Today we are talking to Satu. Satu is a personal trainer, a mum of two and a military spouse. She is passionate about resistance training, especially for women. We talk family, moving countries, retraining and of course, fitness. Let’s get into it!


How would you describe yourself?

It’s difficult to say, Is it as a person? Or as a personal trainer? Or as in generally? which boxes do I tick?!

I found I wanted more than just to turn up. I wanted to know more to get better, stronger, fitter. 

Well, I guess it comes down to my career choices, I’m a very sociable person and I really enjoy being with people. I have always enjoyed that I can work with people and take things in different directions. As well as being a Personal Trainer, I am a mum of two girls who love being picked up! Even now when the older one is 11. And I am an RAF wife, meaning that my husband’s career has had a lot of implications on my life. Mostly positive, though! 

What’s your perfect Sunday? (Yes, this is from Hot Fuzz!)

I love Hot Fuzz – we used to live in Cheltenham, and we’d show this film to my Finnish relatives coming to visit. A perfect Sunday, I can easily pick. The weekdays are usually really quite hectic and quite regimented, what with my morning routine and getting the girls to school. Then it’s the work routine, the exercise routine, it’s the dinnertime routine! The perfect Sunday would be the antidote to that. The perfect Sunday would start with coffee in bed and a newspaper, and it’s quite lazy. Even if the whole family is in bed with me, as long as there’s coffee, then it’s fine! 

The perfect Sunday is one that hasn’t really got a schedule, but it could involve a nice roast with friends. Or a walk or even a play date because there has to be some activities for the children. We try to do something together as a family. But something that’s also not tied to a timeline.  Being a bit lazy and just not hurrying to places and not having to be somewhere at a particular time.  That’s a great Sunday!

How did you discover resistance training?

I was really lucky to join a fitness group that enabled me to bring my baby with me (Sienna was a toddler at that point). I wasn’t really looking to start resistance training exactly, but I was looking for an opportunity to do some exercise that would be available to me as a mum with childcare “problems”. It can be tricky as some nurseries don’t take under twos, plus it can be a financial burden – but that’s a different conversation as to how childcare is organised in the UK! However, the group was organised, and I was able to go and just try it out. For me, it just happened to be resistance training because I was able to take my child with me. 

The group was on every day and there was a core group of really nice ladies who would go most days. We started making friends. It just became a really nice sociable aspect to my day.  I then also discovered that I really enjoyed the challenge of it. But that was the kind of accidental reason to carry on with it, if you like!

(I must comment though that I’m not completely new to resistance training, or sports. I used to play and coach basketball, so I have some background in weight training, as well as training young people). 

What made you want to turn your hobby into your career?

Well, I guess the military comes into it as it was a discussion with my husband. Because of how our family life had changed since having our first child. I hadn’t had a job (other than being a mum) for about seven years. 

I left my previous career willingly because when our first daughter was born, I moved to live with my husband.* We decided that rather than me holding that job and making life even more difficult, we would actually live together as a family. We then got posted abroad so that also meant I wasn’t working (because of general visa situation in the country). 

*Satu is originally from Finland

When I then subsequently moved back to the UK and I was seeking a new challenge, I was able to join the resistance training class, I really enjoyed the challenge of it.  But I found I wanted more than just to turn up. I wanted to know more to get better, stronger, fitter. 

I’m always in the market for learning new things so after a discussion with my husband we decided that rather than just reading books, I would actually invest in a course to gain a qualification. I wasn’t looking to make it into a career at that point, but it was more doing a course to gain further knowledge for myself.  As I was talking about the course with people, it turned out that there was a lot of demand for Personal Trainers in the area and we decided that it would actually be a good time to turn the interest into a career, as our youngest daughter was coming to an age where she did have a nursery place. It would mean more time in the day for me where it would be possible to work. 

So, although it was out of my personal interest and personal willingness to learn, the circumstances also happened to be right for our family and at that point returning back to work became possible. 

It’s my personal stress outlet, so regardless of whether I would have become a personal trainer or not, I just know that I am a better person (and mum) for it.

I guess my personal situation is made slightly more challenging by the fact that I am in a RAF family, which pushed me to start my own business. My own family isn’t in the UK so that extra childcare and the extra help isn’t there. Because of my husband’s shift work and him often being away for long periods, I can’t commit to work, or to weekly events, on an evening because I won’t ever know if he’s going to be there to help with the children. So, everything I do has to be manageable with the children. whereas people often have some kind of set working hours and they’ve got some sort of expectation of sharing pick-ups and drop offs and so forth.  That is why my work situation is relevant to the RAF families. Also, not many families move abroad. There are a lot of factors that get thrown at you, which has made my career choices quite fluid. 

Had I not chosen to move when I had a child, I probably would have just taken a regular maternity leave and then returned to my work as an educational consultant. It’s those little things that then all add up to what happens in life, but I think we (military spouses) are a special type of beast anyway, quite adaptable, and resilient!

What does exercise mean to you personally?

For me, I’m just a better person. It’s my personal stress outlet, so regardless of whether I would have become a personal trainer or not, I just know that I am a better person (and mum) for it.

