Emilia, 26 from Kensington

“When I started going to the gym all the women seemed to be doing Zumba but I tried it once and didn’t really like it. You’ve got to find something you love, and for me that’s kickboxing.”

I was already going to the gym two or three times a week, doing Metafit and kettlebell circuits. I’d go to the same sessions every time because I was comfortable in my own bubble and I could manage them. I’d seen other people kickboxing and always thought it would be pretty cool, but I thought it was mainly men who did it so I was a bit intimidated by that.

I knew my gym instructor had her black belt so I asked where she went and she told me the classes were really friendly, for all different ages, so I thought I’d try it. I thought I’d turn up and be the only person with no belt and I wouldn’t know when to bow or the right words to use. I thought I’d be like a deer in headlights!

But I’ve never looked back from my first trial kickboxing session and that was in September 2015. As soon as I walked in this lady came straight over and asked ‘are you OK?’ and I thought ‘ooh, I’m not the only girl!’

There’s a 15-minute warm-up before each class and at the end of the first one I thought I wasn’t going to last an hour and a half, but I did.  I learnt moves and self-defence, it wasn’t just punching a bag, and it wasn’t all aggressive which I’d thought it was going to be. I loved it.

I’m now a blue belt and I’ve lost two-and-a-half stone and feel fitter than ever. I’ve also got my mum involved. I pick her up straight from the train station after work and I have her stuff in the car ready so she can’t get out of it! But we both enjoy it and it’s good to have someone else doing it with you, for extra motivation.