Judith Gericke is a personal trainer and fitness instructor. Her business Fit with Judith runs online exercise classes, and offers personal training online too. When lockdown is lifted Judith offers outdoor fitness classes and face to face personal training. She lives in Marlborough with her dog Alfie.
You moved to the UK from Germany when you were 15, what was that like?
Yes, we came here as my mum got a job here. It was a great opportunity, as I had always wanted to be able to speak English fluently. Maybe joining secondary school in Year 10 wasn’t the optimal time, it was difficult fit in – my English was far from perfect and there were a lot of cultural differences too. It took a while, but eventually I made friends and settled in; I think I really found my stride in Sixth Form onwards. I certainly achieved my ambition of being a fluent speaker, many people don’t even realise I am German!
You started out in a completely different industry, didn’t you?
I did, I went to university to study drama, with the ambition of getting into the film industry. I started off working for a visual effects company in HR admin (there were no production jobs available). It put me in the right place when an admin job came up – I started off as a production assistant on the film John Carter. I learnt a lot and worked my way up to co-ordinator and then line producer and production manager. It was a great experience, working on film sets as well as in the office. Other films included Godzilla and Batman Vs Superman.
What prompted a change of direction?
I think it was a case of burnout to some extent. The job was stressful and exceptionally long hours which could be from first thing in the morning to late at night six days a week. It got to the stage that I didn’t really have a life outside work. I’d achieved my ambition of working in film, but felt that I needed a change of direction.
Keeping fit had changed my life – around 10 years ago I was struggling with food intolerances which were making me feel ill. After advice I changed to a sugar free and low carb diet and began strength training. It made a huge difference to my health and my confidence. People around me noticed and used to ask me for advice – I liked that I inspired them to get fitter and improve their health.
I moved to Marlborough (where my mum lives) and trained as a Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. Once qualified I went to work for David Lloyd in Newbury. I wanted to work for a large gym where I could learn from other trainers, and help a wide range of clients. I built up a large number of Personal Training clients in the 3 years I worked there.
Were you sporty when younger?
After a holiday in California, and the film Bring It On, I was very keen on Cheerleading. I joined a team when I was 14, and continued with a local team when we came to England. When I was at Uni, I was President of the Cheerleading Team. It was great fun, we cheered for the Uni basketball team.
How did you decide to set up your own business?
I was furloughed because of the pandemic. Initially I found the uncertainty scary, and was quite down. I started running online classes to give myself some focus – I offered taster sessions and paid for classes, promoting them on social media. I had always planned to run my own business and I guess Coronavirus made it happen sooner than I anticipated!
How has it developed?
It’s been great – I now have a website where people can find out about the classes and book them. As well as a range on online classes, I have the outdoor HIIT class at Elcot Lane Rec. (On hold at the moment due to lockdown). I also have some Personal Training clients. Hopefully, once lockdown lifts there will be even more (some people don’t like working online).
Who is your typical client?
My aim is to inspire women who want to get stronger by providing workouts that help them feel confident and unstoppable. That can include women of any age and ability, I have classes that cater for everyone, some more suitable for beginners than others. Each class has variations for differing levels of ability.
For personal training there is a mix – some people have a sports goal eg achieve a PB in a Marathon, or cycle to Paris. Training to be injury free when building up to an event is also important. Some people just want to get fitter – one of my clients wanted to improve their BMI and succeeded in getting out of the Obese category, which was great for their health.
How is working online versus working in person?
A key plus is that you can still do the class even if you can’t make it live, as I record all the sessions and can send them out to everyone signed up. You can even do it more than once if you like.
I make sure to have a chat to everyone and listen to concerns before each session. Its important to get to know people in the same way as an in person class. It’s less formal perhaps, as people are exercising at home, but it’s also more personal, as you are seeing them in their own space.
I can still cheer people on and suggest corrections to technique if needed – I’m there to support everyone to achieve their best. It’s a nice community – everyone encourages each other.
In the current circumstances everyone is getting used to running their life online!
How has the Pandemic affected you?
In a positive way it prompted me to start my business. It has also raised awareness of the importance of exercise – for instance people with Type 2 Diabetes are more at risk from COVID-19, so it’s important for people to know that Type 2 diabetes can be controlled and sometimes reversed by diet and exercise. Keeping fit also provides armour against the development of other chronic diseases.
On a personal level initially I think I found it difficult to cope with uncertainty. It has been hard coping with the up and down nature of the strategies to control the virus – lockdown, tiers, opening up. Its hard to plan when you don’t know what is going to happen. I’ve found it helpful to focus on the positives and what I can do to help people with their fitness.
What do you enjoy most?
I love helping people achieve their goals. It’s amazing to see them succeed. often, achieving fitness goals translates into other areas of life – people feel more confident. I know how I feel when I eat well and exercise, and enjoy giving that to other people.
I don’t have a preference between classes and Personal Training. I do love outdoor training when we can – its great for the endorphins. We usually train in all weathers (unless it’s dangerous), I can’t wait until we start again.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
It’s going to sound a bit boring, but I enjoy training myself. I enjoy cross fit style of training, and also enjoy Olympic style weightlifting.
I enjoy walking with my dog Alfie, and we have started doing dog agility. In more normal times we’ve had a go at “Man Trailing” which is when dogs seek someone out by smell alone.
In non-Covid times I enjoy getting up to London to catch up with friends.
What are you reading at the moment?
I don’t get lots of time to read. I recently liked The Circadian Code by Dr Satchin Panda – I like self-help books in general.
How about music?
I love music, but don’t have any real favourites. I always have Radio 1Xtra on in the background – I like the urban contemporary music they play.
What about watching?
Despite having worked in the film industry, I don’t watch many films. Though when I do I appreciate the visual effects! I’m more likely to watch a good TV series like The Queen’s Gambit or The Crown.
To find out more about Judith’s classes, visit www.fitwithjudith.co.uk, or call her on 07796 474186.