We all know being fit and healthy is important, but for these three WF readers, it means everything. Prepare to be inspired as they share their incredible stories
‘Lifting helped me overcome a debilitating lung condition’
Bry Jensen, 23
‘I grew up in a very active family. As a young child, I did dance, gymnastics, swimming, figure skating and martial arts. But, at the age of seven, I contracted whooping cough severely, to the point where the extended violent coughing left me with structural damage, which formed scar tissue.
This scar tissue became a lung condition that limits my air capacity and slows down the rate at which I metabolise oxygen. It means I can’t breathe as fast or hold as much air as the average person, which makes cardio exercise extremely difficult. Through my school years I struggled through gym class and even a flight of stairs or a small incline would leave me winded.
At 19, I was weak, I had chronic insomnia and I was sick of being limited by my lungs. I decided that I was going to have to make a change, so I began getting fit. At first it was a slow process as my lungs couldn’t keep up, but I fell in love with lifting! I was amazed at the increase in my energy and strength, and I developed a passion for the lifestyle.
It was still a long time before I could perform cardio in any capacity – even now, running is not my friend. But I know how to push my body without putting myself in danger.
It’s changed my life and inspired me to help others becomefitter, healthier and happier. I’ve become a fitness model and writer, a sponsored athlete, a bikini competitor, a kickboxing instructor, and soon-to-be personal trainer.’
‘Fitness helped me heal after a painful break-up’
Vicky Bostock, 27
‘Growing up, body image was always very important to me, especially as I did a lot of dancing. I started out as a skinny 12 year old, but as the years crept by I developed weight problems and confidence issues, moving from one diet to the next and ending up in a cycle of frustration with a body that was naturally curvy.
After years of trying diet after diet and beating myself up for not having the skinny figure I once had, I decided to change to a career that I thought would involve less pressure to look a certain way.
I moved into TV production. Long hours on locations and sitting at desks did nothing for my body or my mind. I would constantly think about when I would go to the gym next and was always reading about fitness, lifestyle and nutrition. The more knowledge I gained the more I realised how much I loved fitness and wanted it to be a part of my life. I took the next step and did my level 2 Fitness Instructor qualification. But, a relationship took me to another location and I couldn’t find any gym work in the area, so I started working in a shop.
Unsatisfied with my career and after suffering a huge breakdown in my relationship, I ended up moving back to my mum’s house. I felt like I was 16 again, starting over. My self-esteem was at its lowest, with no job, a painful break-up to get over, living back at home and no idea what I was going to do next.
First stop, I joined a gym and got to grips with what fitness actually meant to me, as well as thinking about what I really wanted. Gradually with the help of some old friends I started teaching Zumba and got a job at a gym. The gym provides me with everything I need to study my level 3 personal training course. I also went to the Princes Trust where I did a course and have just received a loan to start up my own personal training business called Goddess Training. The idea is to promote being strong, lean and healthy with a strong mind and happy soul.
Fitness has given me the confidence to be proud of my body and strong in my mind. It’s also given me the opportunity to motivate and help others achieve their own goals and improve their life. Making my passion into a career has been the best step I have ever taken.’
‘I started a personal training business and proved my critics wrong’
Rachel Hobbs, 22
‘I fell pregnant when I was 17. At the time I was at college studying for my A levels, as well as working as a duty manager and fitness instructor at a small leisure facility. At 18, I gave birth to my baby boy Finnley.
The relationship between myself and Finnley’s father broke down soon after Finnley was born. Having a baby at a young age was tough, but the stigma of being a teenage mum made me want to prove my critics wrong. I was told I would never be able to have a career after having Finnley, but it made me more determined to provide the best possible future for my son.
I didn’t have to find a job, but it was something I wanted to do in order to be a positive role model and provide a good future for my son. I was determined to continue my education, so I successfully completed my Advanced Fitness Instructor course with Lifetime training. Achieving this made my confidence soar and my passion for fitness grow.
Finnley was only young when I started out on the course, so it was a struggle! But I managed to fit my studies in when he was having naps or late at night, and my family were all very supportive of me.
Finnley is now three years old and I run my own personal trainingbusiness called Zest for Fitness. I don’t really see it as work as I enjoy every second of helping a client to transform their body and regain their confidence. Life hasn’t been easy, but looking at how happy my little boy is makes it worthwhile. My confidence has also improved, especially over the past year when I went to Ghana to help orphans and women improve their health through physical activity.
Winning the inaugural Lifetime Learner Achievement Award in the apprenticeship category last year made me realise I’m doing OK. It gave me an extra push to keep working hard to achieve my dreams.’