People were always telling Yasmine not to exercise. But she has stopped listening and has now made a career out of her favourite hobby.
I’m Yasmine. I am 30 years old and I have three children who are aged 9, 6, and 2. My partner and I met when we were both in the military. I am no longer in but he is a navy diver. He’s away a lot, normally for about 2/3 weeks at a time.
Barriers growing up
Growing up, my family wasn’t really a very good influence. My mum doesn’t have a good relationship with food and this rubbed off on me. I started going to the gym at 15. I enjoyed it but my stepdad and brother would make comments. They would say “don’t go to the gym you’ll end up looking really hench”.
I remember when I was younger it felt like I was breaking barriers in my head every time I went to the gym. I was stuck between really enjoying it but also believing what people said. People don’t realise how their words stick with you. Even at that age, I was trying to ignore what they said.
For years I was paranoid that I would get too big. I used to swim too and I would look in the mirror and think my shoulders were getting huge. I was constantly fighting against myself, knowing that I wasn’t big but believing what people said. Training was something I loved but there was a real barrier for me.
“I used to go for long runs thinking I should focus on cardio because I am female.”
Scared to have muscle
Between the ages of 16 and 20, I was constantly in and out of the gym. I would go on and off using weights as people would make comments that made me want to do it less. I used to go for long runs thinking I should focus on cardio because I am female.
I’m 30 now and it’s crazy how just one person’s comment can stick with you. I still remember how they made me feel like it was yesterday. I think age helps. As I have gotten older I have realised that weights are good for you. You don’t get big. Even if I did, I am proud of my muscles now.
I do think society has changed and made it easier for women now. I always think I wish it was like this when I was growing up. There is more praise for women and girls being strong now. You should always do the stuff you enjoy and not care what others think.
I still sometimes get comments stuck in my head, especially with social media. There are a lot of positives to the fitness community online, but you do get negatives too. You have to focus on the good and not listen to the bad.
I try not to care what others think but I like to motivate others to feel the same. Over the years people have often said to me “You don’t look strong, but you are”. I like proving people wrong and showing I am capable.
Why I love exercising
When I go to the gym and come back it’s like I am a different person. I’ve always used going to the gym as a form of therapy. I’d go workout and feel better about myself, I wouldn’t feel so sad. When I was younger, my mum and stepdad split up and I had a rough time with it. I lived with my stepdad and he used to drink a lot. I’d go to the gym to get out, it was a safe space for me.
The whole way through my life it’s been something for me. It’s not for anyone else, I do it for me. I think if you do it for yourself, you’ll feel good about it. I’ve always used being active as a way to look after my mental wellbeing.
“I had to stick with what I loved and made me feel good and not listen to what others said I should be doing.”
Pregnancy and Anxiety
I think I come across as really confident, but whenever I have been pregnant, I have had really bad anxiety. Through the years fighting with losing and gaining weight through pregnancy got me down. But I realised that training helped me feel stronger. I had to stick with what I loved and made me feel good and not listen to what others said I should be doing.
I struggled with getting back to exercise after having my children. The first time you walk into any situation after having a baby is intimidating. The hardest bit is to not run off and hide.
I remember coming back to the gym and being like “I could do this before, why can’t I now”. I had three C-sections, so it was hard to get back to being active. People look at me and think it must have been easy for me as I am into fitness and I am strong. The truth is I didn’t just bounce back. I had to take it slow and give my body time to heal.
I wanted to give up and hide away, I didn’t feel like myself. Becoming a mum has a massive impact on your identity, you pick at who you were and who you are now. I felt lonely, especially with my partner away for work.
That’s why I enjoy helping other women. Being a mum is a massively different world, people think you’ll just get back to it and work. It can leave you feeling very alienated. I want to help other women feel better and overcome these anxieties. I like to try and help other women build confidence and not worry so much.
There is nothing I find more rewarding than helping others. I used to go to the gym with my friends and they’d all ask me for advice. I noticed a lot of women were anxious and nervous, especially going into the weights room. Lots of women find this very intimidating. For me, I couldn’t ask for a refund somewhere, but I was at home in the weights room. I wanted to help other women to feel this way.
I noticed from having my children and training that a lot of women asked me for advice and I enjoyed helping them. I am not the smartest person and I struggle to sit still for 5 minutes, but in fitness and exercise, I think I have found my thing. I decided to turn a hobby into my career. In October I qualified as a PT and got a job at Everyone Active.
Before I started, I doubted myself. I thought I wasn’t good, and they won’t want to hire me. Now I am really enjoying it and I am starting to see the impact I can have on others.
One of my clients is an older gentleman, he’s about 66. He recently told me he’s always struggled to stand and put his pants on but now he can. He can see he’s got fitter, and it’s had an actual impact on his day-to-day life.
You never know what someone else’s life is like. Sometimes just saying hello can make their day. I try to remember this when I am working. I want to be a smiling, welcoming face when people come to the gym. A lot of people just want someone to speak to.