Getting a personal trainer has transformed my quest for fitness – Hayley Matthews

Gyms can feel like intimidating places for those not already bulging with muscles (Picture: Scott Nelson/Getty Images)Gyms can feel like intimidating places for those not already bulging with muscles (Picture: Scott Nelson/Getty Images)
Gyms can feel like intimidating places for those not already bulging with muscles (Picture: Scott Nelson/Getty Images)
I've been trying to get into the swing of a fitness routine the last few weeks. However, with the school sending the kids home, tonsillitis and lack of sleep, I've been struggling.

Deep down there's also this thing lurking: "gym anxiety". All the strong, confident people whirling about the equipment like they're working on a well-oiled factory belt. You know the ones who seem to glide from machine to machine whilst planking for a few minutes in between.

And then there's me. A few stone overweight, start of arthritis, baby belly swinging about and bingo wings dangling down to my knees. So I've been desperate to get into the swing of it but needed a confidence boost and I'm delighted that I've now found it – or her I should say!

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She comes in the shape of a happy, approachable young lass called Lara Aitken who came recommended from David Lloyd at Corstorphine. When I read on her bio that she'd trained one of the main characters from Game Of Thrones (I'll tell you more about that another day), I could understand why she was being raved about.

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I've been doing some sessions with her and she's honestly worth her muscle in gold. You see, the thing I never anticipated was how male-heavy the gym can be and how, if you're a woman lacking in confidence, it can be intimidating going up to a group of muscly men, bench pressing 50k as you scuttle about for a 2k baby dumbbell.

But with the knowledge and experience Lara has given me already, I feel like I know what I'm doing now.

We started off by looking at my mobility and flexibility to see where I could improve because even though we think we know our bodies best, personal trainers know how to get it to its best.

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She doesn't feel like a personal trainer, she feels like a buddy, a positive voice in my ear encouraging me on. She's the push, knowledge and confidence that I've needed to get me over to that fancy equipment.

I'll be honest, before going to her I never really "got" hiring a personal trainer, but I totally get it now and would say to anyone who's getting into fitness to do it because it makes the difference of day and night. PTs are heroes of the fitness world.

They're not just there to tell you how to exercise, but to tell you HOW!

Having someone highly knowledgeable on body/muscle structure and fitness has really helped me understand my body instead of being annoyed and frustrated at it being stiff.

When I first met Lara I told her about my bad joints, a dodgy ankle after a break, knees that grind and wrists that give way. Yes, I've had a hard paper round and get pain daily. But that doesn't mean I should forgo my fitness.

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After a few weeks, I can feel myself stronger and, ironically, less achy! She's done more for my strength and "gym anxiety" than I can possibly explain.

I feel confident with the equipment and have even been doing a mini session in the garden at home with my boys joining in.

I've already booked Lara in August as she's very popular. If you're thinking of stealing her off me, I'll know by the shape of your guns so watch out – I have them too!

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