Fit for the Beach – Kent Sport members pushed, stretched, challenged and loving it!

University of Kent Sport Fit for the BeachThe Kent Sport Fitness Team at the University of Kent Canterbury campus have been guiding participants through a challenging personalised training programme to help them reach their goals and empower them with new knowledge about exercise, training, fitness and nutrition. By the time they have completed Kent Sport’s six-week programme they will have experience and training to benefit them for the future – but how are they finding it? Kent Sport’s Fit for the Beach participants provide their feedback:

Participant: Susannah Parker
Age: 20
Category: Student, University of Kent
Goal: Weight loss and to run a mile.
Trainer: Andy

I entered this competition to improve my fitness and body as my attendance at hockey this year has been less that committed.

I knew Andy would be able to push me from the moment he started training me. The programme Andy developed for me was a rotation of three days; the first day being arms (and cardio), the second interval training, and the third legs (and cardio). The arms day I found the hardest as I have never done anything with my arms, and they were distinctly unprepared for what he planned to put me through!

So far I have found that I have a lot more in me than I had previously thought. I didn’t realise how far it is possible to push yourself without actually causing yourself harm!

I found it quite hard at the beginning to be so committed to going to the gym, but as time went on I started to look forward to the classes I went to, and also to my time in the gym. Having to go to the gym so many times every week has made me feel much more energised in my daily life.

The new facilities at the Sports Centre gym are an amazing improvement on the old gym, and I have felt privileged to be able to use them, especially in such a nice building. I have also discovered many machines that I did not know existed, and a myriad of different ways to use them!

The increase in dance classes has also been a big positive as it is possible to fit them around my normal life, and also to be able to attend many every week!

I will be ‘Fit 4 the Beach’ by the summer because… Andy has given me the knowledge and feeling of power to be able to make myself fit – I didn’t have anywhere near as much faith in my own fitness potential before!

Participant: Laura Tilston
Age: 22
Category: Student
, University of Kent
Goal: Be fit and healthy, look good for summer
Trainer: Oli

I was a bit nervous about meeting my instructor at first because I’m quite new to fitness and I’ve never had a personal instructor before so I was worried they would be intimidating and harsh but it was quite the opposite. My instructor is really friendly and understands that I’m pretty much starting from scratch! There’s no pressure to do something I’m not comfortable with and he’s also really encouraging.

He recommended some classes that he thought would benefit me and introduced me to different types of equipment I never would have used otherwise that are really good for my goals.

I’ve used the row machine, the spinning bike, some weight machines and also been given some exercises to improve my core muscles that I could do at home as well. The programme has been really helpful so far and has given me confidence to try out new things in the gym and has led me in the right direction to improve my fitness and health.

With the encouragement of my instructor I have kept on going when normally I would have given up. It’s been really enjoyable and I’ve stuck to an actual exercise regime for the first time ever so I’m quite confident about reaching my goals.

I will be fit 4 the beach by summer because… for the first time I’ve got a doable workout routine which I can constantly improve which really helps to keep me focused! The new Kent Sport Fitness Suite looks really great. It’s clean, tidy and spacious and there are plenty of machines to go around, I’ve never had to wait to use something. The new studio for the classes are also a good improvement – it’s really handy to have the mirrors all along the room so I can see what I’m doing and if I’m doing it right.

Participant: Sammi Chan
Age: 21
Category: Student
, University of Kent
Goal: Lose weight, tone up, be healthy.
Trainer: Ben

Ben is a patient, friendly and considerate instructor. He explains all the fitness equipment and makes sure I understand everything before we start training. When I think I cannot complete the reps/ routines, he would encourage me and help me to stay strong and concentrate. His fitness plan for me is well-tailored, and ensures I have variety such as endurance and resistance.

I have been doing cardio exercise, including endurance and interval such as treadmill, Versa Climber, stepper and Spinning. Resistance training includes chest and shoulder press, lat pulldown, squat, leg curl and extension.

I have learnt a lot from the experience. Before this programme I would usually stay on the treadmill or cross- trainer. This experience has introduced me to different fitness machines, which can help me to work out different parts of my body. Apart from this, I have focused on my heart rate, which I did not bother about before. Furthermore, we have also discussed the importance of healthy diet and how to achieve that.

I have found the programme challenging, but am enjoying it very much. This fitness programme with Kent Sport has helped me to learn more about myself and let me know that I am stronger than I thought.

I will be fit 4 the beach by summer because…. I sweat for it!

Participant: Emma O’Driscoll
Age: 30
Category: Student (PhD)
, University of Kent
Goal: Improve aerobic fitness to be able to go hiking and cycling in the Pyrenees at the end of June; and to improve flexibility.
Trainer: Chris

My instructor Chris has been supportive, encouraging, and very patient! He builds the work up gradually so I always feel ready to progress to the next level.

So far I’ve done a mixture of pilates, strength training and cardio, the latter involving the rowing machine, Spinning bike and Versa Climber’. Each week we build on the previous week’s work and try to beat weights/times already logged.

