Personal Trainer – Ryan Price

Working Out is Essential for Your Mental Health

As we know at Xercise4Less gyms, working out is wonderful for your body. Regular fitness sessions have many benefits from preventing disease and reducing high blood pressure to aiding rehabilitation after serious illness or injury. The endorphins and serotonin released by regular workout sessions also make you feel more energetic throughout the day and, importantly for getting in shape, sleep better at night.

But that’s only part of it. Exercising consistently also has a massive impact on your mental health. Taking some exercise will help improve your mood, and if you’re exercising at a local gym like Xercise4Less, it’ll get you out the house, helping to reduce any feelings of isolation.

One of our top Personal Trainers at the Xercise4Less Darlington Gym understands the importance of this mind-body link from tough first-hand experience. Ryan suffered from two minor strokes in 2016 and had to leave the British Army after a full ten years of service. As part of Mental Awareness Week Ryan would like to share his story of how working out made a real difference to his mental state when he was at a very low point.

Exercise is an Ally in Your Mental Struggle

Ryan struggled with his mental health when he was discharged from the Army on health grounds. “I went from being confident and fit and serving my country” to being “no longer fit to serve.” Ryan was left with a “loss of strength, a speech impediment and nerve problems in the left side of my head”, physical problems that he still suffers with today. Those injuries and the end of his Army career affected Ryan’s mental health considerably, “being told my Army career was over after it was all I’d known from the age of 16 made me break down.” But Ryan didn’t give up.

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How Exercise Can Lead to Improved Mental Health

Ryan took stock and received professional help, having someone to talk to, he “realised I needed to give myself a kick up the back side.” So, instead “of sitting around allowing my mind to go into overdrive thinking negative thoughts, I signed up to a local gym, Xercise4Less Darlington Gym.

Ryan started off slowly with daily training sessions but then “increased to two sessions a day, morning and night, making it part of my daily routine throughout the week and socialising on the weekend.” Three years on and Ryan is “back to the positive, confident, physically fit individual I once was” and now working at the gym where his fightback started, Xercise4Less Darlington Gym!

Exercise is the Best Motivation for Mental Health

Ryan really knows how important physical exercise is for your mental health. “Exercise can definitely help improve your mental health, it will take your mind off things when you are in the zone and training.” Even though you may at first struggle to find motivation, or even staying motivated for exercise in the gym, don’t despair. “I used to question the benefits myself, but after experiencing the positive change it had on my life, I know anything is possible.” Ryan counsels that “you have to believe in yourself. Think positively, find a path you are happy with and stick to it. Making exercise a part of your daily routine helps keep you in a positive state of mind. Think about ways you can make exercise part of your daily routine and lifestyle. Choose something you enjoy and then keep on that path even if you get out of the house to take a dog for a walk.”

Ryan recommends that anyone who has mental health issues use exercise to help occupy their mind and get their life back. He has experienced positive mental health changes from exercising and has overcome minor strokes and mental health challenges. And that’s why Ryan now works as a Personal Trainer at Xercise4Less Darlington Gym, to “help others feel confident and get their lives back”.

Work on Your Mental Health with Xercise4Less Gyms

At Xercise4Less Gyms, like Ryan, we see exercise as a vital part of improved mental health and well being. We see the mental strides our members make every day from working out in a highly energetic Les Mills exercise class or working hard with Personal Trainers like Ryan who help inspire and motivate them on their mind and body journey.

If you’re having problems motivating yourself to get into shape, why not try joining your local Xercise4Less gym? Start transforming your health and fitness today just as Ryan continues to do.

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Cara Readle – Celebra

Cara Readle, well-known for her role in the popular children’s TV series Tracy Beaker, was born with cerebral palsy. 

She is a regular member of Xercise4Less and recently completed a duathlon in her local branch in Swansea; prior to which, she trained twice a week with her PT, Emma, in preparation the challenge ahead!

She walked 5k on a treadmill and 5k cycle on a static bike in her local Swansea gym – and although she knew this would be challenging, she was determined to raise money for Cerebra. 

“It may take me all day but I have started training for this and I have lots of support.”

About Cerebra

Cerebra are the charity who work wonders for children with brain conditions.

Their vision is that every family that includes a children with a brain condition will have the chance to discover a better life together. 

