GYM & TONEIC

Life update of late: July

boss-lady

I’m a boss lady! Biggest news in July is that I bought and registered a business…

Brooks Fitness Ltd

Something that I’d been thinking about before I’d even started my level 3 PT course, before I had my mad midlife crisis moment and quit my job at British Cycling. Me being me, I have a tendency to get way ahead of myself, caught up and carried away with the day dreams; in my head I’d created a bestselling fitness brand and business empire before I’d even got the qualifications!

To operate as a PT I need to set up for myself… I wanted to set up a business that had the potential for growth, that a number of services could be offered under, and that my family could be involved with; so naturally I went with the surname. Not exactly original, but using my surname means a few things…

Brooks Fitness - sisters that sweat together!
Brooks Fitness – sisters that sweat together!
  1. The Brooks name will live on; we’re a family dominated by women (strong women) #girlpower! If/when my sisters and I get married the name will cease to exist within my immediate family. Also I want the business to focus solely on women’s specific training and fitness; all that girl power needs to be utilised and maximised to its full potential!
  2. Brooks Fitness will be a sister duo affair, run by myself and my sister Ruth (pictured above, on the left), who is also a qualified PT (amongst other things). This is something we discussed doing before either of us had the qualifications, with us both having very similar ideas and values about how we would want to operate as a business and as personal trainers.
  3. It’s generic enough to be used against a number of different services that both of us, with a list of qualifications as long as our arms, could/can/will offer.
Forget Carlsberg... if Lanson did life-winning Wednesday's!
Forget Carlsberg… if Lanson did winning Wednesday’s!

So on a not so summery July weekday night Brooks Fitness Ltd was established, with a glass (bottle) of fizz in hand. Now there’s lots of business planning, plotting and scheming going on behind the scenes to get Brooks Fitness off the ground – watch this space!

What else have I been up to…

  • The blog content Gantt chart has been created – lots of ideas for things I want to blog about… if you’ve got any suggestions for content you’d like to see featured let me know and post below!
  • Bridesmaid duties; planning and sorting things for my sister Ruth’s hen do next weekend… she gets married on 26 August.
  • Instructing and teaching; I’m still working at various leisure facilities on a casual basis wherever I can, loving every minute of my time in the gym!

Life update of late: June

life-update

I’ve been crap at blogging of late… I’ve got a list as long as my arm with ideas and topics I want to blog about, all noted down in a little black book (that’s red), that I carry around with me everywhere I go, also jotted down in my notes on my phone – I need to get more organised and STOP procrastinating!

I was on fire a month ago, studying and stressing over my PT exams, like my life depended on it (well it kind of did), no stopping me. I had my life mapped out, *massive LOL* that’s a total lie; I’ve ‘winged it’ every darn day! But in my head, I was quitting my full-time job to become a PT and buggering off into the sunset, to be a fitness instructor by a beach somewhere hot, sunny and exotic.

Feels like I’ve hit a wall over the last week or two, with regards to the next phase of my master life/career plans… I think it’s because I’m getting way ahead of myself, dreaming about where I want to end up, visualizing/fantasizing about my end goal, as opposed to focusing on the here and now, and the baby steps I need to take to make it happen. That or I’m too focused on what other people are doing, that are doing a similar thing that I want to do, but have 5/10/15+ years more experience than me in the fitness profession. I need to get back to focusing on me (the here and now) and get shit done!

What I have been up to since passing my PT

Lots of gym instructing, swimming instructing, shadowing PT’s, and more studying and swotting wherever I can. I’m loving being in the gym so much, devising exercise programmes for people to help them achieve their goals, being around so many supportive and encouraging PT’s and fitness professionals, that have been more than happy to share their experiences and knowledge with me, and not forgetting the awesome public, clients and customers, the Joe Bloggs gym users who I’m getting to know so well. Joe Bloggs no more… it’s amazing all the things you end up talking about, with what starts out as a complete stranger. I do have a tendency to talk for England and share waaay too much, but by opening up and sharing some of your story it creates a bond, and encourages others to do the same. You connect with people, find similarities and common ground, share experiences and offer support and advice, and this works both ways.

Shout out to some of the awesome people I’ve met so far… 

Martin; an awesome PT (ex-military) at The Gym Group in Bolton. I did two days training there whilst studying, Martin was my guinea pig. He offered to help and let me at him with callipers, showing me how to do body fat testing and so on. He offered to help me wherever he could, and since qualifying I’ve been back to shadow him PT and deliver his gruelling bootcamp sessions (military style!), the shadowing was active that day… I got a beasting, with two classes back-to-back.

