Some people look for a beautiful place and others make a place beautiful.

I believe that it is the people that make an experience and can enhance the backdrop of where you are.

The last 48 hours as I wrote earlier have been the most fairytale and wondeful experience. The connections will be for a lifetime because we all shared in made the experience richer and more beautiful. Connecting with my Kiwi competitors has been such a blessing. We are excited about what the future brings. As we bid our farewells I get some last minute hugs and then get to spend some more quality time over breakfast with Kim Ingleby. She is so passionate about our industry and she leaves me inspired to do so much more than I thought I could. She is just so remarkable and the fact we both sit in a hotel in London sharing stories is extraordinary, I with my myriad of health challenges, and Kim shares of how she nearly died after contracting a rare and usually fatal immune deficiency disease Weil’s disease during a triathlon early this year. It is a condition of the brain and causes fatigue and memory loss. I know my own battles and to sit and share with someone else literally at the top of her game is a gift I will treasure forever. It is one of the moments where you forget you have only just met as the connection feels like you are old friends. As we bid each other goodbye, thanks to social media we know it is not really goodbye and have a strong feeling our paths will meet again.

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L-R Cate, Kim Ingleby, Jean Scott, Mish McCormack

Here is Kim’s video http://youtu.be/upQvbPV9Clc

Read more on Kim here: www.kimingleby.co.uk/blog

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That was the most memorable and amazing day and up with one of the top 10 things I have ever done. I am still pinching myself and a litte in awe of who I was surrounded by, who I was supported by and how I did what I set out to do in my unique style. I may not have taken home the first prize however I have gained so much and totally feel like a winner. The judges feedback was so valuable.

And the top prize went to a most deserving and humble winner, Kim Ingleby is an amazing person and trainer and with 15 years experience and her own unique story. it was an absolute pleasure to spend time with her and the other eight magnificent trainers. It is a life changing day I will never never forget.

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Flying is incredible to watch – have you ever stopped to think how magnificent, birds, butterflies, insects and man-made aeroplanes really are? They showcase how doing the impossible, with the odds stacked against them can appear effortless, majestically taking to the air and dancing above the world like they were suppose to be there.
I have flown from my earthquake devastated hometown of Christchurch to St Albans, London. I was nominated and picked from 1500 global entrants in 43 countries to represent and showcase my style of personal training. Today as my watch reads 8:48am, I have a great opporunity to inspire and learn. I am surrounded by the globes greatest personal trainers and in a few minutes I am taking my curves and crutches to the world health, fitness and wellness stage.

Today it is my turn to fly…………………..

Keith Austin is a towering gentle giant. He fills a room or in this case a gym with calm and fun. But don’t be fooled by this jovial persona – he is a wealth and depth of knowledge in the health and fitness industry. He is also one of our seven judges, five whom are present today.

He sure means business and I am very excited that our first masterclass is a practical workshop on the magnificent LifeFitness Synrgy360. Nuffield Health is also an amazing centre. As we are seated for our briefing I catch out of the corner of my eye state of the art equipment, an indoor pool, squash courts and a welcoming cafe and hub of the centre. The energy has lifted and we are surrounded by cameras, onlookers, media and sponsors. Keith tells us to focus on us and why we are here. He says we must think of today as a learning and have fun. Of course at the end of the day someone will take home a title but he says we are all winners and we must remember that we are the top 10 from 1500 entrants nominated fro 43 countries. Again the tears are right there this is a true honour and still unbelievable! No time for them to flow, a quick bite of the bottom lip, look at my pandora and other sentiments and its show time!

The music is turned up, Keith walks me through this amazing equipment to make sure all can be achieved on my crutches. It all gets the big tick. I am so excited 🙂 The other nine join us in the centre for another reminder from our host Nick Merrell from Life Fitness UK and Europe. A quick
three, two, one FUN!!! and we are warming up to the beat of the music.

It was truey an amazing experience, catering for all levels and our quick highlights package reminds me anyone can exercise and can exercise.. I am in the right industry for inspiring wellness and changing lives.

The rest of the morning sees us in an upstairs meeting room, doing three theory based classes before lunch. One is on sharing best practices on four unique clients of the future – I loved it because these were all my typical clients now and I was able to hear from nine other experienced and top of their game trainers. We then met our clients, real clients based at Nuffield, mine is Beverley a 20 year plus member in her early 50’s, only does classes and has never used the Synrgy360 or weights. She has some old injuries from a car accident. We get to chat over lunch and find out what she likes, dislikes, her longterm fitness goals of weightloss and longevity. Our third masterclass is on the clock – we return to the arena and for the first time since we started with Keith I feel the butterflies again…. I have 55 minutes to plan, record and write down a 15minute progessive workout for Beverley. It is what I do, everyday…. but for 30seconds I am star struck, in awe of the equipment and the task. This is being streamed live around the world, the judges are watching our every move and I have a head full of ideas… at least I am not blank. I take my notebook and sit with my eyes closed for a few minutes. Breathing deep into my belly and calming my nerves, just like this morning I repeat the words ” I got here on my own merits, do this for everyone back home, do this for Riwai” Breathing, relaxing and clearing the mind. And eyes open…. I walk around the gear and ask myself – what would you do at home. Do what you know… I see Riwai arrive and I run over to him “Please can you go back to the hotel and grab the hula hoop? I need it to relax me into the session at 2:30” I have said it before but he is an amazing support crew, he doesn’t hesitate and heads off.

I get planning – Warm Up must be fun cardio and include dynamic stretching. The session will include major compound muscle work, flexion and extenstion exercises. Low impact for knees and lower back pain and no shoulder elevation due to old injuries from car accidents. Short Term Mission – to introduce Beverley to the Synrgy360, get her heart rate elevated, sweating and smiling. Long Term Mission to compliment her love of cardio classes with an alternatve resistance training to promote longevity, muscle building and disease prevention.

