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Sarah - The Mayor of Ipswich

Enjoy sport, and do it for yourself

Activity: Running, Walking, Cycling, Swimming

I started to run and swim every week when I was 38 years old after being unwell for 4 years and having several operations. At first I couldn't run for 5 minutes, but since I have completed 3 marathons, which was brilliant when I had finished. My husband was really pleased and proud of me. Being able to train for and run 3 marathons has given me a huge boost of confidence in so many other areas of my life. I am not a fast runner but I enjoy it so much, running is my time and I always feel better after I have been for a run, even if finding the time can be a struggle, it is worth making the effort.

Sarah Ann from Ipswich

Don't Just Jiggle - Wiggle & Giggle

Activity: Zumba, Zumba Gold, Modified Seated Zumba Gold and Zumba Kids

I'm Sarah Ann, a Zumba Instructor and Fraud Investigator. Half of my week is serious & legal, with deadlines & pressure; the other half, I get to shake my bum silly and occasionally find myself pretending to be an elephant!

I once worked in a town where I didn't know anyone, gained a few extra curves and hated the gym. Having heard about Zumba I finally decided to give it a whirl. As soon as the music began I loved it, a total party atmosphere and my hips started to move in ways I never knew they could!

Whilst making new friends I toned up those curves & even learnt to love my chunky wobbly thighs (I OWN them!). I enjoyed shaking my jiggly bits and embraced the skin I'm in!

Absolutely loving it, I decided to teach it myself. (It was just supposed to be a hobby!) This Girl Can Campaign encouraged me to help motivate others into fitness. It's important to find something that, quite simply, you enjoy doing. I now teach Zumba, Zumba Gold (modified low impact), Zumba Kids and I also take the party to those who can't get to it, with modified seated classes.

Zumba really is for everybody and every BODY! Different ages, shapes, sizes, abilities and goals; including fitness, weight loss, making new friends, socialising, even therapy for some! It's a total judgement free zone, real people, real bodies, having a real good time losing ourselves in the music! Dancing, sweating, wiggling and giggling! Dance at your own pace, just keep MOVING & have Fun!

Sarah from Ipswich

Activity: Crossfit

I love CrossFit!!! CrossFit has changed my whole outlook on fitness. I now enjoy getting to the gym because for me the gym means community, slogging it out together and getting through a workout surrounded by friends even strangers but weirdly they all feel like family. My biggest barrier to taking part in sport is always time and finding the confidence to try new things. CrossFit has given me the motivation to make time, it's given me almost a sense of excitement that I don't know what I'll be doing when I get to the gym but no matter what I'm going to give it a go! Through my job working with kids especially girls the this girl can campaign has inspired me to up my game and get active not only for me but to act as a role model for these young girls to show them that girls can be just as good as boys in any sport they want to have a go at.

Adele from Ipswich

I run, I'm slower than paint drying, but at least I'm running!

Activity: Running and Judo

I am a regular parkrunner and have been running for the last 4 years since signing up for Race for Life. I am a member of the local Felixstowe Road Runners running club and am also the welfare officer for Ipswich Judo club. I've suffered various injuries over my running history and have had large periods where I've been out injured, but I always think its important to come back and get moving again. It's always hard trying to fit in a workout or a run, but I try and make sensible choices, so I'll run before I pick my son up from school, or I'll take my bike rather than the car. The This Girl Can campaign has been brilliant at showing that other people are just like me, they have the same battles as me and it's not all about pin up people! I've made some brilliant new frieds with my running community and found encouragement and support that has helped push me to do things I'd never have thought possible. If it wasn't for them, I'd have never even contemplated taking part in a triathlon, never mind completing one!

