Here are two words that always make me swell with pride. My Mum.
Let me tell you about my mother and how that woman became the greatest fitness instructor I’ve ever seen.
I need to swear now otherwise it loses its impact. I shit you not, my mum has taught aerobics, Tae Bo, Step and Insanity classes FIVE days a week with only 2 weeks holiday a year the for the last 28 years. That is a staggering 7000 hours of teaching in a lifetime.
Speaking of lifetime…
Born 1960 (she’s 57) Gillian Ellis was always interested in sport. From the age of 10 she joined the local swimming team whilst also competing in school and county athletics. At 17 she fell in love with my father, Renzo, but that also started a love affair with Karate. My father was a black belt. She achieved her brown belt level. At 21, as with most couples back then, they thought it a good idea to have a child. Out came little Niko in 1981.
Within weeks of that birth she was back in Karate and then also discovered bodybuilding. My father was a phenomenal bodybuilder inspired by the great Arnold Schwarznegger. He’d watched Pumping Iron and that was it. Obsessed. Still is.
Anyway at 23 she started teaching aerobics classes to make a little extra money. She also became pregnant again, this time with my sister the little ginger fireball Angelina, and taught those classes right up until she was 9 months. She was unstoppable.
When I was 5 my parents separated. Don’t worry about Angelina and I, we had a mother so strong she could fill the role of 12 parents with her arms tied behind her back. The point is that Gill did not give up. She took on 3 jobs with 2 kids just so we could survive. She worked as much as she could so her babies could have what they needed.
A memory. When I was 6 we started reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in school. I fell in love with it. But we’d started reading it at the end of the day so were only a few chapters in. I needed more! It was Christmas time at this point and Ange and I went to Tesco with Mum. I asked Mum if she could buy me Charlie the book. We couldn’t afford it. So I stole it. I hid in it in a Christmas card box. She caught me reading under my bed and made me walk it straight back in to Tesco and put it back on the shelf. What a woman.
So Mum spent nearly 4 years alone. Her fitness dwindled slightly. Then came the love of her life. Graham Brockway. Jays father. 4-time World Kickboxing Champion. When I was 10 Jay was born and our family was complete. Mum and Graham started a very successful building company and a boxing gym and never looked back. In that gym I achieved my black belt by 14 years of age in Kickboxing. Still the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Time warp to now. We drive home Thursday night to have a well-deserved break from Equilibrium and we make it back in time to join Mum’s Tae Bo class. Jay and I are fit and strong. This 57-year-old woman took us to the cleaners. I remember putting my hands on my knees three times and looking up at this unstoppable machine. To watch her teach a class is to watch Torville and Dean skate, to see Floyd Mayweather dodge 50 punches, to see Usain Bolt glide over the finish line. To her it’s a symphony of movement, commands and music. She talks to the class with love and power and they love her every second of it. I’ve felt myself teach a few decent classes but I’m not in this league. This is 28 years of working on her craft and it is a wonder to behold.
Drive to Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire sometime and do her class. You won’t know what’s hit you.
Jay and I have set up Equilibrium, because of her. We’re talented and successful because of her. We never stop working. We learnt that from her and Graham.
We are inches away from achieving our dream, she inspires us to do it.