I’ve learnt how to train ‘properly’, which machines and exercises are best for my personal fitness goals and how to use them correctly. Before, I just came to the gym and spent 20 minutes on one of the cardio machines before wandering around to see which of the other machines was free; now I have a routine with specific targets.

I’ve enjoyed the programme so far. Now that there are only a couple of weeks left I feel motivated to work hard and try to get the most out of the experience.

The hardest part is definitely the cardio – my previous routine was to spend 20-30 minutes running at a gentle pace, seeing how long I could keep going, whereas Chris makes me do short, intense bursts of exercise which are obviously better for my fitness levels.

The best part about the program is the one-to-one training and guidance – I’ve never had the opportunity to work out with someone knowledgeable and find out exactly what I’m doing right or wrong, and how to improve. It’s also useful to have someone shouting encouragement when you feel that you can’t do any more.

I love the new gym facilities at the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus. I will be fit for the beach by summer because… Chris doesn’t let me slack off!

Participant: Heather Furguson
Age: 32
Category: Staff (Senior Lecturer in Psychology)
, University of Kent
Goal: Improve fitness and tone up legs, arms and stomach in time for honeymoon at the end of June.
Trainers: Liz and Hannah

I’m now in my third week of the Fit for the Beach training programme- and it’s going great! Kent Sport contacted me last month to say that I’d won a place, and I was invited in to meet my personal trainer – Liz. She was very friendly and positive, and we got started straight away with a ‘fitness test’. Much to my relief, it wasn’t the scary ‘bleep test’ that I remembered from school, but lots of questions about my typical exercise habits, diet, and some body measurements.

I was really looking forward to getting some expert guidance on my fitness routine – I used to do a lot of long distance running, but since suffering a knee injury a few years ago I’ve really struggled to find a substitute that keeps me fit, while still being enjoyable. My usual gym session would consist solely of cardio exercise- always the same 45 minutes on a Spinner bike (those new bikes in the Sports Centre are fab!), followed by 20 minutes on the treadmill- and while I felt generally fit, I didn’t feel particularly strong or toned.

My first personal trainer session was a revelation, as Liz mixed up cardio with weights and toning machines, and we worked through intervals of hard and harder exercises that ‘loaded’ specific muscle groups. We do interval sprints on the treadmill and Spinner, climb the Washington monument on the vertical climber (a killer!), ‘tone and firm’ on the cross-trainer, race on the rowing machines, and mix in squats, sit-ups, and reps with weights… My favourite thing is that all these activities involve an element of competition for me to go further, beat my own times, and push harder, which keeps me motivated! Liz is really great – always clear in what to do, and encouraging when I need a push.

It’s only been three weeks, but I feel that I’ve already learnt a lot, and I’ll definitely be sticking with these changes to my exercise routine. It’s been really useful to learn all the new ways to mix up my exercise routine, but the best thing is simply to turn up at the gym and just do as I’m told! I definitely work harder when I know Liz is going to write my time down! The new gym at the University of Kent’s Sports Centre is perfect for this sort of varied training, and I’d love to keep up these personal training sessions after this promotion ends.

Participant: Elliot Garder
Age: 19
Category: Student
, University of Kent
Goal: Build lean muscle and lose body fat.
Trainers: Carl and Luke

I have two instructors; both have been very friendly and helpful and have shown that they can get results.

I have been doing compound movements such as the bench press and squats as well as interval training on the rowing machine and treadmill. I have learnt how to do squats and other exercises correctly. I have also learnt about how to change my diet for better results.

The program has been good so far I have made fast progress and can see where I’ll be at the end of it.
The hardest part has been trying not to eat too many. The programme has been good as it has helped me achieve my goals much faster than if I had been on my own.

Things have been going well and I have seen my strength improving.
The new Kent Sport fitness facilities are really good as they have a large range of equipment and multiples of the really popular things so there is less waiting around.

I will be fit 4 the beach by summer because….as I have changed my diet and have been training hard at the gym.

Participant: Lyn Scarfe
Age: 39
Category: Staff (Income Officer)
, University of Kent
Goal: Improve Cardiovascular fitness!

Applying for Fit for the Beach came about after receiving an email from the Kent Sport at the University of Kent. I admitted to myself I would be turning 40 in July, whether I liked it or not, and I may be able to accept it more if I got fit.

When I met my instructor Mike the following week he soon picked up that the biggest problem would be keeping me motivated. I’m very good at deciding to get fit and then giving up when my muscles ache.

Mike has created a three session programme for me with various cardio and weight exercises, including weight bearing squats that made me think he was trying to kill me off.

I can’t say that I’ve got to the point of enjoying the gym yet and the hardest part is getting off my chair and making the two minute walk to the Sports Centre.  However once I’m done I do feel really good that I’ve achieved something.

The new Kent Sport Fitness Suite is great.  There are enough machines so that even when I go at lunch times, I’m not waiting around.

I will be Fit for the Beach by summer because….I want to be fit at forty (and Mike won’t let me quit)!

Kent Sport will be announcing the Fit for the Beach winner in July. For information about Kent Sport membership, facilities and services available to members, please visit, email or call 01227 823623.

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