Today I had the absolute pleasure of cooking for and interviewing Natalia Aisha and her family.
Natalia is the business woman and entrepreneur behind Glifting, an all-girl Fitness Model and Glamorous Women show. I had not met Natalia before and apart from Glifting knew little about her. I wanted to find out who Natalia Aisha really was, the motivation behind Glifting, why an all-girl show and what was next for Natalia.
This interview is not about fake tan, bikinis and high heels. This interview is about determination, drive, self-belief and female solidarity. This interview is: Natalia Aisha.
In my head I imagined a no nonsense matriarchal type figure who didn’t suffer fools gladly. I opened the door to a young, petite, stunningly pretty, smiling face who greeted me like a long lost friend.
Natalia is a ball of energy. It was immediately clear that her life is extremely busy. Pings and beeps from her phone were constant as she excitedly whizzed around snap-chatting the details of our beautiful setting.
The food was already on the table and as I put the finishing touches to the dishes we chatted about training and nutrition.
On the menu were:
- cleanleanbean Spicy Chicken Wraps with Cooling Avocado Cream
- Cleanleanbean Butternut Squash Mini Frittatas
- Cleanleanbean Cucumber and Sweet Pepper Egg Boats
- Cleanleanbean Fruit Platter with Dairy Free, Gluten Free, No added sugar Chocolate Chestnut Fudge Squares served with Coconut Yoghurt
These recipes along with many other realistic and affordable healthy living recipes can be found at www.cleanleanbean.com
I found out that it’s been a particularly challenging year for Natalia. In January, following a routine smear test she was diagnosed with some pre-cancerous cells in her cervix. I checked that she would be happy for me to talk about this in our interview and Natalia explained that although she was a very private person, she would do whatever she could, to raise awareness amongst women, of the importance of regular, routine testing.
In March, Natalia went through laser treatment, to get rid of the pre-cancerous cells. It was not the best thing to have to go through and Natalia was bed-bound for 2 weeks after. Despite this she carried on working which really sums up the strength and determination of this woman. I am pleased to say that Natalia is now clear and is living life to the full. Having lost 7 friends and family members last year and still going through the grieving process as well as her own scare, Natalia is learning to appreciate everything that she has and to not sweat the small stuff. She completed a parasailing challenge to raise money for cancer research and is now looking for new challenges. If anyone has a challenge for Natalia, please step forward!
Brought up in a fiercely competitive sporting family and daughter to parents who both ran their own businesses it is no surprise that Natalia now runs a sport related business herself.
Natalia’s mother was a show jumper and horse trainer. As a child, Natalia competed every weekend in show jumping, mounted games and cross country, winning numerous trophies. Retired from competing at 15, Natalia still has a horse who is also retired and a much loved pet.
Natalia’s father was a karate instructor and competitor specialising in full contact karate. Natalia kick boxed as a child but didn’t start earning her belts until aged 22. Training 3 nights per week and all day Saturday, Natalia became proficient in full contact kick boxing and self-defence, including weapon training such as nun chuck (a Japanese weapon consisting of two sticks connected at one end by a short chain or rope), Bo Staff (a tall long Japanese weapon), swords and knives. Natalia became an instructor like her father and is clearly not one to be messed with!
With 2 brothers and one sister Natalia is perfectly at home kicking back with the boys as well as being happy talking make-up and clothes with her sister and is fiercely one for empowering and supporting other women.
Natalia has always been an entrepreneur. Seizing every opportunity that came to her and creating her own opportunities along the way, Natalia has been many things.
She first trained as a hair and beauty therapist and ran her own business at the age of 20. As well as being a kick boxing instructor, Natalia was also a sports masseur, nutritionist, Personal Trainer and for 2 years trained to become a midwife. When the opportunity to buy the nightclub where her parents first met arose, Natalia could not pass up that opportunity and gave up her midwifery studies to focus on that and became not only a nightclub owner but a DJ as well.
Now as a mother herself to 2 daughters and the powerhouse behind Glifting, Natalia’s hands are almost full, but her deep love of music means that she is currently working relaunching her DJ career.
Natalia describes herself as a typical Scorpio: strong, motivated and fun.
Natalia’s mum describes her as a lovely daughter who is very caring to her family. She was a very creative child but also very competitive, hardworking and a perfectionist.
Natalia, what is Glifting and how did it start?
Glifting is an all-girl fitness model and Glamourous Girl Show that celebrates women of all shapes and sizes. Also under the Glifting Brand is a Tanning Mousse and Modelling Holidays where girls can have photo shoots in beautiful scenery for their portfolios.
It came about after a trip to Thailand. I went there to further my career in martial arts. For 5 weeks I trained 5-6 hours a day, 6 days a week and started doing CrossFit.
When I came back my body shape had really changed and I was very conditioned. A friend said I should do a Fitness Model Competition. I had never heard of these and I didn’t know anything about them. I went to a workshop to find out more and I ended up competing at Body Power, placing well for my first show. It was a tough 2-day competition which meant being in a state of dehydration for an extended period of time. I came away very tired and during a period lots of resting the name Glifting came to my head. I started Glifting as a clothing brand as that’s what everyone was doing at the time but it then progressed into products. Because I have an event planning background from when I ran my own nightclub and was organising celebrity events it made sense that I turned Glifting into a show. Because the dehydration hit me hard I wanted to make Glifting more of a healthy show and therefore dehydration is not necessary in all categories.