Their Mission is to listen to families that include children with brain conditions. They use the stories that are shared with them to inspire the best research and innovation. Then they help put the knowledge into practice so families can discover a better life together.


Cara is a Swansea born actress who achieved a first class degree in preforming arts at the University of Wales Trinity St David. She’s now a model and has been an ambassador for the children’s charity Cerebra for seven years.

Find out more about Cara and  her amazing journey over on her social media channels below. 



Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Exercise and Self-confidence with Emily McEvoy

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This October, Xercise4Less is supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to Breast Cancer Care (2019), 1 in 7 women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and an estimated 600,000 are alive in the UK today having been diagnosed. Exercise has proven to be beneficial for those who are undertaking cancer treatments. It’s important, though, to ensure that this is done safely without putting too much pressure on the body. Regular exercise can reduce anxiety and depression, strengthen muscles and reduce the risk of other health issues.

To support this cause, Xercise4Less is shining a spotlight on the importance of women’s empowerment. We will be doing this by sharing members’ transformation stories and body exercise advice throughout the month of October. These blogs will not focus on anyone who has previously suffered from cancer, however, as we believe that exercise is essential for those who are going through cancer treatments, we would like to share our support. 

The impact of weight-loss on self-confidence

It takes time to get used to the numerous changes that breast cancer brings, mentally as well as physically. Many women see their body transform and often lose their confidence throughout this period. At Xercise4Less, we believe that exercise can boost women’s confidence no matter the challenges they are facing in their lives. Therefore, we would like to dedicate this transformation story to all the women out there who need a little motivation to never give up.

Emily McEvoy is a member of Xercise4Less Dundee who has struggled with her body confidence for a very long time. At one point, she gained nearly four stone in less than a year and had “stopped caring completely about my body”. For Emily, at that time the highlight of her day was “running home and stuffing my face and pretending I’d start being healthy next time”. Her skin was bad, she was uncomfortable in her own body, her self-confidence was low, and she felt completely unmotivated. As she says of herself, “my attitude to life was crap”.

It hadn’t always been that way and Emily “had always been somewhat fit and healthy being vegan most of my life” but now she felt stuck. She was now so overweight that she had stopped going out and “was embarrassed to actually do anything physical”. That was about to change though.

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Emily was finally ready to transition to a healthier lifestyle. The catalyst was a bad break up. She decided that she no longer wanted to be a “slave to my bad habits anymore”. Plucking up her courage, she started going to her local gym in Dundee but initially found it difficult to commit to regular sessions. “It was such a struggle for so long I was obsessed with being skinny I’d get put down so quickly and stop going.” Gradually, though, Emily was able to overcome her body image worries and make exercise a real habit.

Trying the Female Only Zone for the first time was a turning point in her body confidence struggles. Seeing women of all ages lifting weights made her “want to get strong and look after myself and my body”. That boost to her confidence empowered Emily to move from 14 stone to 10 in less than 12 months. She felt her whole life change as her body changed. Her self-confidence rose because she was now taking care of her physical and mental health. Now, when Emily’s stressed or upset, the gym is “where I can get out all my feelings in a positive way instead of stressing out and overeating my feelings.”

What has Emily learned from her body confidence issues? “My mental attitude has changed so much. Feeling fitter and being able to do more and actually being happy with my body instead of hating looking in the mirror is the best feeling”. This whole weight loss experience has made her vow to never stop looking after her body, “I’ll never do this to myself again”.

What advice does Emily have for individuals who are keen to improve their body confidence? “No matter your shape, size or life situation, the gym is the best place to clear your mind!”. No matter the physical and mental pressure your body is under, working out can help you thrive.

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Overcoming Diabulimia with Beth from Wigan

Taking Care of Both Your Mind and Your Body with Xercise4Less Gyms

Sometimes it can be hard to understand how connected our physical fitness is to our mental wellbeing. And sometimes a breakdown in our mental strength can lead to a life-threatening situation for our bodies. That’s what happened to one of our Xercise4Less Wigan Personal Trainers, Beth.

In 2012, just before her 12th birthday, Beth was unfortunately diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. She found it very difficult to deal with her new-found medical condition. As Beth admitted, “it hit me hard”. To add to her weakened physical health, she found caring for her condition mentally draining. Beth explains that “after years of hating the same routine every day, I stopped looking after my diabetes”.

