‘My mum died at 42 but I won’t let that happen to me, friends, or clients’ - fitness instructor’s mission to get people moving

Kirkham couple Lise Leyland, 33, and her fiancé Rich Mitchell, 30, opened their gym ‘Hello Fit’ in Lytham four years ago after leaving their jobs in wedding planning and hospitality.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 2:03 pm

The Kirkham mum of two is on a mission to help others ‘keep fit and keep moving’, even during lockdown.

“We focus on our community,” Lise said, “Community has been a really big thing for us so of course when the news came that lockdown was happening it was a little bit scary.

“But luckily I was already running an online business on the side offering virtual classes for mums who didn’t have childcare and couldn’t get out for classes.

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Lise Leyland when she opened a gym with her partner in 2016, photo: Neil Cross

“We quickly realised we could transition to online services so we got a timetable together of about 31 classes a week that were all virtual.

“So straight away our members could maintain that momentum with their exercise.

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“My classes are half an hour and I encourage people to have their toddlers round them when they’re exercising,” she said.

Lise Leyland, 33, and fiance Rich, 30, spent most of their dates at the gym or being active.

“I will encourage my toddler to be there as well because I think people feel scared at home and think ‘my kids are around’ but I tell them not to worry about it and that my kids will also be around!

“We just laugh it off when the toddlers are climbing on us.

“I’m very engaging with the kids when they’re in the room because I think the mums tend to be embarrassed.

“If the kids come to the camera and start waving at me then I’ll wave back and instantly the mums feel more at ease and they think to themselves ‘that wasn’t as embarrassing as I thought’ and they don’t have to to worry about the kids getting in the way.”

Lise Leyland, 33, at Hello Fit.

Gyms have been closed throughout the lockdown leaving many no choice but to exercise from their living rooms.

“We’ve been really conscious of making people feel comfortable because exercising from home is not the best thing, it’s not what everybody wants to do,” Lise said.

“Your home is a place to relax and it must be hard to stay motivated at home when you don’t have the facilities.”

In an effort to help clients who cannot get to the gym right now, Lise has encouraged them to use everyday objects in their workouts.

Lise with fiance Rich and daughters Bella, 10, and Juliet, 2.

“We have adapted all of our classes to be either body-weight classes or to just require one type of weight- you can use a bottle of water or a can of beans so there’s something to suit everybody.”

Lise has always had a passion for fitness but took her passion further when her mum passed away.

“My mum passed away at 42 after a stroke and, after doing a lot of research and trying to figure it out, it seemed that it was her lifestyle,” Lise said.

“I just thought ‘that’s not happening to me, I’m making a change and I want to tell people that you need to move and the human body is designed to move’.

“This is what I share with friends and I say let’s keep moving, let’s be happy and let’s keep fit and live a longer life.

“It was only when I met Rich that I realised this could be our career - most of our dates were spent at the gym and being active!

“We decided to get out of hospitality and just do it. We trained up as personal trainers, found premises in Lytham and we’ve been doing it for four years now.”

Despite losing some gym members due to lockdown, the couple have managed to keep their employees on thanks to online classes.

Lise has also set up an online Facebook community for members and clients which focuses on healthy eating as well as fitness.

“I’ve named it The Academy and people pay £10 a month to get access to my classes, monthly recipe guides and monthly challenges,” she said.

“A lot of people also want to know how they can eat healthily with fussy eaters in the family.

“They’ve loved it because the kids are helping them cook the recipes throughout lockdown and they’re following recipes together as a family.”

Lise believes that a ‘more holistic approach’ is needed to help people get fit and says they have been spurred into action by COVID-19.

“You’re not just exercising to look a certain way but it’s for health now and I think the whole pandemic has really made people realise that, especially with us being a fairly obese nation,” she said.

“The impact of obesity on COVID cases has been an eye-opener for some people and they realise they need to be exercising more.

“It’s the silver lining of the pandemic, people are realising that we need to move for our health rather than to look good.”