Posted: 15 June 2015

Sarah Maxwell: 'Tough n Buff is uniquely placed to get you on the road to fitness'

In support of Tough n Buff, our new 30-day fitness challenge, fitness expert Sarah Maxwell , left in the photograph above, writes about why she supports the challenge, and how exercise and volunteering changed her life.

Sarah Maxwell showing one of her students how to exercise

I have followed the work of The Children’s Society for a long time and I’m delighted to be involved in supporting Tough n Buff. Firstly, I had a difficult childhood like many of the young people helped by the charity and secondly, my involvement in the world of exercise and sport helped to turn my life around.

My mum had me relatively late in life and brought me up on her own. Life was really tough, money was short and I was bullied at school for having a school grant for my uniform and school meals – I felt stigmatised standing in a different queue at lunchtime. 

Mum had a breakdown and at 14 I learnt that the man who I thought was my dad wasn’t my real dad - it acted like a catalyst turning me into a very troubled teenager. Social services wanted to put me into care but I fought to stay out of the system. At 16 I was placed in a halfway house which turned into a nightmare as I was relentlessly pursued by unscrupulous people who targeted the house knowing that vulnerable young people were living there.

I hit rock bottom with an abusive relationship, low self-esteem, issues with my weight, no energy and depression. I just needed someone to listen to me and treat me with respect.

Volunteering turned my life around

Luckily, thanks to social services, I had an opportunity to volunteer with young people in schools. I loved it and realised I had something to offer and also that I wasn’t as stupid as I had been led to believe, but dyslexic.

Volunteering led to a place on a scheme with the local council in sport development. It was a turning point - I was on my way. I gained respect and found something I was passionate about and people who believed in me.

'Tough n Buff is uniquely placed to get you on the road to fitness'

It’s a mind-set and Tough n Buff is uniquely placed to get you on the road to fitness if it’s something you have wanted to do but don’t know where to start. It’s designed for people with low levels of fitness so it’s a great way to get off that couch!

Make sure you do the easy stuff first and once you have built up your confidence then take things a bit further. You need to feel good rather than bad about your achievements otherwise you will give up.

Build up gradually and take it steady – you will be amazed how exercise can bring about a change in mood. Tough n Buff is also really positive for people who are time-poor by helping to set easily achievable goals - exercise really can help to make you feel less tired.

You can generate a huge amount of energy in a short timeframe including step ups and lunges - 30 minutes or even ten can make a difference – just fit your routine into small pockets during the day.

You will soon start to feel a difference to your life and, by raising money at the same time, make a big difference to the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable children. That’s got to be a great motivator.

Get involved in Tough n Buff

By Sarah Maxwell - Guest bloggers