I was definitely NOT a sporty girl at school. In fact, you would usually find me begging to get out of it. Not because I didn't like exercise. Not because I 'couldn't' do it. But because I, like so many females, of all ages, shapes and sizes, really struggle with the feelings of others passing judgement, of 'failing', of looking silly, of doing something wrong, of the possibility of others laughing...the potential of embarrassment was the one thing holding me back.
What a shame then that it has taken me 37 years to finally feel comfortable and confident. So confident, in fact, that my life has changed beyond belief in the past 12 months!
Other than a rather self-destructive phase following the death of my father when I was 16 - and a further phase involving way too much partying in my mid 20s - I have always been fascinated by healthy eating, the way the human body works and thrives, and I have always absolutely loved the gym and fitness classes. But it wasn't until social media really got going when I was 32 and on maternity leave from my job with Avon & Somerset Constabulary, with my first child, my daughter, that I realised a whole new world of food and fitness was revealing itself - one where you can join groups online, chat with women who are feeling the same way as you, and share your own ideas and motivation for losing weight, getting fitter and eating well.
By the time I had my second child, my son, I had started to make the move online from the 'inspired', towards the 'inspirer'. What a feeling! I simply posted workouts I was doing at home, before the babies were awake; posted recipes of my clean-eating family meals (no fuss allowed, absolutely good, honest wholefoods, real family favourites) and before long found I had established a following of women across the UK.
I was determined to make 2014 my year...not realising quite how far that was going to stretch I set my sights on a target to become 'my fittest self yet'. I lost my baby weight, through a combination of home workouts, lots of fresh air walks with the dog and a wonderful pushchair contraption which fitted both my son and daughter (!) and a balanced diet of good food...homemade smoothies, salads, meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and a bit of healthy baking when I found a minute!
My interest in food and fitness grew so strongly over that year in fact, that by January 2015 I began new studies. I was working 27 hours a week for the police service, looking after our home and the children, and now took on an Exercise & Sports Nutritional Advisor course, alongside my Level 2 Fitness Instructor certificate. I have always adored studying, so this was a natural next step (I graduated my BA (Hons) in Education at 8 months pregnant!) To enable me to do these courses justice, I needed to get back into the gym, and I found a real solace in its dedidated, focused, cool environment. It was some valuable me-time, a time to not be a mum, to not be a wife, to not be in demand. I began to lift weights. I began to get strong. I absolutely loved it.
By the time I passed both qualifications, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I went back to yoga classes (another absolute gift for the soul of a tired mum!) and started working with a couple of ladies on a 1:1 basis; coaching them with their nutrition, and working out at the gym with them once a week. But now the real battle began: T I M E.
Until one day when a friend contacted me to say that a new gym was opening locally. One which appeal to the Minehead demographic, which would be inclusive, designed to encourage West Somerset's older population...and its female population, to come along. So, through the late autumn of 2015 I totally pestered Colin at SASP (!) and Graham, the gym manager. I probably drove them mad. I just had a feeling that this was the opportunity I had been working for. Police work had been a huge part of my life for 11 years, but now, more than ever, the hours were awkward, the shifts were long, and the conditions were increasingly hard, especially having two young children to think of. My passion for police work had always been for the community aspect - I loved any proactive projects that meant local people could get involved, push themselves, challenge each other. And the new Fitness Suite at The Beach Hotel in Minehead was going to combine those two things that I felt I did best - community, with fitness.
Christmas 2015 into New Year 2016 were exhausting, as I started to teach my first fitness classes at The Beach Hotel, and continued my 10 hours shifts with the police. But the gym began taking off from day one, classes were popular straight away, and excitement was high. At the end of February 2016, I applied for a career break from Avon & Somerset Constabulary, which was granted, and, for the first time in a long time, I felt I could breathe.
My week now is regular - which seems simple, but which is an absolute blessing after 11 years of shifts. Mondays and Tuesdays I spend in the light, airy, friendly Beach Hotel Fitness Suite. I have taken further qualifications so far in Boxercise, Kettlebells and Circuits, and now run 6 fun, fabulous, female-inspired fitness classes each week. I have also just completed my Level 3 Personal Trainer exams and work online with over 100 ladies across the UK, motivating and empowering through easy, nutritious plans; as well as in-person with a comfortable 5. I can rely on my mum and mum-in-law less for babysitting, so that we can actually spend days altogether, rather than me handing children to them on the doorstep. I can take my daughter to her first day of school this September. I can teach my son to swim this winter. I can help more and more ladies locally face-to-face in classes, and further afield, online, as the months go by.
My husband has been my absolute knight-in-shining-armour throughout this time, always supporting my crazy decisions and ideas. And, although I now need to rely on them a little less, I could not have lasted a day without both of our mums...what an absolute blessing 'Grandmas' are!
Together with SASP and The Beach Hotel we have now also got the first West Somerset Parkrun going, which takes place along Minehead's beautiful seafront, every Saturday at 9am. What better place to walk, push a buggy, jog, or run with the dog, whilst meeting up with friends and feeling the emotion of a number of people achieving their goals, together! There is such a feeling of community in Minehead right now. I really hope to see you at one of my fitness classes soon!
Or at her website