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Growing up I was always the tall, fit child in the class. Even in early adulthood I never had to worry about my weight. I got married to my lovely husband, Jon, in 1992, and had two boys. While pregnant with my second child I started getting back problems and was told by doctors in England it was due to my hormones, caused by the pregnancy.

We moved away from England in 2003, living in Cyprus for seven years before moving to Kelowna in 2010.

I have had a membership at the YMCA's H2O location for six years but started using it more in the last three years, due to my back, which would flare up every time I worked out.  

My back pain got worse as I gained weight. I could never get comfortable in bed as my legs would ache and therefore my sleep suffered which made me tired. I felt lethargic and ratty and I was finding myself shouting a lot at the boys. When I stopped going to the gym completely, I started to hate the way I looked. I was constantly on a diet and popping diet pills. I stopped going out, I just wanted to stay at home and not see anyone. No matter what my husband would say to help me, I hated myself.

On top of it all, at the beginning of 2014 my mum was diagnosed with kidney cancer so I flew back to England to help my elderly dad nurse my mum while she was dying. During that time in the UK, my husband set up a new business and had to move back to England that coming August. Long story short, we were unable to get permanent residency in Canada and knew we would all eventually have to move back to England, so Jon began to set up roots for us there. My eldest son who finished highschool in 2014 would move back with him and we made the decision that I would stay in Canada with my younger son until he finished his high school education in 2016.

That year, April 2014, I decided to see a chiropractor for my back and he diagnosed me with stage two osteoarthritis. I sought help from my very good friend who is an MD and a specialist in nutrition, to help me with my diet and was slowly able to work out pain free.

The more time I spent in the gym, the more I got to know the staff. One day, Jennifer and Elinor approached me to ask if I would like to take the cycle instructor course. My first thoughts was “no way”, but after discussing it with my husband and my gym buddy Sandy, I finally decided to take the course. Since then I have taken the group strength course as well and wouldn’t change it for anything.

With my husband being in the UK I have had the time to volunteer whenever I can, whether it’s teaching my own classes, covering for other instructors, or helping out on the floor now and then.  When I haven’t got any classes to teach, I have been able to help the other instructors with theirs so I can increase my knowledge to improve my own classes over time. 

I am so pleased I decided to take a chance and teach. I feel so much better physically and mentally. Although I leave Canada this month, I plan to carry on working out or volunteering at a YMCA in the UK, and hopefully take my fitness career even further.

Thank you to my friends and family at the YMCA of Okanagan! See you all again soon. 

–Louise Perry