I’m from Manchester originally, but been in London now for 20 years. I’ve been in the Fitness Industry for 18 years in various roles but I’m mostly known for my dance classes. I’ve recently decided to strip away a lot of what I have been doing to concentrate on my passion which is helping women to feel fabulous regardless of shape or size. This is close to my heart because I have always been on the larger side for a dancer and fitness professional and spent a long time trying and failing to lose weight, much like many women out there who have struggled with their bodies. I see too many perfectly healthy ladies berate themselves for not resisting something ‘contraband’ and self loathe to extreme levels. I feel I’m the one to say “oi, stop it, you’re gorgeous, so what if you’re not a size 10?”
You’re a body positivity activist, what does this involve?
Being supportive, with my clients and people I meet. I spend a lot of time on social media posting positive messages about weight, generally bigging up ladies who need lifting up, those who are down trodden because they have fallen under the spell of the media’s portrayals of the ideal woman and because they fail to live up to those ridiculous, falsified, photoshopped images of the perfect body. I have just become a Body Image Movement Global Ambassador- the movement was started by Taryn Brumfitt who is an Australian lady who was unhappy with her body and lost loads of weight, entered a fitness figure competition and was even more unhappy. She has filmed a moving documentary called “Embrace” which challenges women to see their bodies differently. She says “There is a global epidemic of body hating” and she’s on a mission to fix it. I’m onboard with that!!
If I can help with my dance classes, which help women to move in a way to boost their self esteem, then I’m in!
As well as what I’ve already explained about my own situation, another thing which drives me towards helping women is the reaction I’ve had since launching my first sexy dance class which was called “Stiletto” and was the forerunner to Strutology®. The change that I would see in the women coming into class with their heels in their hand, shy and timid asking if they were in the right place and then by the end of the session it was like several Sasha Fierce’s were in the room (I’m unsure of the plural of Fierce, lol). The improvement in confidence is often instant and noticeable. Other times the change occurs later on that night or over the next week and I’ve had many stories from women who have told me of the out of character things they’ve done as a result of their renewed confidence! Even more so after a Raunch® session. I have lovingly called this the #RaunchEffect. It is a thing!
To date, what have been some of your highlights as a professional within the fitness industry?
I’ve been on “How To Look Good Naked” with Gok Wan, helping a petite lady to feel more womanly.
I’ve been interviewed on several radio stations about the benefits and negative aspects of wearing high heels.
I’ve taught large crowds on many occasions for example at one of the world record break attempts for the largest Zumba classof over 2000 people (that record was smashed not long after), also the warm up for RideTheNight2016, with almost 3000.
I also won the title of Miss Monroe International which is a category for curvy ladies within Miss Galaxy Universe, a fitness beauty pageant. I did it to prove a point that confidence is key.
This year the category was at risk of being pulled as there were not enough ladies brave enough to enter, so I rolled up my sleeves and started to campaign and I now have 9 ladies who have signed up and I saved the category, single handedly! Hoorah!
But I think my favourite accolade is that I was Beyoncé’s body double!! Well that’s the only way I can describe it really. I was CGI’d as Beyoncé in the ‘pre-visual’ for the Pepsi advert she did with the shattering mirrors. The production company who pitched the idea to Bey and the Pepsi bosses needed to create the advert and make it as close to their vision as possible, so they used me to do her signature dance moves and made it look like it was Beyoncé. So Queen Bey has seen me dance, but she didn’t know it was me, as it looked like her!
Tell us more about School of Strut®. Who is it aimed at and what does it offer?
School of Strut® is the umbrella brand which houses my dance classes: Strutology®, Raunch®, Own It!™, SweatSexy™, Sexy Street™, Burlesque Balls™… At the moment the only way people can get these classes is by coming along to my events – The Strut Summit. But I want to reach a much wider audience. So many people are getting their ‘fitness fix’ at home with their Insanity boxsets, YouTube videos and online memberships etc. But most of these are promoting weight loss and thus perpetuating this global epidemic of body hating.
The School of Strut® will be an online hub where members can get my sessions, connect with other women who are sick of being bashed over the head with adverts for slimming products, esteem building articles, blogs and vlogs, guest blogs from other Body Image activists and general support and hand holding and up lifting.
If you sign up to my email list, you will be the first to know when it is launched.The next Strut Summit is on November 19th, in Highgate, London. Tickets are limited.
What else do you have in the pipeline?
Get project 1 off the ground first, then think about project 2 etc! You throw loads of balls up in the air, you can only really catch one! Well, I do know what project 2 is but I’m not saying as people steal ideas!
What one thing do you know now that you wished you knew when you were starting out?
That being a presenter should not be the end goal. That I should have been asking “and then what?” and “why that?”… I became a Fitness Presenter because it looked like something I could be very good at and therefore should get paid well… but in fact you need to be better in business, a good negotiator as well as being a master of your craft.
I wish someone had told me that you need more than just being good at your job.
If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?
Flight, to get to people who need me… Although with my new site I will be doing that anyway! Hoorah!!
School of Strut® online:
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