Maya Saffron is a 22-year-old Londoner, who felt it had always been an unspoken rule that she would go to university, but when she got a job as a lifeguard during her A-Levels, her mind started to wander from the classroom and it became apparent to her that she was hesitant to go to university. There was a huge backlash since her A-levels were the studies of Physics, Maths, Spanish and Sociology which ultimately caused his parent’s disapproval to plunder further as she announced she desired to work within the fitness industry.
She instantly became a highly credited personal trainer, inevitably whilst continuously educating and developing herself, her client base and testimonial credits grew as a glowing stack of praises.
Both pre and postnatal trained, Maya is more than passionate about helping pregnant women strengthen themselves through their pregnancies and then to find themselves again after becoming a mother. She believes that the aesthetic changes to any clients body during training is only a by-product of the most essential focus- mental health.
Maya’s #BEYOUROWN BOSS Story
My name is Maya, I was born and raised in London. My mum in Punjabi and dad is from the Caribbean (Trinidad). I decided not to go to university and to pursue a career in Personal Training. I became very established and eventually became a qualified Level 4, Pre and post natal female only personal trainer. Alongside my PT I also trained to be a sports massage therapist, however I didn’t enjoy the practise, mainly because we sadly live in a mans world.. for some reason men would see that I was a qualified professional and STILL think they could be inappropriate and undermine my professionalism, so refrained from developing this into a proper venture. In 2016 my best friend and I embarked on developing a drink and we are now a few months from the marketing stage!! It has been very tough, but we are almost reaping the rewards!
When I first became a PT I was only 18 and really struggled with the discrimination towards younger people. I inherently knew that I should not disclose my real age to my clients, because they would be less likely to view me as a credible professional. I also hated the way I was viewed as an object. Back then I was pretty naive to the male gaze, I used to think men doing things for me just because they fancied me was great. I quickly realised that it’s not positive. It’s not positive because, its unfair to other women that work just as hard,, if not harder, however, don’t get given special treatment because they are not viewed as ‘attractive’. It encourages the idea that women are attainable, as long as you pursue them for long enough, robbing women of their own choice and opinion. Finally, it backfires when the man realises that you are not interested in them and they can become quite nasty, they sometimes feel entitled to you, because of all the favours they have done for you.
As I was muddling through and learning all of the societal complexities that young women must face embrace and acknowledge, I was also experiencing a breakdown of my family. My parents were on the brink of the divorce and my brother wasn’t very well. This made me VERY unhappy and stressed, however as a PT, when I got to work, I had to be smiley and approachable. I really struggled with expressing myself, I hated the idea of anyone giving me sympathy or letting me off because they felt sorry for me. However, hitting all of my targets and delivering all of my sessions was also killing me. It was at this point that I think I truly learned the value of having alliances win your workplace and why that was so important. We often forget that most of us spend more time at our workplace than our home!! If you can make friends at work, they could be your saviour.
Through having a few trustee mates at work, I had shoulders to cry on which helped me maintain the facade that I was ‘okay.’ Eventually, I was lucky enough to understand that I was making myself ill. Around this time, working on the drink had become an added stress. My best friend and business partner are male, so I was having real difficulty expressing to him that I could not do it all!! I mention he was male, because I feel that as women, we make so many allowances for men, because we fear that they won’t do as good a job as we would like, so we end up doing it ourselves! I had to learn that saying I can’t do it and delegating my tasks to him and others that could do it, was not weakness or a reflection of my abilities. I read a fantastic book called drop the ball, which I would highly recommend if you’re nodding along in empathy to my previous sentences!
Finally, I excepted that I was too young to be feeling this stressed and sad. I took the leap and left my job. I had plenty of clients that adored me and would have been willing to follow me wherever I went, plus, I wanted to do more for pre and postnatal women. On the back burner, would be my drink, as most founders do, I anticipated things would be done way faster than they actually were. None the less, I had all of these plans and the finance to support them, then bang my mum needed my financial support for her divorce and I was forced to rethink everything again! I was so angry that this was happening just as I had taken this huge leap. Something I had to learn, that I wish I knew then, is there’s no point in being angry or taking these things personally, its just life unfortunately and you will be a better more resilient person when you come out the other side.
I was at a really low point because I had all of these plans, but sadly couldn’t put any of them into action, all I needed was money and to focus on my drink. I started picking up clients, teaching classes and just using my skill set to make money, however, this wasn’t what I necessarily wanted to do. I think when you’re self-employed and/or working on your new business/ creation, you can often, give yourself a hard time about doing things that aren’t aligned with your end goal. For example, I wanted to work on my drink the entire time, but I had to make money, so I ended up teaching classes, which had nothing to do with my drink of anything I wanted to set up since leaving my job. The bottom line was, I needed to make money! I think we forget that without the essentials, nothing else can work, don’t feel bad if you’re putting your passion project on hold to make money, as long as that’s your drive, you will get back to it as soon as you can!!
I got back into a position where I could afford to look at my passion projects again and decided that I wanted to create a space for women to come and share their insights, with food and warmth and I wanted to start a podcast. I did both! I teamed up with my friend and created @bossgyalcollective and I’m 1/3 of the @trieditpodcast. Again, not easy to juggle it all, but a lot easier than the drink or doing anything whilst unhappy. When you’re happy and not imprisoned by stress and worry, everything flows better and even when things are hard, they’re not as hard as they would have been!
Now I am waiting for the right suppliers to fall into my lap so that we can bring our drink to market. We are expanding @bossgyalcollective, we were initially doing monthly brunches, however, due to its success, we are now going to be hosting biweekly boot camps and releasing merchandise. Our podcast is going well, in the new year we are doing a series of episodes with guests and hosting an event to drive more traffic towards our podcast. I am also going to be a mentor for Jameela Jamil’s body positivity platform @i_weigh! My only future endeavours, for now, is to get these 3 projects off the ground completely, maintain my happiness fitness and health and give back to other women that are facing any of the things I mentioned, through mediums such as I_weigh and BeYourOwnBoss!
I have mentioned many challenges, but please don’t get me wrong, I have enough pros to outweigh the cons. One of my most cherished highlights has been the recognition I am now receiving from individuals and companies. If you’re at a stage at the moment, where you feel like no-one is giving you the time of day, please keep going, only the true stars are recognised in a bright sky.
I would like to see millennial women not being bound to anyone’s expectations, other than their own. I notice a real difference between the millennials around my age (22) and those even slightly older (30). Sadly a lot of women still believe that they have to be a certain size colour or class to be accepted by society, men, other women, their families, their careers or even their peers.
I want women to take ownership of themselves and do the best they can for themselves. I also want millennial women to fully understand and believe that this is a wonderful time to be alive. In the UK especially we are not bound by much, we don’t suffer as much as our predecessors have and we need to be taking full advantage at everything at our fingertips. I am most inspired by, Progression in the most unlikely places. I love seeing hardworking people, hungry and determined. Especially women and particularly women of colour.