Cassius Powell with Ross Askell on mindful fitness, tennis and Ibiza
Let’s face it; the world has gone fitness crazy. Protein is top of the nutrient pile and fat percentages outweigh IQs. But, we’re adamant that fitness should still be fun. Taking yourself too seriously as part of any workout is just, well, too serious. And with so many people suffering from stress-related illnesses there’s no better time to take stock of keeping fit and staying mindful at the same time.
I’m a personal trainer and dancer, and my partner Ross Askell is a tennis coach. We’ve been living in Hackney for over ten years and we can’t get enough of what the Borough has to offer fitness-wise. In fact, we’ve recently returned to Victoria Park after a year away in Ibiza because we were missing it so much.
Ross discovered his love of tennis at the age of 11. His enthusiasm impressed his local club so much that they sponsored him to earn his coaching qualification at 18. He then spent over ten years coaching in and around Hackney, with both schools and private clients, and also taught at an exclusive boarding school in New York. His experience and outgoing personality eventually landed him the role of Tennis Development Officer at The Olympic Park, where The Tennis Foundation trained him to coach children and adults with physical and mental disabilities, including blind tennis and wheelchair tennis.
Ross’s unrivalled passion for the game has seen him coach players from the age of 3 to a knee buckling 80 – a couple with tennis lessons on their bucket list – and has transformed novices into accomplished players. Tennis is physically demanding and combines mental strength with technical ability. ‘Social interaction is so important at all ages but especially as you get older, says Ross. ‘It’s a hobby that brings a lot of joy and if you stick with it can prove mentally transformational as well as being a lot of fun.’
I also started at an early age, when I was (thankfully) forcibly dragged to a tap dancing class by my mum at the age of three. I was classically trained in jazz, tap and modern dance but it was my love of music videos that really inspired me to dance. I would video tape Top Of The Pops and learn the routines to MJ, Madonna and Janet Jackson – a talent that has led me to run regular Beyoncé/Diva dance workshops and earned me a recent front-page feature in The Guardian.
My confidence as a dancer and teacher has taken time to develop as I suffered with anorexia as a teenager and I stopped dancing for several years. It was debilitating but that experience made me the strong person that I am today. I’m currently working on a book that details my experiences with an eating disorder, and also explores male body image and masculinity in modern society.
Part of the reason I now work as a personal trainer is that I want to assist others who suffer from low self-esteem to improve their confidence through fitness. I truly think that exercise, when coupled with an understanding of habits and self-belief, can transform your life to help you achieve your aspirations.
Whilst in Ibiza we worked for The Body Camp, a holistic, transformational retreat. We learnt a great deal about limiting attitudes and self-criticisms that are present in even the most positive of personalities. It was an eye-opening experience and has informed the way we approach our own coaching and teaching.
We believe that fitness should first and foremost be fun and cathartic, and as teachers, Ross and I endeavour to bring out the best in our clients. Whether it’s living out the fantasy of being Beyoncé for two hours, nailing a topspin or increasing fitness levels, we’ve got a lifetime of knowledge and experience between us. Here’s to a summer of sweating, burning calories and enjoying life.
TO BOOK A SESSION
Quote LoveEast to receive £10 off your first session with either Ross or Cassius
Cassius Powell – Personal Training
Tel: 07841 023 799