Feeling reflective and truly grateful as the year draws to a close. 2021 has been the year that has seen some of the biggest highlights of my life and my career. I have been so lucky to be in a position to bring feel good fitness sessions to so many people during the pandemic. I love my job and I feel connected to so many incredible people who inspire me every day.
In non-chronological order, because I’m in a rush, and I can’t remember how everything happened with the weekly changes in restrictions, along with new variants this year… I’d like to share some of the best moments that come to mind. Here goes!
I got promoted at work! I’m now an Active Lifestyle Coordinator at Manchester Met. I still deliver fitness classes, and I deliver PT sessions with students who are struggling with their mental health – working alongside the Counselling, Mental Health and Wellbeing, and Inclusion and Disability Services at the uni. I deliver motivational talks for staff and students, and I helped launch the MMU Sport Podcast this year too! Check out my interviews about fitness motivation, looking after your relationship with yourself, eating disorder recovery, England Netball Under 21s and much more!
I COMPLETED MY STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING QUALIFICATION!!!!!!!!!! 💪🏼❤️
This year one of my dreams came true: I STARTED DELIVERING OUTDOOR DANCE SESSIONS! (ON A FLIPPING ROOFTOP – AS THE SUN SETS ACROSS MANCHESTER CITY CENTRE!) The view from the Seesaw Space rooftop is breathtaking!
So many wonderful people came up to the rooftop, and danced and laughed, and clapped and cheered at the end of each session. It has been a real privilege to dance with others again during the pandemic, feeling freedom in our bodies, leaving on a high and making new friends along the way.
I have met SO MANY WONDERFUL PEOPLE doing these sessions. It was ace dancing with some of the crew from Andy’s Man Club (a space for men to come together in a safe environment to talk about issues and problems they have faced or are currently facing) … I love what they’re doing and they are ABSOLUTE LEGENDS!
I moved into a place of my own this year (see below for my happy face on moving day) and I love it! I love the sense of community in Stretford. Over the past year I’ve filled the house with gorgeous memories, artwork, and plants from loved ones.
I turned my basement into a gym. It’s a work in progress, but you can get a decent workout with what I’ve got, and my PT clients ALWAYS leave with a smile on their face. Some even bring their dogs!
I had to start a waiting list for PT clients as I’m fully booked! This year I’ve worked with a wonderful group of PT clients, both in my university job, and with self-employed clients. I’ve supported a trans male in his journey to become stronger and healthier before major surgery ❤️ I’ve worked with clients with all kinds of different needs and abilities, and it makes me so happy when I can see people growing in confidence in the gym, in their bodies and in their everyday lives.
Josey and I went to stay in a gorgeous cabin in Anglesey in June and we fell in love with the place! We cycled to the sea and ate chips on the beach. I taught Josey how to fly a kite with 2 handles on the beach, then we swam in the sea!
Throughout the third lockdown and beyond, I delivered weekly virtual fitness sessions with AMAZING charities George House Trust and Manchester City of Sanctuary. As soon as the restrictions changed and we could deliver face to face fitness sessions again, I delivered sessions in real life and it was the best feeling. People I had delivered sessions with on screen were coming up to me and saying “FIONAAAA!” as they hugged me, when we were allowed to hug again!
I’ve also delivered virtual wellbeing sessions for We Are Women (during 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women), Girl Gang Manchester and Manchester WI!
On my birthday, Josey, her mum Caroline and I went up to Dovestones, and we found the tree planted for our beautiful friend Alana, after we lost her in 2017.
In July I delivered HIGH VIBE ECSTATIC DANCE SESSIONS at We Re-Leaf, a really lovely family friendly festival in the forest overlooking Lake Windermere, with chakra dancing, reiki, live music, poetry, forest exploration and much more. Thanks Steph for driving us and for being the campsite chef! So glad we went down to swim in the lake in the sunshine 😎
I know some people say don’t meet your heroes, but what about working with them?!
I started delivering PT sessions with queer performance artist, comedian, theatre director, podcast host SCOTTEE!!! (If you do one thing in the new year, do yourself a favour and start listening to After The Tone! If you like laughing to the point of tears, and being moved by a real sense of queer community at the same time).
I love working with every single one of my PT clients. It is life affirming when they tell me how well they’re doing because of our sessions, and I adore it when they love a good selfie after class!
Thank you Scottee for all of the incredible activism you do, for making me laugh so much during sessions, for being so ready to learn new things, for always doing your PT homework, for sharing your progress, and for giving me The Queer Bible.
When the restrictions changed again, MY MATE CAROLINE VISITED FROM AMSTERDAM! Who knew that playing the NASTY WOMAN card game (thank you JCB) would be so much fun! This was a wild night with so much laughter and really interesting conversations, fuelled by the excellent intersectional feminism version of Cards Against Humanity.
My cousin Dom got married to Lois in Guildford! Such a special day (especially with regard to the pandemic, it was incredible). Gina and I had tears ROLLING when watching our baby cuz get married. This was taken before the tears LOL.
