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Active Suffolk I This Girl Can Female Humans of HIIT Mental Health School Sport University

Charlotte Ditchburn

 

“I was always active and outdoorsy as a child, part of the school orienteering team, competing to a regional level with the athletics team in high jump and enjoying horse riding whenever I could fit it in. I then went to University and events here led to me being diagnosed with PTSD and I suffered with depression and anxiety.

The outdoors and being active has really helped me to recover from this and get back onto my feet again. I used hill walking in the Lake District to find some head space away from the day to day craziness. I went from couch potato to walking everyday, not always summiting mountains but making sure to make time for a short walk everyday.

As I recovered and began a new job in Suffolk I rediscovered my love of riding my bike. I have recently bought a hybrid bike allowing me to enjoy road biking as well as venturing off onto the local bridleway and byway network to give me a change of scene. As my fitness levels have increased I noticed a real difference in my mental well being, I am much happier and feel more awake and productive each day.”

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Humans of HIIT Male Sport University

Kenna Selvalingam

“From playing U10 football to starting skateboarding at the tender age of 28(!), I have all always been an active person. A lot of my fond childhood memories are of times when my brother, friends and I were outside the house being mischievous little rascals and having a lot fun.

I can’t quite pinpoint what exactly has fine-tuned my mindset to keeping me stay active – it may have been the fat jokes aimed at me when I was younger, or it could just be for the pure joyfulness. Whatever it was, I am super thankful for it as it had positively impacted my life physically, mentally and spiritually (!)

At the time when I was starting a new job following my graduation, I don’t think I quite expected the transition between university and work to be this steep and I struggled a bit at the beginning.

If I hadn’t stuck to my fitness routine, I would certainly have carried on struggling for a longer period of time – Working out at the gym, going for walks/jogs or playing 5-a-side football gave me the break I needed to space out and briefly forget about what’s going on in life.

I am by no means a competitive person and so don’t really set myself targets that I want to accomplish. I guess my main target now, and always, is to enjoy myself whatever it’d be – football, working out, cycling, long walks and now skateboarding. Maybe by the end of the year I’d be able to pull off a kickflip.”

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Female Gym Training Humans of HIIT Sport

Kirsten Williams

“I’ve particularly been into cycling since I was a child, mainly distance road cycling as I feel a sense of accomplishment after going further than I did before.

Although I enjoy cycling, it doesn’t provide the benefits of weight bearing exercise and strength training and that’s where @davidjameswellspt comes in. I learned so much in the gym from my sessions with him, I went from knowing absolutely nothing to knowing that I can walk in the gym and use any of the equipment by myself, and have the correct technique. 

I have gained confidence in pushing myself, and my posture has improved dramatically. He helped me achieve my goals such as drop my body fat from 29% to 21%. Not only is Dave an encouraging and patient teacher, but he’s a good listener and a friend. As well as gaining so much from the sessions in terms of fitness, I also really enjoyed myself.”

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Female Gym Training Humans of HIIT Running Sport Workouts Classes

Amanda Wojtaszek

My relationship with physical activity is one with a late start and a lot of twists and curves.

I am a 39 year old camera assistant, skydiver and tunnel flyer who used to fake stomach aches to avoid gym class as a kid. I was the skinny, uncoordinated girl who figured out what position to be in to do the least. I hated sports.

Becoming a camera assistant requires a lot of carrying heavy gear, pushing carts loaded with gear and standing and moving around for 12 to 18 hours a day. If you are out of shape, it’s going to be a bad time. This made me learn to take care of myself a little better. With those hours, it’s hard to join sports or keep a regular gym schedule.

I would do at home work outs lifting weights and walking between shows just to keep a bit of muscles and stamina, but only as maintenance. I never really ENJOYED it. I ended up gaining quite a lot of weight and fell out of a routine.

