Posted on March 28, 2024 by Emily Forbes

Kate recently shared a social post on what our personal trainers goals are here at Motive8 North. This got me thinking a bit about my goals, why and what I train and my fitness journey. Unlike the rest of the team, who seemed to be working towards a competition, one of my main goals is simply for health and enjoyment.

Here’s a bit about my fitness background:

The early days:

  • I didn’t do any sports at school, only PE and spent lunch times hula hooping or jumping elastics.
  • I grew up in South Africa with a huge garden and a swimming pool. It was normal to spend time outside playing, climbing trees. It was before the internet days and half the TV programmes were in Afrikaans or Xhosa.
  • I did my first yoga class when I was about 12 or 13. My older sister had found out her geography teacher was a yoga instructor and convinced her to put on a class after school. My mum would only let her go if she took both my younger sister and I with her. The 60year old woman doing a headstand fascinated me!
  • Between the ages of 15-18 didn’t do much when I was moving back to the UK and trying to establish myself in a new school/life.
  • I joined a gym when I was 18 and when I could drive – LA fitness/Fitness First. Like most people at a gym, I didn’t really have much of a clue. I did the “usual” gym stuff but mostly classes; 25 minute abs classes! At 18 I just wanted to look good but I always enjoyed a challenge. I also started back with my yoga practice. I used to go to this qigong strength class and it is still probably one of the hardest classes I’ve ever done, and it was just body weight!

Getting fit!

  • At 24, I started working with the military as a civilian. As fitness is part of a military role and not to be excluded, we had extra time every lunch to go to the gym. My schedule was to swim twice, circuits twice, and spin once a week. This is where I started to really get more into my fitness and my first thought about becoming a PT. It made me feel good.


  • I went to Australia at 28 and stayed with a friend where I continued to swim. I entered a 20km Tough Mudder event and started training for that. In Sydney, I started to get really into my yoga practice and wanted to become an instructor.

Starting uni:

  • I started studying nutrition at uni when I came back from Oz, and this was the first time in my life I actually put on a bit of weight (it was only a few kilos but enough to scare me). I was so used to having jobs where I was on my feet all day, to suddenly be sitting all day- it had an impact. Ironically, this was whilst sitting for hours on end in lectures telling us about the negative effects of sedentary lifestyles on health! I got paranoid that I was “skinny fat” and going to end up with metabolic disease and I needed to strength train to build muscle. The younger students were spending their loans on binge drinking and I spent mine on a personal trainer. Admittedly, she used her job and bikini competing to hide her eating disorder but I loved the training we did together. I was studying nutrition, so felt I was pretty clued up on this side of things. I did always ask for her diet recommendations to explore more though, and low carb is definitely not for me!! It was when I said I had some cake for my dad’s birthday and she said I should have thrown it away to save calories, that I felt her approach to “dieting” was quite unhealthy. This is never something I would say to a client! I want you to be able to enjoy cake and life. My training anchored me during this time, every morning in the gym at 6:30am, 5-6 days a week.

Becoming a PT:

  • After uni, I had moved to Leeds to study sports nutrition. This was when I trained to become a PT to support me through my Masters. Short story, I didn’t end up doing it but moved to Leeds anyway and started as a PT. My first job was at Exercise4Less and so after, I started looking for another job. Luckily for me, Jenny and Kate took a chance on me and here I am 6.5 years later.

Me now:

I realise now that I am still strength training 10 years later. Through the years it has peaked and dipped. Sometimes it’s once a week, sometimes it’s 5. But it’s still there and I continue to come back. It still anchors me. It’s a place where I am my only competition. It’s only me motivating myself. I watch the resistance come up, telling me it’s too hard and I’m too tired. I do it anyway. It can be really hard but I still push to try a bit harder. But I take it easy if I know I’m too tired or under the weather. I often don’t train with music, just the feels. My goals change depending on how I’m feeling. Right now, I’m back on a deadlift, bench press and pull up focus.

Movement is actually every humans first language. We were born to be hunter gatherers and move all day. The further we stray from what we were designed to do, the further we stray from health. For me movement is returning to base. It’s explorative, fun, challenging. I like feeling fit, healthy and strong. I also like the look and feel of my muscles and the freedom to move well in my body.

Movement is my life, even writing this blog I haven’t sat down. And I love being able to share my passion and my wisdom with others on their journey too.