Soon her medical situation spun out of control, she “let it control me” and “before I knew it, I had diabulimia and depression”. Beth lost so much weight that at one point she weighed shockingly just 3 and a half stone and was close to death as the picture on the left shows all too clearly.

Thankfully Beth managed to pull herself out of this serious situation with a lot of mental hard work and the help of exercise. These days she is happier than ever and weighs a healthy 10 and a half stone as you can see in the picture on the right.

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The Struggle to Overcome Eating Disorders

The type of eating disorder that Beth suffered from is increasingly common in the UK’s population with society’s unhealthy focus on the ‘perfect’ body shape. Women, in particular, suffer from bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating disorder. Beth suffered from diabulimia: an eating disorder common in a diabetic where the person purposefully restricts insulin to lose weight.

Diabulimia is also desperately common with up to a third of women with Type 1 diabetes and even higher levels among the 15-30 age group. The consequences of diabulimia can be severe, leading to organ damage, stroke and even death, which Beth came close to.

So how did Beth manage to pull herself and her body back from the brink?

Realising a Positive Body Image through Exercise

As Beth says, “everyone has a goal in life” and initially when she had started to recover from her weakened physical condition and low mental state, her goal was to get fit. Then her goal was to join the Marines. She worked hard to “smash my goal” but due to her health condition that ambition proved just out of reach.

When she recalibrated her personal goals though, Beth realised that becoming a Personal Trainer at the Xercise4Less Wigan Gym would enable her to “help others achieve their goals” as well as allowing her to “understand and enjoy fitness” for herself. Working at our inclusive gym in Wigan, she quickly realised that she wasn’t bothered about being “the most athletic or the muscliest or the slimmest”.

Beth didn’t focus on her body image, she worked out “to be healthy” and “to control my diabetes rather than it controlling me”. She wanted to be “strong inside and out” and never experience diabulimia again. Exercising in a friendly and supportive gym every day meant Beth could avoid judging her body and “just focus on a better you”.

Strengthen Your Mental Health and Wellbeing with Xercise4Less Gyms

Beth wanted to share her story to inspire our gym community. Her experience shows that no matter your fitness level or how low you’re feeling, working out at your local gym can be hugely beneficial. As you’ve seen with Beth, exercise has been a constant strength in her struggle with health issues and with mental depression.

When you join our Wigan gym or work out at any of Xercise4Less gyms, you’ll be part of a real community of supportive and likeminded people who want to improve their physical fitness and their mental wellbeing. You can work with Personal Trainers like Beth who will encourage and motivate you to realise your personal fitness ambitions. Your health is in your own hands, but Xercise4Less Gyms will also be there to hold your hand right through your fitness journey whether you’re ready to join a gym, new to gyms, a casual gym goer or already an experienced gym user.

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Amelia Livingston Fitness Journey

strength training to lose belly fat - dumbbell lunges

The Start of a Livingston Fitness Journey

When Amelia joined her local Xercise4Less gym in Livingston recently, she had some definite goals in mind to kick start her fitness journey. “I’m going on holiday soon so wanted to tone up and lose some weight”. Amelia understood that “dieting alone wouldn’t be enough” so she vowed to take a first step “to do more”. As an inclusive fitness community, Xercise4Less gyms are all about supporting you to do more!

While Amelia is brutally honest in saying that “there is nothing I love about my body at present”, she knows that regular exercise is the key to a change in body outlook. As we talked about in previous blog posts on exercise and mental health, a negative body attitude is quite common and even at Xercise4Less Gyms we don’t always feel happy about how we look.

However, Amelia knows that the more she goes to the gym the more her body confidence will improve allowing her to start liking her body shape. Like Amelia, at Xercise4Less Gyms we know that it takes time to achieve your fitness goals though but we’re here to help her stay the course even though she admits, “I’m impatient!”.

So, what can a newbie to the Xercise4Less Gyms gym experience expect when joining our supportive fitness family?

No Judgement at The People’s Gym

Xercise4Less Gyms welcome beginners and our first focus is how we can help you achieve your exercise goals. Amelia did the right thing on joining the Xercise4Less Livingston Gym, she asked for help from our friendly staff. She explains that “when I joined about 6 weeks ago, I signed up for Personal Training sessions”. The impact of our supportive PTs has been huge. They’ve motivated Amelia so much that despite not being one for exercise classes as she finds them “too intimidating for me” she still works out at her local gym even outside of her PT sessions.

