Emma lifting a huge tire

When I first started training, I had high anxiety about being in the gym and I've had a panic attack a few times. I don’t let this defeat me, I work through it, each time growing stronger and more determined.

From being cheered on by the local school kids, to getting approached in Costa Coffee for being ‘that lady on Instagram’ – 2019 has been life changing for Emma Payne, a School Teacher from Newhaven. This incredible woman has had an ongoing battle with her weight, and this year she decided to take control.

Teaming up with Jason Frost, otherwise known as Brighton Bodycoach, Emma has worked hard to stick to a strict training routine whilst enjoying a flexible diet that has been simple and easy to follow. In the space of just 5 months, she’s lost a jaw-dropping 5 stone. She went from feeling uncomfortable in the gym and trying to hide her belly, to flipping tyres and showing everyone how it’s done. We caught up with Emma to learn more about her story.

What inspired you to start at UG and why?

I have been overweight most of my life. I’ve tried to lose weight a few times through programmes like slimming world but without any success. After experiencing a bereavement earlier this year, I hit rock bottom and began re-evaluating my entire life. In July, I saw one of Jason’s posts about UG bootcamp and felt an overwhelming urge to text him to see if he could help. At 28 stone, he was brutally honest and said I would struggle to keep up, so advised I work with him one and one, and guaranteed he’d help with my weight loss. We discussed a plan of action and within two days I was in the gym getting started.

How often do you train and who/what have you found most useful for your progress?

I train a minimum of twice a week, sometimes three if Jason can fit me in. Over half-term, he had me in every single day. So far, the key to success has been to do as I am told, focus on the training and diet programme, and when I am struggling, remind myself of all the amazing support I have received. Jason’s style of training has been just what I needed. I have a habit of telling myself I can’t do something (don’t we all?), and Jason will keep challenging me, doing cheeky things like telling me I have a 15kg bag when really, it’s 20kg.

What’s your usual gym routine aside from the classes?

I don’t train on my own at the moment as I have such a frequent routine with Jason. At this stage, I still feel I need someone by my side, keeping me motivated and showing me what to do. I love being pushed to my limits and being put in my place. Jason does this amazingly. Outside the gym I’ll often walk to and from work, strutting to Abba to make it fun. Some evenings, it’s the last thing I want to do after a long day at school, but I always push myself to avoid slipping into old comfort zones.

What do you enjoy about training the most?

I’ve really enjoyed the variety in our sessions. Some days we do cardio, some days we do weights, and I absolutely love boxing. The best part of it all is the ongoing love and support I have received from the entire UG family, the gym is a second home. I have had nothing but praise and support. The minute I walk through the door, every staff member makes an effort to say hello.

What’s created the best results for you so far?

When I first started training, I had high anxiety about being in the gym and I’ve had a panic attack a few times. It usually happens when I injure myself and get paranoid people are watching me. I don’t let this defeat me, I work through it, each time growing stronger and more determined. Every time I have found myself struggling mentally, I read over all the positive comments and messages people have sent me. No one has said nasty things; this is something I feared but it hasn’t happened. 

What’s been your greatest achievement so far?

People say I am an inspiration and they go to the gym because of me. I used to be 28 stone with very little confidence or happiness. Now, when I look at photographs of me, I’m beaming and so much more relaxed and comfortable. I feel like I’ve come through the other side of a really dark tunnel.

What’s been your biggest challenge so far?

I stretched my hamstring pretty badly but I still showed up to my sessions. Jason changed the exercises and I kept going. I guess the main ongoing challenge is the fact that I can’t keep up with buying new clothes because I’m losing weight so fast. The other week I trod on my trousers and they nearly fell down as I was teaching at school!

Do you stick to a special diet for this type of training?

Calorie counting. I eat 1100 calories a day and I always make sure I burn more than that by monitoring my progress on a Fitbit tracker.

What was your diet like before you started training?

I would convince myself that things were healthy, like a bowl of Alpen, but then eat enough for four people. I’d often end up in a McDonalds drive-thru on the way to work. I was constantly tired and used to nap all the time, then order a dominoes because I couldn’t be bothered to cook. It was a vicious cycle. Now, I can’t eat anything like Dominoes, Maccas or KFC, it makes me sick, my stomach can’t handle it.

What are your main goals for 2020?

To be half the person I was, so 28 stone down to 14 stone. I’ve also signed up for the Colour Run in July next year. I get anxious thinking about getting dirty and wet on this run, but there’s two voices in my head and one is egging me on so I always listen to that one.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Still in the gym, at 14 stone, flipping tyres all over the place. I’d also like to pay it forward and inspire people to commit to a healthier lifestyle.

What are your thoughts about ‘gymtimidation’?

I’ve turned everything around from negative to positive. When people are looking at me, they are looking on in admiration not judgement. It’s not an issue at UG; the minute I walk through the door, the staff are absolutely fantastic. They’ve all taken the time to get to know me and I always feel welcome and supported. As for bodybuilders, I LOVE watching them, they are inspiring. 

What advice would you give to anyone looking to start?

If you shy away from fear all your life, you’re never going to discover your true potential – so face it and move through it. It’s going to hurt, it is painful, it’s not easy but you must keep pushing your limits, building your confidence, and working on your strength. I love reading what’s written above the door at UG because it’s so true: “The worst workout is the one that didn’t happen.” – this is the mantra that keeps me going. 

Follow her journey on Instagram @fat_bird_on_a_mission and @brighton_transformations