Barry, Chantelle, Sophie and Zoe; the first few customers I devised exercise programmes for. Sorry again Chantelle for beasting you with squats and lunges, and making climbing stairs feel like climbing mountains! Your programme has been revised, we will regress and you will progress to be a squatting superhero!

Dave; a legend of a guy that I opened up to about all of my life plans and he gave the best advice ever, Mr Motivator! Gave loads of great tips on the best ways to apply for jobs and get yourself seen and heard, based on his own experiences. Said I should just go for it, pick a place and go, stop being so cautious and take more risks… not to wait until I have solid plans in place, make it happen along the way.

Phillipa; a new member that has recently moved to Ramsbottom, she works as a fitness instructor at Virgin Active. She’s been an instructor for many years, and as soon as I told her I was newly qualified she took me under her wing, offered me training tips and advice, and suggested we should train together. I have to admit when she told me she was an instructor my gut wrenched a little, with a feeling of intimidation, like I know nothing! But she couldn’t have been more encouraging and supportive.

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To do list…

  • One thing at a time – stop thinking about 20 things to do at once, doing little bits of everything and finishing nothing, getting way ahead of myself too soon!
  • Blog content plan – get my marketing head back on, get organised and pull together all these ideas in one place, Gantt chart stylee!
  • Draft a business plan – a loose plan at least, the what, where, when, how and who of what I want to achieve and do, to give me direction and more focus.
  • Decide on a location/s and be more focussed and specific with my quest for the sun and sea, or do what Dave said and just pack my bags and go!
  • Take more pictures to accompany blogs and use on social media – I am rubbish at this, major blogger faux pas. I need to invest in a decent camera at some point too, all recommendations welcome??

Procrastination is the thief of time.
Procrastination is the thief of time.
Procrastination is the thief of time.
Procrastination is the thief of time.
Procrastination… it will sink in!

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Don’t stress the SAT’s

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I’m late to the party with this post in terms of SAT’s, they’ve been and gone… but my point with this is to do with education and exam stress, and the unnecessary pressure placed on children today. Which personally, I think is ridiculous. The title’s just got a good ring to it!

I know this will cause heated debate and disagreement with my teacher friends (as I proceed to rub them up the wrong way!), but I think in many cases the education system/schools are more concerned with results, reputation and ranking (marketing), than genuine development of pupils. Pressure is placed on teachers to churn out results, like corporate cutthroats. Children have got a letter above their head, in the same way as employees have a figure.

A few weeks ago the papers were full of stories about children feeling extreme exam pressure, children as young as 10 getting totally stressed out and nervous over SAT’s, thinking that if they didn’t achieve high marks it would set them up for failure in life, in life! I watched a programme the other day too, where a girl came out from a GCSE exam and had a full blown panic attack… crazy! Children shouldn’t know or feel this kind of pressure. Adults know (teachers know), that these exams are not the be all and end all. They are the basic foundations for future, but by no means do they define it!

This is exactly my point… this is what should be taught in school. Your exams are a foundation, they open doors, but as you go through life (live and learn), you’re likely to change your mind, thought processes, career goals, dreams and aspirations a hundred times! Unless your one of these annoying people who know what they want to be and do from day dot. Like my incredibly talented and clever friend Alison, who knew she wanted to be a marine biologist and work with great whites from being 5 years old, and guess what… she’s done exactly that and works/lives in South Africa studying, tagging and tracking sharks every day. However, most of us, like me for instance, don’t know. I’ve gone through the education system not really knowing what I wanted to do and recently jacked my job in to retrain and do something that I could’ve done without going to Uni. I don’t have any regrets with my degree, but I do have regrets not studying more creative subjects at college, which was what I enjoyed doing. Instead I chose subjects that I thought I should do to get on in life… business studies! Amongst other generalised subjects.

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You spend a long time in education and then a bloody long time in employment… so how about promoting and encouraging children to do what they enjoy throughout school, FE, HE and beyond… if you love what you do, you’ll put your heart and soul into it, the pressure will be passion. Don’t pick something that you think you should do just because; everyone else is doing it, your parents say you should do it, you think it will lead to a ‘respectable career’. When it comes to options, subjects, projects and so on… simply pick the ones you enjoy doing!