Alex from Ipswich

Run for fun, no need to race, you're own Personal Best is the best first place

Activity: Running

I started running at the beginning of this year to try to lose weight. I had tried Gyms and Classes, but time constraints with work always made it tricky and the costs for things kept piling up. With running you can get up and go if you feel like it and feel great for doing so! I've tried to workout at home, kids and life take over; I even started taking my eldest son running with me sometimes just so I could get out and about! Now I try and get out at least once a week, and i have just gone to my first Hockey session! Now I see other women taking part in exercise with the #ThisGirlCan hashtag and it really rallies you along and makes you want to be the best you can be! I have a new workout buddy who encourages me and she is also into running and was the one who encouraged me to start hockey! Exercising makes you feel healthy and included and every woman should get out there however the best you can! It has certainly boosted my confidence and I put it all down to a bit of regular exercise

Alison from Ipswich

It won't kill me. It can only make me stronger

Activity: Running

I currently run 3 times per week. I started to run 3 years ago when I was back living with my parents and saving a deposit for a house. I needed something to get me out, but that was cheap so a gym membership was out of the question. I've never felt comfortable in a gym anyway. I went along to my local parkrun and completed the 5k in 41 minutes by walk/running and I've never looked back. As hard as I find running (I'll never be slim or fast) I love the friendships and the sense of achievement that it brings. I've suffered a few injuries along the way. One being when I fractured my ankle from rolling it whilst on a trail run. Just 2 months later, that's when I found out I'd been first time lucky and obtained a ballot place in the London Marathon. #ThisGirlCan became my mantra and I had it printed on my race top. It kept me going through the 26.2 miles and I did it! I now belong to a running club, and even though I'm their slowest runner, I refuse to give up.

Amelia from Ipswich

Activity: Football, Futsal, Badminton and Gym training

I regularly take part in Futsal and have set up a team for the University of Suffolk, through this I have made new friends as well as creating a competitive environment for us to push ourselves as a team. I love the competitive element to sport but also enjoy physically and technically improving myself. At points it has been difficult to find the time for exercise alongside uni and working, but by creating a social atmosphere it means it doesn't feel like a chore. Exercise doesn't just mean sport or the gym and I believe there is something that everyone could enjoy you just have to use a bit of trial and error to find what suits you best.

Bex from Ipswich

Don't chase your dreams run them down

Activity: Long Distance Running

I started running with my little girl 3 years ago. Neither of us were particularly active and we decided we'd do the race for life. My was back then and is now 12! We raised money for cancer research and have both since carried on running. My daughter runs for Ipswich harriers and I've just completed my 1st and 2nd marathon within just two months raising £2500 for a suicide charity in memory of my friend who took her own life. Running benefits me greatly, physically, socially and emotionally. I can't imagine my life with no running now!

Claire from Ipswich

You may see me struggle but you will never see me quit

Activity: Running

I was 50 last year, and have been incredibly inactive for the best part of 25 years.
With working full time, and then having young children at home, and my husband working evenings, I felt i had no time to exercise. I would never have a joined a gym as felt far too self conscious.
Realsing I needed to do something about my own health, and now children were older I took the plunge in January this year, and began walking in the evenings, knowing no one could see me so well in the dark! After a few weeks I thought i would try to run. It took 20 mins to tell myself I could do it. I went through all the mechanics in my head, I wasn't sure if my body even knew how to run!I have not looked back since, I am now training to run the Great East Run in September, with a fantastic bunch of people. It is hard, but the enjoyment is worth every achey muscle.
My mantra that keeps me going is this. You may see me struggle, but you will never see me quit.

Emma from Ipswich

Run Walk Run Repeat

Activity: Running - The Jeff Galloway technique of running and walking - 'Jeffing'

I've struggled with exercise all my life. Mostly because of fear of being judged - I'm plus sized and have been pretty unfit, I didn't like jiggling about in front of other people. I've joined all the gyms, did all the workouts but never really got the light bulb moment until I tried running. I loved it. So much so that I wanted to share it with other women - in particular women who haven't exercised for a long time, so I set up the I Can Run club. With inspiration from This Girl Can as well as other plus sized athletes across the world I plucked up the courage to lead a beginners run/walk group and provide a group run for confident runners and have never looked back. I'm over 40 and have only just discovered the physical and mental health benefits of exercise, I'm passionate about sharing this with women and girls now. I've made new friends through running, discovered that my body can do brilliant stuff and love watching others achieve their goals too, running has completely changed my life.

