Leyland couple who triumphed over bullies relaunching Lostock Hall business that helps transform people's well-being
They could have crumbled at the hands of bullies who targeted them over their appearance in their younger years.
But Leyland couple, Adam Badat and Kimberley Grant, are turning their years of being tormented into inspiration for a business that helps people become mentally fit through exercise.
The pair will relaunch AK Active with a celebration from 1 - 3pm on Saturday, October 19th, at their new premises in Watkin Lane Sports Centre at the top of Ward Street.
Kimberley's struggles began when she was just 18-years-old and suffered mental abuse from an ex-partner who shattered her self-esteem and left her with anxiety and depression.
The former hairdresser at Hair and Beauty in Buckshaw Village said: "My ex would call me 'fat' and 'ugly' and tell me no-one would want me; and when someone keeps telling you that over and over again it's hard not to believe it."
Kimberley, now 32-years-old and a mum-of-two, added: "I remember one time a man looked over at the group we were in and my ex smashed a can on his face out of jealousy.
"After that, I tried to dress like a man, wouldn't look at anyone and stayed in the background. I had few friends because he wouldn't let me have them and I was scared he'd hurt other people because of me.
"When we split up I had to get an injunction to stop him coming to the house. The things he'd do and say were unbelievable and it was an everyday occurrence. He'd turn up on drink and drugs being abusive. It was a very hard time because I was so young."
Kimberley soon became house-bound, would only go food shopping with her best friend and would look at everything with her head down. Food became her comfort and her weight jumped to size 18.
But then came the moment that changed it all.
"It was the day I went into a shop and picked out an outfit I loved," she said.
"I tried it on and just cried because I didn’t look the way I wanted to in it. But I knew the only person who could change it would be me and I thought, 'I physically can't do this anymore'."
Determined to turn her life around, Kimberley plucked up the courage to begin dancing classes, followed by pole-dancing and aerial hoop and skill.
"It gave me confidence and made me smile. I didn't have to think about how I looked and I could go out on my own again. At that point it wasn't about being fit but having a place to go where I felt safe," she said.
"It was really hard to have that courage after years of abuse but I couldn't let my ex have that power over me."
Kimberley flourished, landing a gold medal in pole-dancing and losing six dress sizes.
And then came along her future fiance Adam Badat, who shared her passion for health and fitness.
Former Lostock Hall Academy head boy Adam was picked on by high school bullies for being 6ft 2in and nine stone.
And when people laughed at him for joining a gym aged 16, he was so determined to prove them wrong that he went on to scoop trophies as a bodybuilding champion.
In 2016, Adam achieved first place in Mr Lincolnshire, First Timers, and just a year later he had a solid trophy cabinet, adding: 2017 GBO Mansfield, Male Model, 1st; GBO Mansfield, Male Muscle model, 2nd; GBO Leicester, Mens Physique, 1st; IBFA Mr Lincolnshire, Athletic Tall, 2nd; and WBFF Warrior Oldham, Muscle Physique, 2nd.
The 28-year-old, who also works as an engineering project manager, said: "I thought my demons had been silenced when I won my first title but it wasn't until the next year when I won five more that I knew the battle was done. I'm much happier in my own skin now.
"It's not been easy for me or Kim and we've fallen into many pitfalls while getting healthy. But now we can help stop other people from falling into them too."
But despite their struggles, the pair loved creating AK Active so much they worked for two to three years alongside their full-time day jobs without earning a single penny from it. And what started as one-to-one training sessions in their garage have now grown into a thriving brand in need of a bigger home.
Kimberley said: "We want to help people who don't feel adequate enough and make them aware it's OK not to be happy all the time.
"If we can help just one person feel good, we'd have gone above and beyond what we imagined. I want everyone to leave feeling happy.
"It's so easy to get stuck in a rut and you need that little bit of fire in you to push yourself out of your comfort zone and break out of the cycle of thinking you're inadequate. We truly believe you can't get physically fit until you are mentally strong.
"We also want to get away from the stigma that exercise is boring and isolating. We want every session to be about empowerment and togetherness, a chance for people to get away from what's going on in their heads."
Commenting on the couple's success, she added: "It's the best thing I've ever done, I love every second of it and it's been amazing to see people flourish. There's not one member who doesn't feel loved and I stand there sometimes seeing people smiling and think, 'I've no idea how we've done this but it feels phenomenal'."
The relaunch will feature a raffle raising money for Team William and Homeless Hounds, plus stalls, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a logo reveal, a presentation about AK Active's journey and demonstrations like boxercise and Hip Step. Entry to the event is free.