This post doesn’t really sit well within any existing category on my blog, it’s more of a personal rant and airing of my views, as I so like to do! What I’ve seen in the news, on TV and reflecting on my own experiences in education, makes me want to go back in time and tell all of the above to my teenage self, challenge my teachers (which me being the gobby girl I am, I definitely would’ve done!), and most importantly tell children to stress less and enjoy carefree life more. Don’t stress the SAT’s, GCSE’s and so on… they aren’t the be all and end all, they won’t define you!  

Do what you love. Love what you do.   

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Yesterday was the best day!

I want to inspire people quote

I passed my practical exam! It’s official, I can now say that I am a qualified Personal Trainer… even bigger YAY!

I’m writing this post today, because as soon as I passed my exam yesterday I came home and messaged my friends to see who was around for a much needed celebratory drink – G&T was calling! I had no time to write a post, as priority went on paying myself some long overdue TLC… in the form of dying my hair, shaving my legs and a host of other girlie grooming basics that I’d neglected to do for the last few weeks, having lived like a hermit with my head stuck in the study books… the crazy cavewoman look had to go!

I’m chuffed to bits, pleased as punch; all of the hours of studying and stressing paid off. The first and hardest part of my life changing plans is complete! Next up… put the qualifications to good use and bag myself instructing hours. Lots and lots more learning to do, every day will be learning day from here on in.

I can’t wait to start helping people to achieve their health and fitness goals, and see where this new career and fitness focus leads – exciting times indeed!

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. 

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Today is a good day!

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The impossible became possible! I passed my level 3 PT theory exams… YAY!

Chuffed to bits and so relieved, I can breathe again… well until Saturday, when I do my practical.

The pressure I’ve felt in the lead up is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, as everything in my ‘dream’ future is riding on this… I quit my job for this!

Stress, anxiety, fear, doubt, major doubt; is the toxic cocktail of emotions I’ve been swimming in for the last few weeks and months, since handing my notice in. Questioning my sanity, capabilities, life decisions (all of my life decisions to date for that matter…). I’ve looked like a walking corpse! So much so that my tutor/examiner said as much today, as I stood grey complexion, shaking like a leaf, waiting to go into the exam room.

I’m not a scientific thinker, I was crap at science at school, and the anatomy is bloody complex! So this has been no easy feat, no ‘winging it’ on this occasion. I’ve had to read everything hundreds of times for it to go in and ‘get it’, and I still don’t fully get it. I’m going to be studying and learning constantly from here on in… but I’m excited about that!

So that’s my good news for the day… fingers, toes and anything else that can be crossed, crossed for my practical exam on Saturday.

Everything you want is on the other side of fear!

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Saying goodbye…

friendship-piglet-quote-winnie-the-pooh-Favim.com-1138425

Friday 22 April marked the end of an era, my last day at British Cycling – sob! To take a stride, step, stumble into the unknown.

I still can’t believe I’ve done what I’ve done… Leaving my job for no job, who does that?! I’ve always been employed, from being 15 years old waiting on in restaurants, up until Friday last week! I’ve always had something lined up…

In the words of the late great Luther King, ‘I have a dream’, which may sound stupid to some, but my dream is to live beside the sea (wherever that may be), working as a fitness instructor (amongst other things). I don’t want to do one thing anymore and I don’t want to sit behind a desk 9am-5pm. I want variety, I want adventure, and I want to get back to delivery of sport and fitness – supporting people to improve their health & wellbeing and in turn improve my own!

Saying goodbye to such an awesome team of people last week broke me (there were gin tears too, from my very boozy leaving do the night before!). It’s always tough to leave the people over a job. Don’t get me wrong the job was great, and I can hand on heart say I learnt more in that marketing role than any other, but it was the people that made my time there most memorable! Working with such talented and creative individuals, on so many amazing projects and events was a blast! I’ll miss everyone so much…

I’m a big believer in fate and that everything happens for a reason. I started out working in the fitness industry many moons ago and I could’ve carried on with that, missing out Uni and all the other jobs in-between. Done the level 3 PT and all these other fitness qualifications over my degree, but the journey you take, people you meet and experiences you have along the way are what makes you. I have no regrets up until now, and this is how I would like my life to carry on.

So here I am, writing this post, first day of unemployment…

Time to hit the books hard and pass my PT!

Every new day is a chance to change your life. 

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Life: next chapter, new focus!

Quotes of encouragement and support shared by awesome friends and colleagues!

Last week I made some pretty big (scary) decisions about my future/career, with a bold and crazy move made to commit to it. I handed my notice in at work, signed up to do level 3 PT and asked my long suffering mum and dad if it was OK to move back home for a brief spell (I promise it will be brief mum!).  

