We are Leah and Carly.
We are two fitness professionals, campaigners and friends.
We have lived experience of Eating Disorders, both professionally and personally.
We are the co-founders of WorkEDout.
WorkEDout is a campaign by Leah Newton and Carly Wilkinson, to open up the conversation between fitness professionals and those suffering from eating disorders (EDs). We want to make it less of a taboo subject. Through this, we hope to empower fitness professionals to further educate themselves about this topic.
Carly is a fitness instructor who specialises in promoting body acceptance. After 30 years feeling like her body didn’t belong in a “sporty” space, Carly started taking part in fitness classes and found a new love of positive, joyful movement. She changed career to become an instructor in her mid-30s, hoping to bring these feelings of joy to all people in all bodies.
Leah popped into a class in 2018, and soon confided in Carly about her eating disorder and recovery. It was then the duo realised that there’s a huge gap in training for fitness professionals around how to support and refer someone with an eating disorder. Carly took a course, and both women started to do some of their own research and resource gathering.
Learning together, the pair struck up a friendship, created and launched the workEDout campaign, and Leah trained to become personal trainer.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that sitting in a coffee shop for hours at a time with your friend, doesn’t lead to great things!
Having suffered from Anorexia for over 7 years, Leah had spent years stuck in a toxic cycle of punitive, compulsive exercise. After her last inpatient admission, she vowed never to return to any fitness space. To Leah, it was toxic, dangerous and fuelled her eating disorder. She was further on in recovery than she’d ever been, and exercise was a trigger she’d firmly boxed up.
Then she met Carly.
In a bid to make friends, be accepted and find inclusion in a new home, Leah attended one of Carly’s DiscoAerobics classes. The impact this class, and each proceeding one had, completely revolutionised Leah’s relationship with movement and her body. Carly showed her (through her words, her movements and her message) that exercise can be fun, safe, inclusive, and soul fulFILLING rather than soul destroying.
Through open conversations about Leah’s history, together they were able to navigate the ’no mans (woman’s 🤨) land’ of fitness and eating disorders and it brought Leah to a place of healing she thought she’d never find.
In the years since, Leah’s felt empowered to share this experience with others, and has qualified as a personal trainer and launched her own business; Backing My Body.
Alongside her fitness instructing, Leah works as an Occupational Therapist within a mental health service.
Meet the workEDout campaign
We realised that – when it comes to eating disorders and the fitness industry – so much still isn’t spoken about. This is mainly through lack of confidence or knowledge around the issue, or because it’s scary for either party in these situations to know what’s the “right” thing to say.
We traded ideas and experiences on how to make a fitness environment safer for those who are unfortunately at any stage of an eating disorder, what instructors are trained to do when they suspect someone in their care needs support, or how someone in recovery should best be encouraged back to a mentally healthy place through exercise.
“Can we talk?”
We decided to focus on something we could campaign for, in a defined way, with a specific outcome. We are passionate about empowering fitness instructors to feel confident in supporting clients with eating disorders, whether that’s those at risk, currently suffering, or in recovery.
And so, our campaign exists to encourage fitness professionals to upskill in this area so they feel more educated, and can make clients feel more confident in asking for help if they need it.
Within our campaign, we hope to empower fitness professionals to:
1. RECOGNISE the signs of eating disorders in clients, by furthering their education
2. APPROACH clients sensitively & confidently, when there is concern
3. REFER clients who require specialist support to the necessary services, in a way which feels authentic to the instructor-client relationship
WorkEDout aims to embolden those who are suffering from eating disorders, to feel safer and more comfortable approaching their trainers for advice and support.
What we’ve done so far
We’ve spoken to numerous people who have suffered from, or who are currently suffering from eating disorders. We’ve also spoken to fitness professionals of all types, to see what the current conversation around this topic looks like.
We’ve created a number of short videos where we discuss our findings, and our own experiences as a gym instructor and client who has recovered from an eating disorder. In these videos, we’ve shared information for fitness professionals on how to gain further education into this important topic, and better support clients in need.
Via talks and workshops, we engage with local gyms and instructors, where we share our experiences to further the conversation.
Although we are not affiliated with them, we have gained recognition and support from national eating disorders charity Anorexia Bulimia Care (ABC). ABC have given us permission to promote their CIMPSA-endorsed CPD course, “Understanding Eating Disorders for Fitness Professionals”. You can find out more about this and other resources, HERE.
We would like to thank those with eating disorders who took time to speak to us in confidence, and so honestly about their experiences.
We’d also like to thank all of the fitness professionals who shared their experiences to help widen our research, some of whom were happy to be named below:
Interact with us
You can find us on
(Quick thank you to Pete Silk at Good Times Studio for creating our logo as a pro-bono project!)