In jeans she’s not worn for years, BMFer Yvonne is ready to outrun a zombie apocalypse, thanks to British Military Fitness! Here’s her incredible transformation story:
“Before I joined BMF, I thought I was so busy I really didn’t have time to go to the gym or anything else. I’d regularly sign up for the gym, put in a couple of sessions, miss a bunch cause I’d no time to go and then sit on the couch for a few more months before repeating the cycle.
The summer before I joined BMF, I knew I had to do something for the sake of my health (I was getting breathless walking to the end of my street) and for myself and my family. I’d worry about stupid things, like getting caught up in a man-made or natural disaster where I’d have to run to safety from human/alien/zombie bad guys and I’d know that I could never do that and we’d all be goners (I have a tendency to day-dream and quite a vivid imagination).
Then we went on holiday to Spain and on the flight there and back I had to ask for a seatbelt extension because I couldn’t fit the standard size around me. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, on a day trip to a theme park while there, I had to get off a ride cause they couldn’t fit the harness over me. I don’t even know if I’ve told anyone that story ever. It fills me with so much shame even typing it…
When I got back I took up walking for a bit (I know – “took up walking” – that phrase alone probably gives you more insight into the sedentary nature of my lifestyle than anything else!). I’d get up an hour early and walk up what I thought was a quite challenging hill and back down before everyone else was up. But that soon tailed off too, a couple of mornings where it was too dark, too wet or too frosty became an easy excuse to stay in my bed for a bit longer. My clothes got bigger, stretchier and more shapeless but the bigger I got, the less motivation I could muster.
My sister *made* me try BMF. She joined the class in the summer of 2015 and I’d noticed a real difference in her. She kept talking about it and asking me to come along and try it but I kept putting it off because, quite frankly, it sounded like hard work. I’d make excuses about needing to lose a bit of weight first but all the time I was just putting more on. She just kept chipping away at me until eventually I agreed to come along and try a class.
I remember it well, because it was the Wednesday between Christmas and New Year and I had run out of excuses for why I couldn’t go. So, with stomach churning (a pre-class feeling that hasn’t ever quite gone away for me!) I rolled up to the first class – I think my sister picked me up so that I wouldn’t chicken out – dressed in baggy trousers and huge old T-shirt that somehow managed to look skin tight despite its humungous size.
I remember the instructor and all the class being lovely to me, but I don’t remember much about the class at all. I think I blocked it out. I have vague memories of thinking I might pass out when I realised we’d only done the warm-up and the ‘real’ class was just about to start. But I didn’t pass out and I didn’t have a heart attack and the rest of the class members didn’t get exasperated when I stumbled and staggered my way through that first class (and they still don’t get exasperated when I stumble and stagger through classes now!). And when I finally heard the words that signalled the class was over, I was exhilarated. I was wet and sweaty and muddy and my legs were like jelly but it was the best feeling in the world. And that’s what made me come back to the class on the 2nd January and it’s what made me come back (almost) every week since.
I had heard plenty about BMF from my sister. She had pretty much transformed herself in about six months and she was running 5k log races and taking part in all kinds of activities that I’d read about but never imagined my sister doing. It was obviously working out so well for her, but I thought I was a different kettle of fish – very, very overweight (obese), incredibly unfit, and lacking confidence (although I didn’t realise that at the time). I genuinely thought that I might die/have a heart attack if I attempted a class. I didn’t think I’d have time, I wasn’t sure about all the mud and wind and rain (secretly one of my favourite bits, it turns out) and it just seemed too daunting.
Now, I try to go to three classes a week. It doesn’t always work out like that for various reasons (holidays, illness, football games or other conflicts), but I’ve made it to 106 so far this year, so averaging about 9 a month. Some weeks it can feel like a battle just to get to the class – fitting it around the family, work, having to be organised in the morning before I leave (definitely one of my biggest challenges) and relying on public transport to get me from work to park can be a tad stressful… but all that stress gets blown right away by the time the warm-up’s over!
I’m a total BMF groupie now. I was lucky enough to join Musselburgh BMF, which is filled with the most supportive people I’ve ever met in my life. From the initial session onwards they’ve got your back – when you think you can’t take another step or you’re struggling with an exercise, they cheer you on and offer help and encouragement for the entire class. It’s just the best group to be a part of.
And the instructors – I was going to list the ones I like but when I started thinking it through, I’ve liked every single instructor I’ve had – even the tougher, scarier ones (y’all know who I’m referring to here, right?). Each one brings a different style to the class but they’re all so positive and pleased for you when they see even the slightest improvement.
I love that the classes are all so different too. No two are ever the same and you’ve no idea which bits are going to be hurting the next day.
What are the biggest challenges? My initial challenge was getting there for the first class; getting over that initial fear that I’d not be able to do it or that everyone would laugh at me or that the instructors would think I was a lost cause.
Now, it’s occasionally challenging turning up when you don’t really feel like it – sometimes I think my brain is out to sabotage the rest of me! Also, keeping going when you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere. There have been times when I’ve turned up to a class and found it incredibly difficult and wondered if I’ve made any improvements at all. (I have, and there are other classes where I’m grinning like a Cheshire cat because I can see/feel the difference – but sometimes it’s hard to remind yourself of that when you’re stumbling along behind everyone else.)
There have been so many positive outcomes for me:
Acceptance – I don’t really care about what the scales say anymore. My body is changing shape and although it may never reach the shape that I might have thought I’d wanted to reach in the past, it’s going to be in the best shape it can be for me and that’s plenty good enough.
Self-confidence – I may not look quite like I do boot camp three times a week – I may never look like that – but I know that I do it and I know how hard it is so that gives me an inner confidence that I’m taking control of things.
Attitude – the thought of walking anywhere or taking a flight of stairs or two at work no longer fills me with dread that I’ll arrive breathless and sweaty – I might get breathless but I’ll recover (and I’ll recover faster each time!). I want to be active and have options. I did a 5k obstacle course earlier this year. I was absolutely the worst at it, the slowest by far, but my team stuck by me and I got a medal! And it was fun!
To anyone considering joining BMF I’d say: Just do it (JFDI!). You’ve absolutely nothing to lose. Yes, it’s tough, some sessions feel like they’re never going to end. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to pick up your cup of tea the next day as your arms are so achy, sometimes the pain you feel walking down stairs after a class makes you hold your breath but it is so worth it. I’m wearing jeans for the first time in years, I feel confident that I’m on a journey to a better me (and it’s not a short journey but I’m okay with that) and I’m more self-assured and assertive than I’ve been in a long time. And last but certainly not least, when the zombie apocalypse comes I’ve got a better chance of outrunning them.”