Jenny from Ipswich

Dig deep. Keep moving


Throughout school, I was always the scrawny academic. Books over trainers every time. I'm not sure when that changed, but somewhere I found the determination to improve my body as well as my mind. Along came the gym membership. I felt disenchanted with the treadmill after a while, though; death-by-cardio was losing its appeal. I'd heard of Crossfit but didn't know anything about it. A friend suggested I try it, so I did. It was the best decision I ever made. Initially, it was terrifying - at 5'3" and 50kg body weight, I struggled to lift even 15kg above my head, and a women's Olympic bar alone weighs 15kg before you even put any plates on it; I felt out of my depth on multiple occasions. But the people kept me coming back, trying again, proving to myself that I could do it. And now? 15kg is barely the warm up weight...
Fitness is no longer about what my body looks like - it's about what it can do. I'm still slight and can't lift as much as some (yet), but my size will not hold me back. 80kg tyre flips? Yes please.

Joanne from Ipswich

My race, my pace

Activity: Swimming and Running

When I reached my mid forties I was inactive and overweight and generally felt constantly tired with no time for exercise. Something had to change and I decided to start swimming again, a sport I had always enjoyed when I was younger. I overcame the fear of displaying my flabby bits in a swimming costume and got back in the pool - I loved it and the weight began to come off. The This Girl Can sessions at Felixstowe Leisure Centre have inspired me to keep going and to learn front crawl - it's not pretty but I'm getting there!
My improved fitness has also led to me giving running a try. I completed my first parkrun in Sept 2016 and have since joined Felixstowe Road Runners and entered a number of races - my next challenge is to increase my distance to complete the Coastal 10 mile race. Hitting the streets by myself has been a challenge but the supportive comments I've received along the way have been amazing - I've made new friends, I have increased confidence and I am the healthiest and fittest I've ever been.

Martina from Ipswich

Strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink

Activity: Cycling, Running and Weights

I'm 42 years young and my life have just started. It's been 10 months since I decided enough is enough, I could not walk up the stairs without having to stop, all my clothes didn't fit. Well since than I lost 17kg by healthy eating and exercising. Until six months ago I've never been to the gym and now I'm there 3 times a week and loving it, bought myself a bike and doing 10 miles at the weekends. Learning to run properly as I'm not a natural runner but I'm determined to run 5k or maybe even 10k. I'm a living and jumping proof of it doesn't matter how old are you to start enjoying sport!

Melanie from Ipswich

Striving to be wealthy in healthy

Activity: Gym and Cardio

I've never been a sporty person, I hated anything sporty in school. It's only really been in the last few years I've felt I needed to get involved as I was getting older. I joined a gym about 3 years ago and I could manage to use the running machine (you could just press 'go')but nothing else so started taking classes in Body Pump,spin and some PT lessions. I'm still not super confident in the gym so I go very early in the morning or late at night but I do go, about 4-5 times a week.
I've taken part in a few London based classes like a recent Reebok HIIT class and a Barry's boot camp class to push myself.
I've met some really motivational people along the way who are proper fitties so they completely out shine me but they are great friends.
I've still got my soft bits to work on so I'm still striving but I love the 'this girl can' campaign as it reminds me I have to keep going.

Sarah from Ipswich

I can and I will

Activity: Zumba, Zumba Gold, Running

My name is Sarah and I am a Zumba instructor. Whilst working in the office of a small primary school, the This Girl Can Campaign inspired me to start up a dance club for the older girls who were not interested in the traditional/competitive sports to get them more active. It was a big step for me - I was so nervous! - but the girls loved it! This then gave me the confidence to take the training to become a Zumba Instructor and then on to gain my level 2 ETM. I now teach Zumba, Zumba Gold and Zumba Kids; I still have my dance club and I also do lunchtime running clubs with the children and have my LIRF qualification.
The biggest thing I have gained is confidence and I am pleased that I have encouraged some girls to participate in activity that they otherwise would not have done - they have enjoyed it, got fitter, and it has boosted their confidence too. The same for Zumba and Zumba Gold - after having my children and gaining weight it was Zumba that got me moving, losing weight, and feeling better about myself, so it is great that I can now do the same for others.