At 36 years old, I had gone though a big break up. I joined Weight Watchers and lost 40 lbs. I started CrossFit, which I loved. I loved that it taught me how far I could push myself. I loved feeling strong and it seemed like all of my daily tasks were so much easier while feeling fit.

During this time, I went for a tandem skydive. It was so much more fun than I could have imagined. With a new found confidence in my physical abilities, I decided to sign up to become a licensed skydiver.

I was terrible at it. But the mental game that I had learned doing CrossFit and from work (hauling gear for an hour after working for 15 hours when you think you can’t make it, but needing to push though) I kept working on it.

This led me to trying indoor skydiving. The wind tunnel allows you to learn the positions for skydiving in a much more controlled environment. I fell in love with it almost as much as the sky.

If you look at indoor skydiving, you would think it’s just floating, however you are using every stability muscle in your body to hold yourself steady in different positions. Friends are always surprised by the pain in their shoulders and abs when they try it for 4 minutes.

In the winter, I spend at least 30 mins in the tunnel a week. I get sore and out of breath, it’s an amazing work out and so much fun.

Indoor skydiving or tunnel flying feels a lot more demanding than outdoor skydiving because you have to fight for lift and you stay in the wind for much longer. A skydive is a minute or less at a time, in the tunnel I usually do 2-5 minute rotations.

I even won my first gold medal in my first sport competition ever in the Canadian Indoor Skydiving Championship in 2019 in a 2 way event with my boyfriend.

I had to give up CrossFit after just a few months because of my work schedule and then spending every weekend in the summer. But I still hear the coaches voices in my head and I know I can push myself to do more than I think I can.

This past winter I tried hot yoga, and really started to enjoy it. I loved feeling strong, pushing myself and the core work was really helping my tunnel flying.

Unfortunately, COVID happened. I did like many, sat on the couch and ate and drank too much. And then one day I tried on my skydiving jump suit to find that it wouldn’t zip up.

And now for my latest adventure, running. At 39 years old, I had never been a runner. I hated it. But it was free and it got me out of the house. I started really slow, having to walk more then run. I started to use an app to help see progress and that has made it more interesting for me. As far as real runners go, I’m still super slow, but I see progress every week and I have actually begun to crave it.

I am back in the sky jumping this summer too, thankfully, with my suit that now fits thanks to running.

So for me, the relationship with physical activity is about a lot more than just the activity. It’s about the mental game and the confidence that you gain from it. It took me until I was in my 30’s to find a sport that I loved so much. But it has made a huge difference in my life. I found love, friends and a passion. All because of a physical activity.

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Humans of HIIT Injury Male Sport Workouts Classes

Ross Simpson

“I started training for my sport when I was 14 years old and I’ve enjoyed it ever since. Due to my sport being high risk, I’ve had different injuries and through my course at university I’ve learnt how to overcome them and different ways to prevent them.

I love exercising and mixing up my workouts from doing strength training, cardio or HIIT sessions. I enjoy seeing results and looking for ways to progress every week. Since starting my university course two years ago, I’ve learnt different exercises and workouts that has allowed my training to expand, and my passion for exercise and keeping healthy has grown. Exercise is the one thing I always look forward to each day, as it always makes me feel good after every session and my enjoyment always allows me to keep motivated.”

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Family Female Humans of HIIT Mental Health Sport

Holly Hammond

“3 years ago I hated all sports and exercise because I got really badly bullied so I had to do something about it . One day we had England women scrum half Leanne Riley come into our school with a local club to do a lunchtime session with us. I really enjoyed it so that evening I went home and told my mum and dad that I wanted to play rugby, so my mum signed me up for the 2 pre-season dates I could attend. I really enjoyed it and could be myself when I was playing. 

So I started the season we had 3 coaches ,one I really got on with Laurisa and one I really didn’t get on with but he didn’t like me either. Everyone knew when I was annoyed at him because I crossed my arm and stuck my foot out. At the end of the season I had to make a big decision, do I quit playing or find a new club. 

