Fitness bug sees Leeds United’s Abbie Brown take on new leading role

“I’ve always been interested in fitness,” Leeds United winger Abbie Brown said. “Training to be the best, to become the perfect athlete.”

By Flora Snelson
Saturday, 13th February 2021, 7:15 am
Leeds United winger, 
Abbie Brown. Picture: Steve Riding.
Leeds United winger, Abbie Brown. Picture: Steve Riding.

Even as Brown’s career as a professional footballer was just beginning to take off, she had one eye on the future, imagining herself turning to personal training in the twilight of her playing years.

But no amount of planning ahead could have prepared her for the events of March 2020 – the 23-year-old was finding her feet at top-flight Israeli side Emek Hefer when the pandemic forced her to fly home to Leeds where Elland Road, along with stadiums all over the country, had fallen silent.

With sport and international travel suspended, her hopes of playing professionally – or otherwise – were suddenly in doubt, but Brown survived the rug-pull and refused to let the grass grow under her feet.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

Less than a month after her return from Israel, Brown put her retirement plan into action and set up an Instagram page, @TheEliteFitnessCoach, to document her journey.

Her new venture had a solid foundation.

While studying for a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science in North Carolina, she had completed a strength and conditioning internship which equipped her with many of the skills needed to programme sessions which suit different sports or meet specific goals like improving agility or power.

Turning her garage into a makeshift gym, Brown grafted through lockdown to qualify as a Level 3 personal trainer and nutrition coach and as restrictions eased, she began working with clients on a one-to-one basis and teaching classes at a gym in Shipley.

In just a few months, her new business was well and truly up and running.

Reflecting on her unexpected career switch, Brown described the pandemic as “a blessing in disguise.”

“But I was never going to stop playing football because it’s my life,” she added.

“It’s what I’ve known since I could walk. I still wanted to play.”

Brown rejoined her hometown club, and though the season has been full of stops and starts, she found opportunity for progress in the hurdles Covid presented.

After weeks of wintery lockdown, her Leeds United teammates were increasingly hesitant to train alone in the cold and dark and determined to swap one of their weekly set runs with an indoor session.

It wasn’t long before someone dropped a nomination for session leader into the group chat.

“I didn’t think it was going to be me that was going to have to do it!” Brown joked.

Having previously only taught classes no larger than five people, Brown now hosts a weekly body weight session for a Zoom audience comprising the Whites’ reserves, the Under-21s, and the Under-19s as well as the first-team squad.

“It felt like quite a responsibility,” she said.

“But I thought it would be good to gain a bit more experience.

“I was looking at the positives.”

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click HERE to subscribe.