I was not a sporty young person. PE was my least favourite subject at school and I was always the last to be picked for teams. It's not that I hated moving; being bottom of the class simply made me feel inadequate and insecure. Nevertheless, I came of age in the 1990s, and as anyone who grew up in that heroin-chic era will recall, the worst crime a teenage girl could commit was to gain weight. So I took myself off to an aerobics class. Hiding at the back, I seemed always to go left when I should have gone right and was consistently a move behind, but some of it was achievable: I could jump on the spot just as well as anybody else. The 90s tunes and the energy of the teacher carried me through to the end of the class. I went back, again and again, and after a few weeks, I was hooked. I started to move in the right way at the right time. I was becoming coordinated. Finally, I had found an activity that I could do just as well as the next person and where there was no shame in making mistakes. Instead, the ever-bubbly instructor was happy that I was merely there every week, working out. She looked like she was having so much fun!
With the passing years, I grew in confidence and tried out other things that I could learn at my own pace - to greater and lesser degrees of accomplishment - salsa dancing, skiing, rollerblading, squash and Savate kickboxing for example. In between my forays into sports, I kept returning to group exercise. I started to picture myself in the place of that smiling instructor at the front. I had to give it a try, so I enrolled into an Exercise to Music course at the YMCA.
This week marks the tenth anniversary of when I qualified as a fitness instructor. My first classes were covering an aerobics class on a volunteer basis for computer scientists at the Bill Gates Building. Shortly after, I started setting up my own classes. I'll let you into a secret - being the one at the front is just as much fun as I'd thought it would be! A couple of years after qualifying, I knew that this was something that I wanted to keep doing long term, so I trained in Pilates matwork as something I could teach even if I could no longer do aerobics. I had been teaching as a hobby alongside my day job, but it became clear that my vocation was in teaching fitness and in 2015 I left my job to focus on it full-time.
It soon became clear to me that there was a lot more to Pilates than I had learned on my matwork course. I retrained with Body Control Pilates (BCP), a dedicated Pilates school, rather than a generic provider of fitness qualifications. Being a member of BCP opened up a new perspective on Pilates and the magic of the method, as well as finding a community in what can be a curiously isolating profession.
So far, this post has been a self-indulgent reverie. However, none of this could have happened without you, the people who come along to my classes. I'm so grateful that many of you have been coming to me for several years - some of you all ten! One of the reasons I enjoy teaching community classes is that I thrive on that continuity that allows you to progress and succeed in your goals. I hope that my history informs the way that I teach; I always try my best to be inclusive and encouraging. Thank you for trusting me with your fitness journey and long may it continue!
Fitness and Pilates instructor with a passion for science.