Huge congratulations are in order for Zumba® group exercise instructor Tracey Raikes – winner of the Instructor Award for Promoting Positive Change at the 2018 International Fitness Showcase (IFS), which took place at Winter Gardens Blackpool this March.

EMD UK Instructor Award for Promoting Positive Change finalists

The ultimate fitness experience for group exercise instructors and enthusiasts, IFS 2018 was a resounding success. Three days jam-packed with workshops, lectures and mind/body sessions from leading industry figures hailing from all over the globe, the event was attended by hundreds of people, and EMD UK were there to present the Instructor Award for Promoting Positive Change.

As the national governing body for group exercise, our number one mission at EMD UK is to realise a healthier nation for all through increasing participation in group exercise. It was a hugely proud moment for us to attend IFS 2018. We recognise the hard work and passion that instructors across the nation put into getting communities moving, and the Instructor Award for Promoting Positive Change is a way to reward that dedication.

We received an overwhelming amount of entries this year, and it was no easy task for our judging panel to narrow the list down to just three finalists. To be in with a chance of winning, entrants had to meet a set of criteria which showed that they were going above and beyond in their efforts to support their local communities get involved with group exercise.

Each entrant had to be teaching a minimum of five classes a week, have a minimum of 50 participants regularly attending their classes, and be able to demonstrate how they have encouraged people in their community/area to get involved with group exercise. In addition, the group exercise instructors had to show that they were doing more than just teaching classes in order to truly promote positive change. For example, they may have been organising charity events, providing support outside of class times, or making extra efforts to engage under-supported demographic groups such as Black and Minority Ethnic and Disability – and they had to provide testimonials, in writing, from class members explaining their journey from inactive to active.

The Finalists

After much deliberation, EMD UK created a shortlist of three dedicated group exercise instructors for the IFS Instructor Award for Promoting Positive Change.

Instructor Award for Promoting Positive Change Award finalist Toni McGlone
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Teesside-based Toni McGlone of Clubbercise – a fusion of dance, toning and combat moves, set to a soundtrack of old and new club hits –  goes to great lengths to ensure that her classes are accessible to people of all experience and abilities, providing plenty of options for participants to go at their own pace. Toni also runs chair-based sessions for elderly/low-mobility groups, is regularly involved with many charity events, and leads the warmups for all Teesside Hospice’s sponsored walks and runs.

When Clubbercise Teesside launched at the Dormans in Middlesbrough, I decided my life needed to change. Toni immediately made me and others feel welcome. It didn’t matter that I had no coordination and couldn’t do the routines – she broke them down so I could do it at my own pace. She was so full of energy and enthusiasm, you couldn’t help but be carried along. Toni has always made herself available before and after class, and if it looks like anyone is struggling with a particular routine she will adapt it. I love the energy in the room, the way she sings along and gets us all to participate so that you forget you are actually exercising.” Joanne, class participant

Kathryn Williams is the founder of Derby-based Zestfit, and is dedicated to “making people feel awesome” through the fun and inclusive group exercise sessions she delivers. Opening her own boutique studio in April 2017, Kathryn’s aim is to offer her local community a safe environment where they can exercise without the fear of judgement. In order to encourage participation, every six weeks Kathryn hosts “Prosecco Fridays”, where members can bring a friend along for free to enjoy an active session with a live DJ, followed by a glass of fizz. Every week, she gives a chosen participant a gift to encourage them to keep up the good work.

Instructor Award for Promoting Positive Change Award finalist Kathryn Williams
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I walked into Zestfit Boutique when my baby was only 3 months old, scared and nervous about getting back into shape. I had no idea what to expect, but Kat was so warm and welcoming and put me at ease straight away. I wasn’t sure if I was going to find the motivation to continue on this fitness path, but without fail, every single class, day in day out, week on week, Kat’s sheer enthusiasm makes every class really fun to be part of. I went into the 21-day fat loss program as I needed a boost and wanted advice on what I could and couldn’t eat, and it ended up completely changing the way I ate. I have lost weight and inches from my body and feel so much better about myself both physically and mentally.”
– Christina, Class participant.  

And the winner is…

Instructor Award for Promoting Positive Change Award winner Tracey Raikes
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Zumba group exercise instructor Tracey Raikes.

Tracey’s work is nothing short of inspiring, and she truly is the worthy winner of this year’s IFS Instructor Award for Promoting Positive Change.

Based in south Wales, Tracey works closely with the Alzheimer’s Society, Cancer Research UK, and Age UK. She has set up older-adult groups to encourage better health and mental wellbeing, and arranges meals, outings and special events for her participants to help with friendship building. Tracey is also a Zumba Kids instructor, and arranges parties and other events to help local children get involved with physical activity.

There was a flood of testimonials for Tracey – and one of her class members even wrote a poem!

“I have been attending Tracey’s Zumba classes for about 5 years. We all like and respect her for her close attention she gives to us all. I am 76 years old and not as fit as some of the others, but she gives people like me special attention and helps us to do what we can do comfortably. Since I have been going to classes I have had a vast improvement to my fitness, and I have lost weight, which has improved my diabetes and reduced my high blood pressure. Zumba has made a great difference to my life, and it also boosts my confidence –especially when we were chosen to perform Zumba dances on stage at a charity event with Peter Kay to raise money for Cancer Research at the Motorpoint arena in Cardiff.” – Janet, class member.  

“My friend and I have been attending Tracey Raikes’ Zumba classes in Barry, twice a week for the past six years. During that time, we have come to know Tracey and respect her for the excellent teacher she is. Not only does she get us to learn the routines, but she is great fun as well as being very caring. On a Monday we have several ladies who have learning difficulties joining the class and they also love it. Four years ago I broke my hip and I thought my Zumba days were over, but after a while I went back and Tracey told me what to avoid. She was also a great help in restoring my confidence. In fact, my consultant was very pleased with my progress and full of praise for the exercise I was having.” – Barbara, class participant


Feeling gloomy, don’t be glum

Come to Zumba, shake your bum.

Tracey simply makes our day,

Fun and laughter all the way.

Smiling faces fill the hall,

No need to be shy at all.

Tracey really is a treasure,

Her Zumba class brings so much pleasure.

Clap your hands, do hippy shakes,

Yes, TRACEY RAIKES has all it takes.

Brian, class participant  

EMD UK – Supporting Group Exercise Instructors Everywhere

At EMD UK, we are proud, excited and energised by the great work that fantastic group exercise instructors like Kathryn, Toni and Tracey do up and down the country day in, day out.

EMD UK is committed to driving positive change within the group exercise industry, and believe that through co-operation and collaboration with industry bodies like the International Fitness Showcase, and by supporting instructors to deliver excellence and remove the barriers that prevent people from taking part, we can achieve a healthier nation through exercise.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all entrants for this year’s IFS Instructor Award for Promoting Positive Change, and all attendees, instructors and speakers at the International Fitness Showcase – it was a fantastic event and we can’t wait until the next one.

Congratulations to all of our finalists, and huge compliments to our winner Tracey Raikes – well done, Tracey!!

If you’re a group exercise instructor and need help promoting a class, are looking for training and development, or require further support in getting more people in your area involved with group exercise, get in touch with EMD UK today to find out what we can do for you.