Female Humans of HIIT Physical Impairment Running Sport

Nadine Doutre

“From a young age, Tennis was my thing! From the age of 4, I would play tennis a few times a week for fun, then gradually as I became older, I was training up to 4-5 hours a day, 6 days a week. I would train on and off court and compete too. My mindset from a young age was to improve technique, to be fitter, to be faster, keep improving as you could always be better! Physical exercise then was only to improve my tennis.

At the age of 19 I stopped playing tennis full time and went into education, I went to college, then onto University and then into full time work. Priorities changed for me and physical activity was not my top priority, but I would still try to exercise as much as I could. I found that I was now exercising for a different reason, to keep my weight down, to feel better, to look better. I still enjoyed playing tennis, I would run, go to the gym and attend fitness classes. In 2018, when I turned 30 I decided to run the Brighton Marathon to prove to myself that I could still physically challenge myself, which was a real achievement for me alongside raising money for MIND.

In Nov 2018 I was diagnosed with Pleurisy, which has been off and on affecting me up until the lockdown. This is inflammation of the Pleura (lining of the lung) which can cause a lot of pain when breathing when inflamed. As a result, the majority of the time I was unable to do any exercise that put any pressure on my lungs.

I have only just been able to start exercising regularly again within the last 3 weeks. Exercising from home at the moment is great for me as I can work at my own pace and do what I can. My chest is feeling good at the moment and I have even started going out for some short runs again too. 

It has been tough starting back, I have to be patient and know my limits of what I can do, but i’m loving it! Being able to exercise is not something I will ever take for granted!”


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Gym Training Humans of HIIT Male Physical Impairment Sport University

Digby Hayden

My relationship with sport had a rocky start to say the least; the day after I learned to run, I fell and broke my toe- somewhat foreshadowing later events. I started off with minis rugby at age 6, and also had been doing casual swimming lessons.

Unfortunately when I was younger; I was more interested in other things than sport, and quit rugby when I was 10, but kept on with the swimming, which I am very glad my parents forced me to do! As I matured both physically and mentally, my swimming grew with it; I started winning our club galas, and my times were getting fairly impressive for a 16 year old, which took me up to county level, and even some podiums. But injury struck me again. Whilst climbing over a fence to fetch a rugby ball, I tore my ACL, which took me a good year to recover from fully. I could still swim, but my times and stamina both took a nosedive in quality. And by the time I recovered, my A levels were just around the corner, so the 5 training sessions a week were no longer possible, so this is when I decided to rejoin my local rugby club.

This time, I truly fell in love with the game, especially the social aspect, which then translated into my university life. Joining the rugby club at university was incredible, I got to know so many people, exercised a lot, and got heavily involved not just by captaining a team for a year, but also further up in sport at university. Here, I was voted into the executive committee two years running, and this really grew my passion for sport, and how it’s more than just exercise, but a release of stress and also the ability to socialise.

Now, I continue to play rugby at home, alongside the odd swimming session. Unfortunately, I seem to have recently aggravated my old ACL injury but once again, the rehab is giving me something to aim for by the time we are released!


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Female Gym Training Humans of HIIT Personal Trainers Sport Workouts Classes

Amber Jerome

When I was 17 years old, I had a difficult decision to make. Do I give up dance and go study law at University or try to make a career out of teaching dance? I chose not to go to university, as dancing was all I ever knew and loved. So, when I fell out of love with dance it was tough.

But one door closes and another opens, and I started working on a zero-hour contract at a gym getting involved in more and more projects and events. Before I knew it, I had completed my level 2 fitness instructor course and was teaching a regular dance fitness class. I got a full-time job and was really happy making a career in the fitness industry. I had never thought about teaching fitness as a career but here I was, and I loved it.

Since then I’ve completed my level 3 PT course, I teach regular classes and I train my lovely clients. Exercise is not only an element of my job but is a great way for me to escape from the real world. I’m a bit of an over thinker and find other than sleep, exercise is the only thing that can take my mind off things. My life literally evolves around fitness, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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Gym Training Humans of HIIT Male Sport

Eduard Susma

“I was born and raised in Romania, I am an amateur boxer and as many men my age, a fighter by nature. After a series of unfortunate events on the streets, an older and wiser friend of mine who was a Taekwondo Balcanic Champion, decided to take me to a boxing gym where he first started. The gym was nothing compared to what you’re imagining, it genuinely looked like a Mexican jail gym. I was so out of shape that I couldn’t finish the warm-up for the next 2 weeks, but something in that raw gym made me keep on pushing and pushing and I didn’t stop. I feel it was the winning attitude of my colleagues and the drive and the passion of my coach.

