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How to laugh and eat carbs whilst you’re getting fit (Picture: Alex Tyrwhitt)
These days, there are a heck of a lot of fitness influencers clogging up your social media feeds, but none of them have skyrocketed as fast as Lilly Sabri.
The 32-year-old is one of the world’s fastest-growing female fitness influencers and boasts a staggering 4.2million followers across her social media channels.
She’s often referred to as the female version of Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) as they have a similar following on YouTube (Lilly now has 3.6million subscribers, while Joe’s Body Coach TV profile has 2.79million) and their passion and dedication to their followers is on par.
Lilly spent five long years plugging away at her online content and hosting face-to-face classes with hardly anyone showing up (much like Joe in the early days at his Surrey bootcamps).
Then everything changed during lockdown and she’s been riding the social media wave ever since.
Her 30k subscribers on YouTube pre-Covid, jumped to a staggering 3.5million in just 12 months during lockdown.
So, what’s got everyone in a Lilly-tiz?
Firstly, Lilly is a chartered physiotherapist and an APPI Pilates instructor, so her training videos are more than just a workout.
They’re a step-by-step guide and lesson on how the body works, with knowledge of muscles, bones and movements so you really get to know the science behind your session.
Lilly has also written a cookbook (Picture: Alex Tyrwhitt)
What’s more, they’re fun and engaging. Oh, and she has a cute dog called Teddy who regularly makes appearances to lick sweat off her mat and join in with some jumping about.
‘During lockdown, I think people were looking for real-time, follow-along workouts where people had personality,’ Lilly says.
‘People just wanted a connection and when they discovered me, it wasn’t just the one workout, all my hard work finally paid off and I could give people everything they needed in terms of being healthy, both physically and mentally.
‘I started uploading twice a day and doing lives at night and I felt like I was on a hamster wheel, but I had an opportunity to help people and when I kept being told, “You’ve saved me,” it just meant so much.’
So what sets Lilly’s workouts apart from other Pilates sessions?
Having worked at football clubs such as Chelsea and Watford, Lilly needed a new approach to engage the footballers.
‘When the clubs told me to do a Pilates class, the footballers were horrified. They thought it was just stretching and boring.
‘There’s also a common misconception that Pilates and yoga are the same thing, so I had to quickly adapt my style to make it super-interesting.’
Lilly is now most known for her various killer workouts, but she tries to make you smile while you sweat.
‘Yes I will be pushing you, but I will also trip over, miss a burpee and sweat and laugh. For me, it is important to be real.
But I make sure you’re pushing through the right muscles and they’re activated. I give pointers to prevent injury and get better results. I’m insanely passionate about movement and that’s where I stand out. I make sure you’re learning.’
It’s clearly a model that works because when she launched her Lean With Lilly app in June 2021, she had 70-80k users within 24 hours of the app going live.
This surged to a massive 350k-plus in a month and within three days it hit the Top 10 on the App Store in 56 countries.
Her ‘La Familia’ followers obviously can’t get enough of her and on launching some fitness bands, they sold out within 15 minutes.
Her LEAN nutrition line of food and protein powders has also been hugely popular.
Lilly is also a big champion of home workouts and says they are much more beneficial than gyms for the body and mind.
‘I wanted to create a supportive community, accessible to anyone wanting to take control and make changes towards leading a healthier, happier lifestyle,’ she says.
’When I went to the gym, I used to feel intimidated. I feel far more comfortable working out at home and it annoys me when people say you can’t get results at home as I have millions of women who would disagree with that.’
What’s even more reassuring is Lilly says she should wear an ‘I’m a walking carb’ T-shirt.
Her Cypriot heritage makes her a fan of the Med way of eating and she’s written a book about it, The Anti-Inflammatory Cookbook: 38 Mediterranean Recipes For Healing Your Body Everyday.
Lilly’s five big life goals have always included an app, a food company, a supplement line, a book and a clothing range.
With three out of five already ticked off, we can’t wait to see what’s coming next for this ambitious entrepreneur.
How to activate your core
‘Learning how to activate your core and where your core is located will help you with everything from improving your workout results, preventing back pain and improving your sporting performance,’ says Lilly Sabri.
‘Here are my top tips for activating your core during an exercise.’
1. Locate it
‘Place two fingers on the front of your hip bones on each side. Move your fingers inwards, an inch towards your belly button, and then down an inch. This is approximately where your transversus abdominis (deep core muscles) are located.’
2. Feel it
‘Simply cough and you will feel the muscles contract under your fingertips.
‘Your core muscles are active when you cough, sneeze and laugh. Ever heard of the saying, “I laughed so hard I felt it in my abs”? The trick is, learning how to activate your core without laughing, sneezing or coughing.’
3. Activate it
‘Take a deep breath in through your nose while keeping the shoulders relaxed and fingertips on your core muscles.
‘As you sigh that breath out through your mouth, engage your core by pulling your belly button back towards your spine. You should feel your muscles contract.
‘Try to keep your core muscles engaged for five breath cycles in and out.’
4. Take it to the mat
‘When exercising, don’t forget the importance of activating your core before and during your workout, especially when you are training your core specifically.
‘Before beginning your core workout, I recommend you lie on your back with your knees bent. Imprint your spine by flattening your lower back into the ground.
‘Then complete the core activation sequence opposite. This will help to engage your core muscles and prepare your body through mind-body connection for a killer workout.’
Lilly Sabri’s three killer core exercises
Annnnnnnd go! (Picture: Alex Tyrwhitt)
You should feel this in your core (Picture: Alex Tyrwhitt)
‘This dynamic core exercise has more of a focus on the oblique muscles, while still working the deep core muscles, too.
‘This is a great movement for strengthening your core while your legs and arms are moving.’
HOW TO: ‘Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Place your fingertips by your temples and lift your upper body off the ground. Then lift both legs off the floor one at the same time.
‘Take your right elbow to your left knee as you rotate your body towards the left and straighten out your right leg as you do this. Make sure that your lower back doesn’t over arch during this movement (if you find it arching, lift the straight leg a little higher).
‘Repeat on the other side — left elbow to right knee with the left leg straight — and complete a total of 20 reps for three rounds.’
Who needs a gym? (Picture: Alex Tyrwhitt)
All you need is a matt and a know how (Picture: Alex Tyrwhitt)
A simple yet fantastic exercise for your core strength and stability.
Although this movement is mainly static (minimal movement takes place) it is great for working all layers of your core muscles.’
HOW TO: ‘Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Lift both legs up at 90 degrees at the knees and the hips.
‘Then, lift your head and shoulders off the floor and hover your arms a few inches off the floor. Be sure to look forwards, with your chin tucked into your chest like you’re holding a piece of fruit under your chin.
‘Pump your arms up and down as you breath in for five counts and then breath out for five counts. Complete this movement all the way to 100 arm pumps.’
3. Point knee crunch
Harder than it looks (Picture: Alex Tyrwhitt)
‘A dynamic (with movement) core exercise that really challenges all of your core muscles, your core control and strength.
‘This movement is much tougher than it looks, especially while maintaining good form. It is a great exercise for strengthening your core while movement of your legs is taking place.’
HOW TO: ‘Start in a four-point kneeling with your shoulders directly over your hands, and your hips over your knees.
‘Pull your core in tight, inhale and on your exhale lift your knees a few inches off the ground.
‘Holding this position with an engaged core, move the left knee to the left elbow. Then return the leg back to its starting position (hovering a few inches off the ground) and repeat with the other leg.
‘Try to keep your knees off the ground while completing ten to 20 repetitions for three rounds.’
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