My mum and I are from Pembrokeshire in Wales, where little happens but the beautiful coastline makes up for the lack of man-made attractions. Pembrokeshire doesn't have big health club chains, only the local run council facility where we both work. Being a small area means that reputation is important and having been part of the fitness industry in Pembrokeshire for so long, my mum is known to be one of the most popular Instructors around. However, the purpose of this story is to express that not only do our participants adore our connection and passion for fitness but to say that I wouldn’t be the Instructor I am today without my mum.
My name is Joe Chalmers and I’m a BODYPUMP™and BODYATTACK™ Instructor and a LES MILLS GRIT™ Coach. I became a fitness instructor at 17 after passing my Exercise to Music qualification. My mum Trish has worked in the fitness industry for a long time and has always been a huge inspiration to me, alongside Trainer Kate Slee.
I still can’t actually believe I can stand up in front of people and instruct fitness classes. The old me laughed at mum the day she said, “Why don’t you become an Instructor?"
I grew up with a twin brother who naturally excelled in various sports, which felt unfair but, that was only because I had yet to find my passion. I tried football, rugby, tennis and various other sports… but none of them were for me. It took time for me to find something I enjoyed doing, I became fairly lazy. My mum being her fit and active self was always trying to influence me to be more active yet she didn’t believe in making me take part in something I didn’t enjoy.
Mum opened her own fitness facility in 2008 and at this point I was larger than most 12 year olds. This is where my fitness journey begins. Mum and I soon realised my love for music. I couldn’t step foot in the gym without music, it was my motivation.
From that moment on, I began hitting the gym after school whilst mum was busy running her fitness facility. I knew I wanted to feel better about myself but it wasn't long before the gym became a bore, a repetitive cycle around the equipment. I found myself thinking I would end up that large, lazy teenager again if I didn't continue with some form of exercise.
At this point mum mentioned going to a group exercise class called BODYATTACK. Being around 15 years old at this point I had the typical opinion of, “Only girls do classes” and felt I wouldn’t fit in. Anyway long story short, I went to the class, stood at the back and began to feel embarrassed as the class filled up with mostly women. As I stood there feeling anxious, the Instructor pressed play and I immediately felt much more comfortable, I was in a different world! I found myself pushing harder than ever before, connecting with and enjoying the music and forgetting about everyone else around me.
Over the course of the next two years I made my way to the front of the class, becoming that member who has their favorite spot. It became a normality and if I ever missed a class it was as though my day just wasn’t complete. During this time my mum certified in BODYATTACK, LES MILLS GRIT and BODYPUMP.
I immersed myself into all things Les Mills and this is when mum met Kate Slee. Kate had inspired my mum and from just hearing about this massive world of group fitness, I became excited. At this point my mum said, “Why don’t you become an Instructor?” All I remember thinking is, there isn't a chance that a 16 year old me can stand up in-front of people.
It became clear that if I wanted to do what I loved, then I had no choice but to overcome my fear of standing up in front of people. I went for it. I completed my Exercise to Music qualification on weekends alongside my GCSE’s [General Certificate of Secondary Education]. The course was very daunting as everyone else was over 25.
My parents supported me through the whole process and once qualified I soon certified in LES MILLS GRIT and had the pleasure of meeting Kate in person. Feeling truly inspired and part of the Les Mills world I went on to certify in BODYPUMP and finally my favorite program, BODYATTACK. Throughout my whole journey my mum had always promoted best practice, with technique and coaching being at the heart of teaching. These values became essential for me as an Instructor, too.
Les Mills as a brand and BODYATTACK as a program is a massive part of our connection. BODYATTACK was the program that ignited a hidden spark inside of me and allowed myself and mum to create an even stronger bond as mother and son. We've met Lisa Osborne together at LES MILLS LIVE in London and regularly try to attend quarterlies together. We’ve even had the chance to share the stage shadowing LES MILLS GRIT at LES MILLS LIVE in Liverpool and we team teach to our participants at home in Wales on a monthly basis when I get the chance to visit.
Now I’m living in London I value my time at home even more and whenever I visit I always make time for a team teach with mum. The support and coaching I’ve had throughout my journey from the age of 17 has been invaluable, both from Les Mills presenters and friends I’ve made along the way… but most of all from my mum.
Mum has always been there at every step. From endlessly trying to find something that I enjoyed doing, to still giving me advice when I teach today. My mum’s efforts inspired me to become an Instructor and do what I love. If it wasn't for mum my confidence, passion and ambition to inspire others wouldn’t have been discovered.
Thank you, mum.
JoeChalmers is a BODYPUMP™and BODYATTACK™ Instructor and a LES MILLS GRIT™ Coach. He is based in London.