I understood how people felt going into a gym or exercise class because I felt that too
I first got involved with exercise when I was about 23. I never liked the gym but really enjoyed the classes. I have an addictive personality and went to as many as I could. Sometimes I would go to a lunchtime class during work and then to a 5:30 class at the end of the day. I would take two sets of workout gear with me and loved it! It was that which made me think ‘Yeah I can do that!’. I decided to take the Exercise to Music course, which gives you the qualification to lead your own group exercise classes.
The day my nan had a stroke though it completely stopped me in my tracks. She was my best friend.
I retook the course when I was 26 and passed with flying colours! However, I was also heavily into partying at that time and that sort of took over my life a little bit. Exercise wasn’t my addiction anymore.
Fast forward 6 years and I had my first child. I put on a huge amount of weight and suffered really badly with anxiety and depression so that for 3 months I wouldn’t leave the house. I would go as far as my front gate and my back gate to go outside but that was it. If I did venture out further, then I would have to either be with my Mum or Husband. I was so scared of the outside world It was awful.
I got chatting to one of my neighbours who I’d once told I was actually qualified to teach aerobics. She helped me get my confidence back and suggested that I aimed to support less active women because I used to joke that I don’t look like a fitness instructor because of my size.
I understood how people felt going into a gym or exercise class because I felt that too.
Sick with anxiety. Everyone is staring at you. They’re thinking why are you here? You’re too fat to be here!! Obviously they weren’t thinking that and it was all in my head, but that’s how I felt.
I joined a Facebook group for size 16 + women and posted a message pouring my heart out about my anxiety and depression. I wrote about how I felt going into a gym and asked if I did set up a group myself, would anyone come to it? Instantly I had about 30 people reply to me saying they would be up for it. We arranged a date the following week where we all met up for tea and cake to decide how the group was going to run, what was involved and what they wanted from it. We then started the following week.
The first class was amazing. Everyone turned up and said how awesome they felt afterwards. It was amazing and I was buzzing as the classes remained full for a few weeks. I had one lady that sat outside for about 25 minutes not wanting to come in. When she finally did she was so nervous, but was soon put at ease when I told her she could stay at the back if she wanted.
She left with the biggest smile on her face and couldn’t thank me enough for making her feel amazing.
During coronavirus I’ve taken my classes online via Zoom. I’ve started doing lunchtime discos so I could help people that were stuck indoors be a part of something.
I’ve also found running through the Couch to 5K app. Weird I know, as considering my size I always got out of running because I said I was built for comfort not speed! Plus, I also used to say, ‘but if I fall over and twist my ankle I won’t be able to teach my classes!’ HAHA What a load of rubbish. I was just being lazybones and probably really self-conscious because my anxiety was telling me other things. I think it’s like when you’re trying to potty train a child. Every mother will tell you that you BOTH have to be ready to start or it won’t work. I had a word with my trainers and decided that now is the time.
If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in Kelly’s story, you can find advice and support from mental health charities, organisations and support groups at nhs.co.uk/conditions.