Now, 11 years later and 20kg lighter I am absolutely grateful for each and every single lesson I received in the gym. God knows where I would have been without boxing. Boxing thought me to chase greatness, to be disciplined, organized and get things done no matter how hard it gets. We all think we have a plan for our life and we’ll do amazing until we first fail. Like in boxing, they all think they have a plan until they eat the first punch and end up on the canvas. That’s when people find excuses and quit. Well, no matter how hard it gets and no matter how hard you get hit, get up! Rise and try again and again until you win! This is why I’m always saying boxing saved my life and kept me mentally healthy, stability of mental health is also a passion of mine and believe you can fight this through fitness. Boxing, fitness sport, its a lifestyle! It’s part of who you are, whether you practice it for fitness, amateur or professional. Combined with the education I’ve received from my great parents, boxing thought me the most valuable lessons which I will be grateful for forever.”  


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Female Humans of HIIT Personal Trainers Physical Impairment Running School Sport University

Dani Clamp

“At secondary school P.E. was my favourite lesson, even by the age of 14 when 80% of the other girls were getting out of it every week claiming they had “period pains” I still loved it (this was also when I realised I got on a lot better with guys)! I started playing club netball at the age of 10 and continued until I went to University at 19.

Despite studying a completely non-related subject, I threw myself into everything sport related. In my second year I took on an organisational committee role in the netball club, in my third year I was Captain, then during my Masters I continued as captain and also got elected as the University sports Chairwoman.

When I finished my Masters degree I moved back in with my parents and that’s when I hit a low point. I have always been a very positive yet realistic individual, however being stuck in a house on my own applying for jobs all day (and getting rejected from most) got to me; both mentally and physically. I was boredom eating so much and couldn’t afford to join a gym being unemployed. I began noticing some fat gain and having not played netball for 6 months I was missing it; so decided to join a new club. I began playing for the team and it was the only thing I looked forward to each week. 4 weeks in, I fell on my ankle during a game and tore my anterior ankle ligament. Complete tear. This was in October 2019.

It is now April 2020 and I have only just managed a 5km run in less than 32 minutes. My mental health plummeted, which I didn’t really tell anybody about. I was feeling down every day, I was irritable constantly and snapping at my family for the tiniest things. Luckily, a good friend of mine is very knowledgeable in the world of strength and conditioning and rehab and began helping me on my road to recovery.  The more my ankle recovered and the more active I got, the happier I became. The happier I became, the more my life seemed like it was falling into place, with both work and relationships.”


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Humans of HIIT Male Physical Impairment Running Sport Weight Loss Workouts Classes

Jon Wheatley

I’ve always been a pretty fit and healthy person; very active and not one to sit inside and watch Netflix on a day off. Technically I am what old fashioned scales (like BMIs) would call overweight, but I’m healthy and very comfortable. In 2018 I completed my first marathon (narrowly missing out on a sub 4-hour finish by 3 minutes, despite never training passed 13 miles).  I’ve always stayed fit through football, going for runs after work, longboarding, cycling, swimming, walking/hiking, basically anything other than the gym. 

Unfortunately, I’ve spent the last 6 months recovering from ACL and cartilage damage in my right knee, and about 80% of my exercise and physical activity is highly impacting on this.  It’s been a tough recovery; having gone from it taking me 5-10 seconds for my brain to process actions involving the joint to straightening my leg, walking, cycling and swimming.  I’m still in a position that I may need surgery, but that won’t be known until once a certain C word has passed!   

The downside of this injury is that now I definitely am overweight!  I weighed myself recently and wasn’t surprised to see that I have put on over a stone since this occurred!  It has however given me the motivation to correct this; furloughing me has had some benefits!  I am really enjoying exploring alternative exercises to what I have traditionally taken part in.  I have the time to test out workout routines and pilates/stretching and can still enjoy my long cycles.  I have been following my friend’s HIIT workouts that he leads on Zoom and enjoying exercising with others able to see and support me. I am learning what I can and can’t do and what I am feeling the benefit from.  I must be cautious of my knee and will adapt or replace exercises if required.  I’m beginning to feel healthier already and confident in my strength and knee at the moment, and very motivated and determined to use my time off from work to return to a healthier weight.


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Female Humans of HIIT Sport Workouts Classes

Beverley Agyeman

“I’ve always really enjoyed being active – from rounders and benchball, to netball and hockey, to boxing and dance – but “active” doesn’t typically look like me. Being overweight, I often felt underrepresented – especially in a scene that is also not as diverse as it could be.

Many view social media as a negative tool, but I’ve always believed it comes down to the content you choose to follow and immerse yourself in. For me, it has been uplifting to come across more and more people who embrace their relationship with exercise – and actually look like me! I’m grateful for fitness communities, such as Humans of HIIT, that motivate and inspire us all to enjoy being active, no matter what level we’re at. 