At 31 taking steps backwards isn’t ideal, but needs must in order to move forwards in the direction I want to go. I don’t think I’m having a midlife crisis; it’s too early for that yet… surely!?

Going full circle…

Towards the back end of 2015 I decided I wanted to get back into leisure and instructing, a setting in which I started working life at the tender age of 16, as a leisure attendant and swimming instructor. I missed working with people and the buzz of a leisure centre environment; sitting behind a desk 9am-5pm wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I decided to do a level 2 Gym Instructing qualification, with intentions of picking up casual hours around my full-time job. This was the start of it… I did a few more qualifications at the beginning of this year, Kettlebell and Studio Cycle Instructor training, and decided I wanted to learn and do more. To get my foot in the door fully I needed to do my level 3 PT, and to become the best instructor I can be I need to focus on fitness full-time! Something had to give…

I’ve worked in sport most of my career, either delivering or promoting it. After studying a marketing management degree at University, I took on a marketing role at the leisure centres where I started out. Before moving on to British Cycling where I am now (well for the next four weeks), and have had the odd job in-between, but I’ve always come back to sport. It’s what I’m passionate about, it’s what I enjoy, it’s what I want to do for a living, with emphasis now being on the doing and delivering!

I start my level 3 PT this week, with Planetwes Training and following successful completion and pass (PMA), well that’s the unknown bit… stick around and see how it pans out.

Hugh Laurie

If not now, when?!

I don’t want to look back on my life and wish I’d done something different or given something a go when I had the opportunity. As it stands I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain, a window of opportunity to make a change, so I’m doing it!

I’m lucky and thankful to have such supportive and encouraging friends and family, who give great advice and words of wisdom. Best advice my parents have given me growing up ‘try your best, that’s all you can do’ and ‘do what makes you happy’. Simple advice, but these words have stuck with me.

Scary and exciting times ahead… all positive vibes and words of encouragement most welcome.

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2016: Gym, gin and general life goals

goaldigger

Forget gold digger, this year I plan to be a goal digger! Setting goals is a great way to motivate yourself, to give you focus and direction, as well as an aim to train. Whatever your goals may be, make sure they’re realistic, achievable and timely to keep on track. Here’s my 2016 gym, gin and general life goals…

Gym goals…

Shape up. I want to lose fat, build muscle and tone up. I want to be stronger, fitter and sculpted (the buzz word in fitness for defined). I don’t have a goal weight and don’t really get hung up on what the scales say. It’s more about how I look and feel, for me strong is sexy/healthy, skinny isn’t attractive or appealing in the slightest. I’ve noted my weight and measurements at the start of the year, I’ll show and share my progress over the coming weeks and months. Check out The Naked Truth.

Start Yoga. Something I’ve said I’ll do for the last few years. I’ve been to a few classes, but never stuck at it on a regular basis. I’m well aware of the many health benefits, and need to improve my core strength, flexibility and balance – I am going to start and I am going to stick at it!

Enter some challenge events. This is still tbc at the minute, but I’m thinking a distance/open water swim challenge or a triathlon…

Complete Kettlebell and Studio Cycle Instructor qualifications. I’ve already signed myself up for these one day courses in February and March, two of my favourite fitness classes, I’ll let you know how I get on.

Start Gym Instructing. Putting my recent qualification in to practice. I’m going to look to do this on a casual basis initially, around my full-time job and see where it leads.

Gin goals…

Every year I do dry January – borderline necessity after the booze fest that is Deathcember! So the gin jaunts will be from February onwards…

No endorsements intended! All escapades are my own sourcing, links just for info.

Get involved at Manchester Gin Festival. A date that’s already in my diary, I’m going to the Gin Festival in March with a good friend, Dawn, my gin twin and fellow shoeaholic. Taking place at the beautiful Victoria Baths, we’ll be treated to masterclasses, live music, great grub and 100 different gins – sure we can do 50 each Dawn!
ginfestival.com

Pay the Old Bell Inn a visit. Situated in Saddleworth, this hotel, restaurant and bar holds a Guinness World Record title for the most amount of gins commercially stocked – a whopping 600 different gins! I heard about this place just before Christmas. I’ll be booking in for a week… and detoxing for the rest of the year!
theoldbellinn.co.uk

Join the gin journey. A chauffeur driven gin jaunt around Manchester, that takes you to 5 bars, to try 5 gin cocktails, have fun and meet fellow gin lovers along the way. Led by the gin commandos at shakerattleandstir.co.uk.