This photo was taken when the DJ was putting his gear away at the end of the wedding reception. Thank you Josey for capturing this after all 4 cousins held each other in a beautifully emotional group hug for 2 mins ❤️
This year was also the year that we were able to experience live music, club nights (all dayers in London too) and actual professional massages again after 2020, and while still living through the pandemic. So grateful to have experienced all of these things with Josey, and with some truly magical friends.
2021 was also the year I realised I LOVE GARDENING! The week the restrictions changed (again) we met in JCB’s garden and MADE STUFF HAPPEN! I love these humans big time.
Thank you Mandy for giving Liam and I loads of gorgeous vegetables to grow. Thank you also to my neighbour Dave for donating plants too!
I ADORED delivering 2 high energy Dancercise sessions at Partisan PRIDE IS A PROTEST SOBER SPACE, over the Manchester Pride Weekend. In one of the sessions there were about 50+ people dancing (socially distanced) in Regents Trading Estate, with so many happy faces singing along to Kylie – Your Disco Needs You! Shout out to the Islington Mill Crew and DJ Duckdown!
After leaving the wonderfully heartwarming space there, Josey and I clocked some happy people down the road, doing the dance moves to ABBA – Voulez Vous that they’d just learned in my Dancercise session! THEY WERE BUZZING!
At the end of Pride Weekend, I went to the vigil with my friend Ryan from uni days (It was the best one yet. Incredibly moving words around It’s A Sin and George House Trust).
I met my beautiful friend Emma’s daughter Forest for the first time! She was born during the first lockdown, on my dad’s birthday, 4 days before mine! I love her so much!
My friend Jane Claire Bradley got me into FLOATATION TANKS this year! She’s amazing. (Check out her new book – Truth Or Dare – out now!) We go to Zero Gravity Float Spa in Altrincham… #TANKGIRLS4LIFE 💪🏼😂
The benefits of a float are endless: Relaxation, muscle recovery, increased focus and learning ability, reduced pain, improved flexibility… I’ve been back a few times, and I’ve even treated my mum and dad to their own floats there!
A real highlight was getting back on the massage bed with Kate Engineer (based at Bodywise at The Buddhist Centre, NQ) for a full body deep tissue massage. She’s like a mentor to me. She used to be a dancer, she’s now a holistic massage therapist and movement coach for actors. Her energy is soothing, and she knows so much about the human body. She’s always encouraging me with my career, always learning new things, always fascinating. She’s currently working to support people who have long Covid, in a holistic way. So much respect. And her music taste is sublime!
More happy memories on the Seesaw Space rooftop, with my amazingly talented friends Polly and MT! Polly is a fully qualified yoga instructor, and this year she has delivered all kinds of yoga sessions in Yorkshire and Manchester! Huddersfield people, check out her yoga sessions at Connect: Yoga and Wellness and follow her here!
MT is working on something very exciting. All I can say is watch this space!
Throwback to a Friday night meal at Escape To Freight Island with my beautiful friends Mina, Alice, and Illeana, from stunning places around the world such as Iran, Italy, Argentina, and there’s me… From Huddersfield 😂😂😂
Greetings from Gross Indecency at The White Hotel at Halloween! I asked Ellen Ripley if we could have our photo taken with her, and she told me that I reminded her of Game of Thrones actress Lena Headey. I was very flattered and exclaimed ”She went to the same school as me!”
This year my friend Cat (one of the regulars at my Seesaw Space dance sessions) opened up MY FAV NEW PUB: The Birch Tavern, a pop up bar every first Friday of the month, run by volunteers. We’ve been a few times and it is gorgeous to see so many different kinds of people chatting away, enjoying an AMAZING selection of IPAs and live music in an open mic room at the side.
We bumped into Joy France – Manchester’s very own rapping granny! She does poetry slams and battle rapping. I asked her if she would treat a load of us to one of her poems on the spot. She went for it, no holds barred (so many rude words and iconic one liners delivered loudly, at lightning speed) and we were SCREAMING!!! Friends have since said they have been writing more poems since seeing her HAVING IT! A true inspiration.
Speaking of truly inspirational northern women, if you somehow missed Alma’s Not Normal this year, YOU’RE IN FOR A REAL TREAT! Watch it. Now!
Here I am with Sophie Willan the creator and star of the show, dancing with her BAFTA Award on the Seesaw Space rooftop, the day that the full season was released on the BBC iPlayer, to overwhelming critical acclaim.
Thank you Sophie for inviting me to the viewing party that night! Very happy memories.
In November I did a 4th SAD BOOTCAMP with Girl Gang Manchester, and for the first time it was face to face! It sold out so quickly! I created SAD BOOTCAMP as a space for people to come together and explore different coping strategies for wellness during the colder darker months, when many people are likely to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. We end each session dancing to well known POP BANGERS and everyone leaves on a high!
What’s next? I’m working with Girl Gang Manchester to deliver another SAD BOOTCAMP on the 17th of January (Blue Monday) statistically the most depressing day of the year. I am so excited for this feel good fitness session. Get your tickets here!
Tonight I’ll be celebrating the new year with all of these magical humans and others! This captures our summer solstice celebrations in the garden of at the LEGEND that is Anne Louise Kershaw. We can’t wait! LET’S HAVE IT PEOPLE!!!
Wishing you a healthy and happy 2022! ❤️❤️❤️❤️