Introducing Elly McGuinness

Holistic health coach, online fitness coach, and author

If you haven’t already discovered, I’m Elly McGuinness and I have an absolute love for holistic fitness, health and wellbeing.

For me it’s all about the way a healthy lifestyle makes me FEEL. In turn it’s about the knock on positive effects that it has into all other areas of my life, and the lives of others.

To let you get to know me, I’m going to share my background with you. Here you’ll get to know a bit about Elly McGuinness (me!) and how I got into the holistic fitness industry.

The school years; when I first became interested in fitness

I was always picked last for teams in school sports quite simply due to a lack of confidence. This was really just down to not having practiced or played those sports enough.

Soon I gave myself permission to care less about what other people thought and get involved anyway. From there I very quickly discovered the amazing FEELING that I got from any type of movement-based activities. I realized that the endorphin release wasn’t just limited to the sports or activities that I was good at.

Since my teenage years I have wanted to help others to experience the incredible benefits of FEELING better through movement. This started with coaching gymnastics and aerobics at high school alongside and after my own competitive days in those sports.

1994 Aerobics Competition G string leotard
A bit of a laugh for you – competing in aerobics in a G-string leotard! (I’m in the middle)

Elly McGuinness; the undergraduate

The love of the FEELING that comes from regular movement then led me to study a Bachelor of Physical Education majoring in Exercise Prescription at the University of Otago.

At this time my understanding of health wasn’t very holistic. My physical fitness was good because I was already teaching several group fitness classes per week. I ate my vegetables, but I was binge drinking every weekend, if not more frequently. I was also eating plenty of crappy food. Antibiotics for various ailments and sleeping off a hangover for an entire day were the norm – a true ‘party girl’.

I did manage to take a couple of weeks off drinking during my first year at Uni, so that I could prepare to compete at the South Island competitive aerobics championships. You can even take a look at my solo routine in the video below. Yes, it’s from way back in 1999!

Don’t worry, I moved beyond those university years!

Somehow I finished two degrees, spent a couple of years working/travelling/studying abroad. I then landed my first full time role in fitness in the UK in 2004. Here I got a fitness qualification with ACSM (The American College of Sports Medicine) and it was around this time that I started to take more of an interest in nutrition.

I began to understand the value of organic food. I was introduced to Eastern medicine philosophy and the beginning of my holistic fitness outlook was formed. Having already been a committed vegetarian for three years at this point (for ethical and environmental reasons) I then began to really embrace my food choices from a health perspective.

I worked in roles including group fitness instruction, personal training, studio co-ordination, fitness management and developmental gymnastics for babies and children between 2004 and 2008. Then it was time for a short stint as a fitness trainer on board one of the largest cruise ships in the world. Deciding that this role didn’t fit my moral values I ‘jumped ship’ pretty quickly and travelled a bit more.

The birth of ‘Natural Balance Health and Fitness’

It was somewhere along the Amazon river that the idea for Natural Balance Health and Fitness was born. This was to be a business where I could work on my own terms and within my own set of values. Ultimately I wanted to help people make improvements to their, health, fitness and lifestyle.

Things ticked along nicely for the next five years, during which time I offered personal training and group fitness classes, as well as outdoor sessions. I had stints working as a course tutor at both the New Zealand Institute of Health and Fitness, and Southern Institute of Technology. I presented at the FITEX conference a couple of times and was a finalist in the New Zealand Fitness Awards for three consecutive years.


At the beginning of 2013, my journey as a mom began. By the way, I put together a very comprehensive blog post all about my prenatal fitness journey, in case you want to check it out. I’ve even shared the personal story of our home birth.

I was committed to being a hands on mom and decided that personal training and group fitness needed to be put on hold while I formulated more of a working from home plan. As many moms can probably relate to, I found the adjustment to being a mom and trying to find a new path for my career to be very challenging.

Before I knew it, months of majorly interrupted sleep patterns and the stress of trying to figure out this ‘new life’ had led me into a downward spiral of insomnia and post-natal depression.

Somehow in among all that I managed to write and publish my first book ‘Burning fat for Good’ in 2014. I was also very focused on my exercise regime in an attempt to stop the depression, curb my insanity, and help me find my way in this ‘new life’.

I put myself on the side that my clients are usually on by entering the ‘Catch Fitness 20 Week Challenge’ and subsequently won the ‘New Moms’ category. Ironically, the time when I probably looked great on the outside and appeared to have a lot going for me I was struggling the most to ‘find my way’ on the inside. I was vaguely aware at the time that this was the ‘wired and tired’ stage of adrenal fatigue but I knew there was no ‘quick fix’. My ability to do things in day to day life was not inhibited so I kept going.

Hello and goodbye ‘Just Organic’

In 2015 we took on a family business called ‘Just Organic’.  I loved it because it was purpose driven and fitted so well with my beliefs around holistic health.  We took some big risks and gave up a lot (including our house, and eventually our rental property too). 

As most business owners do, we worked our butts off…but 15 months later we called it a day.  Our health, wealth and relationships were all seriously suffering. Ironically this was for a business that we originally anticipated would provide us with a desirable, family focused lifestyle!

With a desire to put our family and wellbeing first the business was closed in October 2016. We packed up our life in Christchurch and drove up to Gisborne to spend time with family. We had no idea what would be next.

Mummy daughter beach time New Zealand
Me and my little girl on the beach near Gisborne, New Zealand

‘Natural Balance’ becomes ‘Elly McGuinness Holistic Health and Fitness’

In December 2016 my holistic health and fitness business was re-birthed ready for re-launch in 2017.  I gradually re-branded away from Natural Balance and towards ‘Elly McGuinness holistic coaching and content creation’. It’s now just me, providing online education and holistic health coaching for busy people.

Since February 2017 I have been living a location independent lifestyle with my family. We sold most of what we own and love our minimalist lifestyle where we work online and have no fixed abode. We have spent the first three years slow travelling around South East Asia. In spring 2020 we began the European leg of our journey.

Throughout 2017 I gradually recovered from severe adrenal fatigue (aka “burnout”) and I’m passionate about helping others to do the same.

At the beginning of 2019 I gave birth to our second beautiful daughter. Our family is complete!  I’m happy to report that I haven’t experienced postnatal depression the second time around. I’m super excited to help mamas find a healthy balance between looking after themselves and the needs of their family.

The ‘Elly McGuinness’ holistic fitness philosophy

These days I work with a whole-life fitness approach as a holistic health coach. I will address a number of health aspects with you. These include movement, healthy eating, stress, sleep, thoughts and your relationships. Ultimately my goal is to help you along your path to optimal health. 

I believe that food is medicine. ‘Prevention’ is very important, and each person requires an individual approach. Experienced holistic health coaches like me also know that your results come from what you do most of the time (not ‘some’ of the time), and that you should do what you love. You can learn more about the ‘Elly McGuinness’ holistic fitness philosophy on my ‘About’ page.

Whilst I lean towards natural medicine I recognise that an integrative approach is often the most positive way forward.

Adrenal fatigue, depression, insomnia, stress, IBS and chronic fatigue are all conditions I can relate to. I can empathize with you, and help you to take control of these issues. I understand the challenges that come with balancing family, career and health.

Let me help you take the next step towards a stronger, fitter, healthier and happier version of you. I’d love to hear from you. Contact me to set up an appointment today.

Elly xx