Gaynor Hulland

Name: Gaynor Hulland
Location: Wales

My Fitness2Me story:

Nicknamed ‘Super G’, I’m a freelance fitness instructor at the LC2 in Swansea. I served as an Olympic torch-bearer in 2012 after being nominated by the local community.

My fitness journey began in 1995 when I saw a photo of myself on a family holiday. I was big, bigger than I had ever been. So there and then I made a decision to do something about it. I was going to be 40 in January 1997 and decided to set myself the goal to get fully fit by the time I turned 40.

In April 1997 I joined a small gym, where I had a lovely trainer who helped me with planning workouts. I used the treadmill a lot and I discovered I loved running. By running 1.8 miles around a lake close to home I improved enough to take on full-length marathons.

In 2009 my rotator cuff got damaged so running became painful. I needed to keep training as it was in my blood. That’s when I joined LC2 Swansea – another turning point in my life. I attended the fitness classes and loved them so much so that at the age of 53 I decided to become a fitness instructor.

I qualified in May 2010 and in the same year I qualified as a Les Mills Instructor in Body Attack, and as a Keiser Spin Instructor.

I love getting into the studio and getting my participants to have the best time – to get fit and have fun. I love teaching, I love my participants, and as an instructor, watching them develop week on week is truly amazing.

Lynsey McKay

Name: Lynsey McKay
Location: South East

My Fitness2Me story:

I’m Lynsey, I’m from Canterbury and fitness is my life! National Fitness Day is a time to celebrate what fitness means to everyone across the country. Fitness has changed my life over the past 10 years. As a 24-year-old I started playing roller derby in Leeds, a sport I fell in love with pretty quickly. When I moved back to Canterbury the only way for me to continue playing was to start the first team in Kent.

Eight years later, we’ve brought hundreds of women into the world of sport, and I was thrown in the deep end, learning how to coach with Kent Roller Girls, becoming the head coach of Kent Men’s Roller Derby last year.

During this time I also started Crossfit and found another fitness love in lifting weights. Seeing how fitness and sport can transform people’s lives led to me wanting to be a personal trainer, something I finally achieved this year! So, yeah, fitness has kind of taken over my life this last decade! Let’s see where it can lead in the next 10…

Naomi Adie

Name: Naomi Adie
Location: East of England

My Fitness2Me story:

Physical activity saved my life. After being medically discharged from the RAF due to an injury, I found out that I had other complications. This, and the resulting mental health issues, changed my life in a heartbeat. I could not do any form of sport and found it difficult to exercise, spiralling in to a really dark place, coming to terms with my disability and mental health problems.

I had always been active, playing both hockey and athletics to a high level all of my life. In 2015 Invictus announced they were hosting the next games in Canada and were looking at including ‘Para Ice Hockey’. I did not know what it was but needed to find out. I contacted Peterborough Phantoms Para Ice Hockey Club to see if I could have a go and I have not looked back since.

Para Ice Hockey in the UK is open to both able bodied and disabled individuals and it doesn’t matter what your disability is we are all ‘one team, no labels’. It gives me the freedom I need, it’s fast and exciting. I have now represented Great Britain at international women’s competitions.

Para Ice Hockey opened my eyes to all the other sports you can do with a disability and taught me nothing is impossible. So, in 2017 I decided that I would try to be selected for the 2018 Invictus games in Sydney. I was incredibly lucky to have been selected as one of the 72-strong UK teams taking part in wheelchair racing and now I have two sports to push my limits.

Do not put barriers in front of yourself or let anyone put them there for you. If you set your mind to a goal, push as hard as you can to achieve it and then push to go even further for the next one. Nothing is impossible, only your ability to want to achieve it.

Tony Apicella

Name: Tony Apicella
Location: North East

My Fitness2Me story:

‘He’s lived in the North East for more than a decade and he’s a fitness professional’ – that’s how someone introduced me recently. To be honest, I’ve never looked at it like that, but when I look back at my career and think about those I’ve got moving, helped move more or empowered individuals to move others, then I suppose the labels fits!