Why did you decide to make it all girls?
Well it fitted in with the glamour side and as a female myself I felt that I could relate more to what a female competitor goes through than a male.
What is the ethos behind Glifting?
Glifting is glamourous lifting, fashion and catwalk. So it’s all about celebrating health and the hair, makeup and tan.
More importantly it’s about the empowerment of women. Every woman that does a show has a story to tell. To be a competitor you have to be quite selfish with your time but I don’t see this as a bad thing. Every woman should make the time to focus on herself. Competing in Glifting encourages a woman to spend time on her own, to find herself and to be happy with her own company.
What’s your personal experience of competing and how has it affected you as a person?
It gave me a focus and time to work on myself. For me it was all about self-development. I tuned into myself a lot more as I had to be completely focussed and remove myself from outside distractions, avoiding stress and negativity. I think that I became more grounded and gained self-confidence and more self-awareness.
For me, prepping for a competition is a period of solitude. I had to make a lot of sacrifices in my life but one competition made it worth it. I take my competitions very seriously. I would like to compete again but at the moment my focus is on Glifting and giving other women the chance to compete.
What opportunities can competing lead to?
There are so many opportunities and I want to give the Glifting girls the same opportunities that I was offered. Unfortunately, I had to turn down a lot as I was dedicated to building my own brand and that’s where I had to focus my time. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing one of my girls being snapped up by a company. By competing you can be offered sponsorship and the opportunity to be a brand ambassador for reputable companies. Along with those come photo shoots and modelling assignments. If you are a personal trainer it can attract clients as well.
What advice would you give to someone entering this industry?
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, you are unique in your own way. All physiques are different and every self-doubt you have is part of the normal process of prep.
That’s why I have so many categories in my competition. I wanted to offer opportunities for women of every shape and size.
I have seen a lot of girls break down in their first year of competition with emotional problems and eating disorders. You have to accept that you can’t be lean and conditioned all year. My advice would be that you need to take some months off at the end of the season to let your body recover and make gains for the following year of competing.
Being exposed on social media can also be overwhelming and it needs to be managed correctly but all of the girls have each other’s back and are supporting and helping each other.
(Just as Natalia said that a message came in on her phone from one of her competitors telling her what a good job she is doing and thanking her for making her feel part of the family).
What is your view on steroids in sport?
Glifting is strictly a drug free competition. Outside of my competition its each to their own and it’s not for me to judge. I can understand why someone might be driven to take steroids and I won’t lie it’s tempting, but I am a role model to my children, and I am concerned about the health implications so it is not something I would do. The only supplements that I use are proteins and BCAAs.
What would you say to someone who felt that seeing all the competition pictures makes them feel under pressure to strive for body perfection and it has a negative impact on them?
Concentrate on you rather than other people. Rather than spending your time looking at other people’s stuff go train! Do something that makes you feel better. That’s the reason that I don’t do a lot of social media, I would rather concentrate on me. And It’s not about perfection, it’s about being the best version of yourself.
How has it been starting your own business, what have you learnt?
I’ve always had my own businesses and I was brought up in a very business orientated family so its second nature to me. I get a huge satisfaction from hitting my own goals.
What advice would you give to someone starting their own business for the first time?
Concentrate on your own goals and don’t get side tracked by anyone else’s input. Surround yourself by people who want the best for you and ignore the doubters. Don’t expect to make money straight away. I worked hard, long hours. 3 years on and it’s just starting to come together. I am getting to the stage where I can have days off but it’s been a long process. I wouldn’t change any of it though. I have loved travelling and meeting new people and now my business is more established I am starting to achieve a good work/life balance.
What did you think of the food today?
The food was amazing! It was delicious, tasty, creative, colourful and simple. The dishes seemed really quick and easy to do but they have really opened up my imagination. I am definitely coming back again! I think that Glifting and cleanleanbean will be working on some future projects together!
What and when are your next big thing?
That’s a secret but it’s exciting and will be a benefit to all the girls that compete in Glifting. And of course this year’s Glifting is going to be the biggest and best yet!
3 things people don’t know about you?
- I am very spiritual and have psychic medium abilities
- I love the countryside and I’m at my happiest when I am outside spending time with nature.
- I’m a speed freak! I like fast cars, and bikes!
When was the last time you laughed until you cried and why?
I was offered a place on Big Brother but I had to pull out because I was undergoing my treatment. My friend Ash kept announcing in that voice: “Natalia is leaving the big brother house”. It made me laugh so much I cried which streaked my fake tan!
What gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you driving forward?
The school run! I suffer from Fibromyalgia which affects my joints so I find it hard to get up sometimes. I also suffered a spinal accident whilst horse riding which has damaged my central nervous system. Some days are bad, some days are fine.
What’s the most important piece of advice you can give my readers?
This is your journey, your one life, your one shot. You are only here for a short time so live it how you want, as long as you are not harming anyone in the process. Be kind! And always help when you can.
What mantra do you live your life by?
Live everyday like it’s your last and Tomorrows another day!
I would like to thank Natalia Aisha for the opportunity to talk so openly about her life.
Natalia would like to thank her mum who supports her in everything she does and encourages her to succeed.
This interview is written by Bryony Jackson, author of www.cleanleanbean.com and freelance marketeer.
Competition ladies would you like to feature on Natalia’s blog? To raise your profile and attract sponsors, and for CVs and Resumes please contact Bryony Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org