That’s great to hear as Xercise4Less Gyms want to provide our members with a non-intimidating and supportive environment for you to exercise in. We provide all the latest exercise equipment not to intimidate you but to provide all the fitness tools that you need to work towards your personal fitness goals.

If you’re a woman just starting your fitness journey or feeling anxious about being judged or bothered by other members when working out, you can use our female friendly gym zone separate from the main fitness area. For gym members like Amelia, we’re there to help you burn through your fitness anxieties to realise your health and wellbeing ambitions.

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Your Very Own Personal Training Programme

Whether you’re getting in shape at our Livingston gym or working out at any of the Xercise4Less Gyms around the country, you’ll find the same friendly professionalism focused on your fitness goals. We really make working out about ‘you’. That’s certainly how Amelia feels.

Already she loves going to the gym because “all the staff know who I am and make me feel welcome every time I go in.” Not only that but “they motivate me to my best each time I’m there and the staff do everything to assist, nothing you ask is too much bother.” As for the Personal Trainers in Xercise4Less Livingston Gym, they “really boost me when I have my sessions, will push me 110% and not let me slack”.

Amelia still feels it can be a struggle to make it to the gym at times but “once I’m there it’s great”. Yes, Amelia, we’ve all been there!

Why Work Out Anywhere Else?

As an authentic low-cost gym, Xercise4Less will provide all the equipment and encouragement you need to get into shape without charging you a fortune for it. For Amelia, Xercise4Less is “very good value for money”.

Why? “The amount of different equipment you can use, all the classes they run” and she feels other gyms in Livingston just don’t compare. They’re “a lot more expensive, don’t have the friendly atmosphere, friendly staff or nearly as much freedom to use the equipment”. Sounds pretty convincing but is there anything Amelia would change about her local gym? “The one thing I would change is that the gym is very hot at times and I sweat a lot so to have it a bit cooler, especially in the summer months would be great”.

Ready to join our great value gyms and transform your health and wellbeing like Amelia?

Join Xercise4Less Gyms and Get into your Best Shape

At Xercise4Less Gyms we’re focused on providing a non-intimidating, friendly and inclusive environment for members at every stage of their fitness journey. For Amelia, her local gym in Livingston provides exactly what she’s been looking for. “I honestly can say that Xercise4Less Livingston is a fabulous gym to have joined and all the staff are so friendly, and I wouldn’t change going there for anything!”. Now that’s a recommendation that we’re proud to share!

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Danny Cliff – Xercise4Less Liverpool Belle Vale

Focused on Giving Every Gym Member What They Need

We love finding out just why our members exercise at their local Xercise4Less gym. So, when you feel like you can’t manage another rep or find another breath, just consider the inspiring exercise experience of Danny, a gym member of Xercise4Less Liverpool Belle Vale.

Danny has always worked out despite suffering from cystic fibrosis. An inherited condition that primarily affects the lungs, Danny wasn’t expected to live past his twenties. Thankfully, due to significant medical advances, life expectancy for cystic fibrosis sufferers has doubled. Danny is now 32 years of age and he continues to exercise, even with an oxygen tank!

Working out at his local inclusive Xercise4Less gym, Danny’s condition is really not an issue. Danny feels that he can “walk into the gym focused” and get on with his fitness session. Sometimes, “other members glance over” but it doesn’t bother him. Working out in our supportive gym community has never been a problem for Danny.

What exactly is cystic fibrosis and how does it affect those suffering from this genetic condition?

Working Out How to Exercise with Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis affects the movement of salt and water in and out of cells causing sticky mucus to build up in both the lungs and digestive system. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for cystic fibrosis and the body slowly deteriorates but there are treatments to control the symptoms and make it easier to live with.

And physical activity helps greatly. That’s why Danny works out regularly with our friendly Xercise4Less gym members and staff.

Despite belonging to our exercise community for over three years, it hasn’t always been easy for Danny to work out. When he joined Xercise4Less Liverpool Belle Vale he was in a “much better state of health”. Over time though he began to “struggle more and the negative feedback from my body outweighed the positive feelings from exercise.” This even led to him cancelling his gym membership for a short time.   

But then Danny decided that wasn’t the end of his fitness journey.

