Our Brazen Woman is the perfect "fit" for the month of February (pun intended!). I'm sure a lot of us, myself included, have some fitness or weight loss goals for the year. Where are you with those goals? I hope you are still on track.
Mosope Idowu is a Chemical Engineer/Project Manager by profession turned Fitness Coach by passion. Her weight loss journey is very inspiring in more ways than one. She not only lost the weight and kept it off, she has now found her passion by helping other women do the same.
Here is more of my conversation with Sope.
The Brazen Closet: What do you do?
Sope: I’m a fitness coach. I work with women, especially mums who don’t have much time and are overwhelmed. I provide them with tools that are practical and effective that they can incorporate into their lifestyle.
My program is called Total Lifestyle Transformation because it is founded on a principle of Total Health and Wellness as outlined in 3 John 1:2 - Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.
A lot of women find that they are overweight, very stressed and not happy with how they look. As we start working on the outside, I’ve always noticed there is something inside that needs some work as well, and a shift starts as we progress.
The Brazen Closet: How did you get started?
Sope: It started with my own journey after having a very difficult pregnancy with my second child. I realized that I was just not happy with anything and I had gained so much weight, I was over 200 lbs and my doctors were worried. My daughter ended up being almost 10 lbs at birth. I made a decision to start taking care of myself and took control.
I reached out to various people and just didn’t feel like I was getting the kind of help I was looking for. I then decided I could do it myself. I started doing some research, started exercising and watching my diet. It also helped that I had access to a free dietitian at my maternity clinic.
By the time my daughter was 6 months old I had lost 50 lbs. People started asking me how I did it, and where offering to pay me to coach them. That’s basically how I got started.
The Brazen Closet: When did you decide to focus on it and take it to the next level?
Sope: When I just started, I saw it as a nice hobby and a source of extra income maybe $100-$200 a month. Then I realized it gave me a lot of fulfillment helping others. I worked with clients off and on before my maternity leave was over. When I went back to work, I found that I was always looking forward to the end of the work day, so I could call my clients or do some research and work on my business.
About May 2016, I joined a group for Christian Mums called Super Working Mums and was really encouraged to take Bethel Fit Mum to the next level. My mentor Detola Amure, encouraged and coached me that it could go from a hobby to a business. It really felt like a hobby to me. I started getting more serious with it and started seeing how I could create an amazing community of women supporting each other in the process. So I got a website, Instagram page and most recently a membership site.
The Brazen Closet: How did you really get started?
Sope: Initially, I had a lot of doubt. Why would anyone come to me? A self taught fitness person, not an expert in the real sense of the word. There are so many professionals out there, that have been doing this for a very long time.
Again my mentor helped me get past that. She made me realize that God has given everyone of us a Nation and your personal story and experience will attract your nation. They will find and choose you, even when they have other options. My target is not everybody, but those that identify with me and my story. But I needed to get out there for them to find me.
I had a lady who chose to work with me because of my business name - Bethel Fit Mum. Bethel means House of God and she just resonated with that. Others have said that they love my videos because I work out with my kids and they would like to do more of that.
She encouraged me to get testimonials from women who had already worked with me. There was such positive feedback on how their lives had changed and how they had been able to keep the weight off. This really helped me see that I was good at what I was doing.
I also enrolled myself in classes to ensure that my self-taught knowledge and research aligned with industry standards. I now have my Personal Training Certification and I continue to take more courses including Prenatal and Postpartum fitness, Nutrition etc. to keep myself up to date.
The Brazen Closet: How do you differentiate yourself in the fitness market and create a brand that reflects you?
Sope: I bring myself and my story into the work I do. I connect with women on a very personal level. How I would like to be connected with by a fitness coach.
Most personal trainers are trained to stand aside and watch their clients exercise and make sure they have the right form. I am more concerned with building relationships, getting down in the trenches with them and burning calories while they do the same. I believe that motivates people, when you are doing it with them instead of just staring at them which can feel awkward.
It is a walk we walk together. When I set up plans for clients, I do the challenges and exercises with them. This helps me confirm that what I’ve asked them to do is feasible and practical. That way, if I struggle with it in any way, I know they must be struggling as well and I can tweak it to make it better. I also still follow up with past clients to see how they are doing personally and in their weight loss journey. I am able to do that because I have built such amazing relationships with them.
I also bring my faith into it, even though I have worked with a lot of non-christian clients. People know I pray, use scripture as a source of inspiration, encouragement and motivation. I bring in my struggles and make it real. I don’t only eat quinoa (she laughs), I occasionally have a chocolate bar and some Jollof rice.
It is a journey that can be overwhelming and as working mums, we can’t afford to be tired and hungry, it has to fit into our lifestyles to be effective.
The Brazen Closet: How did you get over the doubt hurdle and get yourself out there?
Sope: I would be honest and say I still struggle with that; with being bold and saying this is what I do now. I feel like I could be doing more but I’m such a shy person. I know I should be more consistent with social media posts but sometimes it just doesn't happen.
It really helps that I have a mentor and I’m part of a community of supportive women that run businesses. Seeing how consistent they are encourages me to do the same. I’ve started going to networking events, which I never used to do, because I didn’t see the point, but now I do. I’ve made connections and built relationships from that.
Through Social Media I’ve had people approach me to work with them and write blog posts for their websites, I’m now a regular contributor to Fab Mum Nigeria. I believe God has just been faithful in leading me despite me trying to hide.
