This weeks guest is former athlete and Olympic champion Jenny Stoute. I had the pleasure of watching Jenny walk in a fashion show event which was organised by JDWilliiams in 2018, which celebrated women over 40. The brand teamed up with Woman & Home magazine for a nationwide model competition looking for mister women and Jenny, at 53 was one of the fabulous winners alongside Sue Hammond. I've also found out that Jenny grew up in Bradford so welcome to a fellow West Yorkshire lady. Some might also remember Jenny as Rebel in the Gladiators television programme. We talk about her career journey, how she’s tackling midlife, embracing grey hair, finding love in midlife and a new turn in her career as a model. Jenny has such enthusiasm for life you can't help but feel inspired after talking with her.
Before we talk about the model competition, can you talk about what your job involves working with Stellar athletics.
Stellar Athletics is part of a sports management company which is Stellar group, predominantly football, so they look after quite a number of world class footballers, including Gareth Bale. I run the business alongside John Regis, who is my ex partner and father of my children, we manage athletes, their commercial contracts, put them in races and work to try and make them become world class athletes.
How does that fit in with family life, you have busy teenagers as well, do you have to do a lot of travelling?
Yeah, Do you know it's probably the most hectic thing I've ever done. To be fair John does more of the travelling than I do, I'm office based because of the girls.
To become a world class athlete and Olympic champion you have clearly got to be a very driven and motivated person, so when you retired from the track how difficult was it to make that transition to finding another role that fulfilled you?
When I got injured, back in 1993, after the Olympics, it was a hard shock for me. I was actually offered Gladiators, so I became Rebel for four years, which was a nice crossover for me because it still gave me that kind of buzz and energy. After that I did a bit of stunt work, I did the Russell Crowe Gladiator movie, then I got pregnant at 36 and I was like hang on a minute I was going to be a stunt woman, how did this happen! I didn't have a maternal bone in my body, I was thinking no this isn't for me, I can't be a mother and I went to the gynaecologist and heard this little beep beep, I was like what's that and she said it's the heartbeat then I was sold.
When I had my first child it changed my whole life, Alicia made me not be hungry for athletics. I went on to have my second child at 40 and literally became house and work bound for the kids, it wasn't like a terrible thing, it was something that I knew was the next segment of my life.
After the period when you and John split up, although you still stayed in business together, you effectively became a single mum. Knowing how important exercise is in your life how did you find that time for it?
I'm a little bit of a nerd when to comes to exercise because it's my only release. If I go on holiday it has to have a gym because it's the thing that helps me relax and just be myself. It was difficult fitting in to going to the gym so I literally got a bike and put it at the end of my bed along with mats, dumbbells , kettlebells and just did it in my bedroom. Sometimes when I'm really tired and I roll out of bed and can't be bothered to find a pair of running tights I'll just do it in my onsie.
See we have no excuses now you've said that!
If people could see what I look like in the morning when I'm exercising thy would laugh.
So how did you go from being in the middle of this busy career and job to entering the modelling competition?
I think the thing is, when you've done so much, you know track and field, the Gladiators, then the movie thing and the business, you're doing so much for other people. Doing stufff for the kids, managing athletes, managing expectations, everyone is like take take take so I actually felt like I wanted something for myself. I wanted to do something that gave back to me. I knew I had to do something to change what I was about but I didn't know where to was going to take me. I thought ok, I'm going to let my hair grow grey, put myself in really good shape and use what I'm about to help me in later life but I didn't know what it was. A friend of mine saw the ad and I sat on it for awhile and I just thought I don't know if I can put myself forward for rejection. I'd being reading all these mindset books so I just thought I'm going to go out there and see what happens.
I was amongst some beautiful women and they were all so nice so I just though I'm going to put my best foot forward and see what happens. To have actually won it with Sue is just incredible.
How did you find your decision to embrace your grey hair?
I think it's ownership. When I decided to go grey it was one of the toughest decisions I've ever made in my entire life and I didn't realise how conscious I was about it. Jenny Stoute would get up and get dressed for herself and it didn't matter who looked at me but when I decided to go grey every single person I saw I had a story to tell them about why I was going grey and a friend picked up on it. It dawned on me that if I didn't own who I was and accept myself it didn't matter who you talk to because they are just not going to accept it. As soon as I owned my grey hair and accepted it everyone else loved my grey hair. Confidence speaks volumes, everyone wants to be around someone whose confident.There is no exact way that someone should be.
Lets talking abut dating in midlife? What was your experience of finding love again in your forties?
After John I was in a couple of relationships that didn't really work out so I just said I'm not going to be in a relationship at all, I'm just not interested. I started reading loads of self help books about being positive about yourself and finding what you want for yourself in life. Once I started to like what I was about and stopped looking for someone else to make me happy then life became better for me. The girls in my office put me on Bumble and I said ok I'm going to have one hit and one hit only and I met Ian and I've been with him for a year and 3 months now (interview 2018) and I've met the most incredible human being I've ever met in my life. We have so much in common it's scary.
So in terms of modelling, now you've won the competition, what's next?
Well it's funny, but I've just signed with Models1 model agency so I'm going to be doing this on a serious note which is incredible. One of the things they did say to me, which it thought was exciting, was that the modelling world is changing. The modelling world is turning now to include a lot more diversity, so they are looking for muscles, curvier, older models, disabled models, so many different categories, they are becoming real, closer to every day people.
What piece of advice would you go back and tell your younger self?
It's something I've been thinking about and its about that word selfish. I think the word should be abolished. If I could go back to those early track and field days and listened to my own self belief I think my steps would have been totally different. if I'd have realised it was ok to be in awe of myself and my achievements I think I could have pushed those boundaries a bit further. There shouldn't be sealant there, you should be able to dream.
Last three questions I ask all my guests.
Do you have a favourite song that always motivates you?
Lauren Hill- Miseducated
It's called The Vortex by Esther & Jerry Hicks. It's about the laws of attraction.The clarity of what they are saying about life is priceless, in terms of how we see ourselves and why we are here.
Who inspires you?
I'm a great fan of Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou and Michelle Obama. But I have a new obsession with Harry and Meghan, It's not about the royalty but the chemistry between the two of them. Those two cats are going to be dynamite.
If you'd like to follow Jenny you can find her on Instagram @gorgeousfifties.
Keep being fabulous!