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Danny’s Fitness Challenge at Xercise4Less Liverpool Belle Vale

Danny spent five weeks in hospital recently and was prescribed oxygen for the first time. As a result, his cystic fibrosis team raised the possibility of having a lung transplant. For that to happen though he would have to get his body into the best shape possible. That would take a huge commitment to exercise, “a commitment that would benefit myself without putting too much strain on my body but would be effective enough to help slow my lungs deterioration”.

Working with his clinical physiologist, Danny determined that he could maintain a mile on oxygen and work out five times a week at his local gym. Worried about losing his motivation to exercise though, he decided to harness the power of social media through his ONE365 Challenge. He committed online to one mile per day for a year and the response from the pulmonary community has been amazing. Danny says that cystic fibrosis patients who are on oxygen tell him he has “inspired them to go the gym with their own oxygen”.

All the Motivation You Need to Exercise at Xercise4Less Gyms

Danny’s ONE365 Challenge isn’t the only thing that keeps Danny going though. “My biggest motivation is simply to stay as healthy as I can”. And he has a special ambition relating to his health and wellbeing. “It won’t be long until me and my partner get married so I’d love to be able to do our first dance without the need for oxygen.”

Despite all the positive encouragement Danny gets from his friends, family and staff at Xercise4Less Liverpool Belle Vale, exercise is not easy for him. Due to his condition, “I feel pain often”. Danny doesn’t let perfect get in the way of good however, as he gets “more positive feelings when I’ve finished exercise” and his feelings of self-accomplishment “transcend everything else.”

Exercising within a Supportive and Inclusive Community

Danny has come so far and has no intention of halting his fitness journey anytime soon. He will not only be “continuing my fitness journey with Xercise4less gyms, he hopes to “expand on what exercises I can do and make full use of the facilities.”

At Xercise4Less gyms we see ourselves as a supportive community. We provide the motivational support our gym members need whether you’re training for your own marathon like Danny or just looking to get into shape.

We’ll let Danny have the final word though on why he loves working out at his local Xercise4Less gym. “It offers me a way of getting my daily mile completed when it’s raining or too hot and best of all a treadmill can allow intensity changes at will.” Our low-cost gym also gives him the opportunity “to keep my health in check at an affordable price and I can commit to my health all year round.”

Well done Danny!

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Endometriosis and me – Georgia from Xercise4Less Derby

Endometriosis and me – From surviving to thriving

Endometriosis? Yes, I can see you screwing your face up wondering ‘how on earth do I pronounce that?…’ (en-doh-me-tree-o-sis) and ‘what on earth is it – sounds contagious?!’

Well, it isn’t contagious but it’s as nasty as it sounds. Endometriosis is a condition that affects as many as one in 10 women. It causes the lining of the womb to grow in places it shouldn’t like; outside the womb, fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder and bowels. And, just like womb lining, it also tries to shed every month causing inflammation, internal bleeding, scarring and in most cases excruciating pain (doubled up on the floor, crying, screaming, wondering-if-you’re-actually-dying kinda pain). 

So, why am I telling you this and what’s it got to do with the gym?

Well, one of the less recognised Endometriosis symptoms is fatigue (you know that feeling when you get into bed at night and think ‘I honestly just have no more energy, all I can do is sleep’?) and one of the best recognised anti-dotes to fatigue is exercise – there are others, more on those later.

So, in September last year, two months post-surgery, to remove more scar tissue, I decided it was time to get back to the gym and get stronger, healthier and fitter. The stress of surgery and underlying anxiety had caused me to lose a lot of weight (I weighed less than 7 stone when I first joined) and I needed to get that back on.

First visit to Xercise4less Derby

Starting at a new gym can be a bit like starting a new job, you don’t know anyone, and it can all be a bit intimidating – except it wasn’t! I’ve never been made to feel so welcome and I soon joined up to a transformation camp with the aim of gaining weight.

Three weeks into my first Transformation camp, I’d gained over a kilo in weight but more importantly I’d gained confidence, reduced my anxiety and made some incredible friends. Now on my third camp – I’m fitter, stronger and feeling better than ever! My back pain is all but gone, my fatigue has gone from being a daily drag to only affecting me two or three days a month – and even then, I’m so motivated that I’ve been able to push through!

So yes, exercise is a brilliant tonic for improving quality of life with a chronic illness but it’s important to recognise, it’s more than just the exercise. Having a robust, achievable and balanced meal plan (including chocolate) plays a fundamental role in keeping my body and brain fighting fit.

