This week we’re off to Lincolnshire to meet with Friend of FINDRA Rebecca Cartledge, a Personal Trainer with a passion for movement and running.
Hi Rebecca, thanks for taking the time to chat. To start, can you introduce yourself and tell us where you live and what you do?
Hello… I’m Rebecca Cartledge and I live in the Lincolnshire Wolds. Initially, I studied sport at university, became a personal trainer and a pilates instructor and worked in London as well as overseas. I then moved back to Whitby, North Yorkshire where I married and became a Mum. I set up a studio by the sea and together with a small team, encouraged people to exercise both indoors and outdoors in all weathers. It was a lovely community and we grew in friendship, confidence and appreciation of the environment which we lived in.
We then headed to Lincolnshire and as the years went by and as my own interest in Strala Yoga grew I continued to guide movement, indoors and outdoors, but in a way that felt good and natural to each individual. Now I guide from a little wooden space, there are no mirrors and I do not measure fitness levels with any technology but I try to help individuals find their own way of moving, I try to build confidence and I hope I take any past fear out of movement and exercise.
I also help people run outdoors. I believe that deep down, if our bodies are able, we were born to run. But sometimes, to begin, we need to slow down and soften, inhale and exhale, look around. And then it happens. Today I have guided a class online and written a movement plan for someone over lockdown. In person is great, online is good. It allows people to feel safe in their home and it brings a community together to move and breathe at a time where many can feel alone.
When I look back at my time I hope I can say that I’ve helped build a community and helped people of all ages continue to do all the things they love with the people they love.
How long has the great outdoors been a part of your life?
I cannot remember when the outdoors has not been a part of my life. My earliest memories are gardening with my Dad, spending hours on Sandsend beach with my Mum and brother, swimming in a cold sea (we stayed in a tiny cottage for 8 weeks each summer and as there was no bath or shower – so our bath was the North Sea) and playing hours of sport outside at school in a games skirt even when the Yorkshire wind blew and the snow fell on the games fields.
I started running as a teenager (it was a way to escape the school grounds) and have continued ever since.
What has been your favourite trip or adventure?
I had many memorable trips to Sweden where I worked for a family who lived on the coast. One day I was running along a deserted beach with the woman who I was working for. I was in my twenties, she was in her forties, a mother of four, born in Sweden. It was Autumn, the sky was the brightest blue and the waves were big. She suddenly stopped in her tracks, looked at the sea and without any hesitation, plan or warning, whisked off her shorts and t-shirt and started running towards the water, she turned her head towards me shouting “ska vi ta ett dopp?” (shall we go for a dip?)
In a truly English way I slowly decanted my clothes (there was definitely no whisking) but I ran in and together we laughed and jumped in the waves like children without a care. I remember looking over to her in the sea. A women, a mother, fifteen years my elder, and was in awe of how she had simply listened and trusted her body to move in a way that felt good.
How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
Going to bed earlier (and accepting the fact that I am often the first to bed in my house) so that I can get up earlier, to get outside and move in a way that feels good before my family and work take me in another direction.
Right now I don’t participate in any longer adventures or trips other than my daily routines but I don’t mind. There is a simplicity about being happy with the activities that you find from your doorstep. One of my motivations which keeps me balanced and well now is that I hope to have many longer adventures and trips in the future.
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
A few people have inspired my love of the outdoors. My parents spent time outside doing the things they loved. They walked and gardened and I think I just joined in. We lived near a farm and my older brother and I spent hours on bikes (with pedals and motors) heading to the nearby woods for what seemed like days at a time. There was always a very positive connection with being outside and being happy. It was never forced, it simply happened.
I grew up fascinated by Zola Budd, a middle and long distance barefoot runner and Ffyona Campbell, a long distance walker. They were both women who did things differently, not without controversy, but both with great confidence in what their body was able to do for them.
