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.”
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.
Molly Foster from Xercise4Less Manchester Middleton has lost an amazing 2 and a half stone.
Molly’s starting weight was 14 stone. Her motivation to start her fitness journey came from following Xercise4Less social media pages and influencers. She was inspired by seeing other people’s progression and decided she wanted to begin her own fitness journey. After 4 months Molly hit the 1 stone 8lbs weight loss, but struggled to lose anymore.
She quotes: ‘‘My weight wouldn’t shift and I felt I wasn’t making any progress, so I continued to keep going and I finally started to see so many more improvements.’’
To lose the extra weight Molly doubled her cardio time in the gym and she started to do light weightlifting. After 6 months she was able to lift heavier weights and started seeing the definition of her muscle coming through. #girlgains
Molly’s addiction to the gym increased and she now attends the gym every night and loves doing so. She created her own diet of which she shares on her social media pages. Her advice to those in the same situation as her is ‘For anyone who’s trying to lose weight is to be really persistent and patient with your weight loss, it will come and it doesn’t happen overnight, try to do things in the gym you enjoy so that it encourages you to go more!’
Molly now weights 11 stone 7lbs, meaning she has had an amazing 2 & ½ stone loss!
Well done Molly! Absolutely amazing transformation!
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.
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.
Kate Parry from Xercise4Less Hull has achieved an amazing 6 stone weight loss and dropped 5 dress sizes within 5 year
“I never really had much interest in going to the gym, I used to eat Chinese takeaway for lunch four or five times a week. I’ve always blamed my weight gain on of my laziness, poor diet and long nights on the computer playing The Sims and talking to friends on MSN. I got to a point where my weight was 18 stone.
At first I wasn’t bothered about my weight but all my friends at school had boyfriends and I never had one, no boys were ever interested in me. I got to a point where going out with my friends made me feel uncomfortable because I always comparing myself to them. Leaving school made me more conscious about my weight, I was often being called ‘fat’. This is when I finally decided I needed to make a change and I found the motivation to join Xercise4Less.
Honestly, I think it was me who motivated myself, I had it in my head that I wanted to lose weight and feel good about myself and once you see results from all the hard work it makes you even more motivated to achieve more. I had a personal trainer helping me for six months and that’s when I learnt everything about the benefits of weight training. I now train four to five times a week depending on my schedule.
I also changed my diet which resulted to be a very important part of my journey. Now I usually eat porridge for breakfast, tuna, rice and vegetables for lunch and then dinner usually consists of Quorn with potatoes and vegetables. I don’t even weigh myself anymore, I don’t believe that the number on the scale represents anything at all…it’s just a number really and in the past I’ve got to a point where I became obsessed with weighing myself and it made me unhappy. I go by how I feel and how my clothes fit but last time I got weighed I was around 12 stone.
Fitness is something I am passionate about and I’d love to help others who don’t think they can lose weight and feel good because you can achieve anything. You just have to have the right mind set!
My next goal is to train others and help them achieve their goals.
Incredible transformation achieved by Kate, massive well done from all of us at Xercise4Less, we are so proud
Transformation from truck stop diner to Porsche owner as HGV driver from County Durham wins a brand-new sports car
Fitness challenge at his local Xercise4Less gym wins Gary French a Porsche – and a five stone weight loss.
When Gary French, a 50-year old HGV driver from Hartburn, nervously walked into a gym for the first time in January 2018, little did he know it was the start of a journey which would lead him to a complete body transformation – and behind the wheel of a brand new Porsche.
Above: Gary French, Marketing, Fitness and CEO.
National gym chain Xercise4Less launched a competition at the start of 2018 to provide additional motivation to people undertaking one of its 4FiiT eight-week Body Transformation Camps. Over 14,000 people took part in the Transformation Camps in 2018, and 14 of those with the most praiseworthy physical transformations were selected by the Health & Fitness team and invited to tell their story, after which a public vote was held on Facebook to choose the winner.
Gary was chosen as the winner after revealing his commendable two stone weight loss, achieved during his first Body Transformation Camp, before enrolling in many further camps – he’s currently starting his eighth!
Above: Gary French.
After years of no exercise, truck stop treats and full English breakfasts, at the start of 2018 Gary realised his body was suffering the consequences of his unhealthy lifestyle, finding himself out of breath climbing the stairs and unable to touch his own toes. Motivated by a fear of missing his children’s big milestones, Gary overcame his nerves and joined Xercise4Less Stockton-on-Tees, booking in a personal training session with Natasha Livingstone. Several weeks later he joined his first Body Transformation Camp.
Gary said: “I’m so excited to have won this car. As the competition was coming to an end, there were two Porsche Boxters parked outside the Porsche garage nearby, and I said to my wife: “this car has my name on it”. Little did I know, it actually did! It’s an amazing added bonus to my transformation and the perfect way to celebrate how far I’ve come.
“I wanted to lose five stone so I could still be around in 20 years to see my little girl walk down the aisle and to watch my son walk out for Middlesbrough as their first team goalkeeper! It was nerve-racking walking into the gym that first day, but I was quickly put at ease. The camp was fantastic – I formed great relationships with everyone, and we all shared information and support. Our camp came to an end, but I was totally hooked and so were the rest of the camp. I had lost two stone in eight weeks and I was over the moon.
