Personal trainer Sylvia Best is on a mission.
“People come to me because they have put on a bit of weight and want to go back to how they were before,” she explains.
“I want people to feel confident in themselves.”
Sylvia does hour long one to one sessions at the Grange Leisure Centre in Midhurst.
“For some of my clients the only time they go to the gym will be to see me,” she reveals.
“So I may see them three times a week but others are pretty happy and check in maybe once a week.”
The sessions focus mainly on using weights with some cardio, but she can alter the programme if you prefer the latter.
“What is really important to me is educating people, especially women, that doing weights doesn’t mean you will get big and bulky,” she explains.
“When you see men in the gym who are huge there are a number of factors why - they have testosterone which adds bulk, they may go to the gym six times a week and they eat loads.
“I do a lot of weights and eat loads but I am relatively small, it isn’t really natural for women to be that bulky.”
Sylvia has a strong online presence on social media, her clients have access to a private Facebook group, but she also has clients who see her online.
“I have about five at the moment.
“I create a weekly training plan and in that there will be videos and will also include a food plan.
“They send me their progression and measurements and I can adjust it accordingly.
“It is done through an app and it is good for people who aren’t from the area or don’t have a gym membership.”
Clearly passionate about health and fitness being a personal trainer wasn’t Sylvia’s first choice of career.
Born in Chichester she attended boarding school in Wiltshire and studied politics at Newcastle university.
After studying a masters in Political Theory at LSE she felt she wanted to be in the centre of it and got a job at the London Stock Exchange, where she stayed for 18 months before a move to UBS Investment bank.
“I worked there for three years but I came to think that there was more to life than working in an office for 14 hours a day and I knew I wanted to do something more fulfilling,” she explains.
“I quit my job and became a private PA, and started doing my PT training.
“To be honest I just thought being a personal trainer would be a stop-gap while I figured out what I wanted to do.
“But the more I did it the more rewarding I found it and the more I enjoyed it.”
During this time she started doing bootcamps and other classes in London, alongside her full time job. However when she quit her PA job she opted to work in events management for the Conservative party.
“I would set up visits so if the PM went to a hospital I would brief the press, talk to people involved and do briefing notes for David Cameron so he knew who he was going to see.
“But through all the jobs the personal training was always there.”
Alongside being a personal trainer Sylvia is also an on-call fire fighter.
“I saw an advert ages ago but it wasn’t the right time for me and my business,” she recalls.
“Then last March I split from my boyfriend and on the weekends I would have clients in the morning but then nothing else.
“I knew I needed something to keep me busy so I phoned West Sussex Fire Service.”
Sylvia was advised that the Midhurst station would give her a call once they had space, expecting this to take months she was surprised to get a call a few days later.
“I have attended fires, road traffic collisions, lock ins and lockouts,” she says.
“As someone new to Midhurst it is a great way to meet people and another way to keep up my fitness.”
But it is clear that being a personal trainer is something that Sylvia is passionate about.
“It is about giving women confidence they haven’t had before,” she smiles.
“I get women who come to me who feel they can’t wear certain things or don’t feel confident in their bodies so it is about giving that back to them.”
Pictures: Simon Howard