Thats the technical bit and in reality this Leap2it! Session sounded like this..

We will take you back to childhood with some hulahooping and hopscotch and throw the rubber duck, then we will put out some washing, spin dry it (dynamic stretching) and grapevine and pattercake around the place (cardio) then move to being a super woman (trx and rip) then we will pop in a bit of water skiing (TRX and RIP) lunge around the clock, and plank the alphabet then we will finish off with some bat wing treatment (with TRX for arms) before we have a lie down and give yourself a round of applause and angel wings. (Obie for myofascial release)

15 minutes exactly – planned and ready to go! Submitted to judges – this was so everyone was on the same level and we couldn’t change our plan.

I was number three so I got to watch Kim and Steven first – they were awesome and it really calmed my nerves. Each was so different and our styles were able to be showcased.

Next up is Cate Grace from New Zealand…..

WOW it was amazing.. a blur, a delight, a wonderment – I didn’t notice the cameras, I ran my own race, and it was so much fun.. it was great to see my clients smile and I felt like it was exactly what I was suppose to be doing. I couldn’t have done it any differently and I gave it my all. What a blast and what a memory.

There was no time to even say hello to Riwai, I literally caught my breath and was whisked away for a video interview, I didn’t even do my hair and I could feel beads of sweat and red cheeks…At least I knew it would look real. I am so stoked with the video, it is only a couple of minutes and it captured my essesnce and why I am in this industry perfectly!

Curves and Crutches – I did it – I felt like i was flying and it was JAZZFASTIC!

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What an absolute whirlwind of a month. Just one month ago I was sworn to secrecy by a woman half way around the world. Just five days earlier she had called me at the end of her day, in the early hours of mine. In a gorgeous American accent the caller had left a message asking if I could please call her back as she was following up my attendance for London. What the………..??

What a life changing call that would be.

I had just finished my last treatment for my latest flare up the week before, I was feeling very sorry for myself as my dream to be overseas travelling to celebrate my 40th was dashed, my legs were not working and we had no idea if the mabthera would work longterm. I was about to start work on the last few weeks of series 10 of the catch fitness 20 weeks competition with 53 entrants. Always a hectic time as I showcase what my LeapStars have achieved and encourage those who feel they haven’t to still test. I then have to put together judges reports for all of them. It is my most favourite month of the year as the stories, results and smiles remind me why I do what I do… It usually takes up every waking minute….. As I hung up my voicemail my initial reaction is – “Whoever this lady is – I don’t have time to ring her back let alone go to London”

Luckily my LeapAngel walks in the door for work as I am listening to the voicemail for a second time… Riwai has come in from night shift and is sound asleep… I squeal this time as the reality sinks in and I realise actually who has called and why they want me in London. Please call Lauren back from LifeFitness. You have been named one of ten finalists in the LifeFitness Global Personal Trainers to Watch for 2013. We need to fly you to London for live judging at the end of September.

For the next few weeks there were many early morning calls to Chicago while I asked hundreds questions about the competition, wrote my short and long bios and got pictures ready for their media release. A full day work personal training and then there were many discussions and late night calls to London as the amazing travel team came back and forth with ideas for flights. I have chosen to be in Christchurch for the 20 Weeks Awards night and fly the next day. It is important for me to celebrate my LeapStars success before I leave. This was a huge call and will be no easy feat. As emails, skypes and calls went back and forth I was reminded again of the burdens my disease carrys when you need to do extraordinary things outside our normal routine. The risk of flare is high, and I have very few hours to turn around and be at my best for judging. The stress was mounting and I was getting exhausted. So it was back to basics…to counter balance the sleep deprivation. I had to postpone some sessions to fit everything in and still couldn’t tell people why.

What was I thinking!! 52 hours of testing and then 52 reports to write in less than two weeks. We had to continue with our normal Leap business, prepare for London (still in secret) and a side trip holiday after, celebrate my 40th and get a media kit ready – I called in the troops for help with the 20weeks, swapping sessions with me for hours doing data entry. Thank goodness 🙂 Riwai fed and watered us, looked after the team and reminded us it was all worth it. Our team was sensational and I am so proud of us all. We did it 49 reports were submitted, three were unable to complete their testing in the timeframes required. What a feeling!!!!

They say timing is everything – as LifeFitness and Reps NZ released the names of the finalists around the world the 20 weeks reporting was at full swing and was at paper work stage. I enlisted more help as Sandy (your story communications). sent out and managed media for me (it sounded oh so pooosh – i have my own PR lady :). in between all of the madness I met with Bec Eleven from the Christchurch Press and she captured my story beautifully – here’s the link http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/9137421/Rheumatoid-arthritis-sufferer-turns-personal-trainer.

This week as the storm took hold in Christchurch and I realised what a whirlwind month we had. Thank you to everyone so far – I have no doubt the journey and this new Cate Grace chapter has just began.

Today I called my rheumatology team. Yes I am in another flare, but this time we will manage it. I have too! We finalised my crisis and treatment plan for flying and while I am away. In two weeks I will be waking up in London on the eve of judging, Riwai by my side, crutches at the ready, pill boxes lined up, uniform laid out and a tribe of LeapStars and supporters on my shoulder inspiring me to go out there, be myself, do my very best, smile and enjoy the ride… After all even if I am 10th, I know I will inspire some more people to Leap of their couches, let my industry and colleagues into some secrets of training people with conditions and have an absolute blast! I am in good spirits and so excited :).

Ps – Then i get a side trip to celebrate my 40th in Portugal with Riwai! How cool is that!!

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