Anne is this month’s Featured Fitness Instructor and has kindly taken the time to share her story of how she transitioned from working in an office environment to entering the fitness industry when she was 50 years old. Anne is very passionate about helping people feel better through movement and has made a large impact on a lot of people so far. I hope it motivates and inspires you to continue working towards your fitness goals. Let’s hear from Anne…

My name is Anne Francis and I’m relatively new to the industry. I haven’t taken the traditional route into fitness being neither good at sports at school nor including much activity as an adult. Most of my working life has involved being in an office or standing in front of people training them in a range of non-physical areas such as
management, communication and business start-up.

Ten years ago at the age of 50 things started to go wrong with my health. I had high cholesterol levels, was pre-diabetic, was suffering from a debilitating liver disease with a very poor prognosis. Basically, my lifestyle, although not unusual in our society, had caught up with me, I was a social drinker, I ate few vegetables, quite a
lot of processed food and most importantly did absolutely no exercise on a regular basis at all. The occasional yoga class and walk into town was the extent of it. I used to get out of puff walking up the stairs. The point is that even though my habits were not extreme they still had a huge impact on my health and energy levels.

A friend took me to a dance class in Swaffham called NIA (Neuromuscular Interactive Action), a dance form that is well known in the States that combines martial arts, dance moves and relaxation. I quite enjoyed it although was unable to coordinate or keep up the pace. On the journey home my friend suggested I learn to teach NIA and what popped out of my mouth surprised me as much as her. I said, “well, you never know!” This planted the seed and I went home and found a training course in Brighton to do the initial NIA white belt. One thing led to another
and over 3 years ended up doing my Green belt and Blue belt in Holland and North England. Helen Terry was my teacher and she’s still a good friend who inspires me to keep moving.

I set up a company and taught classes in Norwich alongside my other business pursuits. It took a long time to establish myself and I learned a lot along the way. Now the classes are full every week and I have diversified into teaching especially for the over 50s and those with certain diagnoses. I found it especially rewarding to
see the positive difference in people who had illnesses such as Parkinson Disease, MS, ME and diabetes.

A few years ago I attended a training course organised by Active Norfolk at the UEA Sportspark entitled Exercise and Diabetes and met the wonderful Emma from PURE Training and Development. I was so impressed by her enthusiasm, professional approach and knowledge that I decided to do as much training with her as possible.

Over the years, through PURE Training and Development I have added various qualifications to my portfolio
including Circuit Training and a GP Exercise Referral qualification. I have also joined the PTD Hub and receive regular updates and resources to use in my work.

Qualifying as a qigong teacher 2 years ago has added the relaxation side to my work and I run regular meditation sessions in Norwich. I do lots of sessions across Norfolk for the WI and have learned never to underestimate an older woman! I regularly run 10 week Wellbeing courses across Norwich that combines my learning throughout my life. We cover nutrition, exercise, mind set and relaxation.

In 5 years time, I see myself as a role model and inspirer for anyone wanting to take charge of their fitness and wellbeing. I will be semi-retired, still learning, still enjoying active time with my grandchildren, still moving, still dancing and still loving life.

Do what you love, love what you do is my advice to anyone in this line of work.
We’ve never had access to so much support, research and mainstream information
regarding the importance of fitness and wellbeing at any time of life and it is never
too late to start.

You can find me here: