The daunting prospect of joining a gym is something many people struggle with, and many of us will make endless excuses not too. But Club CHF Member Claire Richardson tells us how gaining the courage to join the gym has helped turned her life around…
For many years I have been your typical yo-yo dieter who has occasionally “attempted” exercise. One of the scariest words in the world to me was ‘gym’. Why? Well to me gyms were full of Lycra clad, matching outfit wearing, skinny people who were super fit and therefore definitely not a place for me at all. So you imagine my surprise when I actually found myself joining Club CHF back in March 2011. Talk about new and scary territory!
It was during a very low point in my life. I had been signed off work due to illness, I was at my heaviest tipping the scale at just over 20 Stone, my blood pressure was through the roof and my self-esteem nowhere to be seen. So why on earth was I going to put myself through such a thing? I still don’t know the answer even to this day but am extremely glad I did. You should have seen me on my first day. There I was, a bag of nerves, trying to hide underneath the biggest/baggiest t-shirt, black of course, I could find in the hope that no one would notice. But from the moment I walked through the doors I was made to feel part of the Club CHF family and like I had the same right to be there as everyone else. The Staff were more than welcoming and friendly and people actually smiled at me and said hello rather than sniggered at me.
I started off in the gym, doing my own thing and because I was off work I was able to come during the day when it was quiet. This was a great help as my confidence started to, slowly, build. After a while I got speaking to Caroline who was one of the trainers. She took the time to talk to me about what I wanted to achieve, why was I there, what were my goals etc. She helped me work out a gym routine to focus on the areas I wanted to work on (which was everywhere!). I would visit the gym a couple of times a week, collect my workout sheet from the drawer and do my thing and it was great to see a familiar and encouraging face. The biggest surprise, apart from the fact that no one was laughing at me, was the fact that I was actually enjoying it. Who knew exercise could be fun!
Having gotten to grips with the exercise it was time to overcome my biggest hurdle. Food. As I said, I was your typical yo-yo dieter and have pretty much tried every diet going. From slimming clubs to meal replacements, from starving myself to limiting myself to just one type of food diets. I enjoyed success when it came but fell hard every time the scales told me something I didn’t want to hear. Talk about getting upset when they said I had put 1lb in a week, devastating to a yo-yo dieter. So it was more than time to break the cycle and realise that food was not my enemy, it was not the be all and end all to life and I was in control of it, not the other way round. I worked with Caroline on my diet and we talked about foods to avoid, new foods to try, portion size and, most importantly for me, not denying myself something or beating myself up should I eat it. Everything in moderation.
After a couple of months things were falling into place and I started to add on the odd class. Starting with Salsa Aerobics, I then tried Yoga, followed by LBT which helps me focus on those three troublesome areas, and Zumba with Agnes which fast became my favourite class because I love to dance. As well as Caroline and the gym team, Agnes’s motivating and uplifting style showed me that exercise didn’t have to be torture. My weight started to drop, 1 Stone, 2 Stone and my body shape was changing as I started to find my size 22, 20 then 18 clothes becoming baggier.
I have now started an 8 week Personal Training programme with Caroline. It will certainly be a challenge, but it’s one I’m looking forward to and I know she’ll be right there motivating me and offering encouragement every step of the way. I’m going on holiday in April and my hope is to be able to fit into a size 14. I’m currently at a weight loss of over 3.5 Stone, I am almost off the blood pressure tablets and am beginning to, albeit with a bit of squeezing, get into a size 16 so I’ve still got a way to go but I know with Caroline’s help and the support from Club CHF I’ll get there!
Claire Richardson, Club CHF Member
Read Claire’s progress update – Exercise 1 – Bulge 0
Ask a member of the CHF Fitness Team about our Personal Training packages.