Our series of photographic portraits by Neill Menneer shows Bath people at work.
If you had told me 25 years ago, when I first came to Bath, that I’d be running a successful fitness business, I’d have laughed. I was an overweight, non-exercising asthmatic who didn’t really do any sport at school, which is not your usual background for a personal trainer.
Born in the UK to an English mother and Portuguese father, I have always loved to travel, spending six months in Australia when I left school, as well as time in Holland as part of an exchange programme during further study.
I came to the West Country from Berkshire to study business and finance in Bristol and then I started a career working at a direct marketing agency in Bear Flat, not knowing that years later I would be at the top of the hill in Alexandra Park getting Bath residents fit and healthy.
At the age of 28 I was made redundant from my role as project manager – I then spent four months travelling around South America, an experience I will never forget. When I returned to the UK I had no idea what I was going to do and heard a radio advert about studying to become a personal trainer – the rest is history.
I have no idea why I decided to change my career direction, except that I love to help people, and when I had some personality tests done in my old job I came out as having ‘teacher’ type skills rather than being a technician, salesperson or any of the other categories, so it was obviously meant to be.
What motivates me each day is that I still remember what it was like to feel unfit, unhealthy, out of shape and with no energy, and I want to help more people to experience the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. It appears that health and fitness found me rather than the other way around.
I have spent the last 19 years working with a huge array of clients, 10 years of which was in the gym at the Bath Spa Hotel. I spent a brief time at The Royal Crescent and Combe Grove Manor before I decided to focus on Zest Bootcamp and training clients in their own homes or outdoors. This year I am also running my first retreat in the French Alps which I am excited about.
I have some high-profile clients and I was lucky enough to train the French actress Juliette Binoche when she came to Somerset to film Chocolat many years ago. Oh and my husband was once a personal training client of mine … when he said he needed a lifestyle change, I never expected it would end up with me marrying him.
I feel blessed to have spent 25 years working in such a beautiful city, and I am forever grateful to be able to help people feel better and to be able to look at the amazing view of the city most days from bootcamp – I don’t think it will ever get boring. After all, fresh-air fitness rocks.