I also once came across a tweet that said, “Exercise should be a celebration of what your body CAN do, not a punishment for what it can’t.” That changed my perspective forever. So much so, that I’ve even launched my own beginners’ dance classes and workshops (@vybe365 on Instagram), encouraging you to Dance Your Way, Every Day.”


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Humans of HIIT Male Running Sport University

Phil Samuel

Exercising has always been a part of my life because as soon as I could walk I was kicking a football. However, once I stopped playing football at 18 I felt like I had a void whereby I didn’t have a sport to play but wanted to stay fit. Fitness has its own interpretation to everyone. From ages 18 until now I have an internal conflict that means my goals change almost every 6 months and I guess it falls in to two categories: cardio or strength. 

During the winter I normally persue cardiovascular fitness. I’m quite lucky in that aspect that I can improve my fitness relatively quickly but it does mean my goals get more ambitious each year. During my time at university I got involved with athletics club meaning I would run relatively regularly which enabled me to achieve a few personal goals. My proudest are running my first marathon at 18 and at the age of 21, I did a double marathon (an 85km race) that took me 11 hours to complete. Being cardiovascularly fit is great and when you finish the race you’ve trained for months for it seems all worth it. I’d love to say it was all easy and I enjoyed all of the process to crossing the finish line however that’s far from the case. There’s a few things that I really didn’t enjoy about running at least 5 times a week. Firstly, the majority of the training was through the winter and trying to find motivation to go for a run when it’s 2 degrees and hammering down outside is not easy. Were there days when I really didn’t want to run? Yes, lots of them and I’d love to sit here and say “and I went anyway” but that’s just not true. Missing runs was a regular thing (probably once a week) and I’d always feel guilty after. However once you’ve missed a run, there’s no point dwelling on it so you might as well just focus on the next training run. 

Another thing I don’t enjoy about running a lot is what it does to my body weight. I lose a lot of weight when I’m in race condition and although it’s not unhealthy, it’s not a physique I enjoy. During the winter it’s fine because everyone’s wrapped up in coats and it doesn’t matter. But when you get to summer and you’re around people who have been in the gym all winter, you look very skinny and it’s not a feeling I particularly enjoy. This then leads me to want to get back in to the gym and start weight training. 

I normally start weight training in April time when my body weight is at its lowest (around 70kg) and I’ll try and bulk over the next 4-5 months before September comes and I’m back to uni athletics. I find that as long as I incorporate going to the gym in to my daily routine I tend to go most days. The first couple of months are always the easiest with numbers flying up and some mass becoming more noticeable. However after 3 months of the same routine and exercises it can be hard to maintain focus and commitment but on the most part it’s okay. The thing I find hardest isn’t lifting the weight, it’s consuming enough calories to continue to enable growth. If I’m bulking I’ll probably eat around 4500-5000 calories a day and that enables me to gain weight at a steady rate. Eating that much food sounds amazing until you realise how much rice that is. Kilos of the stuff a week. Obviously I could eat more fatty foods but I’d rather keep a healthy diet. 

Over the next 5 months I aim to put on around 8-10kg which is pretty realistic. I do have days where I can’t be bothered to go after work and I just accept that that’s part of it. So September rolls around, I’m feeling strong but I wouldn’t have done much cardio, maybe a couple of runs a week, and I’d be too heavy to compete in atheltics so I cut down my gym sessions and I run more. 

On the whole I enjoy staying fit and I feel lost without physical activity. It boosts my mood and makes me feel like I’ve achieved something with my day. There are days when I really can’t be bothered to do anything and that’s okay, there’s no point beating yourself up over it. Staying happy is more important than an extra workout.”


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Female Gym Training Humans of HIIT Sport Workouts Classes

Rebecca Hensman

I used to dream of being a footballer, the dream had started and I was playing… I was the fittest I had ever been… this all came to an end due to peer pressure. When I was younger you couldn’t be different and girls couldn’t do what boys did, girls were doing make up and the boys were fighting and playing sports, so I was convinced to ‘be a girl’ and wish I had decided to do things on my own terms as I never played football again.

My fitness was dropping when I got a job in the Kingfisher Leisure Centre… this was my way back but I hated cardio, I found it repetitive and I wanted to see results quicker so I worked a lot on weights – this was not improving my fitness but it was something I felt comfortable with and growing up I learnt I had to be strong… Whilst I enjoyed this I was not comfortable being in the gym, there was a lot of pressure to do things at other people’s pace and a lot of posers which I hated.. I have joined and cancelled 4 gym memberships as I just couldn’t be happy and think people were watching me or judging my technique.

