Meet Leah

Hello!


Here’s a space for you to find out a bit more about me!
(If you wanna!…I mean you’re here now you MAY AS WELL!)

I’ll keep it brief…promise!


Did I always back my body?


Honestly?…no.

Backing my body hasn’t come naturally OR easily to me. For many years, I did the opposite…I was at war with my body. As a child and in my early teens, I accepted my body for everything it was. I never thought about what it ‘wasn’t’, or what I wanted it ‘to be’. It existed, and I lived in it. As I wrote in a blog post once…

“I sat happily in a bikini. I walked freely into a bar. I ate simply…because I wanted to”

Unhappiness in my first year of University led to a desperate attempt to regain control of my newfound miserable existence. Ironically, the opposite happened and I lost control of everything. Diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa aged 19, I spent the next 7 years in and out of hospitals, up and down in health. I was searching for ‘purpose’, searching for recovery, and overall desperately searching for the little ol’ ‘me’ I’d lost somewhere along the way.

Within my Eating Disorder, I struggled with compulsive exercise. Movement was painful, movement was punitive, and most of all movement was a means to an end. I grew up in the 90’s; diet culture was all we knew, Barbie was whom we aspired to, and calories were there to be counted.

The gym quickly became my home. When I struggled with friendships, it was there. When I struggled with Nursing night shifts, it welcomed me in. When I needed somewhere to place my feelings, it took them from me.

Anxiety, depression, loneliness, uncertainty; I found solace in punishing my body. Scanning my card was the only constant, and moving my body relieved me from (yet at the same time gave) so much pain.

My final hospital admission lasted nearly a year. I had no fight left in me, and I vowed to give recovery one final attempt before admitting defeat. Those months were the hardest of my life, yet they were also the months I slowly began to regain some elements of a ‘life’.

I began to find my voice again. It was a new one…a quieter one…but it was definitely there.

I’ll always talk about recovery as being a ‘journey’ (yes, I used the word ‘journey’… I’m cringing too), and this hospital admission was where it *really* started. After I was discharged, I moved to Bristol. I was early in recovery…shaky, unsure, scared, prone to lapse and relapse, and desperately clinging to all I had learnt and gained in the last year.

In terms of exercise, I’d stopped completely. Hospital had put a stop to compulsive exercising, and ‘giving up’ my Eating Disorder meant giving up ALL the parts of it; restriction and over-exercising.

It was all or nothing, for me. I had been there for the ‘all’, now I was insistent it had to be ‘nothing’. I didn’t want to go to fitness classes, I swore to never set foot in a gym again, and the thought of a personal trainer terrified me.

I was d o n e.

I wanted out.

I wholeheartedly told myself…

“No more”

I’d lost too much, and I gained huge progress in my recovery. Returning to exercise was a significant trigger and one I wasn’t willing to risk.


Do I back my body now?


I started my Occupational Therapy degree (years *and* another Psychology degree later LOL!) and worked hard to be ‘anonymous’. I didn’t want people to know my history. I wanted a fresh start (…another one!) and I was desperate for new friends to see me as someone without an Eating Disorder. One particular friend invited me along to a fitness class she loved. It was named ‘Discoaerobics’ and deep down I really wanted to go. I wanted to do ‘normal things’ (whatever normal means), yet I was terrified of doing anything ‘fitness-y’.

I buckled and went. I will NEVER in my whole life forget that first class. I danced. I moved. I laughed. I sang. I thought about how capable I was of doing this because I had a full, fuelled tummy, a working brain, and hope in my heart. I’d never experienced movement like it. It was fun?! It was safe?! No-one shouted at me to “go harder”…told me “if it ain’t hurting, it ain’t working”. It was so freeing and I wanted more. I wanted to move my body in this new, empowering way. 

Yet, I was still fearful of triggering my Eating Disorder. Terrified that if it went ‘wrong’ and I couldn’t cope, no-one would really know the compulsive part of me I’d worked so hard to heal. After much deliberation (in my own head!) I decided if I was going to try some of her other classes, I needed to disclose this information to her. To protect me. And inform her.

The instructor was Carly at Project HB. My now, incredible friend. We sat in a chocolate shop together and I told her my history. I didn’t need her to ‘do’ anything, I just wanted her to know and ‘hold’ it with me. She did that and so much more. Navigating this together, we created our WorkEDout campaign and I’ve never looked back since.

Back your body with me now…


A few years (and a pandemic!) later and I qualified as a FitPro. I can’t even begin to explain to you how empowering my journey within movement has been, and continues to be. I never believed the process was more important than the destination. I never knew you could move through love rather than hate, and I’m so grateful to anyone along the way who helped me learn this.

I took my qualification because I want to share this with you too.

I like to dance. I like to swim. I like to walk. I like to stretch. I like to flow. I like to breath. I like to jump. I like to rest. I like high intensity. I like low intensity. I like music. I like friendships. I like classes. I like community. I like safety. I like trust.

You’ll find these elements in my classes, and I hope you’ll find your own to bring along too.

F45 Bristol – One of Leah’s favourite places to move her own body!

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