Welcome to The Bandwagon’s new feature for 2016 – #InspiringWomen. These posts aim to not only celebrate successful women, but also to encourage others to follow their dreams. Meet January’s lady, Colette Cooper.
Colette is a personal trainer from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, who specialises in strength training. Each week she teaches a weight loss class called Ditch The Diet, which encourages a healthy, long-term change, through nutrition, mindset, gut health, sleep, and so on. She also takes on one-to-one clients who feel they need more personal guidance; she tailors their fitness and nutrition based on their goals, and offers daily accountability and support.
Colette studied at home, attending residential courses, and is currently studying for her Diploma for GP Referral, whereby patients will be referred to Colette for obesity-related illnesses, and taken through a 10-16 week course in order to help them make long-term lifestyle changes.
I spoke to Colette about her career, her passion, and what being a woman means to her.
Since my early 20’s, I have been into fitness. Being an obese child – which developed into having an eating disorder at the age of 9 – set the cycle of yo-yo dieting as an adult. With this was an endless cycle of gruelling workouts and running in the desperate attempt to get the weight off. Unfortunately, that was all I wanted to do, and took no notice of my health.It took having my first son 9 years ago to finally realise that I had to eat for my health and not for weight. After being hospitalised at 29 weeks pregnant due to high blood pressure, I knew something had to change. This was when I started to research food and nutrition, and realised what I needed to get me and my baby well.This unearthed a passion for fitness and nutrition, because all of the sudden, it mattered.
The number one challenge was starting as a trainer from the bottom in my 30’s. My course was full of late teens and 20-somethings who were able to start their careers while still living at home with their parents. I had a mortgage, a family, and a challenging full-time job to hold down, as well as developing a reputation for myself.I had many months of just training clients outside or in their homes, and, at one point, I even had them come to my house to train when the kids were in bed!As things have evolved and I have learned how to manage myself as a business and not just as a woman who likes to train people, things have become more streamlined. I now have a permanent gym to work from, a hired room to teach from, and many mentors I have picked up along the way, to whom I am eternally grateful.
The word “strength” springs to mind. And not just physically; mentally as well. As women, sometimes it feels like we need to be all things to all people. We need to look good, have a good career, a spotless home, well-behaved kids, and maintain a good social life. All whilst being financially independent and not letting any cracks show. One thing that I have learned is that it is okay to show vulnerability. That in itself is a strength.
Shamefully, I have worked in jobs where my gender has helped. I was advised by a mentor in my early career that, in order to get help making sales, the T & T technique (tits and teeth!) works wonders. As much as that sounds derogatory, it is sadly true.In the fitness industry, being a woman trainer, you can be under immense pressure to “look the part” to your clients. On the flip side, this can also be a turn off to many ladies who are very overweight, as they feel they will never be able to look the way I do. But, I think attract women because I am one. And as much as I do train male clients, I am not who they can relate to. I will leave that to the pumped male trainers at my gym!
I am forever inspired by my clients. Some of them had no experience with exercise or proper nutrition, yet trusted me to help them. They listened, applied, and got results!My older sisters are my personal mentors. There is a big age gap between them and I thank them, along with my mother, for giving me the fantastic work ethic I have today.
Never be scared of rejection, but accept that it WILL happen. If I had folded after every knock back I would not be where I am today. Also, BE THE EXPERT. People are looking to you for advice, so never be afraid to confidently deliver it. If you sound unsure, they will be unsure of trusting you. Even if you don’t know, tell them you will look it up and get back to them.