Fighting fitness is something we do on a daily, if not hourly basis – in particular, fighting the temptation to stay home and watch telly instead. We all do it; thinking of a thousand reasons why not to go, arguing the toss against knowing it’s good for us, will make us feel better, blah blah blah. Sarah Maxwell is a trainer like no other, because she’s like us. She is the woman to help us all feel fighting fit, rather than fighting it…
My name is Sarah Maxwell, I don't particularly like exercise and I never go to the gym. Nothing strange in that you might think, but I’m a personal trainer! Aside from that, I am first and foremost a real person - my life, like that of most women these days - is mental. I run my own business from home, with two teenage kids, a husband, numerous rescue chickens, rescue guinea pigs and the occasional extra rescue dog.
I know that in the time it would take me to get in the car and drive to the gym I could have done a load of washing; answered all my emails and started making dinner. However, I also know that when I do exercise, my body releases chemical substances known as endorphins, which relieves stress and make me feel good psychologically as well as physically - not a bad thing when the Menopause is gesticulating rudely at me from around the corner.
My personal journey has taught me that body confidence comes from self-respect and self-love. Over the years I have been many shapes and sizes… I unhappily starved myself as a teen, then after giving birth to my first baby in my 30s, I fell into the trap of believing I should be Superwoman as soon as I was discharged clutching my 'Bounty Bag'. I felt physically and mentally crushed comparing myself to the famous freaks of nature being paraded around by the press, who were inconsiderate enough to give birth at exactly the same time as me. Of course I also had the added pressure of being a Personal Trainer and miracles were expected of me - one close friend actually pointed out that I hadn’t lost weight as fast as she thought I would. Crushing to say the least.
When I finally stopped trying to be perfect, I maintained my weight and haven't looked back. Of course, like all normal women, I have wobbly bits, but now I'm in my 40s, I’m finally ok with them. I have no desire to be a 50 year-old woman with a six-pack.
It’s so important to be your own person - to ignore the barrage of media images of the perfect woman and the perfect family life. You don’t need to fit a mould, instead you should focus (as I did) on what you are good at and appreciate yourself for who you are. Surround yourself with positive people who really care about you and you’ll find that the energy they give you will be without boundaries. Take the emphasis off body shape and weight. Focus instead on health and strength. Your body will react by firming up and looking great without beating yourself up about it.
Balance is key. I don't believe in dieting, excessive amounts of exercise or obsessive approaches to health and fitness. My mantra has become: do what you can, when you can and to feel good about what you have managed to achieve. Above all, exercise should be fun and not riddled with excuses and guilt…
Exercise can be a way of taking back control of your life - see it as 'me time'. Switch it up, add variety, make it fun. Before you know it you'll be losing weight, and toning up. Improving that self-esteem. Becoming strong. Becoming confident. In short - becoming a better version of you.