Fit fabulous

14th March 2008 at 00:00
Fitter, healthier, slimmer you - and all achieved in school. Emily Cubitt tells how

So you went to the gym five times a week during the first few weeks of January, didn't so much as look at a chocolate bar and frowned upon those less motivated.

But now Easter approaches and those chocolate eggs aren't going to eat themselves. Meanwhile your gym membership is gathering dust, your fresh fruit is going mouldy and your local takeaway is back on speed dial.

Sound familiar? Well, you're not alone. And you're not too late to make 2008 the year you stick to your guns and really do drop a dress size or two.

Teachers at Welbourne Primary School in Tottenham, London, were vowing to lose weight in the new year, so Sandra Lambie, a 37-year-old reception teacher, decided to set up a slimming club to provide encouragement, motivation and support to all staff who wanted to shape up.

"Many of our staff have childcare commitments after school and they cannot afford to join a gym," she says. "So I thought if I set up something on site everyone should be able to participate and achieve their goals."

Each week Sandra collects pound;2 from all participating teachers, assistants and even the head. They then get weighed and take part in a 45-minute talk that has a different focus every week, covering topics such as exercise, eating out and healthy eating tips. This is followed by a 40-minute aerobic class run by one of the teaching assistants with relevant experience.

Sandra says that exercise relieves stress and leaves her feeling refreshed and ready to start marking or planning for the next day. "It works well doing this at school as you don't have the opportunity to go home and get distracted by something else. We work late anyway so having the club on site is convenient."

While teachers have lots of after-school commitments including staff meetings, parents' evening and after-school clubs for the pupils, Sandra believes it is vital to take some time out for yourself and exercise, even if it is just a half-hour swim. "You need to offload and let off steam," she adds. "You'll feel better mentally and physically after a workout."

Sandra says that her slimming club has attracted the more competitive members of staff too, as each week pound;5 from the money raised through the entry fee is awarded to the person who has lost the most weight that week. Meanwhile pound;5 also goes to the teaching assistant taking the aerobics class, with the rest going towards an end of year healthy meal out.

With a financial incentive and pride at stake - after all, no one will want to be the first member of staff to drop out - it seems this slimming club could see all members of staff enjoy a healthier 2008.

WEIGHING IN

- Group support is vital;

- Share ideas;

- Celebrate successes;

- Support each other through the tough times;

- Discuss activity plans and success strategies.

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