At 21 years old, 4st overweight, unhappy, I decided to change. Attending Weight Watchers and following their ‘no count’ plan helped me start to learn to prioritise healthier foods over calorie dense takeaways and ice cream and start to listen more to hunger signals and stop eating when full. Inspired by people I worked with at the time, who seemed to stay slim despite appearing to eat a lot, I started running. On the treadmill at the gym to start with then when I was feeling braver and ready to up the challenge out on the road. Later I was persuaded to try, and quickly fell in love with, Body Combat classes at the gym and the discovery that exercising could actually be FUN. Who knew? It was a slow process with a few ups and downs and lots of plateaus but gradually I got down to a weight where I felt more comfortable in myself and have been able to maintain that ever since.
From working in a corporate office job and studying psychology part time I made a switch and took a part-time job as a Recovery Worker for a mental health charity 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 I loved the freedom from being sat at a desk all day and working directly with people to help them work towards their recovery goals. The gym became my main focus outside of work as a way to keep my energy levels up and restore my own wellbeing from what could be emotionally demanding work. After a while I began to see that a career in mental health was not right for me. 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. I got them moving. They enjoyed it! And it was awesome. I was glowing all the way home and got myself booked on the next available fitness instructor/personal training course.
I qualified in September 2015 and was lucky to start working with Oxfordshire Personal Training straight away doing PT and leading Bootcamps. 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 which had been one of the big motivations for getting fitness instructor and PT qualifications in the first place. On that first weekend had an ‘I CAN do this’ moment. Hours and hours of practice and learning and support from other instructors and a video assessment later I passed as certified first time. I was lucky to be able to practice teaching quite quickly picking up cover classes fairly regularly and in May 2016 took on my first regular Balance class. In the meantime I also trained in Body Pump and that passed in July 2016 with a regular class waiting for me straight away. Wanting to include a cardio based class to my rotation I later took Body Combat initial training and even though I was already teaching two Les Mills modules this one was scary – Combat is so much faster! It took a lot longer to get comfortable and confident with BodyCombat but I love it so much. The high intensity release of energy and moving with the music that got me hooked on exercise in the first place.
Since then I have completed a 250 hours yoga teacher training course which was an absolutely wonderful experience. Although it has not changed my life quite how I imagined, I haven’t ended up teaching yoga, and at the moment my focus is giving as much as I can to the Les Mills classes and Bootcamps I teach.