I’ve also recently started PT sessions with Derby’s female PT – Caitlin! Now, I might be biased because she’s one of my best friends (thanks Transformation camps!) but she is also one of the best PT’s that I’ve ever worked with – in the few weeks we’ve been working together, my weight has jumped up again and for the first time in over a year, I’m doing the skinny jean dance – and not just because I’ve got serious Endo bloat. Every session I’m hitting new PB’s further improving my confidence and I’m seeing real results with how I look – something I didn’t think I’d care that much about.

Caitlin’s advanced nutrition knowledge also means that my own nutrition has kicked up a gear and I’m eating better – again, contributing to a reduction in my endo symptoms! I’m really excited to see how much further I can progress in the coming months – I really wouldn’t be where I am now without Xercise4Less Derby, my amazing and patient boyfriend, Jamie and you, Caitlin – Thank you!

For more information, head to the Endometriosis UK website.

Sophia Ellis #ComeAsYouAre

Sophia Ellis was completely consumed by her eating disorder; she feared food, binged and purged until she passed out and struggled with depression alongside Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and EDNOS. 

The inspiring 23 year young power lifter from Southend tells us her inspirational story below.

At what point did you feel like you had hit rock bottom?

When I was deep in depression, was throwing up more than 14 times a day, was on a heart monitor, felt like I had no way out & tried to kill myself.

Can you describe what your relationship with food and exercise was like during this time?

I feared food. It made me anxious being around it. My mind would tell me how bad it was to eat certain foods and that I didn’t deserve to eat them. I abused exercises just to burn off what I ate, even if I didn’t want to run I had to. With Anorexia I avoided foods, starved myself and was so restrictive. The Bulimia I lost control, binged and purged till I’d pass out.

Can you describe how this made you feel mentally?

I was consumed by the eating disorder. Isolated, lonely and felt worthless. I didn’t want to exist anymore. I hated having the illness but couldn’t see a life without it. It was killing me and I was destroying myself and disgusted with who I was turning into. It made me feel dead inside, like I was in a constant destructive cycle that I couldn’t get out of.

Please explain your key motivation(s) to change your eating and exercise habits?

I wanted to be healthy again for my friends and family. It had broken us apart and I could see what it was doing to them. I wanted to just end the bulimic cycle it was getting too much. 

Once you’d highlighted the concerns you had with your eating and exercise, what was your first step to recovery?

I went to my GP after collapsing at work and having heart problems. I managed to get funding for professional help at the Royal Maydsley Hospital. I recommend seeking professional help. Being aware that you are ill and getting help is the first step. I went through several therapies and finally found one that helped. It’s about being patient with yourself, one day at a time.

What was your first training program once you’d decided to make a change to your exercise regime and how did Xercise4Less facilitate this?

My first training programme was one that my brother had helped design for me. After leaving hospital I needed something to get me out of my room so got into weight training. Eventually I found Powerlifting and the rest is history! I trained at Xercise for less when I moved back down to Southend from London and used the facilities for some of my training sessions in prep for competitions.

What advice would you give to anybody currently suffering with body image / self-esteem issues?

Stop comparing yourself to others. You are on your own journey. Accept yourself, accept your body. Confidence comes through self care and appreciation of yourself. Do it for you and no one else. Find what you are passionate about and be bloody badass at it!

James Tanner #ComeAsYouAre

42-year old James Tanner from Newport used to convenience eat a lot of the time, but reflecting on wedding pictures decided to kick start his weight-loss journey by joining our Transformation Camp on 9th April 2018. 

At what point did you feel like you had hit rock bottom?

I was really close to rock bottom when some of the drivers I worked with made comments about me getting fat.  A few months later, in March 2018 my cousin got married; it was an awesome day and everyone had a great time however when I saw the wedding pictures later that day on social media I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I couldn’t understand how I’d let myself get into the position I was in, or what I was doing to myself. Was that really me? I felt so ashamed of myself I didn’t know what to do.

Can you describe what your relationship with food and exercise was like during this time?

Exercise was non existent. As a bus driver, and my working hours, I didn’t think there was time to fit any form of exercise into my daily routine, and actually moving physically was quite difficult when on duty.

Food wise I would eat whatever was easiest. A typical day would see me start work between 6-7am with a packet of crisps, a breakfast bar, a bag of sweets and a bottle of pop. I would try to make sure I had enough time to pick up a sausage and bacon sandwich or McDonalds breakfast before 10am, too.

