Debbie Hayward blog

Debbie Hayward

staff member

Trainer: Sarah

2019 lifestyle goals:

  • Gain more muscle and less fat
  • Organise time to fit in more exercise
  • Aim to try different exercise classes and use the gym
  • Learn how to do sit-ups (I’ve never been able to do them!)
  • Sugar – eat less


Progress so far:

I was so surprised but very pleased to find out I had been chosen for the Xercise Factor.  A few nervous doubts crept in but once I met Sarah, the fitness instructor I have been matched with, these feelings disappeared.  In our first meeting we spoke about what exercise regime I currently have and what goals I am aiming for.  Sarah talked through the exercise classes I haven’t tried out yet and I have now signed up to give them a go.

Being apprehensive about entering the gym, due to not knowing where to start or what piece of equipment to use, Sarah has written me an exercise programme and will be helping me put this programme into practice.  I am looking forward to the next few weeks and seeing my fitness levels increase.

Being part of the Xercise Factor has been a great experience and I am so glad I entered the competition.  I’ve never been in a position to have a personal trainer before and Sarah’s boundless energy, knowledge and total commitment to helping me has been invaluable.  With Sarah’s support my apprehension of entering the gym is now overcome and I have the confidence to go into the gym knowing what I am doing and results I am aiming for.

When I had my first PT session half-way through I was thinking ‘I can’t do it’ but Sarah’s encouragement kept me going and when she suggested meeting at 6am one morning I agreed without hesitation…….then realised that the gym opens at 7am so I did get a bit of a lie in!!!!

My nutritional habits have improved and I am more mindful of what I am eating and which food groups my daily intake should come from.  I am definitely eating less sugary foods which was one of my goals.


Week three:

I can’t believe this is the end of Week 3 of the Xercise Factor as it’s flown by.  I’ve tried out a Bookiaka class this week, which was great fun and have definitely caught the exercise bug.  I’ve been fitting in 15 minute sessions in the gym before going to my exercise classes….this is not something you would have found me doing before the competition.  All my work colleagues have shown a keen interest in my progress, enjoy hearing about my PT sessions with Sarah and seeing the action pictures she takes (which are always funny to look back on to see the determination in my face when I am clearly tiring).

Wednesday morning’s session was tough, Sarah really pushed me, I didn’t know my legs could run so fast on the treadmill.  To Sarah’s disappointment, but luckily for me the stair climber was out of action, I found this piece of equipment particularly hard the first time I used it so was not looking forward to using it again, box jumps and burpees were the replacement.  Sarah has “kindly” informed me that the stair climber is in fact now fixed so I am sure this will be making an appearance again in my programme very soon, perhaps I will learn to love this piece of equipment as much as I now enjoy using the cross trainer and the rowing machine!!

I am continuing to use the food diary that Sarah recommended.  It really makes me plan what I am preparing to eat during the day and the nutritional value in my meals. I’ve received some great tips from Sarah on quick easy meals that fit within my plan too.


Week four:

Week Four has seen the stair climber being in action all week so I have had to grin and bear it and not let it defeat me…..17 flights of stairs was the starting point last week and now this has increased to 30 flights which is certainly challenging.  PT sessions have continued to incorporate new pieces of equipment that I haven’t used before.  Sarah has been great at showing me how to use the equipment properly and explaining how it works the body.  I realise I have a tendency to ‘throw my head back’ when I am tired so I am trying to be mindful of not doing it and will work on this next week Sarah I promise!!!   Alongside my usual exercise classes I continue to try out a new exercise class each week.  This week I went to Body Blast, and yes after the session my body had felt like it had experienced a blast.

To my delight the tape measure and scales are going in the right direction.  I am definitely feeling a difference in my shape and like the motto that Sarah has engrained in my mind of ‘strong not skinny’.

I have a feeling that the PT sessions next week will focus a bit more on my abs……sit-ups are not a favourite of mine L.

I know Sarah will be keeping an eye on my eating habits this weekend, she knows I’m going away for the weekend so I will feel her presence on my shoulder when I am making my eating choices.


Week five:

As I sit trying to write this week’s blog I am definitely thinking I prefer the exercise to the blog writing!!  I didn’t think I would manage any more flights of stairs on the stair climber and when Sarah set it to 45 flights in my head I thought ‘I just can’t do it’ but J I did… wasn’t easy but Sarah’s supportive encouragement of ‘you’ve got this’ made me battle on and complete it.

I’ve been enjoying the variety of things Sarah has included in the PT sessions and this week the boxing pads and gloves came out.  This was fun….I didn’t think I had that much aggression but clearly from the photos Sarah took it showed I did.

I haven’t managed to try out any new exercise classes this week but have been to my usual Zumba, Dance Mix and Body Pump twice.

So I’ve made it to the final week and I am sure that Sarah will be working me super hard for our last sessions next week.


Final blog post:

Being part of the Xercise Factor has exceeded my expectations.  Over the last 6 weeks I have learnt many things about myself…one being that I thought myself not to be a very competitive person but as each week went by I found myself more determined to stay in the competition.  Seeing the progress I was making each week both in terms of the improvement in my fitness and my measurements decreasing spurred me on further.

Having a personal trainer is not something I have ever had the luxury of having before and Sarah was a perfect match for me.  Her encouragement, knowledge and enthusiasm have been invaluable and she is an amazing role model.  She has certainly pushed me at each session and kept an eye on me throughout the week by looking at what I was eating and checking up on what  other exercises classes/additional gym sessions I had undertaken.   I particularly enjoyed the variety that was involved in the personal training sessions with each session bringing in new equipment to try or exercises to do.  Having the support of others in the gym who knew I was doing the Xercise Factor was great too.

In the last six weeks I have tried out new exercises classes that I hadn’t attended before.  Experiencing the variety of classes that Kent Sport has to offer there is certainly something for everyone.  There are still a few classes that I haven’t tried and I plan to get to some of these over the next few weeks.  During the Xercise Factor I’ve attended a total of 20 exercises classes, including a FitnessFest session which was such good fun, had 11 personal training sessions in the gym, and gone into the gym before each of my exercise classes for a quick 10-20 minute on the cross trainer/rowing machine which is something I had never done before.

When I set my goals at the application process and now reflect on them I can certainly say they have all been fully met.  The motto that Sarah has engrained in me of ‘strong not skinny’ has made me focus less on what the scales say and more about how exercise makes me feel.  I feel so much fitter, stronger and my body shape has changed. I’ve dropped a dress size and have lost a total of 9cm off my waist and 6cm off my bust and 4lbs.

Sarah focused more on losing inches rather than weight

Thank you for choosing me to be part of the competition I’ve really enjoyed it and have given it my all, which included allowing Sarah to put ‘unvetted’ pictures of me on Instagram looking very tired and weary and often pulling some very strange faces.  For all these reasons I think I should be crowned Xercise Factor Champion 2019.


A note from her trainer, Sarah:

“Debbie is hardworking and has committed fully to the changes to her diet. She works hard and does everything I throw at her, even if there is some cursing in between. She has been a pleasure to work with and fully deserves to carry on through to the next round!!”

“Debbie has been absolutely dedicated to her workouts even the wednesday 7am workouts that we did every week. When she was worried about her son being ill she pushed herself to come in. She has taken on board all advice with regards to technique and nutrition and it has benefitted her greatly. She has lost an incredible amount from her waist and bust and I could not be more proud of her. She deserves to win this because of her comittment and because of her outcome, well done Debbie! Strong not skinny all the way”

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