This Girl Can celebrates women being active whatever their size, ability, or previous experience. Clare Warren, who lives in Lincoln, tells us about how becoming active had a huge impact on her life. Read her story below…
So my name is Clare Warren and I’m sharing my story about becoming more active impacted my life. I hope that by talking about the positive effect it’s had on me both physically and mentally it will encourage more people to change their lifestyle to incorporate more activity.
For most of my life I was very inactive and was dangerously overweight, this lead to being depressed although I didn’t realise that for a long time and it wasn’t until I plucked up the courage to see a doctor that it was diagnosed. After my marriage broke down I really was at my lowest point and it’s a cliché but I did have a lightbulb moment and took the plunge and joined a Zumba class with some friends. I can’t lie it was scary and it was hard work but I wouldn’t have swapped doing it for anything in the world.
When my friends stopped going I carried on and made friends there, that lead to me doing more classes with the same group and instructor. From that not only did I start to see the physical benefits but my social circle increased so I began to feel happier and more welcomed and liked – which I hadn’t done for a very long time.
My instructor relocated to the YMCA in the centre of Lincoln, I followed her and different people joined and I made more friends. There is also a gym there so I decided to join that too. I was so unsure about what to do I only used the same three pieces of equipment for about eight months!
Looking back I can’t believe how much time I wasted. But then my Zumba instructor persuaded me to take part in a twelve week programme. It was scary but hands down the best thing I’ve ever done, it showed me how to exercise for me and to help me reach my goals. I totally fell in love with the gym from that and the instructors that helped me were fantastic and I felt like they gave so much time and effort to not only me but the other people on the course I wanted to give something back and the only thing I had that was any use was my time. So I began volunteering and I learnt so much and I got such a good feeling from helping people just like me and I could and still can totally relate to how they feel. I loved it so much I qualified as a gym instructor, kettlebell instructor and personal trainer, all through the YMCA teaching centre.
I feel so passionate about helping people that suffer from mental health illnesses to become active I have since started my own social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote the benefits and to offer support to anyone, from chatting to helping them devise a plan to achieve their goal. I also use these pages to blog about all sorts of things such as my experiences and talking about certain types of equipment, activities and training. I hope I can help other people the way my instructors have and continue to help me. One of those instructors that I put this down to is Aaron Hall, he helped me and made me want to help others.
Last October it’s not an understatement to say I was shocked to discover that I had been nominated for a Active Lincolnshire Award, I was in the category of ‘Get Active, Been Active’ which is for people that have used physical activity to improve their own lives. I was nominated by Aaron as we have remained friends. I got to go to the award ceremony in November where I was surrounded by so many great and inspirational people, members of sports clubs, volunteers, people that have overcome illness to stay active and even Paralympians. Myself and my best friend got to chat to them, have photos with them and hold their gold medals, it was one of the best nights. If you’d have told me three years ago I’d be doing that I would have laughed at you. To top all of that off I only went and won! To know that someone (and probably more than one person) thought what I’ve done and what I’m trying to do now is quite good for someone that doubts herself on a daily basis was mind blowing.
Since the Sports Awards I’ve been invited to guest write on other people’s fitness and mental health blogs, I’ve gained a qualification in Mental Health Awareness and have been contacted by someone that has been discriminated by their sports club because of their disclosure of their mental health illness. I’ve also been contacted by people going down a similar path to me, they’ve discovered exercise for themselves and now want to train as instructors asking my advice and one wanting to do it through the YMCA so have offered myself as a guinea pig for assessment practice.
But by far the most exciting opportunity has come from a mental health scheme in my home county, Essex. I’m going to be instructing two kettlebell classes, two box fit classes and a gym session but during the fortnight they are holding various classes and activities such as walks, football and rock climbing. I can’t wait to be a part of it and hopefully I can take part in similar schemes in the future.
I am in a much better place than I was a few years ago and it’s definitely largely down to becoming more active and the numerous benefits it has. Please visit my social media pages if you’d like to get in touch.
Facebook – Exercise and Mental Health
Twitter – @exercise_mh
Instagram – @exercise_mh