Inspirational Woman: Cat Forrest | Co-Founder, Eastnine

Cat ForrestI’ve always been pretty obsessed with sport and competed internationally as a high jumper until I ruptured my achilles tendon (twice) and was forced to retire.

I moved into the world of Brand Marketing and helped shape the direction and narrative for brands such as Reebok, Dove, Lynx and Virgin, but I never lost my desire for sport and all things fitness.

I ran the London Marathon in 2012, something I was told I wouldn’t be able to do after the second achilles rupture, and can now be found racing bikes across the UK and leading community rides for Rapha.

It is also through cycling that I got into my current role as co-founder and CMO at Eastnine. My co-founder, Jason Goodman, and I took part in an ultra-endurance charity event, Strive Challenge, where we travelled from the Matterhorn to the top of Mt Etna all by human power. Along the way we were discussing what I’d learnt about training and fitness through years in athletics and how having access to experts is what helps with motivation and long-term progress.

And that’s what Eastnine is all about – giving the experts the ability to create the workouts, programs and fitness content they know will help make fitness a habit, knowing that we will get it in front of the consumers who need it most, through an accessible, affordable app.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not especially – as an athlete, you blindly believe you can be the best. Otherwise why bother?!

When I snapped my achilles for the second time and knew that plan was over I definitely felt lost, but it didn’t take too long to realise what I had in my locker – a good degree, great connections and a story that could help shape my own personal brand.

Through this I got into Marketing and have evolved within it over the last 11 years. This lack of a grand plan has enabled me to explore different avenues without the fear of being ‘off course’ and continue to build my story as I go – ultimately allowing me do and learn more than I would have otherwise.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Where to begin!

Rehab from a snapped achilles was a challenge. Starting a career at 25 and feeling pressure to catchup to my peers was a challenge. Launching Eastnine was one hell of a challenge – as is continuing to evolve and grow the platform. And, being a woman in business is a constant challenge.

I’d say though the biggest challenge of all is learning to give yourself a break! And, unfortunately there aren’t enough memes in the world to shortcut that challenge!

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Launching Eastnine and building it into an app that’s helping over 80k people across the world make their health a priority and exercise a habit.

We grew over 200% through lockdown last year as more and more people discovered the app – the pandemic has been an eye-opener for many that they can do exercise at home, and enjoy it!

We’re currently working with over 15 experts, including professional athletes, yoga instructors, personal trainers and former and hopeful Olympians. It’s been an incredible experience and we’re only just getting started.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

The support I’ve had around me! Life is a team game and I’ve been so lucky to have some amazing teams!

Growing up, my family were hugely supportive and encouraged me to do and try everything – even if it failed! As an athlete I had the best coach who knew how to make you believe and get the best from yourself, inspiring training partners who made you want to be better, and a wonderful support network around me. And in business I’ve had colleagues I’m lucky enough to call friends – they’ve listened, had my back, given me confidence and been brutally honest with me!

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I’ve personally never had a mentor but I do think it’s really valuable for both the mentee and mentor. Being able to dedicate that time fully to someone is absolutely essential if you’re going to get into mentoring and I’ve just not felt able to do that the last few years. As soon as we’ve raised our next round of funding I hope to make that time and be able to offer someone the kind of support I’ve had.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I’d change our culture and the inherent gender stereotypes that continue to exist within it.

We cling on to these archaic notions of Male and Female that only lead to society operating within a framework of constraint. Amazing work is being done to try and break this down, but when every society in the world has a prejudiced attitude towards women, you know that culturally there is still a long way to go!

And, if this power gap exists for those with a binary gender defintion, imagine the challenges facing non-binary genders.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Never be afraid to stand by your principles!

Things might not always go your way, but I’ve learnt that staying true to what you believe means you can always sleep at night. And without sounding patronising, the older you get the more important you realise your principles are.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Taking Eastnine to the next level!

Fitness went digital during lockdown and my focus is on building out our Fitness Creator Community so that Eastnine becomes the fitness marketplace where professionals can live off their expertise while staying true to their brand, and in turn impact the wellbeing of millions of people worldwide.

So, if you’re a fitness professional creating amazing content, check out www.eastnine.fit and join our Community!


WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Cherie Blair, Paula Radcliffe MBE, Caprice Bourret, Anna Williamson and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here

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