Rachel Stanley

‘Be the change’

The woman sitting in front of me is is someone you remember. She’s effervescent. She has a positive, soulful demeanour that radiates and permeates the space around her. A tidy house might spark joy in Marie Kondo but I am filled with joy being in the company of Rachel Stanley. It’s kind of surreal being in her presence. I feel like I’m in the eye of a tornado. While you get the sense that she’s used to doing a million things at once, when you’re engaged in conversation with her you are the centre of her world. You’re enveloped in her aura and feel a level of calmness and serenity. I first met Rachel through my housemate. I knew from the outset this woman possessed special powers because he always returned from their outings invigorated and inspired by life. 

She’s a dynamo and makes every minute count. Take a deep breath as I list just some of her accomplishments. She’s a yoga instructor, a surfer, a physiotherapist, run coach, Founder and CEO. She’s  achieved academically, try Bachelors of Physiotherapy, Economics and a Master of Sports Medicine. She’s lean, fit and I reckon she’d give Lleyton Hewitt a run for his money on the tennis court. Are you still with me? She’s worked in private practice and continues to work for conglomerates such as Google. She says she has a great team around her, which has expanded over the years. She suspects her reach is around 10,000 clients. That’s some scope for influence and as you’ll soon learn it’s a sphere she intends to grow.   

Born in the UK, she grew up in Barbados. It was her sister Julie who urged her to visit Australia 14 years ago, describing it as like being on a ‘holiday’. Given her interests and pursuits it’s no surprise the fit between country and individual was an ideal one. Indeed she’s grateful for the opportunities this great nation has afforded her. She says if you have an idea in Australia you can go forth, put it out there and truly be innovative. 

Speaking of which, her latest concept is an app called Run180, available on both Apple and Android. The idea blends her skills and interests, particularly with respect to injury prevention. How did it get it’s name? One hundred and eighty steps per minute is the optimal running cadence that makes for efficient running with less likelihood of injury. She describes the app launch as like giving birth to twins. She’s lost sleep, she’s watched them grow and now it’s been downloaded 300 times (301 from tonight!). She’s been there for their every need. Run180 wasn’t always designed to be in an app format though. The concept has evolved considerably. Rachel originally designed a prototype that looked like a divers watch which gently impressed the beat of a safe running cadence on the skin. After much discussion with colleagues, friends and experts she decided to develop the app instead. I think it must take a person of flexible character to change tack and pursue another avenue, particularly when they they have invested so much mentally and financially in pursuit of a certain course of action as Rachel has done. 

I normally write people’s names under a pseudonym but I get the sense that Rachel would be comfortable having her actual name posted. Nothing to do with ego, purely because she’s keen to share her unstated philosophy. She says she would love to reinvest in whatever she earns back into people so they can do something good for others. On several occasions during the COVID-19 lockdown she would give a barista $50 and ask them to make coffees for those standing in the queue behind her. If those people walk away with a smile on their face, perform an act of kindness for someone else and the domino effect repeats then mission accomplished. 

She says she often asks people what it is that they want in life. She finds when they’re given the space to breathe and to truly think about what they want they don’t know. ‘If I give someone a pen, and say the pen will give you everything you’ve ever wanted’. No one is truly ready for the question and they don’t know how to respond. She would love to see world peace and she’s not being trite about it. If her app can take off. If she can get more people running, feeling good about themselves and appreciating others then we’re a step on the way (pun intended).  

Sometimes I think we have a bit of tall poppy syndrome in Australia. Perhaps it’s a tad harsh, but it seems like we don’t like people achieving too much. If someone goes out on a limb and takes a risk we can be quick to take them down a peg when they ‘fail’. It’s so wonderful hearing someone say this is my vision. It’s grand, it’s very grand and I’m unashamed about it. Come join me and let’s empower others while we’re at it. I ask her if she could give some life advice what would it be. She says instinctively, ‘Be the change.’ A quote by Gandhi. I’m a little embarrassed, I don’t know much about Gandhi, only that he employed non-violent resistance in the quest for India’s independence. I think the point stands though, one person can make a difference through their actions and inspire others to join a movement. It’s something she lives out in her day to day life. 

She’s very generous with her time. Towards the end of our catch-up I feel rude, like I’m rushing. It’s  not because I want to finish. On the contrary, I could listen all night. It’s because I feel like I’m taking up too much of her time as I know it’s precious. She’s taking her sister and her sister’s fiancé out for dinner to celebrate their engagement. Yet here she is talking to me, someone she has met once fleetingly. It says so much and I’m a little in awe. 

Fast forward two weeks. I’m finishing this blog after having downloaded Run180, very timely given I’d broken an ankle running a month beforehand. I pack up my bag before heading out. The last item I pick up is my pen, my trusty pen…and I pause, ponder and smile.  

Thank you Rachel Stanley. 

This article appeared first on storiesanddreams.com