What’s on the line? | Fitness for all

It’s a common misconception that being slim and losing weight are the same thing as being fit. Whilst there are undoubtedly health benefits to not carrying unnecessary weight, there are many of us who are physically fit without conforming to what society generally promotes a ‘fit person’ to look like. For those considered to be a larger size, accessing activities to do with sports and exercise can also be additionally daunting due to these societal attitudes.

Recently I met with Becky, a 40-year-old plus size fitness instructor based in Colchester.

Becky told me ‘I’ve been teaching my own unique fitness classes (designed for people who don’t feel ‘at home’ in the gym) for almost three years, teaching online for more than two years and I’ve also been teaching This Girl Can classes since their launch last year.

I’ve been exercising regularly for about ten years now but it hasn’t always been a big part of my life – I was nervous about going to the gym and to classes and often felt unsupported or embarrassed when exercises didn’t work for me (especially frustrating when it was supposed to be a beginner friendly class!) so I ended up not going back. Or I got really into something for a few months then lost motivation when I wasn’t seeing the ‘results’ I was promised. I managed to improve my relationship with exercise by working with my body rather than against it and with the help of some fabulous instructors. I also started to focus on how exercise made me feel rather than any changes to my appearance. This allowed me to focus on exercise I enjoyed rather than endured and led me to reignite my love of dance!

Alongside this I spent time working on my body image and my relationship with food (which were not the best) and eventually got to a place where I had more self-belief and a drive to help others to avoid feeling the way I did about their bodies and exercise. So now I use my experiences to support people who wouldn’t normally go to an exercise class to feel the benefits of exercise on their terms – some come along to face to face classes and some join us online.

Together we dance around, get a bit sweaty and enjoy moving our bodies in an inclusive and welcoming space. My clients definitely recognise the space I’ve created as a safe space where they feel welcome and comfortable, which was my original aim. Many of my regular attendees say they have finally found an exercise they enjoy – sometimes for the first time in their lives. There is no pressure to perform or push themselves beyond what is comfortable for them, which they find refreshing.’

Becky trained as a fitness instructor after healing her own difficult relationship with exercise and now leads her own dance-based exercise classes – MissFits Workout – and is one of the first instructors to bring the new This Girl Can Classes to Essex – she’s the first in Colchester! Becky promotes a holistic approach to fitness and wellbeing that’s not about aesthetics; she’s more about building confidence than muscle, more about losing inhibitions than inches! Becky’s approach offers a great introduction to dance based group fitness for those who don’t feel ‘at home’ in the gym – with a plus size instructor who has designed routines with plus size bodies in mind. Becky has recently been awarded the Inclusive Award 2021 at the national Community Fitness Awards for her work to make fitness more accessible to those who don’t feel welcome in traditional fitness spaces.

Free and subsidised places will be available at This Girl Can Classes in Colchester, Essex during March, April and May 2022. Places will be offered on a first come, first served basis (prioritising those who meet one or more of the criteria of the fund). Details on how to access the free classes can be found here FREE and subsidised places to kick-start your journey to getting active! — MissFits Workout

Becky also offers free workout videos via YouTube for anyone who prefers to access exercise from their own home https://www.missfitsworkout.co.uk/youtube-workouts

If you would like to find out details of any fitness activities in your area of the county, or if you would like to access support around any of the issues mentioned in this blog, give the Healthwatch Essex Information & Guidance Service a call on 0300 500 1895, email info@healthwatchessex.org.uk or text/WhatsApp on 07712 395398.