It's fair to say that Courtney Black knows a thing or two about fitness.
From founding the Courtney Black Fitness app, which is followed by thousands of dedicated 'warriors' to her no-nonsense, yet incredibly charming training style, it's no wonder she has been hailed the ''Queen of Home Workouts'.
Courtney is passionate about expelling popular myths around living a healthy lifestyle (read: you don't need to cut out carbs!!) and regularly shares tips and advice to her 836k followers on Instagram.
The 25-year-old personal trainer chats to Closer about her favourite healthy meals, fitness supplements, plus her game-changing tips for beginners...
Trigger warning: the following interview discusses eating disorders. If you, or someone you know, is suffering from an eating disorder you can contact Beat on their helpline 0808 801 0677 or via their one-to-one webchat
How and when did your fitness journey start?
So I started doing Latin ballroom dancing and I was doing that professionally. I got quite high in that when I was younger, but as everyone does at that age, I started going out with my mates to go clubbing and stuff. So at about 18 years old, I stopped and then I started forming my eating disorder.
So, I actually would probably say that the eating disorder formed while I was dancing, and it probably was triggered by that, but then it got really bad. The main reason I actually started doing my PT course, when I was 19/20, was because I wanted to learn more about my body and learn how I could get fit and strong. So I knew something wasn't right and I was massively under-eating, I was about 45 kg and I knew something had to come to a stop. I knew I had to sort it out somewhere. I realised while I was doing the personal training course how uneducated I was and also how uneducated I feel like most people are because we all believe we're all told when we're younger, that we all need 800 to 1000 calories, we're all told we need to go on the treadmill and do crazy amounts of cardio. That we need to be exercising every day, we can't take breaks, we need to be doing abs or whatever it is and we will get into this vicious cycle where we need to cut foods out. And I felt like I was just so shocked about how much information I was receiving.
Obviously, throughout the years, up until now, I've learned so much about my body. The first couple of years I'd slip up and to be honest with you, 18 months to two years ago, I wasn't embracing food as I am now. I still wasn't eating enough. I was still massively overtraining, I was under eating and I wasn't looking as half as good as I do now doing 45 minute home workouts and eating way more. I've just got so much information now in my mind that I need to share with people and drum into people's minds. I think that's why I'm so passionate about it!
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When did you realise your eating habits were unhealthy?
I think it was mainly coming from my boyfriend at the time. We were on holiday and I'd go to the gym at 4:45 am in the morning without him and go to breakfast without him because I couldn't sleep, I was under-eating and because I couldn't get my mind off the gym. Obviously, we ended up splitting up, I actually came home on my own after three days, on a plane and that was massive for me.
I felt like I was losing loads of friends because I wasn't going out and I was being so miserable. I was avoiding going out as I was avoiding dinners. I once was on a cruise with my mum, my nan and my stepdad and I didn't go for dinner once on that cruise, not once. I literally stayed in the room, past five o'clock. I wasn't to be seen because I didn't want to be around the food or I didn't want to be tempted to eat the food and it was just massively affecting my life and everyone else's life around me. I just knew that something had to change.
What are your favourite go-to healthy meal?
I loved tinned tomatoes! I have tinned tomatoes in every dish, you can grab tinned tomatoes from the cupboard, add pasta, some prawns and you can whack all that together with some spices and you've got a really nice prawn pasta. You could put them in a lasagna, you can make a tray bakes and add some chicken, chop everything in and it's super simple and super easy.
Otherwise, it's stir-fries. I literally love anything with lots of flavour, lots of garlic, lots of herbs, lots of seasoning, lots of chillies. It just really makes it flavoursome. Food does not have to be boring, it doesn't have to be plain.
Do you take any fitness supplements?
Protein powder is a great supplement if you need a quick something to take after you train or just simply can't get a meal in. However, I never ever tell people to have protein shakes - it's not something you need to have. You can get lots of protein from meals like eggs on toast even bread has got protein in it, for example. I feel like people automatically think they need to have protein shakes if they're training. If you're enjoying a protein shake after you train, then great, but you don't need it.
I do personally take creatine. I love creatine, I feel like it's my go-to supplement. It's great for endurance, strength and building lean muscle. I do always have that with BCAAS, just because it tastes good, keeps you energised and helps with recovery. But creatine is my go-to. I love the creatine from Women's Best (£16.99) and have been working with them for six years now, they're the most incredible company."
What's your current weekly workout split?
I love making my workouts short and effective - I don't want to be working out more than 45 minutes. I sometimes put a bit of abs at the end, but I don't really count that and I always love doing it. So I get two full-body workouts in a week, then two leg workouts and maybe two upper body. I normally have two rest days, but if I'm doing a challenge sometimes there's just one. I normally start off Monday on a bit of HIIT and legs and then Tuesday's normally some sort of boxing or upper body. Wednesday is always full body and low impact. And then Friday I normally do legs no HITT or legs and maybe a bit more strength work. And then Saturday, I'll do metcon which is metabolic conditioning, or full-body to really get my heart rate up but not too much jumping about.
