TES Get active

28th May 2004 at 01:00
NQT Sophie Hiller watches her back when exercising

How do you keep fit?

Apart from climbing the stairs to my fourth-floor flat, I go to the gym twice a week and run at weekends.

What got you started?

I started at the gym about nine years ago, when I began to get back problems. But I've been running since university.

Why the gym and running?

I do special exercises in the gym which help my back, but it's also a good way of getting all-round exercise. I love running, particularly if I can go early in the morning, with the sun coming up, perhaps on a riverside path.

How do you make time?

I set aside periods in the week specifically for exercise, and if I let the routine slip I regret it. It's easy to feel there's not enough time, particularly when there's a pile of marking, but then I don't feel good about myself the next day.

Have you felt the benefits?

Being fit and active boosts my self-belief; it makes me feel more confident in the classroom. And we're all so image-conscious; I think I'm more credible with young people if they see me making an effort to look and feel good.

Any downsides?

I have to be careful of my back when I'm running because pounding hard streets can be jarring. Because it's so exhilarating it's easy to get carried away.

How active are your colleagues?

It's a young staffroom, and recently we've made an effort to become more active. We have a running club, and the male staff play football on Friday afternoons - it's a bonding thing. An NQT colleague is starting a yoga club, and we've discussed treating ourselves to a weekend at a health spa.

Healthy hint?

Get more sleep and drink lots of water.

Sophie Hiller, 34, is an NQT of RE at St Mark's RC school in Hounslow, London. For tips and ideas on personal fitness go to: www.tes.co.ukgetactive

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