National Fitness Day 2017 : Making activity an everyday joy for our children this National Fitness Day

By 25th September 2017News

Blog by Imogen Buxton-Pickles – Co-founder of

When I think about what fitness means to me, I have to say it’s the thing that has changed and shaped my life for the better at every turn.   Today I love being active and try and get out every day, whether it’s running with my dog, playing tennis, cycling, or playing with my daughter in the park – I simply love being active every day!

However, it wasn’t always like this for me.  I’ve always enjoyed dance, sport and activity, but when I was at school I became hugely self-conscious, being over 5 feet 10 inches and named Imogen I kept my head down, as most of my friends were a foot shorter.  I simply lost my self-confidence about being seen to be active, preferring to look ‘cool’ and hanging out with friends.  I went into a downward spiral of not doing any exercise whilst at the same time I just ate and ate, becoming over 3 stones heavier than I am even now.

What happened to change this spiral?  Pete Sampras happened and he changed my life (although he doesn’t know a thing about it!).

Pete and I you see are the same age and watching him win the first of his 7 Wimbledon titles made me realise the rut I had got myself into.   There he was at the top of the world, winning titles and here I was on the couch with a large packet of crisps.  I can honestly say that he gave me the motivation and ambition to stop what I was doing and start doing what I loveSo, I decided to get active!

A year later I actually got to meet him at Wimbledon – well when I say meet him I was able to scream of my undying love through some practice court fencing – the security guards were very good about it really!

I went to university to study sports science part-time at Leeds Met and this began to ignite my passion for getting children active in the first place.  I wanted to better understand why it was girls, much like myself and my clients, were put off activity and playing sport at such a young age and who would never really re-engage with sport and activity later in their lives as I had been lucky to.  My dissertation focused on this question and I came to realise we need to provide children with a love of activity of all kinds, be it dance, rugby, athletics it’s whatever they feel is right for them and they enjoy.

By this time, I had also completed my teaching qualifications and I was building up a new business as a dance specialist going into schools to deliver modern, relevant styles of dance.  I found that the children and the teachers loved what I did and were keen on carrying on without me being there.  However, the teachers didn’t have the confidence to run lesson themselves.  It became my passion to get every child to be active, and my mission to give every teacher the tools to enable it.  Working with teachers, I created to help them motivate children to be more active firstly through dance and movement to music.

Schools are now being asked to incorporate 30 minutes of activity into the school day to help tackle the obesity and inactivity crises by becoming an active school, but I know from speaking to teachers many don’t have the skills or confidence to do this.   This brought about imoves Active Schools and our involvement with National Fitness Day, providing teachers with easy-to-use resources so they can get their children loving activity and changing lives.

Everything we do is guided by supporting those around children to be able to get the children active and to enjoy that activity everyday as I do.  If we can get our children active, that’s when you can change lives to create a healthier more active society, never mind the other benefits for academic performance and mental health we all know acivity supports.

So, what does fitness mean to me – it means changing lives for the better as it did mine and maybe instigating a Pete Sampras moment in others too! (Ahhh Pete, whom I promise I won’t scream of my undying love to if I meet him again – only because I don’t think my husband would be too impressed if I did, although I still do!)