Empowerment: #DoYou?

by Olivia Cox April 9
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Last week, Puma gathered a bunch of us at Ace Hotel in Shoreditch for a morning yoga practice with David Kam.

David is one of those people whose energy and attitude makes you feel empowered just by being near him. He works with music types who need to find their stage presence – turns out he is the lithe behind Lana Del Ray’s limbs.

Anyway. We were up on the 7th floor in Ace Hotel’s 100 room, which is all wood floors,  high ceilings, and reams of natural light. Which was the first striking thing – so many spaces I’ve visited for yoga are window-less. The prospect of watching the London skyline for an uninterrupted 45 minutes of me-time made me feel all happy inside before we’d even started.


David’s method is a hybrid of dance and yoga – probably the first time I have ever felt really comfortable in a yoga class.  He encouraged us to smile throughout the session, and do what felt right. Which often probably looked pretty silly, but who cares. The soundtrack definitely helped us move – an urban-slash-pop mix with lots of Selena Gomez. She’s the face of the current En Pointe collection campaign, which is all about mixing femininity with power. On which note, thank you Puma for recognising that modern women don’t have to compromise on aesthetics for efficacy, or vice versa – why the hell should we?!


We were all kitted out head to toe in Puma’s new colour-scheme, which is probably best described as a perpetual Sierra filter on instagram (go try it. I promise you it works). En Pointe is inspired by a powerful fusion of ballet and martial arts, so there’s lots of pastel pink, peach, and monochrome.

My beautiful friend (inside and out – and on paper – she’s the legend behind The Goddess Revolution) Mel Wells hosted a post-yoga brunch and we sat around discussing what empowered us and where we felt the fitness and wellness industry is going. Happily, we mostly agreed that times are changing. When I was growing up, there was a huge pressure to fit into a pre-allocated mould. In primary school there were stereotypical cliques, and I remember the ‘popular girl’ actually operating a lunch schedule so that everyone had a fair change to sit next to her (I mean….ludicrous).  And in secondary school the added stress, uncertainty and pressure of exams (not to mention anxiety’s number one compadre, puberty) pushed many of us into unhealthy levels of competitiveness and – ultimately – mental health issues.

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I’ve always been pretty quiet about my struggles with eating and body image, but if you’re reading this you probably can identify with lingering feelings of self-doubt and sometimes even loathing, especially when growing up. In a world laced with competitiveness and a 24/7 culture, image-centric apps like Instagram can be a breeding ground for larger issues, and what started as something relatively minor can morph into the likes of depression and anxiety.

For decades, there has been huge pressure on girls and women to have what is perceived to be the ‘perfect’ body. In the ’90s we all wanted to be skinny. Even our hair could have done with fattening up. Then the Kardashians made curvy cool again. Fast forward to 2018 and the latest trend is for an uber-‘strong’ physique. The sorts of instagram girls who use hashtag fitspo when they’re faux-eating a burger. The idea was to promote a healthier lifestyle, but the reality was that this – like any – idealised body type lead to obsession and extremes. Recently, a fitness instagrammer spoke out about how weak and unhealthy she was at the height of her perceived ‘body goals’, slamming society’s reliance upon visual cues as toxic and dangerous. Turns out, social media can be a thinly veiled mechanism for driving unhealthy practices regarding food, eating, and body attitudes.

olivia cox, selena gomez, ace hotel, yoga, david kam, instagram, fitness, fitness blogger, fitness influencer, pma, puma, harrods, fenty, urban yoga, turning 30

But finally it feels like we may be turning a corner. Puma’s tagline has been ‘Do You’ for a while now, and I think it’s catching on. What do we want to be right now? Actually, it’s personal. And it changes. Some days I wake up and feel stronger than I’ve ever felt before. Some days I wake up and barely leave my bed. Why should I have to typecast myself to fit into a tick-able box? I am me. And on the eve of turning the corner into my 30s, I cannot tell you how much of a relief it is to finally say that.

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Mel explained her relief that she no longer feels she has to ‘earn’ a meal through exercise, or that an indulgent snack must be punished by gruelling workouts. I am so happy to agree with her. Through ballet training at school, then joining the Army, my life has always been very regimented. There was no need or even space for me to develop my own personality and learn to live by my own rules. Let’s keep it in perspective – upon leaving the Army, I was far from institutionalised. My parents still joke that I must be the messiest, most incapable of basic tidiness person to have gone through Sandhurst. But transitioning to not having to answer to a higher power took some getting used to. I made a string of poor choices and a few years ago was ready to give everything up. I was afraid to be me. It’s been a long slow learning curve and some days I still plummet straight back to my darkest days circa 2011.  But I’ve learnt to be a lot kinder to myself: if I don’t feel like doing something, I (usually) won’t. And that’s what makes me, me. Here’s to rebranding cheat foods as treat foods, and learning to laugh at ourselves. If Selena can do it, so can we.

Dr. Seuss — ‘Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you.

P.s. Excitingly, Harrods has got behind the Puma movement, adding an extra element of luxe to the urban cool. Harrods has long been a staple on the activewear map, but now they are launching a bespoke Puma boutique within their existing 5th floor sports section. It’s Puma’s first real foray into luxe retail, and will be a completely immersive experience morphing streetwear with super-technical sportswear. Some of the pieces you’ve seen in this blog post are exclusive to Harrods.

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