Aneesa is the proud mother of two boys and a freelance photographer. After losing her salary due to lockdown, she started feeling uncertain and fearful for the future.
When an old personal trainer reached out to her about Zoom classes, Aneesa began doing them solo as well as with her kids. Not only has it helped her gain her confidence and improved her mental wellbeing, she’s discovered a completely new way to exercise while creating lasting memories with her boys.
Meet the Girls
Running & jogging
Cathy was keen to get herself and her five kids active, but life kept getting in the way. It was lockdown that finally gave her and her daughter the push they needed to start exercising.
Cathy tried a number of activities, some of which were too hard, before discovering Couch to 5k. She realised she loved running, and used the programme to gradually build up her abilities. She’s even motivated her kids to go on the occasional jog. Running has made Cathy feel happier in herself and she hasn’t looked back since!
Exercising with your children
Jennifer loves trying new activities so long as they’re crazy fun. After being inspired by P!nk’s performances, she decided to give aerial silks a go and stuck with it.
During lockdown, she’s found ways to continue practising and trying new activities at home with her children to cheer her on. Sometimes she’s even got the kids involved on little run arounds or occasionally uses them as weights (which they love)!
Katy is mad about walking, especially because she can bring her baby along for the ride. Having given birth during lockdown, she was left feeling isolated and a bit lost.
After seeing other mums enjoying walks with their baby carriers, Katy was inspired to give it a go herself. Walking as often as she can is a simple (and free) way to clear her head, and stay strong for herself and her family.
Glynis fell in love with swimming during primary school, when her mother and teachers introduced her to the activity. But as she got older, life often got in the way of being active. Consequently, she found her confidence in the pool fell. Joining an accessible group at her local gym has helped reignite Glynis’ love of swimming, and has encouraged her to stick with it. When she’s in the water she feels free, which she enjoys just as much as the “good” type ache from a tough workout. She knows the pool is always there for her – and that whenever she wants to, she can get right back in.
Yoga and pilates
Hannah’s periods can sometimes come with debilitating cramps and discomfort. And there was a time when that meant that she tried to avoid strenuous activity or sport. By actually using exercise to help manage the pain, however, she’s become more comfortable in her body and more appreciative of how much it can do. By being open and honest about how she’s feeling when she’s on her period, Hannah is able to work around symptoms and still partake in the activities she loves. Sure, she might end up in a funny position in yoga class if a cramp kicks in, but she knows this is nothing to be embarrassed about. After all, she’s just living her life and doing something she enjoys. Period.
Yvonne and Patrice started being more active for different reasons. Yvonne began experiencing the symptoms of menopause, and her doctor said that exercise might help relieve them. Patrice, on the other hand, discovered that her weight gain was partly due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and wanted to make a change while helping her health. So the two started being more active together, whether doing circuits in the home or going for a quick jog. Yvonne finds that she has more fun – and stays more motivated – with Patrice at her side. And Patrice felt she got so much out of being active that she made it her career. Like mother, like daughter.
Kirsti loves being a mother of three. She also loves netball. And thanks to the support of her partner and the people around her, she gets to enjoy both. Playing netball gave Kirsti time to claim as her own while breaking a bit of a sweat. She misses the odd practice here and there, but that doesn’t matter as everyone’s there for the fun of it. She likes playing so much that she makes a point of encouraging other mothers to give it a go and get involved. Game on.
Farrah has long enjoyed activities like running and cycling. But as a trans woman, getting into climbing made her a little nervous – not because of the challenge of it or even the heights, but because she didn’t know whether the community would welcome her in. After being invited to a weekend climbing trip, she braved it and gave it a go. When she did, she discovered a fantastic group of people who were happy to have her along. Now Farrah climbs all the time, and her confidence and circle of friends just keep on growing. The sky’s the limit!
When she was at school, Paula played loads of team sports. Now working full time with a child to look after, she finds it hard to find the time and energy to keep up regular exercise.
So, Paula fits it in when and where she can by walking up and down the stairs, squeezing in some sit ups and going for long walks with her friends.
“I like to stay active and healthy. Working 9-5 has its own pressures but I like to make sure I am doing something to stay strong.”
Nikki’s love of athletics disappeared at university, and it became a lot harder to find people to exercise with.
Now in full time work, and pregnant with her first child, she is finding that her baby is her biggest motivator to get her back exercising. She’s currently learning to swim, teaching herself from YouTube tutorials. She finds swimming helps put her mind at rest and makes her feel like she is doing the very best she can for the health of her baby.
“Find something you love and stick with it. It’s even better if you can find friends or family who will exercise with you and motivate you along the way.”
As a part time teaching assistant, full time carer and student working to get her Maths GCSE, finding time to exercise hasn’t been easy for Caroline. But her support network has encouraged her to find time for herself and get active.
Trampolining gives Caroline a real sense of freedom and she is really grateful for those sessions that allow her to feel empowered, free and sweaty.
“Even if it is just a running up and down the garden it’s better than nothing!”
Gym memberships and fitness classes were simply too expensive for full-time nanny Ella, and she was searching for a way to fit exercise into her busy life.
She purchased a hula hoop from a charity shop, and this helped Ella rediscover her love for exercise. She now uses her hula hoop to workout whenever she can at home, fitting her activity around her work and social life. She even sometimes gets the kids involved.
“It’s a matter of slotting it into your existing life, not changing your life to accommodate being active.”
After breaking her leg over ten years ago, doctors feared arthritis would seriously limit Patsy’s mobility.
Motivated to keep moving, Patsy went down to her local gym and signed up to an over-50’s aerobics class and a Zumba class. Even though she was still re-learning to walk following her accident, Patsy made the commitment to the two classes, attending them both every week. 9 years later, Patsy still attends the same Zumba class every week, no matter the barriers she faces.
“It’s not a case of pushing yourself to the extreme, move at your own pace. Just get in there and get moving.”
Whilst studying for her A-Levels, Asha found it difficult to find the time to exercise, but knew getting active was a huge stress reliever for her.
She was really intimidated by the thought of running around the estate in front of people she knew and felt like she couldn’t do it properly. But, with the support of her family, she motivated herself to overcome the fear of others watching. She even started using the public outdoor gym in a nearby park for circuit training.
“I used to be worried about people looking at me when I ran in public or worked out at the outdoor gym but now I don’t even think about it.”
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?Weightlifting
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.Rugby
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 itRunnning
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.Cycling
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 inSwimming
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.Dance fitness
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.Cycling
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.Jiu-Jitsu
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.Kickboxing
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.Mum and baby exercise
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.Bootcamp
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.Roller derby