Reflective sh*t from a newly qualified PT.

I’ve finally (1 Pandemic and 3 lockdowns later) qualified as a Personal Trainer!

A year ago, I signed up to do my Level 2 Fitness Instructor, and Level 3 Personal Training qualifications. 

I knew I wanted to do it in the future, but when the COVID-19 pandemic ‘hit’, lockdown left many of us with more time and less connection, so I thought…

‘F*ck it, it’s now or never’. 

(I also had the final SMIDGENS of my student loan left so I couldn’t think of anything I’d RATHER spend it on!)

Some rolled their eyes…

‘For Jesus sake Leah, you’ve been educating and re-educating yourself since day dot…WHEN WILL YOU JUST FIND PEACE with what you’re doing!?!?’

Yet, these same people have (brilliantly) supported each of my choices (and downfalls lol), so when I paid the deposit they paused their eye rolling and said…

‘Right okay then, well how can we help?!’

Leah now has a weekly class at Elevate studio, Bristol

On the whole, I kept relatively quiet about it for a while. I did (and very still much do) feel a huge sense of imposter syndrome within the fitness industry, more than I’ve ever felt in any other role I’ve done, or space I’ve been in. I spent *years* learning to trust myself to move my own body, I still have to pinch myself that I’m in a position now where others trust me to support them in moving theirs. It’s an incredible feeling, and one I’ll never take for granted.

Living through a pandemic has been…reflectively exhausting (and every other avenue of exhausting actually), but without it, I wonder when (or if) I’d have ever taken the biggest (scariest) step into the fitness industry and left with a pair of instructor trainers on.

Initially, I thought I’d gain the qualification and ‘FILE IT AWAY’ until I felt ready to ‘rip the plaster off’ (as Carly often says!). But I didn’t, and starting my first online class (HIITs Got Real) in the early part of 2021 increased my confidence more than I ever thought possible. Where my own workouts support a connection with myself & others, instructing them fuels a purpose I’ve long been searching for.

Since then, I’ve started a Rise up: Resistance online class (via Zoom), instructed a weekly bootcamp (in Bristol), and become a teacher at Elevate Studio. Within this, I’ve launched my own business: Backing my Body.

Well. Might as well share some of this reflective sh*t…now I’ve reflected the sh*t out of it, mightn’t I?! 

Leah on the day she did her final Level 3 pratical exam (Ft. Sanitiser coz 2020/21).

  1. Fitness qualifications are awkwardly outdated. Watching YouTube videos of instructor demonstrations feels like you’re back in Year 5 with a 1998 overhead projector, while Mrs Hill is asking if you can stop secretly playing snake on your Nokia under the table. (Most of that detailed story was unnecessary but that’s not the point LOL). It’s 2021, update the videos, re-assess the programmes, re-write the online portals, employ a more diverse range of instructors for the vids/teaching, and begin to acknowledge that fitness is moving in new and exciting directions, and the current qualifications are small minded and WAAAYYYYY past their use by date.

  2. Diet culture continues to dominate, but anti-diet culture is fighting back. The ‘typical’ rhetoric focuses on derogatory, punishing language, aiming to guilt clients into moving their bodies, while damagingly linking food and movement. Feedback from my assessors included comments such as… “This was good, however if you had increased/changed/altered this, you would have given your client a greater calorie burn”. When I replied with… “My work doesn’t focus around calories” the assessor was left confused. A non-weight, non-BMI focused, inclusive, pro Health At Every Size (HAES) PT is still very new to the block, and many are just waking up to the concept of it.

  3. I’m still VERY early on in instructing classes but so far they involve 7 (+/-) anxious pre – class start wee’s, 75 beads of non-exercise induced sweat, 14 ‘Why the f*ck am I doing this’ internal thoughts, 1 class plan you needn’t bothered writing, and one FULFILLED ‘I’ll do this 45,000 times over’ human being.

    Moving my own body in my own time and space brings me so much already. Moving my body in a time and space I’ve created in which to guide other people brings me so much more. 

  4. The LAP plan will drain your soul. Re-hydrate. And swear. On repeat. Very often.

  5. Three minute songs will last in a playlist for one week of instructing a class. A minute in fitness time, is VERY f*cking different to a minute in real time; both as a client AND as an instructor. Spotify searching will become about finding the gems which give at *least* an 8 minute musical offering.

    2.54? That’s max one chorus soz IT’S ABSOLUTELY ZERO USE TO ME. 

  6. Vacant faces doesn’t always mean they hate you (although sometimes they might LOL). Classes can be a test of resilience, and verbal or non-verbal feedback isn’t always something people offer you (particularly online!) I’m still learning to trust that my classes, myself, and my overall offering at Backing my Body might not always be for everyone…and that’s *okay*. Some people are smiley exercisers, some are ‘I’m-so-sweaty-right-now-I-can’t-show-you-I’m-having-a-good-time-soz’ exercisers, some are ‘hello-I’m-quietly-thankful-for-this-safe-space-but-my-face-is-saying-otherwise’ exercisers. All are welcome, and all are here because they trust you. So continue to trust yourself too!

  7. Get used to role play for your practical stuff. And find a friend you can look in the eye while doing so.

  8. If you want to be a FitPro or a PT, and you are approaching it from a weight inclusive, HAES, anti-diet culture perspective (and I really hope you are!) be prepared to be frustrated by the learning gained through the courses. Despite that, feel confident making it your OWN. Tick the boxes you need to pass, learn the anatomy, roll your eyes at the *basic* nutrition, and feel empowered to know that doing this will mean ONE MORE safe, inclusive instructor will soon be entering the industry to help contribute to positive change. We are SAFETY IN NUMBERS and there needs to be more of us.

Leah’s weekly Rise Up class at Elevate Studio, Bristol

Someone once told me ‘you’re one of life’s great thinkers’. This is fine…maybe it’s even a vague compliment, but it also means my sleep is maxed out at an average of 6 hours, and the other 18 hours are spent analysing each and every aspect of life.


The one conclusion I have from these particular thoughts and musings is that taking my Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made (thank GOD for that, ey?!)

Filing it away for a time ‘when I’m ready’ seems laughable now. It’s not about being ‘ready’, when are we ever ready for anything? For me, it’s been about knowing that someone brilliant offered me a safe space, and now I’m capable of offering that to someone else. 

**That brilliant safe space offerer was of course, Carly, and not only did she support with all the pre-PT stuff…she continues to support with the post-PT stuff (and she’s also f*cking insanely good at role play)**

Carly was Leah’s client through her Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications ❤

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