Lucile Woodward is a hyperactive mother of two, juggling multiple careers as a nutritionist, fitness coach, and Speedo ambassador.
For 10 years now, she’s made a living by combining her two passions: staying in shape and staying informed. She has a Youtube channel dedicated to exercising; runs 365Body by Lucile, a web-series aiming to get people back into shape with a downloadable training program and e-books on cooking and nutrition; and in October 2016 she became the coach on French television TF1’s Saturday show #Weekend. Read on to learn more about this leading French sports influencer.
Inside/Out: How did you first get involved in sports?
Lucile Woodard: I have always been sports-oriented! I started out swimming at my local club when I was 6. I’d swim 3 times a week and I loved it! I’ve always loved moving around, making up choreographies with my friends…. At 15 I discovered fitness training. I even competed in some of the first Step and LIA events (Editor’s Note: Low Impact Aerobics). I always dreamed of being a fitness coach, and it happened when I was 24, after “normal” studies and a “normal” job. I got my passion back.
I/O: A particular athlete you admire?
LW: I'm a huge Jillian Michaels fan. She is a coach famous in the US for her TV shows that have helped millions get back into shape! It’s a tough job, but she’s so inspiring!
I/O: You were one of the first sports influencers in France. How did you build that community?
LW: I get asked that a lot, and the truth is I’m not sure… It all started around 2011 with a few videos I made for Doctissimo. After a while, people started coming to my blog with questions, liking my Facebook page and following me on Instagram. I was always 100% honest about my life as a coach and as a mother. I took inspiration from people I looked up to in the US, and here I am today.
I/O: People’s relation to sports has changed radically over the last 5 years here. Have you noticed anything in particular?
LW: Yes, thanks to marketing, sports have become cool again. Running is cool, yoga is cool, getting out of the gym sweaty and stinky is cool. That’s a huge step forward! Today in Paris, you can say you exercise loud and proud. Whether you’re into horseback riding, aquabiking, Nordic walking, triathlons - everything’s cool.
I/O: You’re an ambassador for Speedo: what’s your favorite thing about swimming?
LW: Well, as I said before, I started swimming when I was a kid and this was the first real sport I ever practiced. I can exercise easily, I can have fun without too much effort. But swimming is my main sport - it just hits home. This said, I had slowed down for a while and even considered giving it up, but after a knee injury last year I got completely back into it.
I/O: Has social media profoundly changed the way people belong to a sports community? Do you think it’s an empowerment tool for women, that encourages them to stick together?
LW: There’s a bit of everything, just like on forums a few years ago. There are really well-meaning, positive groups and influencers. And then there’s people who are a lot harsher, who focus exclusively on losing weight. It’s important to sort through these different groups, and to know when to unfollow people who make you feel worse than you should, or not “sporty” enough, not perfect enough.
I/O: What do you think of the way brands today use empowerment as a tool?
LW: It’s great! We’re seeing women who were previously unknown come center stage and tell their stories. They’re often really good stories too, not just about competing and over-training. Life stories that are really inspiring, and that people can relate to. Of course, behind some empowerment stories, there can be uglier truths, like clothes made in Asian sweatshops, made from not-so-inspiring materials…. It’s important to keep thinking critically.
I/O: The boundaries between different sports are becoming more fluid, and have changed a lot under the influence of music. Codes are being redefined, practices are freer, more playful: what does that inspire for you?
LW: I see it really positively! Just 5 or 6 years ago people used the term "fake sports". You would hear things like “fitness classes aren’t really the same as sports”, and that’s not the case today. Everyone has their own approach to it, and people tend to try a lot of things: a bit of running on the weekend, some yoga in a nice studio on a weeknight, and a few one-off activities here and there. It’s a great way to stay in shape! Aesthetically speaking, it isn’t ideal: to tone your body through exercise, you need real commitment, a change of rhythms, and that pushes your body to adapt constantly. So at times, exercising more seriously pays off in terms of physical gain.
I/O: A new sport you’d like to try?