Motivating people, individuals to be active is what motivates me personally and professionally. I’ve been on a mission to get people active, moving and energised since I was able to – ‘sitting’ just isn’t in my vocabulary.

From playing in the street and the park as a kid with my friends till it was too dark to see, to being a PE teacher, through to running in the London Marathon and spending 30 years in the not-for-profit sector developing innovative ways to get young people moving and then moving more – the penny’s suddenly dropped; maybe I am fitness professional!

So, I’m hugely proud, as Head of The Children’s Foundation, a North East charity supporting children and young people’s health, to be selected as the #Fitness2Me hero for the region!
Above all, do something to get the heart pumping on National Fitness Day. Get up, get active and be a hero as well!

Jane Rogers

Name: Jane Rogers
Location: South West

My Fitness2Me story:

I hated PE at school. I’d hide in the toilets until the lesson finished! I grew up to see sports as “something other people do”.

Fast-forward to my late -20s, when I became pregnant with my eldest son, and I developed a severe form of SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction). I became housebound for the last 20 weeks of both of my pregnancies, and was diagnosed with post-natal depression after I’d had my second.

After nine months of intensive physio, I found some jogging bottoms and an old t-shirt, and went out for a run. I discovered that running gave me headspace and made me feel free – when I laced up my trainers, all the insecurities and doubts I had about myself would disappear and I found mental strength as I developed my physical strength.

I began to run faster and for longer, and 5ks led to 10ks, to half marathons, a marathon and a triathlon. I learned about the power of self-belief, and how being active can increase your quality of life.

And through my work in the city, I realised how difficult it is for families who live in tower-blocks across Bristol to break through the financial, cultural and educational barriers which prevent them from living healthy lives – and the direct impact this has on their life chances and life expectancy.

I trained as a personal trainer with the University of Bath and I founded JumpStart Food and Fitness a year ago to work with young offenders and families who live in tower blocks across Bristol, helping them to live healthier, happier lives, and to take others on the same journey I've taken.

Sian Bain

Name: Sian Bain
Location: West Midlands

My Fitness2Me story:

At the age of 59 I was offered redundancy from my job at the Department of Education and I had to decide whether to continue working. My husband had retired, so I thought it was time I did so too. After six months at home I realised that I didn’t like retirement since I was so used to working. I had suffered cancer in the past and when in hospital for a follow up appointment, I saw a ‘Move It or Lose It’ poster, looking for new exercise instructors. Before I knew I it, I had passed the in-depth course to became an instructor for chair-based exercises for those over 65.

I started doing chair-based exercise classes straight away, delivering three classes a week in the local GP surgery. Since then, I have increased my class-load to nine a week, in a range of different classes to get the elderly moving, including resistance training which is vital in developing strength.

I’ve also been running 12-week sessions for those with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) for the past year – and the results have been nothing short of amazing. We’ve seen patients double their fitness levels in just a few months and you can see the effect it has on their lives. People from my class have told me how they’d suffer from awful aches before, which have now disappeared.

It’s not just fitness – I incorporate games within my classes, and it’s been fantastic from a social side too. It gives older people a chance to make new friends, get out and be active, which is so important in helping them to avoid feeling isolated. It’s a great feeling to see everyone happy and smiling.

I deliver the classes in GP surgeries, in nursing homes and out in the community. One of the highlights is being able to work with my 95-year old father, who loves getting stuck into the class. It’s fantastic being a personal trainer – I really love my job. I wake up every day excited to go to work, knowing the impact I have on people’s health and wellbeing. Fitness means everything to me.

Ben Wimbush

Name: Ben Wimbush
Location: North West

My Fitness2Me story:

One moment changed my life. At the age of 34 a trampolining accident left me paralysed. I was always very active before the accident, and even as I dealt with the aftermath of the accident, my love of sport and fitness never went away.

I knew I needed to stay fit, as the repercussions of ill health for people with spinal cord injuries can be dire. It was this, along with a friend’s suggestion to join social media, that would eventually go on to change everything.