I’m sure more gin jaunts will be added to the list as the year goes on.

General life goals…

Manage my money better. I have no idea where it goes and what I spend it on most months, but I’m always counting down the hours till payday, AND class my overdraft as part of my salary and credit card as free money. Not good, not good at all!

Read more. I really enjoy reading, but go through phases of reading loads and then not at all. I annoy myself, I’m really impatient and inquisitive by nature, when I start reading something I want to know what happens (yesterday), so I’ll devour a book in a matter of days, reading so much I give myself eye strain. Patience is a virtue, to be learnt!

Meat free Monday. Something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. There’s not much I won’t eat and I’m an alright cook, but I want to increase my veggie culinary repertoire, improve my health and do a bit to reduce my carbon footprint.
meatfreemondays.com

Writing my goals down and sharing them with the world is like writing them in blood – time to stop talking about them, pull my finger out and start doing! Like starting this blog, something I talked about doing for months, telling friends and family all about my ideas, plans and goals, but not doing the doing.

I’ll update on my progress over the coming months and if I’m slacking feel free to give me a telling. All good read, veggie recipe and gin jaunt suggestions welcome too…

Time for less talk, more action! 

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About

Cover image V2 FINAL

Me

Hi! I’m Kate, a 31 year old Lancashire lass on a mission to shape up; improve my physique and fitness, and develop my knowledge and understanding of the fitness industry. I’ve followed hundreds of exercise programmes, tried countless diets and fluctuated in weight, dress size and shape over the years. However, 2016 is my year! I’m adamant that this is the year I get in the best shape of my life and make big changes to my lifestyle and career.

The blog

Gym & Toneic is an online space to show and share my exercise and social escapades. As the name suggests, I’m a big fan of the gym and of gin, in equal measures. Thus why I don’t look like a buff beauty (yet…). I’m using this blog to document my fitness journey, as a means to motivate myself and hopefully others too, and share my gin drinking jaunts with fellow gin lovers – it’ll be more about lifting weights than cocktails this year though!

Gym love

I’ve been a frequent gym goer since college, and generally workout at least 3 days per week – endorphins make me happy! I’ve worked in various roles in sport and leisure most of my working career, and have a number of instructing qualifications under my belt. I decided to take my passion for the gym to the next level at the back end of 2015, and qualified as a Level 2 Fitness Instructor, and I’ve signed myself up for a few more courses over the coming year. By no means do I know it all… I’m newly qualified and finding my feet, studying to develop my knowledge and broaden my horizons – every day is a learning day!

Gin love

I developed a taste for gin in my late twenties; cider supping on the swings is but a distant (hazy) memory. It’s my drink of choice, refreshing, easy on the palate and waistline! I’ve been to a few gin tasting events in Manchester and have subsequently turned into a bit of a gin snob. Before I order a G&T at a bar, I check out the gin selection and ask what they’ve got to accompany it, and if the reply is simply ‘lemon and lime’, I’m less than impressed…

Bloom gin is my personal favourite, light and fruity, best served in a glass the size of your head with fresh strawberries, and supped in the sun! Over the winter months I took a liking to Opihr, a spiced gin, served with ginger ale and an orange slice. I’m very much looking forward to finding new favourites in 2016… watch this space!

Other loves in life

  • Animal print; leopard, snake, zebra you name it. If it’s tacky and looks like something Kat Slater would wear, I’ll probably love it! Big fan of purple too.
  • Chips, cheese and gravy; a hometown delicacy #Btown. Don’t get me started on gravy, cannot beat good gravy.
  • The beach; sun, sea and a stunning sunset – my idea of heaven!
  • Friends; cheesy I know but I’m a social soul, I love spending time with friends old and new, making memories – good friends are your forever.
  • Laughing; you know when you laugh so hard and loud you can’t breathe, I love that. Life shouldn’t be taken so seriously.
  • Quotes; fitspo, friends, fun times – I do love a good quote. My all-time favourite #fitspo quote has to be, ‘sweat like a pig, to look like a fox’. I plan to sweat a lot this year!
  • Tom Hardy; that guy is too hot for his own good!
  • Shoes; my name is Kate Brooks and I’m a shoeaholic.
  • Tattoos; I’ve got 3 so far, I’m always thinking about my next. The hypnotic buzz of the needle, unknown pain factor, and adrenaline rush that leaves you craving more.
  • Sleep; I’m a 10 hour girl and not much of a morning person – I’ll never be in the early birds exercise club. Approach with caution before 10am!

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