This is a guest blog from our ambassador Emma Case-Boakes. You can find more about our ambassadors and meet them here.

In the past I tried everything from “Sweat Box” classes in the 1980’s to swimming lengths or simply walking; my weight had always fluctuated. In 2004 I was at my heaviest and decided that I needed to take action. I signed up to a slimming group and started a pretty unhealthy relationship with food; not eating but exercising then bingeing when I felt drained and weak. Initially I only had the confidence to swim – wrap a towel around myself until the edge of the pool, submerse myself quickly and cover back up as soon as I got out. I would look at the studio and the classes that were going on but I couldn’t find the confidence to walk through the door. Instructors with ‘perfect’ bodies, participants that all went the same way and had equally impressive bodies and outfits.  Definitely not the place for a curvy girl that is naturally clumsy.

However, the swimming was boring and lonely so I thought I would be brave and give a class a go; step. Yes, Step! I had done it in the 80’s when it was ‘new’ so it would be a breeze!

So I took the plunge and actually walked through the door.  I’d love to be able to say that that was the hardest part; yes it was hard and it took courage. Unfortunately, the instructor was less than impressed with my efforts at keeping up, going in the right direction, leaping effortlessly over the step… and he did not hide the fact that I was annoying him.  Needless to say, I never revisited a step class!

What next; how about Body Pump? I’m strong, I can lift, no problem right? Wrong. It was the same instructor. For those of you that know Body Pump, the clean and press is a move that needs to be executed in a particular way to avoid injury. However, the instructor decided that the best way for me to realise this was to stand six inches in front of me throughout the movement to ensure that I “kept the bar close”.  Maybe Pump and classes weren’t for me. I felt humiliated and like I shouldn’t be there.

At the age of 40, a friend was going to the Zumba instructor training.  You don’t need any qualifications to do the B1 training, so I thought “what the hell, I’ll give it a go“. So I did and that moment changed my life. I have since obtained my Exercise to Music qualification, which has in turn allowed me to teach Spinning®, kettle bells, legs bums and tums, Konga®, Pound®, and aqua.

Most importantly, I believe it has allowed me to teach people like me; people that are initially intimidated by the ‘class culture’ or scared to walk through the door, people that want to hide at the back because “I’m not co-ordinated”, “I’m too big” or “I won’t be able to keep up”.

So, where am I now? I’ve got a comfortable relationship with my weight (I could be described as plus size), I work full time as a Call Centre Manager and teach at least 11 classes a week. I’m also a Body Image Global Ambassador and an EMD UK Ambassador.

I provide an environment that welcomes everyone, no matter age or ability. I believe that classes should be ego-free. I laugh (at myself!) and, most of all, I love seeing my participants progress through their journey. It’s very humbling when someone tells you that you have changed their life, that you have made them appreciate what their body is capable of. I see the shy person that was at the back of the class slowly making their way to the front and then turning on the heat when I am asking them to cat walk or do “sexy arms”.

I have no plans to stop doing what I’m doing. I want to revolutionise the fitness industry and break down the stereotypes. Exercise is for everyone and it should be fun. So, don’t be scared of the studio or the mirrors – everyone is feeling the same as you, everyone remembers the first time they walked into a class. Find an instructor that you are comfortable with, and, you never know, you might even make some new friends that are on the same journey as you.

Find more about Emma and Curve Fit here.

Guest blogs are written by our member organisations and are not necessarily representative of the views and opinions of EMD UK.