So I went and found a new club and I’m so happy I did. My teammates welcomed me and the coaches push you to be the best version of you. So after starting rugby the bullying didn’t stop but less people were bullying me. But the reason I carried on playing was because I made a promise to someone and I can’t break my promise. 

So overall 3 people inspired me to play rugby, Leanne, Laurisa and Chloe, and I thank all of them. Me and Laurisa became good family friends and she still gives me a confidence boost as well.”

#sport #exercise #bullies #rugby #englandrugby #scrumhalf #school #rugbyclub #confidence #coaching #family #friends

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Family Female Gym Training Humans of HIIT Pregnancy Sport Weight Loss Workouts Classes

Lauren Gift

I was relatively active throughout my childhood. I played soccer and a lot of driveway basketball. I stayed out from morning until night and ran around the neighborhood.

I didn’t really struggle with weight as a child or even a teen. I did however gain a lot of weight my first pregnancy at 21 years old. Being young I was able to get the weight off relatively quickly but definitely not in a healthy manner.

I then went on to have three more kids and every child it was more and more difficult to shed baby weight so I kind of lost motivation and gave up.

In 2016 my oldest son was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes at age 8. It was a huge roadblock for us and completely unexpected. Our world was turned upside down and suddenly my child was forced to have shots all day long every day in order to live. We had no choice but to pay close attention to food labels in order to count carbs for him to know how much insulin he needed.

This was a very eye opening experience. Not only did it get me paying attention to labels which I hadn’t previously done, it got me thinking more about health in general. This was the start of my new lifestyle.

I decided to join a network marketing business for health and fitness which lasted a few years and in that time I created some bad habits. Truthfully, I’m still thankful for the experience because it got me where I am today. It was a stepping stone on the path to where I’m at.

I now do ZOOM workouts in the morning with a few of my girl friends. We get up early and workout “together” virtually. My choice of workout always involves weights. I love lifting and feeling strong. It gives me a confidence I wouldn’t otherwise have. Plus, cardio is hardio. It’s definitely not my cup of tea and that’s ok!

Working out with my friends virtually is my favorite part of the day. I absolutely love motivating and helping others. We all deserve to feel great about ourselves. We need to treat ourselves with respect and love and what better way than through health and fitness?

I’m not done with my journey and still have a ways to go, but I’m closer today than I have been in a long time. That’s because I made the choice to just do it and you can too. Change is hard and uncomfortable but being uncomfortable is part of the change.

You can’t have a lifestyle change without changing your lifestyle. You’ve got this! I believe in you.

#humansofhiit #soccer #basketball #football #weightgain #pregnancy #weightloss #diabetes #networkmarketing #business #health #fitness #lifting #gym weightlifting #cardio #zoom #workout #journey

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Humans of HIIT Injury Male Mental Health Running School Sport University

Gamel Oki

I have a strange relationship with sports – I started out really disliking sports, or rather disliking how bad I was at team sports. But as I became older, sports, exercise and fitness became something that I could fall back on in my most significant times of hardship. 

Growing up, I was terrible at sports. I grew up with two older sisters, one of whom wasn’t into sports, and one of whom was a fantastic basketball player. Being much younger than either of my sisters and having older parents, I didn’t really grow up playing sports. Especially not team sports – I did learn to ride a bike and swim, but things like football, rugby and hockey didn’t really enter my life until I went to school.  

Being a late starter in sports, I have distinct memories of how unpleasant social sports were. There’s nothing quite like being the last player to be picked to destroy what little confidence you have in your abilities. But in retrospect – I was so bad I can see why. This curse of being “bad at sports” followed me into secondary school where playing football was THE essential social activity for my peer group. 

I still wasn’t a particularly skilled sportsman. Yet, in secondary school, I discovered something – I was fast, much faster than most of my peers. I was actually third fastest in the entire year group (there were about 180 of us). For the first time, I had discovered something physical that I could excel at – I could chase down attacking players with relative ease. For the first time, I felt of value to the teams I played for and started to play more. I began to get better, I wasn’t the last picked anymore, though this was in part because I was one of the few people who didn’t play as a striker. I started to feel like I contributed to our victories and stalled our losses; at the age of about 15/16, I have my first memories of actually enjoying team sports. 

