Bisi, 39, enjoyed athletics at school. When she started her work life, though, exercise fell by the wayside. Two years ago however, she was persuaded by an enthusiastic personal trainer to try the gym near work. Being in her thirties and thinking about her future health, she decided she wanted to get fit and gain a bit of muscle. Trips to the gym turned into regular weight training. Bisi says it makes her feel stronger, look good, and feel sexy – what’s not to love?
Cat, 26, is relatively new to rugby, having decided to give it a try after watching an amateur match. She's never been one for exercising for the sake of it, but finds being on a team motivating and enjoyable. Part of what's brilliant about being in a rugby team is that everyone has a place, no matter their shape or size. Plus, they're able provide a break from life's pressures while just having a bit of fun.
For Debbie, running with a blade was intimidating at first. Though she had run on two legs, the blade meant she had to think about things like uneven ground which previously hadn’t been a concern. But Debbie, 51, has gotten used to it. She goes on long runs and sprints a few times a week. She finds a good run sets her up mentally for the rest of the day, and can’t imagine life without it
Franny, 33, used to play loads of team sports as a child and at school. After leaving university, she opted for activities like rock climbing and Zumba instead, along with cycling to and from work. When she became pregnant with twins, however, Franny was diagnosed with pelvic girdle pain (PGP), which made walking short distances painful. Happily, she’s found activities that help alleviate her pain while allowing her to stay active. Cycling, for instance, actually seems to help, along with gentle pilates.
Sue, 67, has been swimming all her life (growing up near a river in Yorkshire helped with that), but only started cold water swimming 10 years ago. It was after she'd broken her ankle and missed a month of swimming. It was October when she got back to it, meaning the water was cold. But she knew that if she didn’t do it then, she might never get back into it. Now she goes almost every day. The cold water gives her a buzz - so much so, that she looks forward to diving in
Lizon, 26, was really into theatre as a kid, getting into dance as a way to further express herself creatively. In addition to dancing for fun, she finds time to go to a class or two each week, either after work or on weekends. She likes dancehall classes especially. That’s partly due to the beat of the music and also because she finds the classes are a time when she can really let everything go. She also likes that, throughout the class, everyone’s dancing together, sweating it out and having a good time.
We met Grace, 24, two years ago, who knew that even though she cycled slowly, she was lapping everybody on the couch. Two years on and Grace is still lapping them. She tries to cycle everywhere, whether she’s headed to work or meeting friends at the pub. And for a bit of fun she ties flowers to the front of her bike so no one thinks she takes cycling too seriously.
Bleta, 15, was the only girl in her jiu jitsu class until her sister Londrita, 16, joined. At first, Bleta found the class full of boys intimidating, but after getting to know everyone there she realized they all liked the same things. They both practice jiu jitsu quite a bit, as it makes them feel more relaxed. They notice that sometimes, the boys in their class are worried about hitting them because they’re girls. And they’ve found there’s one thing they can do to break the tension on the mat – be the ones to hit first.
Though Catherine, 67, comes from a very sporty family, she never enjoyed sport much herself. And so it was a bit of a leap of faith when she decided to give boot camp a go. She’d seen the training sessions while on walks with her dog, a coupon in the paper pushed her over the edge. She didn’t think she could keep up during her first class, but managed to get through it. More than seven years on, she’s now breaking a sweat in the “medium” level class, proving each time that she can.
The first time Fakhira, 21, and her best friend showed up for a kickboxing class, they nearly turned back. She’s glad they ended up going, though, as it’s one of her favourite things to do. She finds the classes a really great way to release stress, especially when it’s built up because of school. Though the classes are very active, Fakhira feels more energetic after hitting the bag for a while. It’s something she does for herself and her mental health. It helps that she also thinks it’s a load of fun.
First-time mum Stephanie, 31, found that, during and after her pregnancy, her relationship with exercise changed. When first pregnant, Stephanie felt nervous about exercising. However, as she gained confidence she started doing light pre-natal exercise. After a break post-baby, Stephanie tried a Mumhood class, where mums do exercises while holding their babies. Stephanie loves them because they give her a chance to socialise with women going through many of the same things. Plus, there’s a practical element to using your baby as a weight; every week, that “weight” gets heavier.
Stacey, 34, started boot camp after experiencing joint pain and deciding that she was determined to get healthy. She was worried, heading into her first class, that people might judge her. Happily, she discovered that doesn’t happen, as everyone’s in the same boat. Stacey really values the friends she’s made through boot camp; they’re people she’d never have met otherwise, from all sorts of different backgrounds. It’s one of the things that helps her come back time and time again – besides feeling bloody great when she does it.
Lydia, 29, hated PE at school and wasn’t active at all – until she discovered roller derby. After watching a friend play seven years ago, she decided to give it a go herself. The beginning was tough, but Lydia has never looked back. She now plays roller derby regularly, and loves the fact that it allows you to use your shape and size to your advantage, no matter what shape or size you might be. At 4ft10, she’s able to move around the pack while staying out of sight. With Lydia, you never see her coming.