We speak to the three-time Olympian, World Cup silver medalist, European gold medalist, ten-time British speed skating champion and founder of Roar about her journey from athlete to fitness professional
Three-time Olympian and the UK's former speed skater, Sarah Lindsay's journey is an inspiration, one that has seen her go from star athlete to personal trainer and now a fitness expert. In 2007, an accident on an ice rink in London left Sarah grounded for 13 months with a spinal disc rupture. But looking back, she believes that the mishap was transformational. It left her determined to achieve her full potential and she found a new passion to empower others to take control of their lives.
"On paper, I am a three-time Olympian, World Cup silver medalist, European gold medalist and ten-time British speed skating champion," said Sarah. "It’s a funny thing but the races I won weren’t the races in which I felt like I did my best or overcame the most to achieve.
"I am always most proud of the things I overcame psychologically in sport, especially when the times and situations were the toughest. It was coming back from what should have been a career-ending injury, having the resilience to race again 20 minutes after being involved in a terrible accident and putting my career at risk, going so far out of my comfort zone and setting myself back to become a better skater in the long run. These are the things I am quietly proud of."
But she quipped: "However, it’s much quicker to say 'I’m an Olympic athlete' if you want to impress people."
In her last Olympics in 2010, Sarah achieved record pace, and after retiring from professional athletics in the same year, she founded Roar Fitness in London – the city's only personal training centre able to offer an Olympic training experience like no other. Today, she is one of London's most recognised celebrity personal trainers and has trained the likes of Ellie Goulding, Nick Grimshaw, Melanie B, Pixie Lott, Christine Lampard and Professor Green, among many others.
Speaking about her journey from athlete to body transformational coach, Sarah said: "As an athlete, I had no Plan B. I didn’t want to do anything else so I didn’t even plan my retirement, never mind my career after sport. I qualified as a personal trainer and sports therapist when I was 20. I studied strength and conditioning and nutrition and became the S&C coach for the national figure skating team. I had a full-time sports science team working with me for around 15 years, so performance physiology was what I knew best. Coaching was an obvious path and I guess I fell into personal training.
"As an athlete, you have to be very selfish, so it took a bit of a shift but soon enough, I felt a lot of satisfaction from helping other people achieve their goals and actually showing them that they can do so much more than they ever believed.
"When I met my husband (Rich Phillipps), who was already London’s leading body transformation expert, we knew that together we could improve upon what was currently on offer in the PT world. So we got to work; we wrote a business plan, developed a very clear concept and mission, found a property and borrowed some money. We built our first gym from nothing but we live and breathe it. We’re constantly pushing and evolving the brand to deliver something really very special to our clients."
Following a trio of successful personal training clubs in London, Sarah recently brought her unique brand of fitness to Dubai, with the opening of Roar in Al Quoz earlier this year. She and her husband eventually fell in love with the city and permanently moved base here.
"I came to Dubai purely to start a business and launch the fourth Roar gym. My husband and I spent some extended time in Dubai during the lockdown and fell in love with the city. I love the positivity and opportunity this emirate holds. I love how unbelievably safe it is and the fitness scene is huge. My gym in Downtown Dubai has floor-to-ceiling windows and I will never get bored of palm trees being the backdrop while I’m doing squats."
Driven by her ability to change lives, Sarah is dedicated to helping her clients become the best version of themselves. Discussing five of the most impactful strategies she shares with them, Sarah said: "Set goals – decide what you really want to achieve, be bold and aim high. Make a plan – write it down and then work backwards giving yourself targets, time frames and process goals for you to tick off daily. Work hard – push yourself out of your comfort zone, pay attention to detail and hold yourself accountable. Remember that consistency is everything – every day you get the job done, tick the boxes and do what's required will move closer and closer to your goal. Finally, pat yourself on the back – congratulate and praise yourself, know that you are awesome and that you deserve to achieve."
As for her personal fitness philosophy, Sarah said optimal health and longevity is key. "I am strong, lean and well, and I want to stay that way for as long as I can into very old age. All my grandparents have crossed the age of 95, so hopefully I’ll also be that lucky. I know it sounds premature to talk about retirement but this is hopefully when you will have all your freedom to do whatever you want and go wherever you want. I want to be fit enough to enjoy these years to the max. I believe very strongly that physical strength is key for this and to get strong and maintain that strength you need to lift weights. Any other exercise on top of this can just be whatever activity you enjoy but the weight training is non negotiable."