University was a different ball game(pun intended). I was studying in the arts and between being a ‘creative’ and my brand new social life, I didn’t make time for team sports, or in fact any sports. This all changed in my second year when I joined the ski and snowboard club! It further changed after graduation when I stayed on as Students’ Union staff and joined the climbing club. These weren’t sports I was doing because they were a necessary part of having a social circle, these sports I loved! It was also strange as they both involved being very high up and I’m actually scared of heights. 

But the major turning point was when I was back in London and went through my first BIG breakup. The first big one is always the worst they say, and this was no exception. Unsure of how to process what I felt or even thought at the time, I dived headfirst into my job and career. I would work weekends and evenings, pushing myself to hit crazy targets with minimal resources. The results I achieved with this near-obsessive approach to work gained me the praise of peers and management and promotion to Department Manager (though not the pay rise I was hoping for). However, this didn’t come without a cost, overworking left me physically and mentally depleted, and I would often sleep for up to 14 hours on Saturdays as I tried to recuperate from 70hour+ weeks. Mentally I was numb – focusing so heavily on the tasks at hand left me devoid of much emotion and cold to everyone, including my friends and team members. 

Then I started running. I’d done some running after university. Still, long-distance runs were a foreign concept to a guy who mostly runs 100m and 200m sprints. I had noticed that Nike was hosting a run club starting out from their central London store and running a loop of Hyde Park, I decided to get some running trainers and join. Running was challenging, not only physically or mentally. For 40 minutes, I was forced to confront my own thoughts and feelings about my breakup, my life, my job and pretty anything else that wandered into my mind. Even when running in a group, I was uniquely alone with my thoughts, and my pain (Actual physical pain – my lower back would be killing after 2km). It was sobering and strengthening, I started to find that running was my time to digest and understand my own thoughts and feelings. People have asked me if running made me happier; honestly, I’m not sure. But it did allow me to find peace and balance. It also made my lower back stronger. 

As the first few months of running turned to a year, my mental health, work/life balance, and fitness all improved. I became a regular Nike Town runner and even made some friends in the running scene (yes there’s a scene). As the years of running rolled by, I took on new challenges; half marathons, obstacle courses, martial arts, and finally signing up to a gym. My work obsession turned into a healthy drive, and I started to make more use of my time outside of the office. My increased fitness (and better work/life ratio) allowed me to also excel as a snowboarder and climber (though I still have a long way to go). The various activities I’m involved in not only help me with maintaining balance but help me build positive habits and routines within my life. Which are handy in getting me out of the office before 10pm. 

When I think back to how I started, my fear of being the worst at sports and where I am now – I do feel a sense of pride. It took time, growth and some pain, but now I understand my strengths and weaknesses. Though looking back at how I started, it’s not a surprise that I’m not really a “team sport” person.

As I’ve gotten older, my commitments (and injuries) have grown, but I’ve kept up the running, though I don’t do it as much as I used to. I’m more of a climber these days, but I still go for a run whenever I need time to think or process a feeling, I’ll also run if there is any group of runners heading out. I still wear the same make of Nike running trainers (Lunarglide – I’m on my second or third pair) and have the same soundtracks to listen to.

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Gym Training Humans of HIIT Male Mental Health Running Sport University Weight Loss

Niall Stillwell

For as long as I can remember I’ve always been involved in sports. Athletics on Mondays, swimming with my mum on Fridays, family bike rides on Sundays and of course playing football at every opportunity I had.