“As well as the personal training sessions with a phenomenal and extremely helpful personal trainer who was on hand to answer any of our questions, the camp also helped me get to grips with my diet and improved my mental health. It lifted my spirits, confidence and wellbeing and helped me deal with the daily grind of life. I can safely say if I hadn’t walked into the gym that day, I think I could have been looking at heart failure, a stroke or worse in the future.”
Above: Gary French.
Gary’s next challenge will be to take on the annual coast to coast cycle ride in August. He hopes to complete it in 24 hours, raising funds for the Children’s Heart Foundation at Freeman’s Hospital in Newcastle.
Peter Wright, Xercise4Less CEO, said: “We’re delighted for Gary, he’s a very well deserving winner of this amazing Porsche prize. He has worked so hard, never losing sight of his goals, but I think surprising himself by how much he enjoyed it along the way. If you’d have told him he would be signing up for eight of our Body Transformation Camps and taking on a Coast to Coast cycle ride 18-months ago, I don’t think he would have believed you, but there’s no stopping him now.”
Above: Fitness Manager, CEO and Gary French.
The Xercise4Less Body Transformation Camps include three personal trainer led sessions every week, access to the personal trainer and other camp members for support and advice via an online community hub, plus complimentary access to the Xercise4Less mobile app. Click here for more information.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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!
Health and Fitness influencer and inspirational woman Sophie Grace Holmes talks with Xercise4Less ahead of International Women’s Day about overcoming adversity and using her experiences to inspire others
Xercise4Less: Tell us a bit about your story?
Sophie: My story is very different to most because I was born with a genetic condition called cystic fibrosis (CF). It’s a lung disease where mucus builds up in your lungs. I wasn’t diagnosed with the illness until I was four months old and the doctors didn’t think I was going to make it. Once I was diagnosed, the battle began and has been going on all my life.
I have ups and downs, IVs and hospital stays and massive drops in lung function. I have to spend quite a lot of my time doing my treatments. My life is already very different to everyone else’s and I’m consistently being told I can’t do certain things. Which is why I have made it my mission to show what can be done.
Xercise4Less: Tell us a bit more about how your cystic fibrosis shaped your outlook on life?
Sophie: Some people who have been diagnosed with CF feel like it’s a death sentence, but I feel lucky because it’s given me the opportunity to have this unique outlook on life because of the adversity I’ve faced.
I got told from a very young age that I wouldn’t make it to 16 and that I couldn’t do something because my CF wouldn’t allow it, so for that reason I live a life full of adventure.
After a big drop in lung function when I was 19, I decided to dedicate my time to getting fit and healthy to prove everyone wrong and show the world that you can overcome any adversity you face.
Xercise4Less: Despite your condition you enjoy extreme adventures and physical challenges, what do you enjoy so much about them?
Sophie: We live in a world where you get told something and you are expected to follow it. I like to show people what is possible even if someone’s telling me it can’t be done.
I do that by scaling mountains and by competing ultra-events. I’m competing in two this year, one on a paddle board and one on a bike.
People think I’m crazy because I really enjoy putting myself through the sheer pain and because there’s a chance I won’t finish.
I lost most of the people I know with CF when they were about 22 so that’s five or six years ago now. I do this for myself, but also for the people who couldn’t do it.
Xercise4Less: What was the most enjoyable and/or challenging adventure you ever went on?
Sophie: The most enjoyable was probably when I trekked the Himalayas last year with my Dad. It was just so beautiful and to have the opportunity to spend quality time with someone who does so much for you is very rare.
The hardest challenge for me so far has been summiting Mont Blanc. It was definitely the most extreme in terms of the terrain and what was expected of you, but getting to the top of that mountain was well worth it. Being able to do something that only 5% of the world will get the chance to do is amazing.
Xercise4Less: A lot of people see you as an inspiring woman, what does it mean to be considered an inspiration?
Sophie: It means everything. I just love being able to have a positive impact on other people and giving them the courage to live the way they want without fear. So many people don’t realise their potential and don’t know what they could do if they gave it a shot.
If you have the power to influence people in a positive way then you leave a legacy behind and that is something that I would love to be able to do.
If you help one person, they can help someone else and it’s like a domino effect. When I get messages online telling me that people have achieved something they wouldn’t have been able to without my encouragement, it makes me want to push myself even further.
Xercise4Less: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Sophie: It’s a huge day and it encourages women to feel that they can have more power and more equality. I do believe that everyone and especially women tend to underestimate their own power.
“It’s a great way to recognise the women that have impacted your life, from someone who has just said a few words that have brightened your day to those who have changed your life completely.
Xercise4Less: Who is the most inspiring woman you know and why?
Sophie: Kelly Holmes. She was adopted, has been in the army and won Olympic gold. She’s someone who’s built herself up from nothing and now all she wants to do is help others and achieve amazing things along the way. I don’t think there’s anything more inspiring than that!