Shining the spotlight on a valued FitPro member. We speak to Jane Head, an instructor with a colourful career in aerobics, Pilates, yoga, tai chi and Bollywood dancing that spans decades.
FitPro: What was your route into fitness?
Jane Head: I started off as a five year old going to ballet, then in my early teens exercise classes with piano accompaniment, then jazz dancing classes with records and finally into the 1980s when Jane Fonda hit the headlines and I saw the opportunity to train as an exercise to music teacher … tapes were the mode of music in those days. To begin with, I was teaching alongside an office job but, after 24 years as a parish council clerk, I made the decision two years ago to leave the council environment and focus solely on my fitness career – and I love every minute of it. It’s great to have more time to work out new routines and research latest trends to make my classes different and enjoyable for everyone.
FP: Tell us more about your work as a fitness professional and area of expertise?
JH: I first trained with Sandra Straw Workouts in Maidenhead, Berkshire and, in the mid-80s, I began teaching aerobics in village halls around Newbury. I then moved back to my home town of Chelmsford, did the YMCA Exercise to Music qualification and set up aerobics and body tone classes which are still running today. In 2019, my longest-running aerobics class celebrated 30 years and I was delighted to get a feature on the Letters page of the Daily Mail. I now teach a variety of classes covering aerobics, Pilates, yoga and tai chi across all age groups. Around 12 years ago I introduced belly dancing and, more recently, Bollywood to my classes. I love Asian music and this form of exercise is fantastic for stomach and stamina and puts a smile on everyone’s face – you can’t beat the sound of a coin belt!
FP: What advice would you give to your younger self/someone starting up in the industry?
JH: If you have a passion, you can succeed
FP: How would you describe the current fitness market?
JH: Gyms and sports clubs appear to be doing well and you see many people out cycling and jogging. There is far greater focus on health and fitness now, which is great. I still feel there is a space in the market for independent teachers like myself who hire facilities, do their own advertising and marketing and offer a pay-as-you-go facility, which benefits the local community.
FP: What does the future hold for you in the industry?
JH: I am approaching 60 next month and plan to continue teaching and exploring new ideas and methods of exercise to keep myself and all my lovely students fit and healthy. Exercise has played a major part in my life. I have met some lovely people and made many friends. Teaching is so rewarding: seeing people grow in strength and stamina as they come along to weekly classes is a real joy. I also teach a 70+ age group who benefit greatly from exercise and also from the companionship of fellow students. I have always made my classes friendly and welcoming and I’m always mindful of a new person walking into a crowded hall of new faces – that can take courage!
FP: What is your fitness journey highlight?
JH: For over a decade, I did the aerobic warm-ups for Chelmsford’s Race for Life and, as a cancer survivor, I was nominated Cancer Research’s Patron of Hope for East of England in 2000. I have also been lucky enough to teach local WI groups, brownies and staff of major supermarkets. I always make the most of opportunities that come my way. It helps me to grow as a teacher. Life experiences make you a rounded person able to help others.