Coaching and fitness at Camber

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Those of our readers who, like this writer, became addicted to the BBC’s coverage of the Rio Olympics will possibly be familiar with the slogan “Be Inspired” that appeared regularly on our screens (and still does appear, from time to time). And there is no doubt that some of the athletes competing there really were truly inspiring. Mo Farrah is an obvious name that comes to mind, or the young gymnasts who have turned the GB team from also-ran of a few Olympics ago into the gold medal contenders that they are today, or possibly the triathlete Brownlee brothers with their gold and silver medals.

Practising what she preaches - completing the run stage of a triathlon
Practising what she preaches – completing the run stage of a triathlon
Adults, too, are part of the program
Adults, too, are part of the program

The trouble is that inspiration, unless it is constantly before our eyes, can be an ephemeral thing and can fade with time, and, besides, one might think, those Olympic athletes are professionals, it is their life and no ‘normal’ person could hope to emulate them. Well, perhaps not. We may not be able to run 10,000 metres, or perform somersaults or back flips on a beam a few inches wide, but we can still achieve targets that might initially have seemed totally out of reach. All we need is a bit of help and a reminder of what inspired us in the first place.

In an age when obesity has become almost the norm, together with the problems to health that come with it, when cars and computers have made it unnecessary to take the basic exercise in our daily lives that our forerunners would have done, it has become even more important to try and retain a degree of basic fitness. Not easy to do and it is easier to give up than to carry on – just consider all the gym memberships taken out in January but unused after February.

Mini triathletes after a swimming lesson
Mini triathletes after a swimming lesson

However, help is at hand. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity of meeting a truly inspirational lady called Hazel Fulker who is determined to help all those who want to achieve fitness, reach goals that perhaps they never thought possible and, along the way, develop life skills. Operating from the leisure centre and swimming pool in the Holiday Park at Camber, she coaches both children and adults and, after the tragedies this summer on the Sands, she is determined that as many people as possible should be confident in the water, understand potential dangers and be equipped to deal with them if and when necessary.

Children are naturally competitive
Children are naturally competitive

Hazel is a former Army PTI (physical training instructor). Following a serious accident and a long road back to recovery she wanted to realise her passion for helping others to achieve their fitness and sporting goals as well as teaching the younger generation not only how to swim but how to do so safely in open water (sea or lakes) as well as in the swimming pool.

A keen and competitive swimmer, runner and triathlete, she has obtained coaching qualifications in all three sports and now bases herself at Camber Holiday Park where there is a swimming pool complex, “just perfect for the purpose” she says and with the added advantage of the open spaces of Camber Sands, as well as the sea, close by.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays after school, there are swim classes for the very young (Tuesday) and for older children (Thursday) – she has been coaching over 50 children during the summer. But it’s not just for children – adults, young and old can take part at different times. The aim is a holistic approach to health, fitness and confidence and along with colleagues Adam and Stephanie Magee, classes include swimming, running, aerobics (and water aerobics), yoga as well as individual coaching for those requiring a personal trainer.Hazel Fulker

Hazel is an enthusiastic triathlete (swim then bike, then run, with no pause between the various disciplines) and not only competes herself but has incorporated a triathlon club – Forever Tri – into her program. For the very young, the training is based round simply having fun, often with simple exercises – not always obviously triathlon-related – but designed to give them focus on what they are doing. For the older ones , as well as adults, the coaching is more direct and geared specifically to the strengths of the individuals.

But whether young or old, the object is that it should be fun and enjoyable especially where the children are concerned, for habits instilled at a young age can stay with one for life. So whether the requirement is to run or swim better (or just to learn to swim), or simply to shed some excess pounds and get a little fitter, the opportunity is there with inspiration, understanding and sensible fitness programs.

At the moment all classes are held in Camber, although it is possible that there may be additional sessions in Rye in due course.

Hazel does both group and one-to-one coaching and can be contacted on 07980-905296 or fitimerun@gmail.com or visit her website

Photos: John Minter and courtesy Hazel Fulker

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