Jess had been carrying an extra 25kg in weight for years… and the mental and emotional baggage that goes with it.
Crippling anxiety and rock-bottom confidence had blighted her life for too long until she decided she needed to face her problems head on.
Working as a social media executive at Ultimate Performance, she had seen thousands of clients make life-changing transformations – so she knew this was the place to change her own life.
Personal training at U.P. Manchester for eight months has completely changed Jess’s fitness and health for the better.
But more importantly, it has freed her from anxiety and made her strong again with a new lease of life.
“I lost 25.2kg and I’m 4 dress sizes down, which is absolutely crazy because I’m about the same size as I was when I was 19, when I was at my slimmest.”
“I think it has 95% cured my issues with my anxiety – I really do.”
Before joining U.P., Jess’s lack of body confidence held her back in both her personal and professional life.
The downward spiral started at her previous job, where the high-stress levels caused her to develop unhealthy eating habits, which in turn resulted in gradual weight gain over a number of years.
As the weight steadily piled on, Jess’s physical and mental health ended up on the back burner, and the feelings of anxiety became the norm in her daily life.
“At one point, I remember thinking it must be normal to be scared of walking into a group of people, or introducing yourself and saying ‘hi’ to them, but then it was like a snowball effect and started to get worse.
“I couldn’t do my job properly at the time, which involved a lot of phone calls and having to be a very sociable person, so it was affecting my job performance.
“I just got on with it and dealt with it without actually dealing with it; I just ploughed through and wasn’t doing much about it. I buried my head in the sand and tried not to cause any trouble for myself or others.”
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In hindsight, Jess knew she was struggling to cope with her mental health issues – and U.P. turned out to be exactly the remedy she needed to get her mind, soul, and body back on track.
“From the girl that walked in on day one, I honestly cannot remember ever feeling how I felt then.
“When I think back, I think ‘Bloody hell! How have you done that in eight months? How have you gone from that point to this point in eight months?’ I struggle to understand how we’ve made that change so quickly. I’m so different from then, I wouldn’t even be sitting here talking to you eight months ago.
“I could reflect all day, every day, about it because it’s just been the craziest eight months of my life.”
Looking at how happy Jess is about her new self, it’s easy to forget that the journey getting to this point in her life was anything but plain sailing.
Because of her low self-confidence, Jess had to battle many inner demons to find herself again: even meeting her PT, Joe, for the first time was a challenge in itself.
“When you have a lot of body confidence and self-confidence issues, something as tiny as saying ‘hello’, and introducing yourself, and walking into a new environment is really triggering.
“I couldn’t sleep the night before I started my transformation because I was so scared. I was more scared to say ‘hi’ to Joe than to do the transformation.”
Luckily, once Jess got over the initial hurdle, the only way was up for her – and the transformation she would make in the next eight months would be astounding.
“The reason U.P. are so good at what they do and why they’re at the top of their game is because the trainers truly care about whether you’re going to make not just a physical transformation, but a mental transformation too.
“From day one, Joe was really supportive and open to helping me with not just the physical aspects, but also the mental strength aspects of the transformation.”
For Jess, it’s her trainer’s impeccable attention to detail that made all the difference, and that, to her, is what sets U.P. apart from all the other personal training gyms in the industry.
“I feel Joe works harder than me sometimes.
“My programme changed constantly: the second I started stalling we’d have a new plan of action with my exercise and diet, and something else to work towards. I just feel like it was really personalised because when my body changed the programme changed with me, and that’s really important.
“You’d go to a commercial gym and you’d get a trainer that just gives you a cookie-cutter plan that you follow, and you don’t get tweaks and the attention to detail that I got throughout my transformation.”
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The combination of a personalised programme and a professional personal trainer is perfect for Jess, as she was able to see results early on in her transformation.
“I was seeing changes really quickly. I was going on a holiday to New York halfway through my transformation and I remember six weeks in, I was going into Topshop to get a winter coat for the trip and my coat size had gone down two sizes, so the changes were happening really quickly.
“It made me feel good because the fat started dropping off pretty quickly. I was getting comments a couple of weeks after I started, which was absolutely mad.
“It’s the biggest weight off your shoulders to look for an outfit for an event and you can choose whatever you want to wear. Honestly, there is no feeling like it.”
The change on the inside was just as impressive as it was on the outside – if not more!
In just eight months, Jess has gone from someone who kept to herself in the office environment to someone who’s confident and outgoing, and she attributes the 180-degree turnaround to her body transformation.
That said, Jess is still massively proud to finally be able to look at herself in the mirror and be at peace with the woman she sees.
“It’s definitely easier looking at a mirror now. I wouldn’t say I’m completely cured of having a bit of ‘mirror-phobia’ every now and then…I think a lot of women struggle with that, but I definitely now look in a mirror and I’m not absolutely horrified.
“Actually I’m like ‘You know what? You look okay today.’ So have a pat on the back there!”
From the girl who first walked through the gym door frightened to even say ‘hi’ to her trainer to the confident young woman she is now, Jess has truly transformed from inside out.
In fact, the ‘old’ Jess would feel uncomfortable at the sight of her own photos unless they were selfies that she’d ‘put 12 filters on’. Fast-forward eight months, and the ‘new’ Jess is embracing everything about herself with absolutely #nofilter.
“At the beginning, I’d said ‘I don’t want to be on film, I don’t want to have any photos taken, and I’m definitely not doing a photoshoot,’ because I was terrified of getting in front of a camera or talking to more than one person in a social setting so it’s pretty crazy to think that I’ve now done a photoshoot and to be even sitting here now is a bit weird because I could not have done this at the start.
“This experience has definitely made me more positive.
“When you go through something like this, you start celebrating the milestones – like what you’ve been through and how hard you’ve worked – a lot more, which is a lot easier to do when you have the confidence in yourself that perhaps you didn’t have before.”
Now that Jess’s found her way back to herself, she’s ready to start living her best life again and make up for the time she’d lost in the last four years – but she could never have done this without the U.P. team.
“I’m very lucky to have been offered to do a transformation by our CEO Nick Mitchell.”
“If I hadn’t been given the opportunity to do this I might have struggled for a few more years on my own.
“I do think that for people that are in my position, that maybe worry too much about what other people think; or they don’t think they can get the help that they need; or they just worry about putting themselves out there, U.P. offers you that chance to give you a trainer that does care about getting you out of that ‘hole’ and working towards ‘fixing‘ you – and I feel ‘fixed’.”
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