How was the weekend? Did you smash your workout sessions?
I’ve been thinking for a while about personal training and the reasons why I wanted to become a PT, so brace yourself for an origin story!
When I was growing up, we had PE classes at school, and between the bullying I suffered and that I wasn’t particularly skilled, I hated them. We would normally run around the court for a while, and then do push ups, crunches, jumps and whatnot. I would try my best to skip PE (and pretty much always failed). The worst was when we played ballgames, like dodge ball or volleyball, and I was the last one to be picked up and the first one to be hit or miss the ball and let the other team score a point. Sometimes, we even played with the boys (normally football), which was even worse… I remember the day a football ended on my face, and how much my nose bled. Every time we ran the others would sing songs about me, just being mean. Have I said I hated PE already?
Time went by and I stopped exercising altogether. Maybe I would ride a bike in summer, here and there, or swim in a pool or the beach, but that was about it. But by the time I went to university, I did absolutely no exercise.
I moved to London 10 years ago, and I started working in a clothes shop, which meant I was all day long running up and down, carrying clothes around, and moving boxes to the stockrooms. I was skinny. Since I was burning a lot of calories, it meant I was always hungry, and the only places around were fast food places, so you can imagine how healthy I was. I was pretty much doing cardio all day, except sometimes carrying lots of clothes from the fitting room or when my shoe delivery would arrive and I had to carry boxes up the stairs. This meant I lost a lot of weight, even if eating unhealthy foods, and a lot of that weight was lean mass. When I look at pictures from back them I look like I was sick.
After that, I started working in an office, where I’ve been working until recently, and you know what that means… I put on weight. A lot of weight. It’s a good thing I don’t have a sweet tooth and therefore I never felt tempted by all the biscuits, cakes and sweets that are ever present in offices, or it would have been much worse.
I tried going to the gym with a friend or two, and running, but I never really enjoyed it. People tend to not realise they’re pushing you too hard and my friend was quite fit, somehow, even though she was a smoker, she could run much faster and for longer than I could. I thought maybe fitness and exercise weren’t for me and I learnt to live with my ups and downs. Looking at the mirror and hating what I would see. The worst part is that people wouldn’t see it, mostly because I’m tall and know how to dress to hide my imperfections, but I could see it. There’s no hiding when you get out of the shower or change clothes. Shopping for clothes was a torture in my mind, because nothing fit me properly and I hated seeing myself in the mirrors.
In the meantime, I started suffering from health problems. For 10 years I’ve had problems because of fibroids, which have made my periods way too strong and way too long, and has caused me to suffer from anaemia as well. It’s been only recently that I found a great doctor who seems to know what to do (surgery soon, unfortunately).
A couple of years back, I came across some free classes done by Nike in my area. There were bootcamps and running clubs everywhere. I signed up for a few and I struggled so much, but the trainers were a lot of fun, and motivating, so I went anyway. The sessions were quite hard, but they were very entertaining. We created this sort of bond while we train, we had to work together, and we were having fun. When the running club was created, I was the first person to sign up. I couldn’t run more than 100 metres without almost passing out, and the course was 5k around Clapham Common. I was never able to do the whole run, I would need to cut across so I could finish more or less at the same time as everyone else. After the runs, we would all go for pizza and beers. It wasn’t about losing weight or being super fit, it was about making it as fun as possible. There was a pacer that was always there for me, always encouraging me and pushing me when I needed to be pushed.
It took me the whole summer to be able to run the whole 5k route around Clapham Common, and not without walking from time to time. I only managed to run it all without a stop once. On the last day of the running club, I was the last runner to reach the finishing line. I like to think it was meant to be, I started and finished the running club.
The whole summer. That’s three months with barely any improvement. Still, I never gave up. I went to the bootcamps and to the running club as much as I could, and I always lingered at the back, encouraging those slower than me. Someone had done it for me before so I felt I wanted to do it for others.
From there, I tried a few other classes, roller blading, parkour, boxercise, Zumba… I started to see that working out could actually be fun and I had been missing out for most of my life! At some point I would run on Monday, have boxercise on Tuesday, swim on Wednesday, have Zumba on Thursday and then do a bootcamp on Saturday, and I was happy.
Then my fibroid-related problems got even worse. What that’s always meant is that I’ve had no energy (anaemia), I would be in terrible pain, and now I would even have my strong period for over 20 days! When it would finish I would try to return to my usual exercise routine and it was pretty much time to suffer again… This has made me feel so low, so unattractive, frustrated, disappointed… I would stop going out for fear of leaks, and because of the pain, and I started putting on a lot of weight, again.
See, many times, we eat to feed our emotions, not to fuel our bodies, and we don’t realise the control food has over us. In my case, whenever I was in pain and felt depressed, I needed my comfort food. I am not embarrassed to say that more than once I’ve thought that there was no point in eating or being healthy, since anyway my body would fail me, so I might as well just keep putting on weight. That’s such a toxic thing to think.
I also got a knee injury two years ago. I stayed almost a year without being able to go running, or dancing or doing pretty much anything, and even though I never had, or needed, surgery, the doctors couldn’t find exactly what was wrong and how to fix it, so I just had to take it easy. Whenever I tried to work out, the knee would hurt again. Finally, after insisting, I got referred to physiotherapy, which helped a lot, so I was able to start again, little by little, until I went back to normal.
This past summer, I realised that my fitness journey is probably more common than I imagine. Many people suffer from health, or hated PE at school, or were bullied, or any other thing that makes them avoid working out now. We all think it’s going to be a torture and after all, results are not immediate, it takes time, which makes it difficult to stick to the routine, especially when things go wrong. I realised I like helping people, and motivating others, and that seeing other people achieve their goals makes me happy, so I thought why not.
I’ve already always given advice to others, and I’ve been interested in fitness in a while, so getting my certificate was just the next step.
I want to help you. I want to show you that exercise can be a lot of fun, if done properly and with the right people. I want to help you achieve your goals and help you become the best of yourself, and be happy. That’s quite the goal I’m setting for myself, but if I can do it, so you can. It will take some time, but it’s doable, and I’d be happy to help you get there.
Helping others makes me happy and exercise can be fun. And that’s why I became a personal trainer.