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
I have an imaginary toolbox that I dip into whenever I feel my mental health swaying. Being outside, walking or running every day, is a firm fixture. Often it is simply a dog walk, but getting up and out straight away, early in the morning, for a slow, gentle run, is without doubt the best medicine for my head. However, sleep is essential for my mental health and I now accept that it is actually more important than that sunrise run. I now listen to what my body really needs and trust that it is telling me the right thing.
What is it about running specifically that you love?
I have loved running for different reasons through the different stages of my life: escaping school in my teenage years, the need for space when I lived in London and the inner strength that training for a hilly marathon can create.
Right now I am fascinated by the colours around me. The different shades of orange and yellow on the trees and hedgerows seem brighter than ever before. The pink skies and the red sunrises seem almost fluorescent and the dark nights with the bright Moon, I cannot help but think, is showing us the way. Just today, before our second lockdown, as I stood at the top of my every day hill, I feel time outdoors is giving us much needed space and hope.
I love running on my own but I love the natural connection you make when you run with another person. When you run with someone else it can feel like some layers start to come off and somehow the words begin to flow, words that are sometimes a little stuck can just come out. At times you can both be quiet, listening to the world around and then the conversation begins again or the much needed tears may flow – or the genuine laughter where you have to stop to catch a breath that comes alongside wetting your pants just a little.
I think it’s the rawness of running with someone else that’s so natural, that brings a connection you can’t quite explain.
When did you discover FINDRA?
I discovered FINDRA a few months ago. I have a very small wardrobe with a small selection of chosen items. Clothes that can repair and I plan to wear for years. As I’ve grown older I care more about where my clothes come from and who makes them, I feel it is part of the joy and whole experience of wearing them.
I was instantly attracted to FINDRA as an outdoor brand particularly in their celebration of women, of all ages, participating in outdoor activities. As I spend most of my working day and weekends in active wear, what it feels like is really important. I love the cosy, warm feeling of the FINDRA fabrics, the simple choice of practical items and the colours that accentuate the great outdoors.
To my husband and dear friends I am called Betty, so there was also the instant attraction to the Betty Beanie that is now my everyday staple!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My Granny had a needlework tapestry framed and sitting on the side in her kitchen which read ‘Do It Now’. I tussle with the daily mundane jobs and I think she did too, which is why someone had gifted this tapestry to her.
But I also see these words when I question pressing the snooze button one more time or contemplate stepping out in the bleak weather to run. I believe that if you do it now you always feel better after.
In this post, what do you feel is the key motivational or inspirational message you would like to highlight to our followers that would inspire them to get outdoors more?
Adventures can be found on your doorstep. I have been involved in many outdoor activities and sports but the most memorable and happiest moments are the spontaneous things that have happened in my every day with a friend or my family. Finding a community of like minded people to move with is lovely, it becomes a support in so many ways.
And always remember that the joy is often in the process rather than the outcome.
Thanks Rebecca, you’re quite an inspiration!
TRAIL OF THE WEEK
Beck Hole to Sleights Moor, North York Moors National Park
As you walk through the hamlet of Beck Hole near Whitby, with the pub on your right and continue up the steep, winding hill, crossing the railway bridge and continuing to Green End you will notice a foot path heading up into the Moor on your right. It is a bit of a scramble to the top but the views are worth it and it is a special place to take a big deep breath in and long breath out.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Salt Path by Raynor Winn
During the last lock down I read The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. It gave me hope and a sense of space and freedom drawing on a deep connection for the outdoors and nature. I can’t wait to read the follow up book called The Wild Silence.
MUSIC OF THE WEEK
We Are Family by Sister Sledge
I went to an all girls school and in the sixth form we played this on the way to every sporting fixture.
We were lacrosse players, a sport that was not for the faint hearted. Whenever I hear this song now, I feel like all those girls are supporting me from a distance and I get a little twinkle of excitement and adrenalin in my tummy.
Sister Sledge – We Are Family