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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Meet the personal trainer organising women-only walks across Yorkshire

Since October, women from across Yorkshire have been meeting up every month to take part in hikes across the region.

Every month more than two dozen women meet up to walk across picturesque landscapes across Yorkshire.

Organised by personal trainer, Jamila Karolia, 39, women from across Yorkshire take part in She Walks hikes that take them around some of the best-hidden gems and natural beauty spots in the region.

Before becoming a personal trainer in 2017, Ms Karolia worked a typical 9-to-5 in recruitment. For many years, she would spend hours in the gym on the exercise bike but not gaining the results that she wanted.

Fed up, she decided to hire a personal fitness trainer ten years ago, “which changed everything.” She quickly became “obsessed with the results” and the “buzz” that she got after a workout and would spend even more time at the local sports centre exercising.

Ms Karolia became a personal trainer five years ago.

After, being passed up for a promotion, Ms Karolia decided to exit the corporate world for good to become her own boss working in female fitness and taking on clients in Batley.

She said: “I used to sit on the bike at the gym for three hours a week reading Grazia magazine, I had no idea. In 2012, I got a personal trainer for the first time, and I quickly became addicted to the gym to the point where I would go to work in my gym clothes so I could get there quicker.

“Everyone told me ‘Jamila, just become a personal trainer. It is all you talk about so you may as well do it.’ At work, I was due a promotion, but I didn’t get it – somebody external was given the role which gave me the push I needed to become self-employed. I gained my personal training qualifications and put my notice in after I passed the exam. It was a passion that became my full-time job.”

According to IBIS World, the personal trainer industry is worth around £635.5m in the UK, with around 23,0000 people working in the sector. However, out of this, only 35% of trainers are women.

According to the latest Government statistics, Asian women are the least physically active group in the UK, with less than half (46.2%) of women over the  age of sixteen reporting that they do 150 minutes or more of moderate physical activity.

The personal trainer said she started out “at a good time” when there weren’t many female personal trainers in Batley. She said her new business was “positively received” by women who wanted to book private sessions with a female instructor.

The group will be walking take to the outdoors for the sixth time on Saturday.

Ms Karolia added: “For Asian women, personal trainers need to be relatable, that we understand the food, the diet, the lifestyle, and the culture which all affect our ability to gain or lose weight.

“When I became a personal trainer, I already had a following on social media so everyone started booking with me, especially because I was a woman in a male-dominated industry.

“I used to work in a mixed gym, which was great, but women were reluctant to come so I joined a female-only gym. Now, women feel more comfortable and confident and are not worried about having to cover certain parts of their body or hair, they can be themselves and concentrate on their workout instead of on who may potentially be watching.”

In October of last year, the personal trainer launched a female-only monthly walking group, She Walks, after a growing demand from people wanting to know where she goes on her weekly hikes with friends.

Since launching eight months ago, more than two dozen women turn up every session to hike in places like Wakefield, Ilkley and White Wells. Women who did not know each other at the beginning are now the best of friends thanks to the group.

Ms Karolia, said: “I go on walks with friends weekly. People began asking me on social media about where I was going and what I was doing, so I thought that rather than just telling people, I would set up a group where any women can come.

The group go to different locations across Yorkshire every month.

“It empowers women, especially Asian women, to gain independence, who wouldn’t normally think to go out in nature just to walk.”

She added: “The first walk was in October of last year. I didn’t advertise the group; it just grew through word of mouth. I’ve gone from a group of six women to around twenty-six.”

The sessions, which are held on a Saturday, cost £5 a pop but children between the ages of 8 and 16 are allowed to attend for free.

The personal trainer added: “I find that with the walks being once a month on a Saturday, a lot of women are unable to come because of childcare commitments so it was important for me to allow children between the ages of 8 and 16 to come on the walks with their mums for free.

“The main benefit of the group is the sense of community. I wanted women to meet like-minded people, create new friends, to have someone they can relate to outside their immediate family and friend groups.

“The gym environment is for everybody. Everyone has amazing abilities that we often do not realise. Just taking the focus from everybody around us and taking time out to focus on yourself, is so empowering and makes you feel fantastic afterwards.”

The next walk will be this Saturday at Otley Chevin, in Wharfedale in Leeds and June’s walk is set for Malham Cove in North Yorkshire.

 

 

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