How music therapist Claire found inspiration in swimming

Improved fitness wasn’t all Claire gained from her new exercise routine, she also found the tools to succeed in other areas of her life.

Despite having been a gym member for years, 45-year-old music therapist Claire had never found exercising fun. “I used to just come and do the Zumba classes every once in a while, but the gym wasn’t something I enjoyed,” she says.

But when she signed up her teenage children as members at Nuffield Health Bromley she was offered a taster session with personal trainer Shane and took it up.

“He started off by asking what I don’t like about exercise and I told him I find it boring. So he designed a really varied programme to make the sessions interesting.”

At one of their sessions Shane and Claire got talking about their interests and realised they had a shared passion for swimming. Keen to find a specific goal for Claire, Shane suggested they complete a swimathon challenge. “We joined the swimathon together,” says Claire. “His main sport is swimming and I love it too so I was delighted to take it up again. He’s been able to really develop my swimming technique through the training which I’m very pleased with too. On top of that we did a 2.5km swim each and we raised just over £500 for Marie Curie.”

Spurred on by the success of the swimathon, Claire couldn’t wait to discover her next challenge, and the pair entered the Hever Castle triathlon which takes place in September.

“Shane is a great motivator. If I say I’m not feeling it today then he pushes me on. He doesn’t let me give in. He also got me to have an appointment with the nutritionist, and is looking at my needs holistically as a person.”

Continuing her training Claire says she feels great:

“A year ago I wouldn’t have gone to the gym myself but I feel much more confident using the equipment, I know what I’m doing now.”

“I’ve been using the TRX, freeweights and my technique for basic exercises like the plank has improved. Throughout the year I’ve dropped a dress size, my whole body shape has changed and I feel stronger.”

But the most surprising benefit of her newfound interest in exercise has been on her career. Studying for her master’s in music therapy at the same time, Claire says it has been a challenging year, but one that was transformed by swimming.

“The exercise has really helped my concentration for my thesis and inspiration. When you’re ploughing up and down the lanes in the pool you’ve got a lot of time to think. And I also thought, if I can achieve what I have with exercise I can get through my masters. And I did!” Claire passed her master’s degree and is looking forward to being put to the test again in her first triathlon.

For others lacking the motivation to get fit and healthy, Claire says, “Just get out, join and do it.”

Last updated Tuesday 7 January 2020

First published on Tuesday 1 September 2015