Aside from the gym, what’s your favourite way to stay active?
I love going for walks, but I don't pressure myself. I feel like people are pressuring themselves at the minute to get 10k steps in which is not the purpose of a walk. A walk is to go out, get fresh air, get your body moving and feel good and revived. A walk is not to try and burn calories and a walk is not to get your steps in which I feel like so many people are doing at the minute. I even got into it myself during lockdown, I thought I had to get 10k steps in. But it's important to remember that 10,000 steps and a workout are a lot! It's also a lot of time. I just like getting out in the morning. So for me, the first thing I do before I eat is go out for a walk and listen to a podcast. But if I don't feel like it one day then I don't go. But it feels like therapy to me.
How do you stay motivated if you're not really feeling it?
This is actually funny because I actually had a bit of mental breakdown yesterday and I had a bit of a panic attack. So I always feel motivated to train. It's natural to me and I think it's because I keep my workouts fun and I know how good I'll feel after. Last week, I've actually not felt good after and I've not wanted to do it and the workouts are not becoming natural to me.
A big step for me is that I've decided next week, I'm not gonna train the whole week, especially because I want to look forward to my Warrior Warehouse Bootcamps (launching 1st May) and I don't want to be dreading it. I just feel like I need a break. So I feel like listening to your body is so important and knowing when your body's screaming at you that you need a break. So next week, I'm not going to train and I feel like people need to really understand when you're being lazy and when to listen to your body. I know that I'm not being lazy, I know that I just need to take a step away. I'm already excited to train again next week because I just think knowing that when you need to take a step away is super important, but also remember how good it makes you feel after. If you keep dreading it, then switch it up, take a rest day and just know that you're not forcing yourself to do it."
Who are your favourite fitness influencers to follow?
My friend Danae Mercer actually posts a lot about body confidence. She's not stereotypically a fitness influencer, but I actually quite like that about her. I'd say Bradley Simmonds is smashing it at the minute, I'm actually talking to him on my podcast next week. The same with Alive Liveing, she's incredible. I speak to her quite a lot and I just feel like she's a really genuine person. I don't really go for or follow fitness people that are constantly just posting workouts, workouts, workouts. I like people more that are doing a bit more of a variety of confidence, wellness, workouts, stretching, food, mobility, I love all that because it's not just about workouts, it should be more about working from the inside out, I think.
Of course, mental health is also important when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle - how do you take care of your own mental health?
I've actually started seeing a therapist. So I see a therapist once a week. I don't feel like you need to need help to speak to someone and it's not that I need to speak to someone. It's because it's really nice and I actually look forward to every week. She's made me realise so much about myself and she's made me realise how it's okay to take a break. It's okay to have time off work. You don't need to be overworking. She's really nice and I feel like she's helped me with breathing work, whereas I would have normally laughed it off. if I'm being honest. I went to a yoga class once, when they tried to make me breathe and I burst out laughing. Whereas now, like a crazy person, I just sit down on that beanbag and breath! So I feel like the therapy for me, even if you can't afford a therapist then just talk to someone that you're close to.
What are your top tips for anyone who’s starting their fitness journey?
Don't quit. You're taking two steps backwards if you keep turning the workout off. I know it seems daunting, but rather than quitting, just take a minute breather. Like if you've got a 45-minute workout on and you take 15 breathers throughout that, it's better than stopping it after five minutes. Because next time, you're going to stop it after five minutes and it's just going to be a repetitive cycle of failure, failure, failure. It is not a failure if you keep taking breathers. if you finish it, you've completed it, that's a success, that's a win. That's not a failure. So I'd say just keep going, it's going to be a little bit tough. Everyone's at their own levels. If you're doing the workout with me, for example, I'm going to be flying in front of you. I've been training for five years. I'm not a beginner, I'm advanced. But I always remind people that there are beginners doing my workouts and within a couple of weeks time you're going to feel so much fitter, and you're not going to feel like a beginner anymore. You're not going to be a beginner forever."
Go-to gym wear brand? Lululemon, 100%.
Favourite cheat meal? It's not even indulgent but sushi!
Your favourite type of workout? Full body and HIIT
Something that’s always in your fridge? Avocados
Now read on Closer Online...
Courtney shared her go-to fake tan during an interview with heat and it turns out, it's all about the St Tropez.
She said, "I love St Tropez Self Tan Express Advanced Bronzing Mousse (£26.40). I tan every single Sunday, sometimes I do it on a Wednesday as well. The key is, you have to remove your tan, you have to get it all off."