Lunch would be purely convenience food (chip shop/KFC/McDonalds etc). I would also pick up 2 chocolate bars, another bag of sweets and more pop for the afternoon. Typically, when I finished work, I would grab a pizza or something similar for my tea and when I headed up to bed I would take a packet of crisps, a small cake and that all important bottle of pop that I convinced myself I couldn’t sleep without by my bed.

Can you describe how this made you feel mentally?

I have struggled with my mental health for a long period of time, particularly since my dad passed away in my early teens and as a result have struggled with depression and anxiety during certain periods of my life. 

I had put these bouts of depression to working long shifts and concentrating on the roads, but then it slowly started to dawn on me that although they were a part of the problem they weren’t the actual root cause. The root cause was mainly down to me, and how my eating habits had killed off the very little self confidence that I had left.

Please explain your key motivation(s) to change your eating and exercise habits?

After seeing the wedding pictures, I looked at local gym options and I saw that there was a Transformation camp starting at my local Xercise4less on the 9th April. This is a pretty significant date in my life as 10 years earlier I’d traveled to Sheffield and had stereotatic radiotherapy on that date. I have a benign tumour on my brain stem and the treatment was to stop it from growing anymore; so I said to myself, why go through all of that just to end up like this? 

Once you’d highlighted the concerns you had with your eating and exercise, what was your first step to recovery?

I knew that if I had just booked the camp online I would’ve found a way to talk myself out of going. The thought of walking into a gym was quite intimidating but I convinced myself to go in and ask for a look around and I’m so glad I did! I felt a bit silly for being so anxious about it, as all the staff put me at ease almost immediately. 

After that it was pretty straightforward, although far from easy. Listening and learning from the information you’re given is pretty much all you need to do. Almost immediately I started counting calories and switching up my eating habits. Processed foods went from being an every meal item, to pretty much being non existent.  Sweets and chocolates were replaced by raisins and carrots. I knew I had to put in 100% effort on everything or I would wane off into old habits.

What was your first training program once you’d decided to make a change to your exercise regime and how did Xercise4Less facilitate this?

I joined the transformation camp. When I walked in to sign up I met Tom (Personal Trainer) who would be taking the camp. He explained how everything worked and gave me a plan of what would happen. I had the food app on my phone which allowed me to track and log my food intake, too. The camp took place 3 nights a week and Tom really put us through our paces with different exercises. He helped with any questions we may have had and there was also a private group chat room on the app where all the campers in our group could ask questions at any time. 

What advice would you give to anybody currently suffering with body image / self-esteem issues?

Only you can change what your not happy with, there are lots of great people who will help you and give you all the tools to make the changes but you’re the one who has to make the effort.

Bethany Mcmanus #ComeAsYouAre

Bethany McManus, 20, lives in Cumbernauld. After suffering from borderline anorexia, Bethany hit rock bottom from persistent bullying. As a result, her relationship with food and exercise became unhealthy.

At what point did you feel like you had hit rock bottom?

I hit rock bottom when I was debating what my life was worth. I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t have an identity, I felt worthless.

Can you describe what your relationship with food and exercise was like during this time?

I didn’t eat a lot as I thought that it would help me lose all the weight. Cardio, cardio, cardio. That’s all I did.  

Can you describe how this made you feel mentally?

Mentally and physically drained.  

Please explain your key motivation(s) to change your eating and exercise habits?

I believed that I could take control of my future and create a new path. I believed I would be a strong woman who was happy and healthy. I researched heavily into nutrition and exercise and went onto college to study a HND in sports coaching.

Once you’d highlighted the concerns you had with your eating and exercise, what was your first step to recovery?

Getting out of bed and making a change because I knew that the only person who could make a change was myself. 

What was your first training program once you’d decided to make a change to your exercise regime and how did Xercise4Less facilitate this?

I didn’t have a specific training program but I understood the fundamentals of specific exercises for a certain muscle so I split my sessions to help isolate different muscle sets. Xercise4less has so much equipment which is helpful, some of which I had never seen which funnily enough I love now.

What advice would you give to anybody currently suffering with body image / self-esteem issues?

Believe in yourself. Believe that you have the power to create your own path. Want to change and want to be the best version of yourself.