Right now, Shona Vertue, 33, has never been busier, making sure her fans are keeping strong under lockdown with her daily exercise videos that don’t focus on aesthetic goals or punishing routines. Even better, they’re workouts we can all do anywhere and everywhere using whatever kit we have lying around (abs gymnastics over dining tables, anyone?)
She’s the personal trainer who got into yoga and an ex elite gymnast known for her gravity-defying poses and entertaining workouts shared to her 400k-plus Instagram followers and 84k YouTube subscribers.
Born and raised in Sydney and now living between there and London, GLAMOUR Zooms in with Instagram’s funniest fitness star to hear about her working-from-home routine, how she keeps her skin looking flawless and why the sports industry is changing for the better.
You’ve been involved with sports from a very young age (starting gymnastics at the age of four), how has the industry since changed for women?
Despite women not being allowed to compete in Olympic gymnastics until 1936 (men were competing from 1896), gymnastics has long been regarded as a unisex sport so there aren’t the sorts of gender restrictions and taboos around women competing as there are in the more traditional ‘male’ sports. The whole sports and fitness industry is changing for the better thanks to social media and its ability to give an unrestricted voice and platform to those who might never have had the opportunity before.
There’s no longer such a stigma against women who take an interest in sports that once perceived as strictly for men. From powerlifting and football to boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu (my favourite sport to practice today) – women are feeling more and more confident to challenge those conventions and we see them excelling across the world.
What do you look for in beauty products today?
First and foremost, I look for products that are comfortable. Due to my active lifestyle, I have never liked the feeling of heavy makeup on my face, particularly with my somewhat problematic skin. Other than on special occasions I mostly only wear makeup during the day when I’m filming for my YouTube and Instagram channels. This is usually some kind of workout, so the products I use have to be gentle enough that they don’t irritate my skin, but stable enough that they don’t wear off when I start sweating.
is the only foundation that really works for me. It’s sweat-proof and waterproof, doesn’t clog my pores and is offered in my exact skin tone so it doesn’t look like I am wearing makeup, which I love.
Talk us through your morning routine – has working from home massively impacted this?
My morning routine actually hasn’t changed too much despite the lockdown, and the non-negotiable aspects of my morning routine are thankfully still easily practised. I’ve always been a morning person so I wake up fairly early, make the bed, meditate and complete a morning mobility routine to wake up my body and mind. This is a deeply ingrained habit now and I can (and always) do these whether I’m working from home or not.
Where do you get your beauty inspiration from?
My beauty inspiration comes from any woman who is confident enough to embrace and enhance her natural beauty (and we all have it in different shapes and complexions). Growing up in Australia in a very white community I didn’t really feel as though I had a lot of beauty role models, other than my own mother. I certainly didn‘t see any women or girls of my complexion in the mainstream media, so I often found myself subscribing to beauty standards such as straight hair and lighter skin that were impossible for someone of my ethnic background to reach.
Over the years, diversity in the media has improved so much and it’s wonderful to see women of different ethnic backgrounds represented and ‘accounted’ for, and this has definitely helped me feel more confident to be my natural, mixed-race self.
It also helps that I am able to buy makeup for my skin colour now. Growing up, it used to be very hard for me to find foundations and concealers in my skin tone but with, which comes in over 60 shades, there’s now a foundation shade perfectly made for me and that’s more meaningful than you might imagine.
What are the biggest beauty hurdles you face?
Probably the biggest beauty hurdle I face is an internal battle between being a self-assertive feminist who disregards all societal pressures and standards, and the other part of me that also wants to have flawless skin, plump lips and look like my face has defied the laws of gravity as I age!
As I get older I realise that beauty can be an opportunity to be artistic and just like exercise, I don’t see it as a chore or obligatory standard to keep up, instead, I’ve come to look at my beauty routine as an opportunity to practice self-respect and I like it stripped back and minimal. I wash my face twice a day and use a good moisturiser and when I wear makeup it is a light cover of foundation to even out my skin, and a quick slick of mascara.
What is the best piece of beauty advice you’ve been given and by whom?
Dark skin needs SPF too! I was very naughty and never wore sun protection until I began consulting with Dr Sam Bunting, my dermatologist, who reprimanded me immediately for being so reckless. I wear factor 50 every day now and always choose a foundation with SPF in for extra protection –has the bonus of SPF10.
Minimising stress through yoga and fitness is something that so many people aspire to do right now. Is there one simple thing that anyone can do from home?
I think the No.1 tip I can share for a home practice (whether fitness or yoga) is consistency. Choosing a sequence or a workout that you stick to for at least four weeks so that you can monitor progress and allow time for the body to make adaptations in strength, fitness and flexibility.
Following a programme is always best, but if you don’t have the means to do that, try not to chop and change between yoga/fitness workouts you find online. Choose a few that you like and practice them consistently, tracking your experience as you go.
Do you think there’s a preconception that women in sport don’t wear makeup?
Not so much anymore, I think it was once assumed that if you liked sport, you couldn’t also be interested in makeup or beauty or anything associated with things labelled as ‘girly’.
However as gender norms are dismantled and we begin to break through some of the limiting conditions we used to place upon the feminine and masculine, there is an acceptance and encouragement for people to express themselves in whichever way they choose. That has definitely opened up an opportunity for women in sport to feel comfortable wearing makeup.
In your job you regularly train women to feel more confident in their own bodies. How do you personally achieve this?
I actually wouldn’t say that I train women to be more confident in their bodies, I would say that I train women to become stronger and fitter and that confidence is a naturally occurring side-effect of that.
This is the same for anyone who exercises, myself included. It might sound corny but confidence has to come from within and we have to try and separate it from how we look.
Strength training has helped me to build confidence in areas I wouldn’t have expected; there is something incredibly self-assuring about being able to walk into the weights section of the gym and feel comfortable to take up space in an area that is most commonly dominated by men. I also feel more independent and enjoy knowing that if I have to carry a heavy suitcase up a few flights of stairs – I can.
What is the biggest beauty error you’ve ever made?
– it’s never a good idea especially if you have curly hair. I have been tempted in isolation to do it and thankfully before picking up the scissors I reached for my phone and browsed through some old images of the last time I had cut my own fringe when I was in my early twenties. Thankfully, it served as a great reminder of why you should never cut your own fringe and my hair remains intact.
What is the one beauty product we’ll always find in your bathroom?
. Most weeks I film anywhere between 10 and 20 workouts and this gives me a flawless, fresh coverage that I know won’t be sliding down my face or creasing. It’s also non-acnegenic so it doesn’t cause breakouts which is great news for my temperamental, sensitive skin.