Career Advice Successful entrepreneurs’ story

Accounting for Fitness

Most of us have started a diet or fitness regime at some point, and many have undoubtedly fallen by the wayside when life gets in the way of multiple trips to the gym every week and strict low-carb, no alcohol diets. Beth Wright, founder of coaching service Fit & Fabulous, hopes to break that cycle by encouraging clients to check in with her every day, something she believes makes it harder to fall off the wagon. Describing herself as an accountability coach, she focuses more on diet than exercise than other lifestyle coaches in Hong Kong. “There are so many excellent personal trainers in the city but very few look at what happens outside of the gym. Even if we trained five times a week for an hour that represents only 2.9 per cent of our week.”

Wright, who has full-time day job as a lawyer and used to teach at Pure before stepping away to focus on one-on-one nutrition and lifestyle coaching, helps clients with sleep patterns, stress management and social engagement in addition to nutrition and fitness, She works with a small number of clients to deliver highly bespoke programmes that aim to keep them on track for good.

She knows what it’s like to be stressed and struggled with her own diet and sleep patterns when she first moved to Hong Kong. For the last four to five years, she has focused on finding out more about sleep and choosing the right diet.

Wright hopes to bring nutrition more sharply into focus with her bespoke approach to coaching. “I think we’re conditioned to believe that doing more exercise is the way to change your mind, body and shape. But it’s part of a jigsaw. If your goal is to lose weight, then it’s 80 per cent nutrition, 20 per cent exercise.”

Wright works with a maximum of around 12 to 15 clients. “I currently have around 10, and each of them have to check in with me every single day. I find this high level of accountability gets very good results.”

First, clients must fill in a detailed questionnaire that covers their diet, exercise and stress history, and based on that, there’s a consultation of one to two hours to find out more about their daily routines. “If I give them a plan that doesn’t fit with their lifestyle, it’s not going to work,” she says.

The most common goal for clients is weight loss. “A lot of the people I work with are female entrepreneurs and have a high work ethic while still wanting to look and feel good. I also have a lot of mums, who’ve usually put everyone else but themselves first. I put them first.”

Most clients tend to stay with Wright for around three months (a minimum of three months is required) but it depends on the goal they are trying to achieve. “People may want to get in shape for a wedding, or lose five kilos… but then they may go back to their old ways. If that happens, I haven’t done my job properly. In fact, I’ve made their life worse, as every time you diet, you get fatter. It’s a life change, because otherwise why are you doing it? I don’t want people to be worrying about getting smaller, or how to manage a night out. It should become second nature.”

Getting clients eat more protein is particularly challenging at the moment because there’s a big push towards a plant-based diet, she says. “Whether you’re vegetarian or not, it’s important to eat more protein as it keeps you satiated and helps build muscle.” Another problem is making sure clients are consuming enough calories so that they can function, she adds.

Wright’s success can be partly attributed to Hong Kong’s high stress environment. “Everyone in Hong Kong expects a huge amount of themselves. Whatever what job they do, they want to be the best. There’s this huge expectation to excel at everything, and that causes a lot of pressure. I help people manage that stress, so they can be in the moment more.”

Sleep management can be a massive problem for Hong Kongers, as Wright knows only too well. “I used to be a terrible sleeper, waking up three or four times in the night. Sleep management starts from the moment you wake up, and getting some sunlight in the morning. You need to try and get up at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time every night.” As with diet, clients must be prepared to put in the work if they’re serious about changing their sleep patterns for good, she warns.

Wright manages her own stress levels by practising what she preaches and prioritising sleep. “My first five years in Hong Kong, I wasn’t eating or sleeping well, and that was a turning point to get fitter. If I have a really bad meeting, I go for a walk or do a five-minute meditation just to re-set… anything that switches you down into relaxation mode rather than fight or flight.”

Wright is happy working with a select group of people on their lifestyle goals and is keen to do more speaking at events, and become more of a name in the nutrition and fitness industry. Ultimately, she hopes to continue putting people on the path to better health. “It helps that this is a passion project; it doesn’t feel like work.”