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Tiffany's
Story

Exercise for me was always my safe space. I loved it, it cleared my head, made me feel powerful and I genuinely enjoyed it so much.

I have actually always been active since I was a little girl, but as I got older and bullies started making me aware of my body. I started to stop doing the activities I love. I tried out for my local cheer team when I was younger in year 9 and all the years bullies were in the team. They laughed at me and told everyone in school that I wanted to be a cheerleader and how ridiculous that was.

I used to love exercise, going to the gym, dancing and being active, but over time being told that I needed to lose weight, the exercise that was mindless fun, became a punishment to myself to make me skinnier.

Alongside that, I always wanted to be strong and lift weights, and it took me a long time to realise that you didn’t have to look a certain way, you didn’t have to be a muscly man in a wife-beater vest top to go into the free weights section. I would say this held me back the most. And sometimes still gets me from time to time now.

Tiffany holding a cheer banner in her cheerleader outfit.

Exercise for me was always my safe space. I loved it, it cleared my head, made me feel powerful and I genuinely enjoyed it so much. When I managed to re-learn that exercise wasn’t just about weight loss but was for fun, I started experimenting with different forms of activity.

I tried out for cheer because I knew I loved dancing, and they had all but gone where I lived. When I started I loved it because it didn’t feel like hard work, and the feeling when you successfully hit a skill is like no other.

Cheer keeps me motivated because no one judges you on your looks. There is a big stigma behind cheer that you need to be slim and extra bendy, but us bigger girls have a place too!

I go to the gym and run when I can. Mostly I do this to build up the strength and stamina to make me a better cheer athlete.

Tiffany and her cheer squad

It isn’t easy. I work a full-time job Monday to Friday so I fit it in when I can.

Cheer is set in stone with a set day and time, so this goes in the calendar. Everything else I do goes off how I’m feeling in the moment. I can wake up in the morning and feel really energised and get up and run, other times I may go in the evenings.

I don’t let the gym rule my life, I make sure that if I have plans with someone that I will either try and go to the gym in the morning, or I will simply miss that day.

The key for me is to reassure myself that it is okay to miss the gym and that my social life and mental health is just as important as my fitness.

Cheer makes me feel incredible. I don’t know how to describe the feeling, but knowing that your flyer has all that trust in you to hold her up by her feet and ankles is otherworldy.

I have been Cheer captain of Hurricane at Bournemouth Elite for 3 seasons now, and the pride I have in my team is beyond compare. The whole team are incredible, we put so much effort into each and every stunt. To see everyone’s improvement including my own, is so moving and I can’t express how much love I have for the sport.

When watching videos back of my skills and technique, when you hit that skill, there is nothing that makes me more powerful. Plus it is always such a power move, when someone asks if something is heavy and I reply with ‘I chuck people around for fun, I’m sure I’ll be fine’

When it comes to the gym and running, I know that exercise makes me feel so much better in day-to-day life. I feel more awake, my mood feels boosted and I am genuinely a much more confident person when I exercise.

Covid was awful for my activity. I have never been a home workout kind of person. Cheer was my safe space and that was taken away, working in the hospital was stressful so finding motivation amongst the stress wasn’t easy.

The cheer programme set up zoom classes for things like HIIT, strength conditioning and general ‘team sessions’. This was probably the best exercise I managed to get because we were able to see each other and motivate one another with our exercise.

I did start running as well. Where I lived at the time there was a beach so I started running across the seafront and I found that was able to clear my head. I am now in love with running (even if I’m not the best runner!) and I managed to put this into part of my routine.

I also got the nobs app (by @lucymountain) which had amazing home workouts to try and even joined in with some of her lives which were great.

I also think it was more difficult because all the home workouts you would find were so caught up in the weight loss aspect, that it lost what I feel exercise is really about.