I’ve found that mums don’t often take care of themselves because they feel they don’t have the time or, even more often, they feel guilty about taking the time. They are likely to put everyone else’s needs ahead of themselves. But actually, I do believe that you have more to give when you wake up in a better mood, with a bit more energy and you’ve just got that outlet for yourself. If you say to the kids, I’m now going to do 20 minutes of exercise and you can play there or watch me exercise, it’s something that they get used to and it’s also a great role model for the children. Exercise is a part of everyday life, it doesn’t have to be too complicated. 

What occupation did you have before retraining?

I started as a languages teacher in Finland and then went into educational consultancy and training teachers. When I moved over to the UK, I found a similar job. I was managing educational projects for the UK Government. 

Why did you move to the UK? 

I had already met my (now) husband, it was a long-distance relationship, so I did move for a RAF man! 

It’s always a big deal when you have to give something up and find a new identity, but I had to do that when I moved abroad. 

Favourite thing about your job?

Social media is quite a harsh place. There is so much free content available, but no one is checking whether it’s correct.

There are actually a few things…

I love the awesome feeling of achievement when training, and I absolutely love sharing that with other people. Also, the laughing/cursing from clients! It’s my favourite thing because you know at that moment the client is working really hard but at the same time, they are overcoming themselves.

The feedback, “I would never have done it without you”. Picking up a heavier weight, having the belief in themselves that they can lift that weight, or do that exercise, or that number squats. Whatever their goals, believing that they can achieve them.  Coaching them and making that person believe in themselves, that they can do it.  Seeing that glow on their faces is a massive thing.

What are your pet peeves about your industry?

The 20 something, fitness influencers on social media, where you can’t tell what their qualifications are, if any.  My other pet peeve is the diet fads that come and go ( Keto etc.). Social media is quite a harsh place. There is so much free content available, but no one is checking whether it’s correct. Or when a person picks up a routine, no one is checking if the exercises are done right, or explaining to them the reasoning behind the programme. 

What are the benefits of working with a personal trainer?

It’s a great way of easing yourself into training or fitness and making sure that you’re getting the most of your exercise. In other words, making sure that the technique is correct, and no matter what the goals are, the training is relevant. Finding a good personal trainer that makes individual, personal programmes for their client is a key. 

I did my first pull up at 41!

Another benefit of having a personal trainer is that they can make you consistent. You will check in with them week after week to get encouragement and advice. Bit by bit, the training will become a habit.  When it’s become a part of your week, you’ve sort of smashed the biggest hurdle – whether it’s exercise or whether it’s something else.

What is your number one piece of advice for someone who is looking to live their live harder or fuller?

If I peddle this back to my job and to resistance training, I would say, be brave and give it a go!  That could apply to anything. Feeling intimidated by a new environment, or being new to something can be a massive hurdle. People think they can’t do it, so they don’t try. 

What do you wish you were good at (but aren’t)?

I wish I was good at singing! 

What are you seeking now? 

Well, my next thing is specialising in like menopausal health, peri and post menopause. Personally, as a PT, it comes with my own age as well, I really feel like there has been a massive benefit for me starting resistance training.  I did my first pull up at 41! I didn’t really get interested in training until in my very, very late 30s.  I just enjoy making other people enjoy the same benefits.  

There are so many benefits to exercise that people should give it a go and just see for themselves. 

Any book or film recommendations either about resistance training or generally that you have enjoyed for the readers?

One book that can benefit people in general that is not particularly resistance training per say, but it’s called ‘Supple Leopard’. It’s not just about resistance training but mobility. Nowadays people have got a lot of various problems from a lot of sitting, a lot of laptop work of work, various postural issues. It looks into those and what parts to lengthen and strengthen. How you can combat hunched shoulders or back pain. It’s quite big in the industry and it’s well presented with photos so a lay person could also benefit from it.  

My next book on my reading list is ‘Atomic Habits’. It’s about a lot of things, but in terms of fitness, people talk about seeking motivation. But actually, you can’t be motivated all the time. You have to make it a habit. And this book could help with that. 

 My other recommendation is also ‘The Kite Runner’ if everyone hasn’t already read it. It’s maybe more relevant again today with the latest Afghanistan development.

And finally, what’s your advice for someone wanting to start resistance training?

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Everyone has to start from somewhere. No one should feel embarrassed if they have to ask questions or about being the newbie. 
  • If people are just starting out, look for full body exercises (compound exercises). These will be the most beneficial for someone who’s just starting out.
  • Be humble. Start with a low weight to prepare the body and to reduce the risk of injury. , even if you go to the gym and everyone else is lifting much bigger weights than you. You don’t know what the first weight they ever picked up was.  Everyone starts somewhere. Don’t be that person who picks up far too big a weight and injures themselves. You can lift heavy, but you do have to train for it. 
  • You have to give your joints a chance to get used to it.  Any moving parts, they will need to get used to the weight so it would be beneficial to start with more reps and lighter weights. Then progress to fewer reps and heavier weights.

Thanks, Satu! If you want to know more about Satu or hit her up for some training, you can find her on social media. If you want to know more about fitness, stay tuned as in the weeks to come, Satu answers some of our most pressing questions about all thing’s fitness and exercise.


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