I teach for The Fitness Hangout and the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, Surrey.
Hands up, writing about myself is something I avoid, it’s taken me the whole 48 hours to force myself to put words down. How does a person make themselves come across in the right way when they have little skill with the written word?! I’m sure this might not all flow…..
I grew up in a large family, besides my dad, we were all girls which caused monthly nightmares. I did a bit of running and tennis growing up but that was pretty much it as having such a large family meant we had to entertain ourselves rather than be driven around to dance or gym classes. When I came across pole in my local gym in 2008, I wasn’t sure about trying it. I had no dance training or ever done anything as gymnastic.. It all looked amazing but wasn’t sure it would be something that I could be taught. A horrible relationship breakup gave me the final push and oh my how my life has changed because of it. Thanks to the teachings of Jo Dandridge, and the friendship we have built and the community that has built up around it, I realised I was fascinated by the human body and movement and wanted to understand more about how it works and why sometimes it just doesn’t seem to. It moved me to move away from just being a student to becoming a Pole instructor, a Personal Trainer, Stretch Instructor and finally giving me the confidence to do a complete U-turn in my finance based career by qualifying as a Sports Massage Therapist.
Having said I first wondered whether pole would ever be something that could be taught to me, with no dance or gymnastic background. I was clearly proved wrong… As not only have I learnt how to pole, I have found my own bit of style (less random flaying of limbs these days), I can compete and occasionally win… ok, maybe because I was dressed as Patsy from Ab Fab.
Jo Dandridge deserves a special mention, because without her I wouldn’t even be in this position and I would never forget that. If it wasn’t for her classes and then our friendship my life would probably look a little bleaker. We’ve all had ups and downs and very few of us will ever have a smooth ride in life, but at times you see someone you care about hit with such a devastating blow that you wish you could swap places. And I really wished I could have. All I could do in that instance was step up, continue to be strong and dependable and support her business to allow her a little free mind space time to do what she needed, for however long she might require. I may have no skills when it comes to words, but I know if you feel weak, I will be strong for you.
So I turned 40 this year, and like other people do, I made loads of fun plans to celebrate it. Usually I have no time for anything as pre lockdown you could find me studying part time at uni, giving my all in the office, putting the leg work in to get my own massage therapy business off the ground and most free time working at the studio giving all I could to help students work towards whatever goals they had. Retrospectively, perhaps I should have considered whether me making fun plans would cause some shift in life’s equilibrium, bit like when you wash the car and then a bird instantly poos own it….
Having always been someone who would give my last seconds of time to anyone in need of help or advice, when I was approached at the start of lockdown to help out at a vary hastily generated food bank – the Godalming Community Store – I didn’t hesitate to offer my time, and join other local volunteers. It was created by a small group of local residents in response to Covid19, after seeing the difficulties other countries had had with loss of earnings and the vulnerable not being able to get another help. It has gone from a couple of tables to a full blown, VERY organised, free store for the essentials. They jest over my OCD need for things to be separated out in to types, years and brands, oh, and have an expiry date handwritten on them (a strongly worded request to all food manufactures is to have best before dates in sensible places which you can also read WITHOUT the need for a microscope, ha!).The months of work we have been done there has gained so much support and appreciation that it brought us to the attention of Prince Edward and he came down, not to advertise his presence, but just to acknowledge the work we were doing. He very kindly came along and lent his hands to us.
At the same time as all this was going on, the studio and students were of huge consideration. How do we keep the students moving? Keep our studio community feel going? What can we do within the limits of insurances? Brainstorming we were able to devise a non aerial equipment with the use of my Personal Trainer and flexibility skills, along with the other dance and yoga trained instructors and get the new timetable up and running the week of lockdown. HIIT class first thing on a Monday anyone?!
I was also keen to use the enforced free time to improve my knowledge for my students and clients, honing my skills for when we could get back to working as I am always conscious that we get to work with the human body and with that we owe it to them to be as safe and as knowledgeable as possible. Hence, I jumped at the chance at finally being able to make a Functional Range Conditioning Seminar, it’s a highly valued and innovative approach to safe and sustainable exercise which prioritises joint function, and to take and pass my Dry cupping therapy course.. Quite handy if skin to skin touching makes people nervous at present.
My currently office charitable efforts are slightly on pause at present whilst we work to protect everyone’s job roles. Pre Covid, we were raising funds and going out to South Africa to finish off building an additional school with the team “SOS Africa” who are a small, family-run, UK child sponsorship charity that provides education to South African township children. Hopefully we can get back on track in giving them our physical time in addition to funds.
Oh, and if you need anyone to organise your filing, food stuffs, or things you never considered organising. I’m your gal!
Studio Website: www.thefitnesshangout.co.uk
My Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karla.hardy
My Instragram: https://www.instagram.com/vodkachikpole_pt/
My own Business Website: https://kneads.co.uk