I was never a major fan of Facebook and Twitter, but soon realised it was helping me connect with a world beyond my friends and family, so I started to post about my recovery. I could see the impact of my posts, which led me to begin my own campaign, called #20isplenty.

#20isplenty aims to encourage everyone to spend 20 minutes a day exercising, 20 minutes eating with someone or socialising and 20 minutes relaxing, to improve their health. They then share photos of themselves on social media, using the hashtag, to help inspire even more people to take part.

Thankfully, the campaign took off – gaining a large following in the UK and inspiring thousands to get active. I want to continue to spread the campaign’s message far and wide to ensure as many people as possible can improve their physical and mental health.

Cassie Paxton

Name: Cassie Paxton
Location: East Midlands

My Fitness2Me story:

A few years ago I sustained spinal damage due to an accident at work and like anyone with long term pain, suffered. I chose not to 'fall' into the darkness that pain can bring and was determined to recover and prepare for surgery and be the strongest, healthiest and happiest version of me.

In December 2013 I had 360' spinal fusion in my lumber spine, my surgeon removed two discs and I was metalled up with two cages and four rods to lock me up tight! I used Pilates, swimming and yoga daily to get me into the zone (I used to run daily but had to stop due to the injury).

I have faced challenges and big hurdles, but when I have fallen I have slapped on some bright red lippy, got in my trainers and cracked on with a big smile on my face. Physical activity means everything to me – from sharing experiences with old friends to making new friends, discovering new places to getting stronger.

In fact, it means so much that I left my retail career of 17 years to travel to Florida to complete 200 hours of Yoga Alliance Training. I now run SUP Fitness UK, which takes people of all abilities from the yoga mat onto the SUP board – learning new yoga techniques and poses out on the open water. #Fitness2Me means making everyday adventures in the great outdoors of our local community. Sharing experiences together, with a community centred around physical activity, is so exciting and fun. I couldn’t imagine life without it.

Jay Gardner

Name: Jay Gardner
Location: Scotland

My Fitness2Me story:

I’m Jay Gardner and fitness means everything to me. I had gained a lot of weight from November 2016 to June 2017 as a result of no daily exercise as well as working as a waiter at Toby Carvery, where the temptation of free meals on shift was too much to resist. With hardly any exercise, I gained weight.

I knew I needed to make a change. I love dancing, so decided to take up some of the dance-based classes at Edinburgh Leisure such as BodyJam and Sh’Bam. After that, I was hooked and now I do a range of conditioning and flexibility classes such as Body Balance, Barre and Pilates. The exercise, alongside a change in my diet, led me to lose just over four stone in the past year.

Exercising has made feel more comfortable and confident in my own skin again, I can stop avoid looking at myself in the mirror. Now that I’ve lost the weight I put on, I want to focus on gaining more muscle and getting more flexible.

I was born with Severe Haemophilia A this is a internal blood clotting disorder meaning my blood lacks a clotting factor 8 therefore, it doesn’t clot properly without medication. Because of having targeted bleed into my ankle joint as a child I now have what knows as a Haemoarthrapathy in my right ankle (a type of Arthritis) and I found physical activity has made it much easier to manage my condition, and I’ve gained a lot of strength and flexibility in the joint which I had previously lost due to the Arthorapy.

I love the warm welcome I always get at the gym. The gyms I go to are really inclusive and welcoming – and the passion of instructors at Edinburgh Leisure has made it so much easier to keep active. I’d particularly like to thank for Mo Nicholson – her passion really inspired me and I love being part of the BodyJam family, ‘The Jamily’.

Colm Curran

Name: Colm Curran
Location: Northern Ireland

My Fitness2Me story:

I began my fitness journey at Andersontown Leisure Centre, working there for 12 years before moving to Whiterock in 2017. Shortly before transferring to Whiterock Iwas diagnosed with chronic illness which resulted in having to undergo surgery and aggressive treatment. Physical activity was vital focus to my physical and mental wellbeing whilst recovering – it also made me much more aware of the need to make activity accessible for everyone.

