Setting out to achieve your dreams is tough at the best of times, but with life’s many hurdles, it can become increasingly harder in a split second. Mother of three, Powerlifter, Strongwoman, Personal Trainer, Powerlifting Coach and Northampton’s Most Inspirational Woman 2015, Faye Jordan, has shared her extremely inspirational battles and triumphs from recent years…
I have come to realise that there is no greater gift in life than opportunity, the gift of potential, the opening of doors, or being able to see that even those that shut can help you to direct your path. I am currently a Personal Trainer and my current and new company is called Inspire Strength. A lot has changed recently, but we will get onto that later. For now, let’s start at the beginning…
Despite working in the industry for well over a decade, I am not your conventional personal trainer, though I have come a very long way! As a kid I was sporty, I did everything, I was naturally good at most things, and I particularly excelled in rugby, hockey, athletics, 200m, 800m and shot put. Sport was not only my hobby, but my solitude, my way of hiding away from other areas of my life that I didn’t have such fondness for. As I grew through my teenage years I focused more and more on rugby, playing for the county, district and even becoming a high hope for the England try-outs in my late teens. By then, I had left college and trained as a fitness instructor, whilst working in a local gym.
In early October 2002 I fell ill with extreme fatigue and a bad cough, which only got worse, so soon enough I had to leave my job and was later admitted to hospital and treated for Pneumonia. With my health still deteriorating I discharged myself from the hospital as I did not feel I was being helped (probably a silly thing to do in hindsight), however a few days later my neck and face swelled up and I could hardly breathe. Septicaemia had started to set in, and was greatly noticeable via the red marks on my arms. I was immediately taken back into hospital and was now being tested for, well, everything! All the tests came back clear which left the doctors baffled. That was until the head of Haematology saw my case and came to see me and told me I had cancer, more specifically Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
There was a tumour the size of a grapefruit in the centre of my chest, two litres of fluid around my lungs, and the veins in my thoracic region had been compressed. No wonder I was having trouble breathing! I had eighteen months of treatments, multiple relapses and a bone marrow transplant, however the cancer spread, and it was now in my spinal and cerebral fluid. I also contracted viral meningitis which caused me to lose the sight in my right eye and hearing in right ear, while the treatments also damaged the lining of my lungs and left them scarred, to which around 50% remain scarred to this day. Despite all of this, I had my final treatment in March 2014 and have been clear from cancer ever since.
This was a chance for a new life, an opportunity greater than any other. I had been told I would not make my twenty first birthday, but I did. I was told I would never have children, but I now have three beautiful kids with my first being born just eighteen months after finishing my cancer treatment. I was also told I would never play rugby again due to my lungs been damaged, now this one was a harder task to rectify.
Just after my first son was born in 2016, I retrained as a fitness instructor. As it had been a while, I got a job locally and specialised in training people with medical problems. I trained myself too as it was a long and hard process to feel normal again, to be able to do simple things like walk around the shops and to clean my house without having to sit down for a rest. The simple achievements were the best.
From here my career went from strength to strength, the word ‘no’ or ‘I can’t’ were not in my repertoire. I got fully stuck in, took every opportunity and completed every training course. I even got promoted to a supervisor and ended up running an activity referral scheme, whilst co-organising a weight management program and teaching both children and adults exercise sessions. On top of that, I had qualified in personal training.
Unfortunately about a year after having my second son I became ill once more, and this time it was a bad case of viral meningitis again. I was hospitalised for around three weeks and took a long time to recover fully. It was at this point that I figured a less active job role might be a good idea, so I sought out a management position, and it was this that brought me to Northampton. I worked in a couple of establishments in fitness/assistant/duty manager positions, but I missed the hands on personal training and coaching, as well as completely enjoying the organisational and management aspects of my work too.
It was when I fell pregnant with my daughter, now four years old, that an opportunity arose. My partner and I had been looking for an industrial unit in which to start up a gym/personal training studio, but had been unlucky with getting the correct planning permission from the council. This was until we found out that a martial arts gym on an industrial estate was moving premises. The unit was bigger that we had been looking at, and a lot more expensive, but it would not require the planning changes as it was already graded for pleasure usage – so we went for it, wrote a business plan, put an offer in, and got it accepted. Well, mostly. We were in a bidding battle with another company and they actually won, however the landlord offered us the unit next door instead and even sorted out the usage change accordingly. Suddenly, we were the proud owners of a 5,000 square foot warehouse gym!
This was now nearly five years ago and a lot has happened since. I actually left the business recently after our personal relationship ended, as it was no longer feasible to continue a business partnership. During that time I met some amazing people, and so I continued to take all of the opportunities that arose, whilst learning more about how to make the most from ones that are less apparent.
I then started competing in Powerlifting and Strongwoman, and have since won many regional and national titles representing England and Great Britain. I first competed in Britain’s Strongest Woman 2012, and I now own the trademark to the event. I have worked hard to enhance the sport and help it grow which is still a big work in progress, and one that I am currently focusing a lot of my time on. Looking ahead, I’ve made some fantastic contacts and collaborations in order to take the sport to the next level in the next few years.
The gym has hosted many Strongman events, workshops, powerlifting events, seminars and coaching charity boxing events, where a whole range of clients and members from professional athletes to overweight kids being dragged to the gym by their parents, and everyone in between, have attended. The biggest gratification came last year when the gym was shortlisted in the final five for ‘Strength Gym of the Year’ at the National Fitness Awards. Also, earlier that year I was personally awarded ‘Northampton’s Most Inspirational Woman’ for my sporting achievements and helping others in sport.
The road has not at all been easy, and to be honest I still find myself undulating through life, embracing opportunities, trying my best to avoid the pot holes and not always succeeding, but always keeping the focus to progress and move forwards. Now, I find the experiences all part of the growth, learning and the general process of following a dream; an unconventional path of adventure.
Keen to find out more about Faye? Take a look at her website for information on her incredible journey, and her flourishing business.
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