It was 5 years ago that after seeing an article in the Essex Chronicle about exercising outdoors with Essex Boot Camp I signed up and went along for a free trial session. Dressed in my old joggers and baggy t-shirt my heart sank when I arrived and everybody seemed to be dressed in lycra and looked really fit!!
Suddenly I didn’t think it was such a good idea. My fitness level was zero. I totally underestimated just how hard I would find the session. However, everybody there was so kind and encouraging that I knew I would go back. The next few days I could hardly move, my whole body ached.
The following week I made the decision to go back and give it another go. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made, as I have never looked back since.
I was at the back of the group at every session, running was just not my thing. Any exercises we had to do I was always given less reps as the group would end up waiting for me otherwise. All the instructors were so encouraging I felt I had to give it my all.
Gradually as the weeks and months passed I saw my fitness improve. I came to realise if you work hard you get results. Six months after joining I signed up for Race for Life, a 5k run. Me running, who would have thought? A real turning point for me was my first Bentwaters Day. A year after joining I would never have thought I could possibly survive an endurance day. That day I came to realise if you believe enough in yourself you can achieve anything.
Spurred on by my newfound confidence I signed up for a 10k run and some obstacle races. There was no stopping me, I then ran my first half marathon.
I also took part in the Eat Clean challenge, which I have continued. This showed me that the food I eat fuels my body, and I saw my fitness improve again. I loved Boot Camp and was going to 5 sessions a week. I decided to visit every site in Essex and also the launch of the Cambridge site.
Last year I knew I needed a new challenge and decided to do a triathlon. I was a non swimmer, didn’t own a road bike and was waiting to have a tumour removed from my ankle which would leave me on crutches for three months and therefore unable to exercise. I didn’t know how I would get through those months without my routine of exercising.
The week after my operation Essex Stretch Academy was launched. It was to be my saviour. Every Tuesday, on my crutches I would turn up for class. Carolyn was amazing and would tailor the exercises so I could join in. It really let me see that nothing is impossible.
My first session back at Boot Camp was amazing. I couldn’t run but I could do most of the static exercises. Each week my determination and my Boot Camp family got me through and gradually I got my fitness back. I signed up for swimming lessons which were in the children’s pool as I struggled to breathe with my face in the water, bought a road bike and gradually got my running miles up. Last August I climbed Ben Nevis with a group from Boot Camp, which was fantastic.
Essex Boot Camp has completely changed my life, I now believe there is no challenge too big for me. Two weeks ago I swam half a mile in open water which was momentous for me.
I have become much more confident in every aspect of my life. Every day I wake up happy knowing whatever the day holds I will get through it. My journey has not been easy, I have had set backs, training in freezing cold weather, all hours of the day and dark nights. This year I travelled with the tri club to Mallorca and cycled over 300 miles, many up challenging gradients till I was at breaking point but never gave up. I have a family and a full time job. It is not about having time, it’s about making time. I have made so many good friends along the way, we have struggled over finish lines, come home battered and bruised but have gone out and done it again, proudly wearing our Boot Camp t-shirts.
I am proud to say that last Sunday I competed in my very first triathlon and became a Triathlete.
I have shared my story to hopefully inspire anybody who is struggling to believe in their own ability. If I can do it, you really can.