Victoria from Ipswich

Activity: Crossfit

I had been overweight and in active for most of my adult life. Too embarrassed and self conscious to try and make a change. A chance encounter with CrossFit marked a new direction. As my confidence grew I became fitter and stronger, this lead to improved nutrition and I made new like minded and supportive friends.
I wanted to encourage others to feel better about themselves so trained to be a kids coach. I'm hoping to inspire the younger generation to be more active helping them to avoid the kind of early adult life I had.

Wendy from Ipswich

One life, one body, one chance

Activity: Running, Swimming, Cycling (road), Obstacle Course Racing, Boot camp, Horse Riding, Gym and Yoga

I am my own worst critic and a self-doubter but in order to get fitter and raise some sponsorship to support a loved one, I gave myself a challenge to up my game! I have been a member of a gym for most of my adult life, with a few years off for study and when I had my daughter but I wanted to do something quite remarkable. A friend suggested that we entered a Sprint Triathlon - that sounded like a big ask but I accepted the challenge, after 12 weeks training, on race day I somehow came 3rd in my age group!
I completed 5 challenges in 6 months in total last year fitting training in around working full-time, studying and supporting my family.
Exceeding my expectations in my physical ability has added confidence to other areas of my life too; I feel stronger and happier in body and mind.

Lucy from Ipswich

Activity: Ipswich

So, I play roller derby! Best decision I've made! I turned up on a 'fresh meat' session back in January not knowing what I was getting myself in for, I had never been on a pair of roller skates before and that has got to be one of the most challenging things I've had to do, however with the amazing support every team mate was there to give me, within just 3 months of practice I was able to play my first game!
Playing roller derby has not only given me a lot of confidence it was also given me a family, I've met amazing people who I would never have met other wise, and I am so grateful so everything they have done to help me get the the stage I'm at now.
Also you get to chose an awesome bad-ass skater name! (I'm Luce Wire)

Kelly from Ipswich

Lifting weights and expectations

Activity: Weights, cardio and HITT

I attend the fitness unit 3-5 times a week. I attend weight classes, boxing, hiit, shred and you as much cardio as I can. Gone from a size 20 to 16 since September. I have made so many new friends and have so much more confidence. I regularly hash tag #thisgirlcan in my social media posts.

Sascha from Ipswich

Mumma on a mission

Activity: Running

In the last 7 months I have lost 4 stone. I used to get out of breath and dizzy when i ran up a flight of stairs and now fast forward to 10 weeks Into the GER programme and I have just ran 6 miles on my own in under an hour. I love setting goals for myself and seeing myself become head strong enough to smash through them and this has had a huge impact on my mindset and happiness.
I am a shift worker and have two young children so i did worry that I wouldn't have the time to fit any exercise but I have developed a strategy for this and that is running foratbthing in the morning or when the children are in bed at night, as well as taking my son out on his bike while I run beside him. You have to be creative and juggle a bit but if you are dedicated and motivated you can do anything!
I think women should take park in sport because the benefits are so much more than just physical.

Ellie from Ipswich

Keep trying until you find what you love

Activity: Running and Swimming

I have never been hugely sporty, I played a bit of netball and used to swim, but that stopped when I left middle school. As I grew older I joined the gym a few times, to try and lose some weight, I hated it and that always fizzled out quickly.
I then got a job where being active was more important, part of the role was to take part in long distance walks. I found myself walking considerable distances that I never really thought I could do, I once walked nearly 60 miles in four days, what surprised me more was that I enjoyed it. Being outside helped me relax and clear my head, I met different people and before I knew it the walk was finished and I had barely noticed the difference. Walking really helped to build my confidence and , the achievement I felt was amazing. Since then I have tried to push my comfort zone, I joined a beginners running course with the I Can Run Club and loved it and even swam a mile and a half in a river!
I am now leading on a project at Suffolk New College to get inactive students more active. I am really excited to help remove their barriers to sport and activity and find what they enjoy.

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