I’m also part of an online Consistency club, and there is a saying that the results you see today is the hard work you put in 3 months ago. It might look like you are talking to crickets, but in 3 months you will reap the rewards. When you see successful people, know that they have worked hard and struggled in the background. You only know them now, because of the hard work they’ve put in over the years.
Sometimes Social Media just feels like your life is so out there and it feels vulnerable but I believe people connect with your vulnerability.
The Brazen Closet: What motivates you?
Sope: Definitely, the lives that are being changed from what I do. Every few days I get messages from people I don’t even know, saying they saw my workout videos and how it has really helped them. Even from people I know, but was not aware that they were following or watching me. From teenagers to young adults starting a fitness regimen because of my work.
I've found that I really love helping women and seeing the amazing success and transformation not just with the weight loss but with their state of mind. Empowering them to become better mothers, wives, sisters and friends, just like I had personally experienced. I’ve gained life long friends and sisters along the way.
I also do it for my kids. If I tell them they can do anything they put their mind to, but I’m afraid to do the same, then I’m not setting a very good example. I battle doubt, fear and insecurity everyday but everyday I pray and encourage myself to push through it all and just do it. I’ve also realized that if I’m not happy and not doing something I love, I can’t be a good mother or wife.
Exercising has also become a habit, even when I don’t feel like it and I just go through the motions. After a while, I find that I’m enjoying my work out and I keep going. Another major motivation is after all the hard work I’ve put in over the years, I don’t want to go back to being unhealthy, overweight and stressed causing me to start my journey all over again.
The Brazen Closet: What else do you do apart from Fitness Coaching and how do you juggle it all?
Sope: I still work full time as a Project Manager, I love to write and I teach Sunday school. I know it is just God’s grace.
One thing I’ve learnt from my various groups and courses, is how to manage my time. When I was on maternity leave I had the time to go to the gym but with working full time, I wake up earlier to make sure I carve out some meditation and work out time for myself before everyone wakes up. I have very long days, but I know it will all be worth it.
I do my client check-ins in the evening after the kids have gone to bed. I use my lunch breaks very efficiently. And if I have to, I take some time off work to regroup. I also do some work on weekends and make sure to balance it all with family time.
I also try to focus on one big thing at a time. I make very comprehensive to-do lists everyday called Daily Visions. When the day is over, and I haven’t really completed any of my daily visions, I re-evaluate to see what I really accomplished that day and I work on making the next day better.
A good thing about running a business online is once you have internet connection, you can really work from anywhere.
I also have family and friends that are on-board with what I do. My husband is very supportive and I involve my kids in my workouts. They ask to work out with me and want to go to the gym with me. They encourage me on my tired days when I don’t feel like working out. I really don’t take that for granted.
For the record, this is the cutest work out video ever! :)
The Brazen Closet: In hindsight what would you have done differently and what do you know now that you would have told yourself a year ago?
Sope: In the very early days, fear and inconsistency held me back a lot. It was difficult for me to be consistent because I was afraid. I felt inadequate and had major imposter syndrome. My advise would be to just start. You know your stuff, you won’t teach people something you don’t know. You are the only expert on yourself, so don’t let anyone tell you different.
Getting the education I needed was key in helping me overcome some of the fear, it showed me that I really did know what I was talking about. So even if you do know your stuff, it doesn’t hurt to take a few classes to make it official, to improve yourself and enhance how you show up for your clients.
I also would have started my fitness journey sooner. If I was fit and healthier after I had my first child, that would have helped with my second pregnancy. But I wouldn’t change that now, because it was my experience with my second pregnancy that gave me my story and pushed me to change. Now I am a huge advocate for healthy pregnancies, so other women don’t go through what I went through. I hope to get women living healthy lifestyles even before they become pregnant.
The Brazen Closet: Any big plans for 2017?
Sope: I’m launching a very interactive program this year (both virtually and in person) and will be in the community more to be able to help more women. I am also currently running fitness classes every Saturday in February and March called Express Yo’self, with another fitness coach. We will hopefully also organize some live events in the summer. And there might be a book in the works.
The Brazen Closet: We are now in February when a lot of people would have abandoned their fitness resolution for the year, what advice do you have for them?
Sope: My advice is not to give up. Most people abandon fitness resolutions because they feel that it needs to be a “new year” for them to “start well”, all you really need is a NEW DAY. Forget yesterday’s struggles and focus on today’s goals.
People also give up because they haven’t started seeing results. They just need to keep at it. If they keep going progress will happen. It is also important that we are not just doing it to lose weight, eating right and exercising is always a good thing and should be a life style.
The Brazen Closet: Any final words or advice?
Sope: I want to encourage women to take care of themselves. There will never be a good time, it will never be convenient. So if you are waiting for a convenient time, it will never come. We need to be more deliberate with our health and wellness in 2017. It may not seem important now, but in 20-40 years every action and decision we’ve made today will count.
The three things I say to encourage and inspire my clients are:
Accept: you have to accept who you are as person now
Visualize: you need to visualize your goals and where you want to be, it helps your journey
Persevere: everything worth doing comes with challenges, but you have a goal you are working towards and you must keep going and persevere.
You can find Mosope:
On Her website: Bethelfitmum.com
On Facebook @Bethel Fit Mum
On Instagram @bethelfitmum
I hope you have been as inspired as I have with Mosope's story, you can let us know in the comments. And as always, wear confidence on your sleeves!