The career came and I became busy and wrapped up in ‘My future’ I felt I was doing enough with regards to my fitness, I didn’t eat badly and was always on my feet – but social media became an influence on how myself and many other people look at themselves in the mirror and what is ‘The right body’ – Like everyone I tried YouTube videos, workout DVDs, but again it was repetitive and I could make excuses not to do it – then the Coronavirus of 2020 came and we were locked in our houses for 6 weeks – I could see I was putting on weight, this was noticeable in my face and my stomach, I was eating a lot due to boredom and I had to change my lifestyle  – I have always been and will always be a confident woman, but this woman, I could tell was disappearing… nothing was working for me, I live alone so didn’t have anyone to motivate me or to train with so I was at a dead end.

I had heard of zoom for conference meetings or catching up with friends but then found out my brother was doing workouts via this portal most days in the week – of course I had to try it … Myself and my mate Lauren decided to be a part of this ‘community’ my Brother had started – Not only did I find this so useful for me, I could go at my own pace, no judgement, no care, it was interactive, fun and feel like I am getting to know the people more and more every day in the group – this them encouraged me to give myself a weekly plan of what to eat and when I would workout.

I have never felt so good about my health and my fittest, I am not there yet but I know that my brother and the community he has created will get me there – During the lockdown being alone it was hard to keep busy and sane but my brother has enabled me to mentally and physically handle this so I will come out the other side looking differently at fitness – everyone has their own way of keeping fit and active and I have found mine.


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Humans of HIIT Male Sport Workouts Classes

Jack Cross

“Being active is something naturally engrained in who I am. Even on the laziest of Sundays I will struggle to sit still. I’m not necessarily exercising, in fact I’ll actively avoid traditional exercise but I am probably finding some new way to get onto the sofa, jumping over it from behind or somersaulting onto it – generally just making my fiancé panic whenever she sees me leap across the room.

Growing up I always played a lot of sports, and have found being part of a team my safe space. Until the age of 19 I regularly played football and rugby and so they became my primary source of exercise and also my happy active place. At 19 I got into drama school which meant moving away from home and the teams I had been a part of for so long. I was now experiencing a very different form of exercise with long rehearsal hours and sometimes physically demanding acting roles – my training regime became a lot more about my solo flexibility and conditioning rather than kicking a ball around a field and having a laugh with mates whilst doing so. After a year of monotonous forced conditioning I travelled to Estonia for a 2 month placement where my training specialised in circus acrobatics, particularly group acrobatic work. I had finally found a form of exercise that allowed me to express my fearless physicality, the same I found diving into slide tackles or attempting to tackle the biggest lad on the rugby field, and I thrived doing so.

Fast forward to graduating and my pals who I trained so tirelessly with to create theatrical acrobatic routines have all moved to different parts of the country, taking me back to a place of having to train alone – and ultimately hating it. I was taking the first steps in career, signing an agent and getting professional work in theatre. We are constantly told in our industry to keep fit and forever be developing our skills, which meant, with my background in acrobatics I needed to stay physically fit – however this pressure came with huge constraints. I could no longer play football or rugby or anything that would present a risk of injury. No one wants to see Hamlet hobble across the stage on crutches!

This restriction in what I was ‘allowed’ to do physically really affected me mentally, to have to maintain something so crucial to your chances of getting work (with such a high possibility of rejection anyway) with no drive or love of doing it, made me question everything I’d worked to achieve because the combination of the industry and what I felt I was missing out on because of it was making me so sad.

I have been extremely fortunate to have performed many unique roles in my career, walking on stilts and performing aerial hoop and harness routines have allowed me to express the active nature engrained in me as well as doing what I love. The true crux of why I have enjoyed these jobs is because once again I was being physical as part of a team, working with likeminded actors just like when I played sports as a child and teenager with likeminded people.

As I am sure is the case with many people this lockdown has sapped me of any motivation to be physical, I am in a first floor flat with no garden, a cheesecake that needs eating and no team to exercise with.

This was until a very good friend of mine broke up the memes and general silliness of the group chat to suggest us joining him in his workouts. He put no pressure on ability or age or anything else for that matter just a safe space for anyone feeling too down or unmotivated to exercise alone. I logged in on the first session and only saw one familiar face, I set up my mat and took part in the 20 minute full body workout – as it ended the other (very sweaty) faces all came towards their screen and I felt a real sense of shared achievement, for those 20 minutes we all forgot about our employment issues, life struggles and general impeding fear of doom. We briefly chatted and went back to our lives until the next time where the unfamiliar faces from the last time had now become familiar, a community, a team to exercise with. We worked out again, some struggling, some thriving but all supporting each other with no pressure to lose weight or gain massive muscles but just to keep our bodies and minds fit and active. Finally out of this horrible pandemic I had re-found the drive to be active with a team. My team.”


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