulness has become a bit of a throw-away word, a bit like ‘self-care’. All of these things have got a bad rap but actually you can adapt them to what you need. Maybe a one-minute meditation focusing on the breath is what works - it doesn’t have to mean endless hours in the lotus position without thoughts to be of huge benefit.

I’m one of life’s slow burners - everyone comes to their thing at different times.I say this to my daughter, I’m 48 and only now feel I have found my passion. Originally I wanted to be an actor - that was my dream. What changed my mind was having to pay the rent! So, instead of treading the boards I found myself working in advertising instead, which I don’t regret for a moment - I made some wonderful friends, learnt a lot and met my husband! Time spent working on a passion, even if it doesn’t come to the fruition you imagined, is never wasted. I still draw on everything I learnt in my acting training in the job I do now.

When I had my children I revisited the acting. I got an agent and really went for it.I had some commercials and some really nice parts in short films but then it got to the point where I got so frustrated because you can’t control your own destiny with acting. I think this is what carried me for my first year of Train Body Brain, it was the novelty of having decided I wanted to do something and being able to do it. Whereas with acting, you decide you really want to do it, you’re really passionate about it, but you can’t control it - you’re literally at the mercy of other people.

If something really scares the shit out of you, it means you should really do it. If you are resisting something, it means you are about to have a massive breakthrough. And also, even if something feels negative at the time and you are demotivated and disappointed this is the stuff that makes you grow and change. Things like that have happened to me, not least my challenges with depression over the years, I do believe there is a reason for it and you just have to keep getting up and buggering on! Try to remain authentic to yourself and remember why you started something. I started Train Body Brain because I wanted to help people, and through that journey I have helped myself, too.

Find out more about Train Body Brain.
 

Quick Fire Five

What’s your most overused phrase?

Oh Serweet Jesus!

 

Who inspires you and why?

My two teens Mia and Kit - life for a teen in the
digital age we live in isn’t easy!

 

What is your screensaver?

INHALE COURAGE
EXHALE FEAR

 

What are you 90% sure of?

YOU ARE NOT YOUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
Positive self talk is life changing and causes a chain reaction.
Positive self talk = changing your beliefs =
changing your life! TRY IT!

 

What’s your favourite joke?

Dentist: "You need a crown."
Patient: "Finally someone who understands me"