I’ve always been developing new things to try with our members. With growing numbers in members with disabilities and junior usage, I improved the layout of the gym to fully accommodate everyone in the community.

I love working with everyone, hence why I completed qualifications to deliver the junior gym and healthwise programmes. This helped me develop new walking group specialist training courses and adding new classes like total body conditioning, yoga and meditation. I am so passionate about fitness and disabilities; I run a fitness class for wheelchair users, and help Glenveagh Special Needs Group enjoy a weekly fitness class.

I like to help people to feel better, both physically and mentally. Through my job, there is a great opportunity to see people’s health and wellbeing improve through both physical activity and a positive attitude.

Shane Wright

Name: Shane Wright
Location: Yorkshire

My Fitness2Me story:

I run Premier franchises in York, Harrogate and Bradford, delivering high quality sport, performing arts and wellbeing programmes to primary school children and their families.
The reason I was attracted to Premier was the tagline of ``Inspiring young people to live active and healthy lifestyles``.

My parents live next door to a fairly decent sized public park – it has a small football pitch, the usual climbing frame, swing set, roundabout and so on. When I was a child that park used to be full after school without fail – 15-a-side football matches, kids socialising without smartphones, climbing trees, building a den, playing the many variations of ‘tag’. Physical activity in its loosest form. I often drive past that park on my way home and I estimate that 90 per cent of the time there isn’t a child in sight.

My brother is nine years younger than me, but instead of playing with his friends in the park he has grown up socialising through Facebook messenger or in an online lobby on his games console. There isn’t anything wrong with this particularly, but I think this does typify why there is a real need for physical activity offerings. As well as the obvious health benefits, the social skills that playing sports gives you – confidence, team work, leadership, communication, conflict resolution, are all invaluable life skills that a large amount of the future generation are missing out on.

This is why I love providing a service to children and parents that will allow them to develop these skills. Our challenge is to make sure that our programmes are seen as a more enjoyable alternative to playing the latest FIFA or Fortnite game.

I often speak to parents about this example because it resonates with the childhood they had. We are definitely making a difference though; something I’m immensely proud of. This summer we have engaged close to 1,500 children in our holiday club provision. From a personal side, it’s fantastic to see children having fun and being active – it’s fantastic to do what I do.

Naomi Cavaday

Name: Naomi Cavaday
Location: London

My Fitness2Me story:

I am a former professional tennis player and Great Britain number three, and a current tennis commentator and British Tennis Mental Health Ambassador. I have enjoyed many achievements in tennis but the biggest benefit I have gained is the development of my character. I learned resilience, focus, confidence and responsibility which has equipped and prepared me to deal with whatever life throws at me.

The pressure out on court can be immense, thousands of people are watching you take on a huge challenge with no guarantees you are going to rise to it. The demands from the media are also extreme. They want to know who you are, what you believe in and what you stand for, but you are just a teenager trying to figure things out.

During my time as a professional tennis player I developed depression and an eating disorder which ultimately ended my career early. I struggled to cope with the demands of the lifestyle, which left me isolated, drained and permanently jet-lagged. My coaches demanded me to be my best self, day after day, and I responded by constantly pushing myself further but that just ended up breaking me and I left the sport.

It took some time to recover but now I am absolutely loving my tennis again. I take immense pride in what I achieved as a player and when I am at my club showing what I can do it is satisfying to say the least! I am so pleased that tennis will always be a part of my life and a great source of fun for me. Someone once told me that happiness is a balance of having purpose and pleasure in your life, and now tennis is the perfect balance of that for me.

Sport has always been a lifelong passion of mine and when I’m exercising regularly I feel really good about myself. The knowledge that I am looking after my body and mind helps me take pride in what I do in all aspects of my life, so I become more driven and determined. My friends from my tennis club have become my main social group and we all share a love and passion for the sport. My mental health is always stronger when I’m getting involved in sport and I get the 'itch' if I spend too long away!