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FitnessFor almost 14 years of my life I dedicated myself and my body to dance. Nearing the end of my time as a competitive dancer I moved into teaching, owned a small dance business and began focusing on improving others dancing ability, health and fitness rather than my own. Unfortunately I hit a few rocks along the way and was left feeling down, cynical and unhappy with myself. I totally lacked in confidence and trusted no one. When my first baby came along I guess I fell into a downward spiral. All my energy went into caring for my baby and I ignored myself. I went from 69kg to 104kg within the 9 months. I had border line pre-eclampsia and after the birth was induced I suffered badly from post natal depression. I simply gave up, quit my job and became a recluse for the next 12 months.

It wasn't until I actually went shopping for myself that I realised how much I had let myself go. I walked out of the store depressed and embarrassed by the size 20 pants that I was holding. Not only that I was due to be married in less than 5 months and I found myself staring at the size 12 wedding dress that I had bought 3 years ago (before the business and the baby came along). I knew I had to do something so I tried visiting a tap class once a week to start me off but my motivation and confidence was completely non-existent so that only lasted 2 lessons. I was almost adamant that if dance couldn't help me get fit again then nothing would. I couldn't stand to be seen exercising in public so I didn't even bother looking at a gym or simply walking to the park across the road. I even bought a cross trainer and an ab machine but I only used them "when I felt like it" which wasn't very often. Then one day I found a pamphlet that a student had given me the year before for Twenty-2 Master Trainers. I had nothing else and it really did take all my energy to go and walk through that door. I can honestly say that that was the best thing I have EVER done for myself.

Fitness CentresMy assigned trainer was and still is Rick Shambrook. I remember lying to him and telling him I was a size 16 when really I was more like a size 18-20. I only lied because I was embarrassed. come on what girl wants to give away her actual dress size? Anyway, I let him know what I wanted to achieve and that was to fit my wedding dress, look good in a bikini and feel good about myself again. (Hmmm, I've heard that before). He said it would be tough but doable, so long as I put my mind to it and worked hard. I was almost disappointed that he couldn't just wave a magic wand and my weight be gone, but then that wouldn't have fixed my train of thought. It wasn't just my body that needed training, it was my mind as well and Rick helped me to realise that.

The first few lessons were hard, sometimes I felt like calling making excuses, but then I would tell myself that I would be letting my trainer down by not going (funny how I didn't think I would be letting myself down). Then there was the assigned homework and healthy eating thing! I thought homework only existed in high school and that KFC was "convenient" but now I know differently. After I got over the initial shock of moving my body again it became easier, well, not exactly easier but. "more enjoyable" and when you enjoy something you want to keep going. Rick definitely made the experience a whole lot more enjoyable. I also believe that one reflects the personality of those around them. Rick as my trainer has evidently boosted my confidence, self esteem and shown me how to care for myself again.

Gyms Sunshine CoastAll the trainers there are great people. Everyone knows who you are and you'll get to know them all as well. I must admit it was strange to walk into a place and have so many staff stop and say hello or have a bit of a chat if there was time. And if that wasn't enough they give you a stretch and a massage after your work out, all you have to do is lie there, close your eyes and breathe. You can even take in your own music and if you're lucky you might hear Rick sing a tune. The others don't know it yet but I'm going to work on them as his back up dancers ;-) Mick and Leigh can be in the front line.

The new, colourful, modern studios are awesome. It's got absolutely everything you would expect and more, plus all the equipment is brand spanking new! I haven't used it yet but next time I go in I'm going to make use of their showers, just because I can. I even had a massage from their physio who I would definitely visit again. And that says a lot because I'm pretty fussy when it comes to that stuff. There's so much more I want to say, I could brag about them for many more pages but everyone's experience is different and you must come find out for yourself.

Personal TrainerSo where am I now? I've been training with Rick for almost 4 months now and I have two and half weeks until my wedding. I won't lie, it's been a lot of hard work as promised, but you know the saying "no pain, no gain", it's well worth it. I feel fantastic, so much more lively and happy. Not sure about the bikini thing just yet but I reckon by Christmas I'll be visiting the nudist beaches! My only concern right now is the size of my wedding dress. It's certainly not growing so I must be shrinking at an incredible rate. It's hard to find someone who can alter a wedding dress a week before the day. I've come from size 20 pants to a much healthier size 12 and still dropping. Total kilograms lost since training began. 22kg.

Amanda Brown, age 24

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