As most young boys do, I harboured ambitions of becoming an elite sportsman. A footballer or sprinter, I wasn’t really fussed. I was fortunate to make great memories in both, captaining my club and my school team to various trophies and running for my district team (not as the sprinter I once thought I could be but as an 800m runner). I will always have fond memories of these experiences with the teachers, coaches, teammates and successes making it what it was. Despite trialling with a few teams and representing my County team, things soon ground to a halt. After playing for my college first team and on the cusp of rejoining the County team, I suffered back to back broken ankles, first during pre season and the second when coming back too soon from the first. This proved to be the first time in my life that I lost my love of exercise. Though I loved the sport I played, breaking your ankle twice in a row and spending 5 or so months of the year on crutches coupled with the thrill of turning 18, girls, alcohol etc etc lead me to taking a 3ish so year break from sport. No football, no running, no gym, no anything.

These 3 years marked some of my first at uni, I continued to eat badly, continued partying and continued overlooking sport despite studying on a sports degree.. go figure. One day though, my friend asked if I wanted to come for a kick about and reluctantly I agreed. Overweight, out of breath and with a touch worse than Guendouzi, I finally realised what I had done to myself. I’d gone from being a confident, ultra fit, county level footballer to a mess and it was time to make a change.

There were a few things that motivated this change, the realisation of how big/unfit I’d gotten, the fact I was going on a holiday with a girl I crushed on (god forbid her see me topless) and the longing I had to get back into competitive sport. I decided that I was going to run the marathon, get into the gym full time and most importantly get back to playing football whilst also disengaging in some of the negative lifestyle choices that had made me this way in the first place. The beginning was tough but it made the results all the more worthwhile. At first, I couldn’t run down the road without stopping, I couldn’t do a single pull up, I couldn’t reach my toes and I certainly couldn’t take my clothes off and feel comfortable. But every week I started seeing progress, running faster and farther, lifting heavier and longer in the gym, weight falling off me and most importantly my footballing ability starting to come back. I hadn’t fully realised what I missed until I was back in it and I can’t help but regret my actions for those few years as I consider it a period where I really did lose myself for a while. Nevertheless, it was a learning curve and I remember finishing my first marathon and crying at the finish line as it marked a significant change in my life and one that I’ve adhered to ever since.

Since that first marathon, I’ve gone on to do another 2, I’ve ran a whole host of half’s, I play semi professional football, I became a PE teacher, I have qualifications in personal training and sports therapy whilst engaging in and promoting sport and physical activity at every opportunity. Where I’d grown stagnant and unmotivated in life getting back into sport helped put everything back into perspective for me. All of a sudden I started achieving things again and having that need to achieve helped motivate me both in my physical and career based pursuits. My outgoing, resilient and confident personality came back to me and despite a number of setbacks both in work (not getting certain jobs) and in sport (breaking my ankle again and my shoulder) I used this heightened hardened mindset to bounce back bigger and better than before.

I think the main thing I’ve tried to explain here is that when I was at my lowest in life, physically and mentally in poor health, sport and physical activity were non existent for me. Since they’ve been back I am happier, healthier and enjoying life way more than a few drinks, a night out and a kebab could ever possibly provide me.

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Female Humans of HIIT Physical Impairment Sport University

Katie Baker

From the ages of 6-16, I did gymnastics recreationally and loved it so knew when I went to Uni I wanted to carry on with the sport. Unfortunately the University I went to didn’t offer gymnastics so I did trampolining and things went from strength to strength. From training to competitions to being President of the club, winning Club Of The Year and individually winning Sports Personality Of The Year, I have made unforgettable memories and friends for life.

Sport isn’t easy for me however, I was born with a rare congenital heart defect called Scimitar Syndrome which means the cardiac anatomy is tangled up and only 1 of my lungs work. This causes breathlessness, fatigue and other cardiac complications and due to this condition I also have kyphosis which is an inwards curve of the spine, this again makes it hard for me to trampoline. However since being at Uni, I made it my mission to not let the condition define me, I have spoken in front of hundreds of medical professionals, become an ambassador for a chronic illness charity and shared my story to help others.