‘Hand Stands and Normal People’: Niomi Smart on How She’s Been Spending Lockdown
With a combined audience of over five million social media followers, blogger and best-selling author, Niomi Smart, has carved herself out as one of the biggest names in the wellness industry right now. What makes Niomi Smart a true wellness warrior though is how she uses that platform for good, either through her support of numerous women’s charities or a passion for sustainable, eco-led fashion and a plant-based life.
For the third instalment in our lockdown interview series (read our first with Professor Green, and second with Alice Liveing), we caught up with Smart to see how the wellness queen is keeping herself well during lockdown, whether she’s finally nailed the La La Land soundtrack on her new keyboard, and what books and TV shows have got her hooked.
How are you keeping your mind healthy during lockdown?
Taking a daily walk has really helped keep me happy and healthy. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by fields, hills and a river, so every walk is different. It’s been lovely watching the seasons change over the last few weeks, seeing the fields change to bright yellows and the trees to bright greens. I’ve also been enjoying reading, listening to chilled playlists at home to keep calm, and using essential oils.
What is your fitness regime looking like at the moment?
I’m mixing up my fitness every single day, so there isn’t much of a routine! I’ve been going on a 10km run about 2-3 times a week, and I’ve also been practicing yoga twice a week (although I keep telling myself I really should do this every morning). I’ve also been doing 20 minute HIIT workouts in the back garden to get my heart rate up.
I use YouTube videos or create my own circuits, and love joining a live yoga class on zoom. I basically wake up in the morning and do whichever workout I feel like my body needs, which is exactly what I used to do before lockdown too. I’m not one to force a workout for the sake of it!
What have you learnt about yourself through lockdown?
I’ve learned I can be patient and have quiet days. Before, I was very much an activity person, always on the go and planning the next thing to do. I really struggled to have a quiet day in at home, and I think I am naturally quite an impatient person too, which isn’t the best characteristic to have.
During the last few weeks I’ve had to adjust to life in lockdown like everyone, and I’ve discovered I actually strangely like the slower pace of life. Once we’re out of lockdown, I won’t be going back to my manic non-stop days, and I will try to slow everything down a bit.
Have you picked up any strange or surprising hobbies?
The first week of lockdown I bought a keyboard. I had the best intentions of learning to play the soundtrack of La La Land, but I hate to say it but I’ve only sat down to play once. Other than that failed attempt of a new hobby, I’ve also been practicing my yoga headstands and handstands. That’s coming along far better than my piano playing.
What’s been your most treasured possession?
My L’Occitane shea butter hand cream. All this hand washing and hand sanitiser has made my hands so dry, so I’ve been using my favourite hand cream constantly.
What’s in your fridge at the moment?
It’s looking pretty good at the moment, it’s full of fresh fruit and vegetables that were delivered this morning by the lovely local grocery store. I have some Oatly Whole Milk (an absolute game changer in the non-dairy world), some homemade berry coulis that I made yesterday to pour over pancakes, a leftover baked sweet potato from last night, and some orange juice.
I actually never used to drink much OJ but I’ve been having a small glass every morning with brekkie to provide a boost of Vitamin C. There’s also a variety of my essential condiments such as tahini and brown rice miso to make delicious and healthy stir fries.
Which books are you reading?
I’ve been reading Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I had read many wonderful reviews about this book years ago, but I never got around to reading it. When my partner and I moved to India, our friends bought us the book with the inscription, ‘We hope you have as many adventures (and fewer misadventures) as this chap!’.
It’s only since returning to the UK just before the lockdown that I have become hooked on it (but still only half way through). It’s a hefty book, but well worth a read.
What app have you been hooked on?
I’ve been using VSCO to edit photos. I haven’t been working with any photographers recently, of course, so all of my photos have been taken on my iPhone by my fiancé. VSCO helps make them look slightly more professional.
I’ve also been using Trello everyday with my team, so we can keep connected with our projects.
And finally, what TV show have you been binge watching?
Normal People is a series that really got me. I couldn’t wait to watch the next episode every time, and honestly could’ve binged the whole series in one day. As a viewer, you completely forget that Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal are acting. It truly felt like we’re a fly on the wall watching real people, in the real world. I already want to watch it again.