My interest in health and fitness started when I was 21, 4st overweight, unhappy and determined to change. Attending Weight Watchers and following their ‘no count’ plan helped me start to learn to prioritise healthier foods over calorie dense ‘junk’ foods. Inspired by people I worked with who seemed to stay slim despite eating lots I started running and was later persuaded to try, and quickly fell in love with, Body Combat classes at the local leisure centre. I would also wander around the gym after a treadmill session although I didn’t have a clue what I was doing as far as resistance training was concerned. All this got me down to a healthy weight and kept me going through working in a corporate environment with a busy ‘work hard, play harder’ social life.
In 2013 I left the corporate world and started part-time as a Recovery Worker in a mental health charity, whilst also studying Psychology with the Open University, with a long term plan of perhaps working in clinical psychology. This job involved supporting people through work based activities at a newsagents/cafe site and including cake baking – a new challenge for my weight maintenance goals! – which gave me freedom from being sat at a desk 9-5 and having been an office worker and weekend student for many years I really began to appreciate being active throughout the day. It also gave me more time outside of work to commit to a more regular, structured exercise plan. At the start of 2014 I joined Results Health Club with the goals of getting stronger, to support my running, and going to Body Balance to stretch out afterwards. Over time my strength began to improve and that plus the supportive, friendly atmosphere there helped me open up and find a new level of confidence and feeling comfortable with myself that I hadn’t realised was possible.
After a while I began to see that a career in mental health was not right for me and started to wonder what I could possibly do instead. I knew I needed something that would keep me active during the day, not back behind a desk, something that would keep me working with people in a supportive way, and something where pursing my fitness goals and interests would fit well. Deciding to train as a PT wasn’t an instant revelation but more a slow process of working through the internal objections and fears ‘ok, I could do that but… it looks hard, I’ll never be as good as all these awesome instructors, scary being self-employed’ and so on. There were a couple of light-bulb moments that pushed me to go for it. The first happened on holiday in New Zealand. The second was on the Leadership in Running Fitness course I booked to ‘dip my toe in the water’ and get a non-professional qualification that would show me how to organise and lead a running group. During the day the participants all get to practice ideas for warm-ups, running drills and games then at the end we all had a go at leading a section of a run group session. I was in the first team to go and had the warm-up to lead, yes, that was scary, but I did it. And it was awesome. I got them moving. They enjoyed it! I was glowing all the way home and got myself booked on the next available fitness instructor/personal training course.
In September 2015 I was qualified and lucky to start working with Oxfordshire Personal Training straight away doing PT and leading Bootcamps. This team is so professional and experienced at what they do that I could not have wished for a better introduction into the industry. The clients they get me working with keep me challenged and interested. Bootcamps have been the best thing – from not having had a clue what I was ‘supposed’ to be doing to trying out different ideas each week and seeing how people respond has been a really interesting process. I love finding new ways to challenge the group and then see the energy they bring to it each week.
Soon after starting with OPT I got a nudge to do the initial training for Body Balance and luckily on that first weekend found the ‘I CAN do this’ moment. Hours and hours of practice and learning and support from other instructors and a video assessment later I thankfully passed as certified first time. Again I was lucky to be able to find work quite quickly picking up cover classes fairly regularly and in May 2016 took on my first regular Balance class. In the meantime having also trained in Body Pump and passed in July 2016 with a regular class waiting for me straight away. Next up is Body Combat initial training and even though I already teach two Les Mills modules learning a new one is scary – Combat is so much faster! But, it’s that high intensity release of energy that got me hooked on exercise in the first place and the discovery that getting fitter could be FUN and freeing as you let your body go into the movement and the music. Hopefully as an instructor I’m be able to share that feeling.
Over the summer I’ll be exploring something new, Animal Flow, a system of body weight movement that looks really challenging and a different style of fun. My spirit has recovered but my body still too often feels the effects of a lifetime sat scrunched up behind a desk or wheel of a car and I’m curious to see what getting down on the floor to ‘play’ will do to help loosen things up. Watch this space!
Level 2 Fitness Instructor
Level 3 Personal Trainer
Certificates in Kettlebell Training; Suspension Training; Circuit Training