Some things never change.
“The foundation of success in life is good health: that is the substratum fortune; it is also the basis of happiness. A person cannot accumulate a fortune very well when he is sick.” The hugely successful showbusiness empresario, P.T. Barnum said this in the 1850’s, and it is as true today as it was then.
Today’s NEVER SETTLE focus is a fine case in point, after she turned her entire life around by focusing on her health. We caught up with the entrepreneur to find out more.
Name: Lisa-Jane Holmes
Location: London, UK
What’s your story?
I’m now a successful Personal Trainer, Fitness Business Owner and Instructor (I teach at F45 and a FirstLight Cycle – both London boutique studios), but my fitness and health was something I have struggled with for many years.
As a teenager I was bullied at school and my way of taking back control of my life from the bullies was food – and I struggled with both anorexia and bulimia until my 20s.
I had periods of starvation where my weight plummeted dangerously, and periods of binging where I would gain weight. As a result I had a terrible body image, low self esteem and no control around food. After graduation from university I moved to London and started a corporate job and settled into life, I still felt socially very awkward at functions and events and would use alcohol to boost my confidence – meaning many of my evenings were spent drinking, eating fast food late at night then feeling terrible the next day and eating more to make myself feel better.
All of this meant my weight shot up, and by my mid-20s I was overweight, totally ashamed of my body and had absolute no level of fitness. Climbing up the stairs at the underground station left me out of breath and it started to scare me that I’d let myself go so much.
I knew I had to do something so I started going to the gym myself, but I was absolutely clueless. I didn’t know what anything was and I was paranoid people were staring at me and laughing. The first few times I went I left after 10 minutes as I couldn’t stand it.
As I didn’t know what to do I thought I would try Group Exercises classes, even though the thought of other people being able to see me was terrifying. I couldn’t make it through the first classes I took – I would have to leave halfway through because I couldn’t keep up or I was going to be sick. It was mortifying. But every week I stayed a little longer, and every week my confidence in what I could do grew a little more.
A year or so later I had moved from the back corner of the class, hiding away praying no one would see me, to being in the front row singing along with the instructor and pushing myself as hard as I could. I absolutely loved it, and the weight I lost was a huge boost to my confidence too.
As I became a regular in exercise classes some of the instructors would ask me if I would ever consider getting up the front and teaching fitness. I laughed at all of them – I had never been fit or sporty and up until recently had no clue what I was doing in the gym, let alone would want anyone to look at me whilst I was exercising. But I knew that going to classes had changed my life, so after giving it some thought I decided to train as a fitness instructor, and started teaching classes around my day job.
The nerves would kill me, but the buzz was incredible, and seeing people push themselves in front of me was priceless. Even if one person would come up to me after class and say I helped them, motivated them, or pushed them I would get huge satisfaction, a lot more than I did in my 9-5 job.
After studying for my Personal Training and Exercise Nutrition diplomas, in 2013 I quit my corporate job for good, leaving behind a steady career and guaranteed income to pursue my passion for working in fitness and inspiring other people.
Six years later I haven’t looked back. There are days still when I doubt myself, when I compare myself to others, when my self confidence wobbles – but for the most part every day I get to work with amazing people and help them achieve the best version of themselves.
Whether it is losing weight, becoming stronger, pursuing lifelong fitness goals or just improving confidence – helping people to go further than they could on their own and to see what they’re truly capable of is the most amazing feeling in the world. I love to use my own experience of starting from absolutely no level of fitness, and struggling with my weight for so many years to show people that anything is possible, and that I truly understand what they’re going through and want to help them through it.
Choose 5 photos from your phone that best sum up your current life.
What is the toughest adversity you’ve faced on your journey to living your best life, and how did you overcome this?
I have felt like giving up many, many times.
At first not being able to make it through 20 minutes of a fitness class was soul destroying. I’d often be so angry with myself that I’d let things get that bad that I’d end up binge eating again when I got home and the cycle would just continue.
Once I did persevere and started to work out more and more of course my weight dropped and that felt fantastic – but after the initial 6-9 months of weight loss I plateaued and stopped seeing results which was also mentally hard having come from a background of eating disorders and body dysmorphia. I battled with the demons in my head so many times telling me I’d always be fat, I’d never be good enough – all the things the bullies would say to me at school.
With this being my second career (I started teaching fitness classes when I was 27, and launched my Personal Training business when I was 33) I have also always been conscious of my age – a lot of people in the fitness industry know they want to do this from an early age and so many of my colleagues and peers are 10, 15, sometimes 20 years younger than me.
When it comes to the world of Instagram this can be tough – I’m effectively competing with 22 year olds with incredible figures and a very engaged audience, and a lot of brands would choose to work with someone like them over someone like me – who has over 10 years of experience and an authentic fitness journey. I know for a fact I’ve been overlooked for jobs and projects because I’m deemed “too old” and that can be a bitter pill to swallow at times.
It does mean though that the connection I have my my clients and followers is real, true and based on trust because of my experience – whilst I may not have hundreds of thousands of followers, be sponsored by worldwide brands or on the cover of fitness magazines, not a day goes by when either a PT client, someone in my classes or someone on Instagram tells me that I’ve helped, inspired or motivated them.
When people train with me they literally put their body into my hands and that isn’t a responsibility I take lightly, and to help anyone feel better about their body and what it can do, and to see that confidence in them and the way they hold themselves is worth more than any amount of followers or brand sponsorship deal.
What’s your goal for the next chapter?
I just want to continue spreading my message that anything is possible – regardless of age, gender and ability, and to keep being as honest and open as possible with everyone I come into contact with – both in real life and online.
I try to share my journey in the most realistic way I can – the highs and the lows – and I hope as a result I can continue to help people push through their bad days, the challenging times and help them to realise that they can achieve whatever they want – and that I’ll be there supporting them.