Q&A with Melissa Bray-Spicer, Audley Club Leisure Manager at Stanbridge Earls

In between creating exercise videos for over 50s, we caught up with Melissa - the Audley Club Leisure Manager at Stanbridge Earls in Romsey. We asked about her career in the fitness industry, her top exercise tips and what motivates her each day to come to work.

How long have you worked in fitness and what made you want to work in the fitness industry?

I have always played sport and loved it growing up so naturally I went on to study sports and fitness at college. When I was 18 years old I was able to use the gyms and this is when the direction of my career changed as I decided to focus on fitness instead of sport. After leaving college I started my first job in the fitness industry and I have never left.

How long have you worked at Audley Stanbridge Earls?

I joined in November 2019 and love working at Stanbridge Earls. We have the most incredible grounds in Romsey and I work with an amazing team. You spend more time at work than you do at home during the week and

every person in the village is passionate about what they do; it feels like one big community.

What would you recommend to help get stronger and maintain mobility?

Core stability is very important. People often think your core muscles are just your abdominals but it also includes other internal and back muscles. Focusing on these areas are key to keeping your strength for your mobility and staying strong in general. 

What’s your favourite class to run?

Aerobics is my favourite class to run because of the high intensity work out. The sessions are always good fun and structured in a way that everyone can take part.

Depending on your ability, sessions can always be adapted to suit your needs.

What are your top three tips on staying active during self-isolation?

Always make a structure to your day – This is really important for both mental and physical wellbeing. Put a routine in place and stick to it, especially in the morning as this can really help kick-start your day.

Choose an activity once a day – This can be to keep either the mind or the body active (or both!), call a friend or walk around the village grounds. One activity will help break up your day.

Think outside of the box - The walls in which you live in can feel quite small during isolation so it is important to think of other ways and try new things to stay physically and mentally active.

Even if you're not physically active, doing puzzles, brain exercises and chair-based activities can still help your wellbeing.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

In my spare time, when I’m not walking my one-year old miniature Dachshund Enzo, you’ll find me in the gym, I particularly enjoy weight lifting and physique competitions.

What is the best advice you have for someone who is thinking of kick-starting their fitness?

For anyone that says to me they want to get fitter it is important they understand the principals of being fit. The definition of being “fit” is to carry out daily routines that your environment asks you to do, but many people want to extend this definition and it can be something like standing up from the sofa unaided, or setting a goal to walk or swim a long distance.

As the mental side of fitness is just as important as the physical, my advice would be to talk to your Audley Club Manager about what your goals are and you can work together to form a realistic fitness plan.

It’s important to have someone who can not only help track your goals but also provide moral support and that’s exactly what we are here for.

What is your most popular class?

Pilates is the most popular class, it helps build strength and is not so intense on the joints. Many of the classes can feel more like a personal training sessions as it’s a hands-on class and the instructor guides you into the positions so you can be sure you are using the correct muscles. We have three Pilates sessions a week on our timetable.

What is Audley Club?

Members of the Audley Club gain access to the gym, swimming pool, fitness classes and spa. What I love about the Audley Club is that we are one team across all the Audley villages and particularly over the last few weeks I have really enjoyed sharing ideas to help keep all our owners and members active.

Follow us on #TogetherAtHome for video updates.

What do you love the most about what you do?

More than anything I love helping people and provide them with the knowledge they need so they can put everything I teach them into practice.

Over these past few weeks I have found it challenging as I’m no longer able to practice what I love at the gym or carry out my weekly classes with our members. Although I have found it hard, I have been able to change my routine and use alternative methods to keep my fitness up.

For example, I’ve put down the weights and started running and I’ve been working on exercise videos that members can watch at home.

That’s what I love about fitness, whatever circumstances you find yourself in you can adapt your training to suit your environment.

Follow other fitness advice from Melissa and our wellbeing experts in Audley villages.