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Brave Mum Steps Out Of Her Comfort Zone... And It Leads To New Fitness Career

After I had my second baby I was back at that place mothers don’t want to be…

Three stones overweight and unhappy with my fitness and how I looked. After I had my first baby, I’d gained three stones, and this is where the yo-yo cycle started.

After my second baby, I clearly didn’t learn anything from the first time around, as I was back at square one again.

Thai boxing had been my fitness sport of choice, but not having the time to commit to set classes, I gave it up and decided to try running.

I joined a jogging group where I could run with like-minded people once a week under the guidance of a more experienced runner. After a couple of years, I decided to join a running club, which was a nerve-wracking experience.

Here I was, a fairly-slow runner thinking I could keep up with all these experienced runners. I thought they’d laugh after a mile and tell me this wasn’t the place for me.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes, I was slower than most, but that didn’t matter. The more experienced runners were more than willing to double back to run with me while offering invaluable advice and help, as well as some much-needed tough love to push me beyond what I thought I was capable of.

Advancing from 5k and 10k to half marathons and – dare I even think I could – marathons, I realised I needed to put in some more training in other areas.

So, I found myself at the gym. Sometimes our minds get set on what we think we should or shouldn’t do fitness-wise, rather than giving other experiences a try.

I mean, what’s to lose? Go try that 1-hour class. You don’t like it? Don’t go again. It’s just one hour out of a whole lifetime, and then at least you know for definite you don’t like it.

Still, you got that one hour of exercise and can now move on to try something else…or you surprise yourself by enjoying it and you’ve now found the thing that’s going to make exercise so much easier for you.

For me, this was spin classes. I always said, ‘I hate the exercise bike in the gym so why would I willingly go to a class to do just that?’

Turned out I really enjoyed it. Actually, it was torture – but the temporary pain always turned to enjoyment.

Between spin, kettlebells and metafit I finally found the confidence to step onto the gym floor again – another thing I was adamant I was never going to get any pleasure from.

The gym is a daunting place, especially if you’re not too confident and not sure what you should be doing.

Everyone else in there knows exactly what they’re doing and were born knowing how to plan a workout – obviously!

Well, that’s exactly how it felt for me – and most other people when they first walk into a gym surprisingly enough.

This time I decided to ask for help. That guy in the gym uniform? Turns out it’s his job to do just that – and he’s waiting for you to ask him.

This led to my next lesson on the fitness journey: weight training.

“So, you want me to go in the weights area with all those bodybuilders?” I said to myself with some unease.

It’s worth taking a peek round the corner to that section of the gym. There’s nothing to be afraid of. These days it’s not all pecs and guns, and guys grunting as they lift fairground-sized weights.

More and more people are realising how important weight resistance training is for EVERYONE (especially women).

Resistance training is not going to make you look like Popeye. It’s actually an essential part of regular exercise to keep your bones and muscles healthy and is more effective for fat burning than cardio training.

I’m not saying it happened overnight but eventually I felt confident walking into the gym. I now had a plan and, thanks to asking for help, I knew I was doing it right.

I learned two main lessons from stepping out of my comfort zone and embracing the gym experience:

Everyone’s not watching and judging you. Most are trying to get their own workout done and get out of there. If anyone is watching, they might well be looking for some inspiration.

Just like the running club, anyone in the gym more experienced won’t be looking down on you or laughing at you. In fact, most people will be more than willing to give advice.

While I was discovering the gym and running, my kids and husband had been lured into the world of Taekwondo with Steven McLaren in Helensburgh, who also had a kickboxing class.

Eventually I couldn’t resist the temptation to get back to the sport that had piqued my interest in fitness in the first place.

I joined the kickboxing class, it was literally like putting on an old pair of gloves, I was hooked (not literally) again straight away.

When the club grew and Steven got his own premises, Peak Performance, he asked if I wanted to run my own classes for women.

I was stunned. Didn’t think I was capable, but at the same time curious to take another step out of my comfort zone and give it a go.

My first class was every bit as daunting as walking into the gym the first time, except this time I couldn’t show it as I had to be the confident one in the room.

So, it was a deep breath and act like you know what you’re doing. I’m pleased to say that a lot of the ladies there on that first night are still with me three years later – so I must have done alright.

Having the responsibility of other people’s fitness made me want to learn more about health and fitness. I had lost weight by this point but wanted to discover more about health and wellbeing.

It’s easy to relate weight loss to being healthy, but that’s not always the case. You have to look at the quality of the food you eat, as well as the quantity.

I started to think about making changes in my own life. Could I actually make a living from doing something I enjoy? I didn’t get to this point by shying away from change.

Knowing I had a lot of help and support behind me I thought it was possible, and so I booked a gym instructor course.

Between working, taking classes, and doing the course at weekends I was exhausted but happy.

The course itself allowed me to apply for work in a gym. A role reversal, I was going to be that person in the uniform waiting for others to ask for help.

I was also able to go on and do courses in other fitness classes, one of which being spin, and I am now an instructor. I also took a post in the gym as a relief fitness attendant.

I was now completely hooked by the fitness world and the next obvious step was the personal training course.

This was a huge commitment and to do this meant I had to seriously think about whether this was going to be a career change but by this point I realised I’d gone so far there was no real point in going back.

I also learned so much more for my own development. Everything I could use to help clients on their own journey I have tried out on myself.

I was lucky enough that being established as an instructor in Peak helped me get started with a couple of clients, but time was an issue as I was still working from home in my full-time job.

The thought of giving this up and going for it as a full-time PT felt like a huge leap into the unknown and I really didn’t know if I had the confidence to do that.

But the pandemic and fate took over, and I was made redundant.

So, it was now or never and I had to take that blind leap. I’d had so much help and support along the way that I knew I wasn’t on my own.

Always ask for help and advice. If you don’t get it, you’re no worse off. If you do, who knows where it can lead?

I can’t tell you that stepping (sometimes being nudged) out of my comfort zone was easy, plain sailing, or felt right but I can say for sure it was worth it.

If it all goes wrong? At least I know I tried.

If it all goes right? Then I get the career I didn’t even know I wanted.

Just to underline these last two points: writing this blog for YouRevolution is a massive step out of my comfort zone too, but I just couldn’t miss the chance to offer any advice that might help someone.

Mary-Anne Cameron, from Alexandria in West Dunbartonshire, is a former legal cashier turned fitness professional.

She loves running, kickboxing, going to the gym, reading crime novels, and all things fitness and nutrition related. For more information visit:

Follow Mary-Anne on Instagram: @macfit_pt; @peak_helensburgh.

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