LW: Surfing! Of course it's not new at all, but it would be to me and I’ve always wanted to know how to surf.
I/O: And what’s a sport you’d like to see in France?
LW: Low Impact Interval Training, or LIIT, which is a kind of cross-training that really respects your physical limits. No jumps or weights, no running. Mostly rowing, TRX, well-shaped abs, and a crazy rhythm! I tried it out in LA last april and I fell in love!
I/O: Do you practice visualization, as a complement to your training? If so, what does that bring to you?
LW: I meditate several times a week, to help fight off insomnia. I work until late at night, and it’s bad for my sleep, so meditating really helps. I use the Headspace app, it’s truly great.
I/O: How did you manage getting back to work this summer after your injury? Have you learned new things about yourself?
LW: I came out of my operation feeling really frustrated, it was pretty rough for 6 to 8 weeks. I’m an impatient person, so waiting to get back in shape was really nerve-racking. Then I really started to understand how badly you have to want it, in order to fully come back from an injury, whether you practice sports as a hobby or professionally. It’s the same process for everyone. You have to train and give it 100%, be patient, listen to your doctors and practitioners. It’s arduous, but you come back stronger mentally.
I/O: Did that shape the way you train today?
LW: I think about it every step of the way. Every stride I run, I’m thinking “I’m so lucky”! Twenty-five years ago, they wouldn’t have operated on me, I would have been “too old”!
I/O: How do you use failure to push your own limits?
LW: I have a hard time with failure, so I try to progress to avoid it. My skiing accident really felt like injustice, because I was in such good shape. I could have climbed the Eiffel Tower!
I/O: What advice would you give to a beginner? How about to a more experienced person?
LW: To a beginner: set attainable goals for yourself. It’s useless to start working out 4 times a week, from one day to the next. That’s the easiest way to not reach your goals, feel guilty about it, and think you’re not good at it. Nobody’s not good. Exercising an hour a week is great! So hang on to small victories. To more experienced people: try to eat healthily, because sports make you hungry, and it’s easy to binge on food. Try to avoid industrial foods altogether, you’ll see the difference!
I/O: What are the three most harmful nutritional behaviors?
LW: Sugar, sugar, sugar. After a meal just don’t eat dessert. And especially at night, as it’s really hard to digest and is a big factor in gaining weight. That’s the trap for millions of men and women, who just want a bit of comfort food especially before bed. Try to do something else, like calling a friend or reading a good book. You won’t feel that need anymore!
I/O: Three foods to feel more energized?
LW: Nuts and almonds, because they have magnesium and selenium, and are full of nutrients. Have 10 to 20 in the morning or for a snack with a fresh piece of seasonal fruit. Spirulina, as well: it’s an algae that contains iron, and it’s great for cardio! An orange and a banana every morning. It’s a cocktail with antioxydants, potassium, and vitamin C! Absolutely essential!
I/O: What are your self care secrets?
LW: I only train between 5 and 8 hours weekly, it’s not a crazy schedule. I never wear make-up, but I do keep my skin really hydrated, because all the showers I have to take dry my skin out. I apply body lotion every day, as well as an ultra-rich face cream in the morning and evening. I use Biotherm Blue Therapy for my face, and Lait Corporel for my body. These are my absolute essentials.
I/O: Who inspires you?
LW: So many people! Garance Doré, of course, because she’s had a great career, and her unwavering opinions about issues. Chiara Ferragni, for her professional success. Tara Stiles, for keeping her natural cool in the very trashy world of yoga shows, and many more powerful, successful women, like Beyoncé, Hillary Clinton, Christine Lagarde, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Victoria Beckham, Jeannie Longo....
I/O: A mantra?
LW: Be good to yourself, but don’t hurt yourself. People do the craziest things to get faster results!
I/O: Something else to add?
LW: Eat well! Athletic or not, tall or small, man or woman, old or young. The first source of illness, depression, obesity, and general unhappiness comes from bad eating habits, and foods that are insignificant nutritionally. Try and reconnect with basic, simple, untransformed foods, and you’ll feel better really quickly!