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Sharon Canning, age 54
Rosemary Conley Diet & Fitness Club Kidlington, Chipping Norton & Surrounding District.

Why this?

I had cancer in 1993 and when I left hospital I was teeny tiny and ill looking. One year and nearly 3st later I joined a class that my mum and mother-in-law had been attending. I already had a British Amateur Weight Lifting instructors qualification, so was doing some community fitness work. I also competed in British power lifting championships ranking 5th in the UK! Anyway, the franchisee asked me after a few weeks if I would like to be an instructor. I did my training and started taking classes. She then sold up and I became a franchisee in 1998.

What training did you do?

I already had the RSA level 1 Exercise to Music and the Rosemary Conley Employee training. So most of my franchisee training was in business, admin etc. It was a long time ago now and I know it has changed a lot since then.

The annual Training Convention at Center Parcs is great and I am always able to take something away that I can use. I think it’s really important to stay up-todate, but also not to be taken in by “fads” and fashions. I am really excited about Kardy Interval – I think it’s a fantastic addition to the portfolio of classes. It means we can push those people who want to be pushed.

Memorable successes?

Every time someone reaches target weight – whether it is 1st or 10st. I’ve had two Regional Slimmers of the Year on top of a National Slimmer of the Year winner. But just as importantly, people who have come to class and have been able to come off blood pressure tablets and statins, even getting rid of major knee supports after a while. There have been members who have come to class in tears because they were so nervous. To see them smile at the end and come back is fantastic.

Your personal highs?

Having had cancer, doing the warm-ups for the local Race for Life was emotional and very rewarding. I even had my story in the local paper! They were supporting Race for Life and looking for people with a story. I did an interview over the phone and they sent a photographer to a class. I thought they would come and do a couple of pictures but they came late and I had already started the class. He came in and started snapping all around the class, at all angles like my own personal paparazzi! The story not only went in the main paper but all its other issues as well. I got spotted in the bank – luckily the picture they used was ok!

Any downside?

Admin and paperwork, technology and social media. The business has really changed in 15 years. This stuff just didn’t exist when I first started and you have to keep up! Also, the decision making – the buck stops with me, you can’t blame anyone else!

Plans for the future?

To finally get organised, sort out the classes that aren’t doing so well and to get to grips with technology.

Do you have any advice for potential franchisees?

Visit as many classes by as many different franchisees as you can. We are all different and we all have different strengths and talents. Steal as much as possible!

Sharon’s favourite things:

Music to workout to:

Depends on my mood – I love ‘70s Disco, but not necessarily the usual suspects. I try not to live in the past so I use modern, ‘60s, Big Band, Latin – pretty much everything.

Exercise gadget:

Any resistance work – it goes back to my history with weights. Could be bands, weights or bottles.

Thing to do in class:

I like mixing it up – we do Kardy, Zumba, Latin, Circuits, Body Conditioning, all sorts! Members seem to respond to that. Even if they really hate something they know that the chances are it will be different soon! It also means it stays fresh and keeps me on my toes.

Favourite food:

I have a terrible sweet tooth – old-fashioned puds, especially golden syrup sponge and custard!

Thing to do after class:

Has to be a strong cup of tea – nothing else gets done until I’ve had that.

Three words to describe my class:

Noisy, friendly and sociable

Click here to visit Sharon's webpage

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