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Monday 4 April 2016

Selfridges meets: Rhian Stephenson

Next week, Psycle (aka the most fun you can have on a bike) is bringing its high-intensity spin classes to Selfridges London, Oxford Street, as part of our new BODYWORK initiative. We caught up with Rhian Stephenson, CEO of Psycle and all-round wellness guru, to talk about her fitness philosophy, foodie tips and what makes her tick.

How did you get to where you are today?

I am a qualified nutritionist and naturopath, and before I started working at Psycle, I ran my own clinical practice. I loved the one-to-one sessions but I wanted to find a way to reach more people, so I started offering wellness retreats, workshops and brand consultancy – which is how I was first introduced to Psycle. 

How did the partnership with Selfridges come about?

A lot of the Selfridges team come to Psycle and are part of our community, so with the launch of the new Body Studio and a focus on wellness, it was a natural fit for our brands to partner up. The EVERYBODY campaign is all about inclusion, community, rhythm and energy – which are all values we share. 

We're working together to bring a workout and wellbeing initiative into a retail environment. How do you think this represents the shift towards people living healthier, more active lifestyles?

I think exercise and wellbeing used to be considered as separate things that you needed to do – like a chore or punishment. The whole face of wellness has changed – people are seeing that it’s not an either-or lifestyle choice. You can still have fun, socialise, express yourself through fashion, feel amazing, and focus on exercise and wellbeing. 

"A lot of the Selfridges team come to Psycle and are part of our community, so with the launch of the new Body Studio and a focus on wellness, it was a natural fit for our brands to partner up"  

Tell us about your own fitness regime

My exercise regime varies depending on how busy work is or what my body needs. My foundation is Psycle. For me, riding is the most important thing I do for stress relief; it’s my opportunity to switch off and get lost in the music. I don’t have to think for 45 minutes, and I always leave feeling lighter and clearer. My body responds incredibly well to cardio, so I ride four or five times a week and I see a personal trainer once a week for strength training.

I’ll also do yoga, HIIT or Barre, depending on how much time and energy I have. I think it’s incredibly important to listen to your body – if I’m rundown, I’ll either rest or do a more restorative yoga practice. When I travel, I always pack a TRX and my running shoes. For me, fitness is non-negotiable – when I’m working out I feel energised, confident and driven. 

You still teach regular Psycle classes, as well as being CEO. Why is this so important for you to maintain?

I will teach as long as I’m able to! The team atmosphere, pushing yourself beyond your limits, getting in touch with your physicality and drive – these are things that absolutely fuel me. Helping other people get there is such an incredible part of what I do. From a business perspective, it gives me first-hand knowledge of what’s going on day-to-day in the business. I see the rider experience. I’m exposed to the operational challenges – everything that works and everything that could be improved. I see what the instructors experience, and what could makes things better for them. It’s invaluable, in a lot of ways. 

What do you love most about your job?

It’s difficult to pick one thing! Probably the most rewarding thing, for me, is hearing from the riders about how Psycle has helped them through personal challenges – divorce, break-ups, the death of a family member, loss of a job, depression, work anxiety, personal journeys of weight loss… People write in every day saying how Psycle has helped them through difficult emotional experiences and it’s deeply touching every time. I love the community. The energy. The challenge. I feel incredibly lucky to be doing something that I’m so passionate about.

Rhian's top 5 workout tunes:

What do you do in your spare time and at weekends?

Saturday mornings always start with coffee in bed and a magazine – it’s one of my favourite ways to begin the day. Then, I generally go to a class or work out with friends before brunch. I enjoy eating out and trying new restaurants, but I also love to cook and have dinner parties – I recently moved into a new flat and invested in a great dining-room table, so I’m entertaining a lot these days!

I like getting out into nature whenever possible. My weekends vary a lot, but they're all based around spending time with friends. I went through a period when work was incredibly intense and my life wasn’t very balanced, so I’m really enjoying having my downtime back.

Are there ever days when you just stay in your pyjamas and do nothing?

Yes – but I wish there were more!

What are your go-to sportswear and fashion brands?

Sweaty Betty and Nike for sweating. As for fashion, I love Rag & Bone, Golden Goose, Maje, Current Elliott, Isabel Marant, Acne and Saint Laurent. 

I know you must get asked this all the time, but what do you eat?

My diet mainly includes vegetables, beans, lentils, gluten-free grains, fruit, nuts and seeds; I also eat fish and eggs. I’m allergic to dairy and I don’t eat meat. In the warmer months, I love following some of the raw food principles and I usually try to do raw Mondays. I’m obsessed with smoothies – I'll often have smoothie bowls or a superfood smoothie for breakfast. I absolutely love coffee and I usually drink about two litres of water a day. I have green tea or water with lemon and cayenne between meals. 

"Get something green in at breakfast – whether it’s in a smoothie, cold-pressed juice, spinach with your eggs, or just a shot of wheatgrass"

What do you recommend for someone just starting out with fitness?

Be consistent and find something you love. When people first start working out, there’s usually an expectation that youll immediately feel better, but sometimes it has the opposite effect. You can often feel tired, sore, stiff – it’s just your body adapting, so even if your sessions are fairly short, just aim for consistency and you will slowly feel yourself getting stronger and more energetic. Finding a way to exercise that you enjoy is key – it will motivate you on the days when you don’t feel like going. 

What three small changes would you recommend everyone to adopt?

  1. Cut out refined sugar. 
  2. Exercise every day – even if this is just walking to work or a little morning bodyweight workout regime for 20 minutes. We aren’t meant to be sedentary. 
  3. Learn how to cook – being able to make healthy food is key to creating long-lasting nutritional changes. 
  4. Get something green in at breakfast – whether it’s in a smoothie, cold-pressed juice, spinach with your eggs or just a shot of wheatgrass, aim to have something green by the time you get to work. 

That’s four changes – but they’re all important!

What is the weirdest thing about you?

You’ll have to ask my friends. Maybe it’s that I eat greens at breakfast.

What makes you angry?

Arrogance, entitlement, exclusion. People who aren’t kind to others. 

What makes you happy?

Adventure, nature, music, cooking for friends, pushing myself to achieve a goal. Inspiring others to be healthy. Psycle. Hearing people’s stories – I’ve met so many people at Psycle who are truly inspirational, it makes me happy to be a part of it. Laughing. 

Psycle is in residency at Selfridges London, Oxford Street, from 11 April until 22 May.