Cathy Pearce

Empowering Others Through Movement: Cathy Pearce’s Inspirational Journey

Bridie Houlihan

Bridie Houlihan | Founder & CEO of Female Health Founders

Cathy Pearce shares her female health founder’s story, covering her inspirational journey with movement and business.

How did your journey as a female health founder begin?

PE was never for me, at school I spent a lot of time in sports lessons either standing in front of a netball goal with my arms raised or feeling completely inadequate in trying to co-ordinate my limbs in a way that would demonstrate any physical prowess. Then over the years I had many, many gym memberships but these inevitably dwindled and I would only ever consistently go if I had someone to go with who knew what they were doing. It wasn’t until I was 36 and reconnected with a friend who had started a Personal Training business that I really shifted and discovered my own joy of movement. The knowledge and encouragement I gained through working with someone 1:1 created a shift in my habits and my thinking. Did it take time, yes, was it challenging, definitely, but did it allow me to reconnect with myself, push myself to do things that teenage version of me would never have done and slowly begin to enjoy movement, health and a sustainable relationship with both? 100%.

What inspired you to start your business?

Adopting this new way of living and incorporating (with ease) a shift towards considering how to work with my body rather than feeling it was working against me was a game changer. I was a busy working mum and had always worked in the realms of training and education (from training delivery, presenting, recruitment for a large regional law firm and later in early years education) however I found myself wanting more and knowing that by using my own movement journey I could help others to do the same. Break down the barriers that affect individuals confidence when it came to moving more, taking care of their bodies and achieving things they never thought possible. If I could change then maybe I could help others to. So, through lock down I began training as a personal trainer, studying alongside my job as a Nursery Administrator and taking on my first clients, seeing them develop over time, build in confidence and supporting them to face their fears was a huge privilege. Getting someone from ‘I can’t do that’ to ‘Oh look I just did’ was amazing. Eventually I wanted more and at the end of 2022, Zeta Fitness became my full time focus.

Tell us more about your women’s health business?

When I was 41, I noticed a shift. I had always been a reasonably confident and outgoing individual, friendly and supportive. But then something happened. I had my first bout of extreme anxiety. It came out of no where and knocked me for six. I became more reclusive, I was emotionally all over the place and I was completely confused about what was happening to me. I became more tired, mentally and physically, my motivation dropped and I was overcome with Imposter syndrome. But nothing had changed. No huge life event that I could put my finger on. It was around this time that Perimenopause had come into the spotlight. I like many had never even heard of it, but the more I looked into it, the more I started to join up the dots of what was happening to me. I had also taken on more clients who were exhibiting the same symptoms I was. There was definitely something there. So, the avid learner I am, I did the research, using myself as a benchmark and started to adapt the way I trained, listened to my body, looked at the affect my nutrition was having on me and shifted my general personal training focus onto those experiencing perimenopause. I joined groups, spoke to as many people as I could and slowly started to build a better picture of how I could help people.

As a woman in business, what obstacles have you faced in establishing your company? And how have you overcome them?

The first year of solely Zeta Fitness was a long, challenging but hugely rewarding and self-developing experience. I had always previously worked in very ‘male’ dominated environments and never considered the value of working with other women. I recruited a female business coach (I had no idea what I was doing when starting a business, even with an extensive corporate background), I joined a professional women’s network, I spoke to as many women as I could to gather as much information about their experiences as possible to build my knowledge base and see where my place was in the women’s health space. The biggest obstacle I faced was my own self-doubt, with my own Perimenopausal symptoms still dominating many aspects of my life, I lost confidence in myself, focussed on what others were doing bigger or better than me and many times considered giving up. This changed when I realised that there is a place for everyone in this space.

Everyone is different, their needs are different and opening my mind to other opportunities, collaborations with other women in business and that my voice and what I can offer was just as worthwhile.

-Cathy Pearce

I am extremely lucky to have a great network of support and encouragement from those around me, clients who I have helped – not just physically but also with their own mental challenges and all of this combined allowed me to remember who I was and why I do this.

How do you see the landscape of digital women’s health evolving to fill the gender health gap?

Knowledge, evidence based information and transparency are what I believe are key.

There is so much information available now that it can often be overwhelming and as there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to women’s health issues

-Cathy Pearce

it is really important that conversations keep happening, action is taken and women are supported. I have a very indifferent relationship with social media, though I believe it is a great platform for communicating information to the masses, I also struggle with its lack of authenticity. Ensuring that the landscape of digital women’s health in an open, authentic and informative way is carried out is hugely important.

Can you pinpoint a particular strategy that has been pivotal to the success of your business? How did you develop it? What impact has it had?

Getting back to basics, a lot of the individuals I see come to me because they don’t like how they look, however usually the root cause is more that they don’t like how they feel. I try and focus, where possible, on three fundamentals. Firstly, finding joy in movement. No new habit is sustainable if you don’t like what you are doing. Learning about your body, reconnecting with what makes you feel good or strong or empowered (physically and mentally) can really help in adopting a sustainable relationship with movement. Secondly, looking at nutrition, the clients that I see have been brought up through hundreds of fad diets, meal replacement and ideas around restrictive eating.

Getting back to the basics of understanding what happens on the inside when you eat real food and readdressing these issues can make a difference.

-Cathy Pearce

I do however completely appreciate that everyone is different and so what I try to do is lay the foundations of good nutritional knowledge so that my clients can make informed decisions about their own. Lastly, sleep, good quality sleep and how to address sleep based issues. These three combined can hugely contribute to dealing with the many women’s health issues there are across the life course.

Which key pieces of kit, technology or software could you not live without for your business?

  • I am in love with Canva, seeing as we live in the digital age and an especially visual one, Canva is amazing for opening that creative outlet to be able to communicate information in several different ways and several different online formats.
  • Zoom is also a friend of mine, though I traditionally train people in person, I use Zoom to meet with all the wonderful, knowledgeable and passionate individuals who are empowering women’s health.
  • The last piece of ‘kit’ I couldn’t live without is my headphones. Trying to tap in to the vast amounts of knowledge out there is virtually impossible, but if I am out for a walk, run, doing the dishes or taking a moment, I can access a huge amount of information through podcasts.

What is your big vision for your women’s health business?

Sharing knowledge, supporting women across the life-course and making Women’s Health accessible and always part of the agenda.

-Cathy Pearce

3 pieces of advice for fellow female health founders?

  1. Believe in yourself and never lose sight of the power of why you are doing what you are doing.
  2. Keep learning – about people, about things that are outside your comfort zone, about yourself
  3. Take the good with the bad, the big with the small and always keep moving forward

How you can connect with -Cathy Pearce