A FITNESS instructor who used to hate PE at school wants to encourage families to get active by offering a range of fun and affordable classes in Basingstoke.

Sarah Leaford set up InsideOut Health and Fitness after training to become a teacher and realising this career path was not for her, but that she did still want to work with children.

“I realised I wanted to be involved with children but not in this way,” she explained, adding: “Life is too short to be stressed, and teaching seemed like a stressful job.”

The 31-year-old spent some time working in nursery management before deciding to retrain as a fitness instructor and personal trainer, specialising in young people’s fitness.

She added: “This has always been my passion so I decided to retrain and make it a career as a personal trainer. It’s sensible to specialise in something and I thought I would use my background and there is no one offering what I do in the area.”

She hopes her classes will inspire children and families to enjoy being active, and said: “I hated PE at school and used to eat junk food all the time. Now there is so much pressure on young people with social media to look a certain way which effects their mental health, but being fit and strong is better than being skinny.”

She added: “I am passionate about making staying fit fun, and using fitness as a tool to promote positive mental health and body image. Furthermore, I love to use Pilates style sessions to help hugely with anxiety and exam stress.”

Sarah now runs various classes in Basingstoke, including a Junior Bootcamp at Basingstoke Sports Centre twice a week, a pre-school movement session once a week and a family spinning class.

She also holds a class for those with learning disabilities and runs sessions at Fairfield’s Primary School as part of their PE curriculum.

Kelly Dillon, headteacher at Fairfield’s, said: “Sarah has inspired so many of the children in my school to get fit and be active. Who would have ever thought that children from ages six to 11 would be so excited to take part in Bootcamp? The children absolutely love Sarah and are so keen to impress her with their fitness.

“What a fabulous person to have in the community.”

Sarah said her focus is on making the classes fun so that children enjoy them, explaining: “I think often the idea of a kids’ fitness class could be misinterpreted as being strict army style aerobics session which could seem intimidating and demoralising. I am really keen to spread the word about the classes I run and how much fun the children can have.”

For her pre-school class at the Sports Centre, Sarah combines a range of music and equipment to engage the children, with exercises including running around the room as Superman or dancing to a song.

For more information about Sarah’s classes, go to facebook.com/insideoutresults.