Hester Montgomery Campbell is quite simply one of my most favourite people in the whole world.  She has been a great friend for about 15 years and our careers have run alongside one another during that time.  This interview has revealed things that even I didn't know and has served to make me fall in love with Hester a little bit more, if that were possible.  

And she is about to give birth for a second time which is wonderful news as she almost lost the baby when she pushed herself with too much strenuous work!  It was a harrowing time for her.

Read her story...  

Meet my mate, Hester...


First of all, congratulations, you're 7 months pregnant with your second child, do you know if it's a boy or a girl? 

No, I don't :-)

I decided to keep it a surprise. I'm not keen on gender sterotypes and find it easy to relate to the baby, talk to it, sing to it, it's not important to me to find out the sex. I rather like the idea of a surprise, maybe its old fashioned, but knowing your baby's sex is only become recently available to parents now that scans are so good. Saying that, sonographers still get it wrong sometimes!! When I was pregnant with Wren I didn't find out if she was a girl or a boy, and this time round I was sure if I would want to know. I decided not to know when the sonographer asked me at the 20 week scan. I have 4 nephews aged from 8 to 5 months so plenty of boy hand-me-downs and if its a girl (I don't have any baby stuff of Wren's, gave it to friends!) I hope I'll have some friends who can donate things back to me!! I haven't got a single thing ready yet, eeeek!

At the start of your pregnancy you had a scare. Tell me about that, what happened, why and what did you do about it?

I was 11 weeks and 5 days pregnant and started haemorrhaging in a pretty horrendously scary way. I'm a fitness instructor and dancer and had been just carrying on as normal, making no real concessions for being pregnant. I found out I was pregnant at 6 or 7 weeks. Despite feeling like crap, boobs hurting, and dizziness and nausea, I thought I just had a virus!! My first month of pregnancy I had run 4 CircusFit teacher training courses, was studying to be a Vinyasa Yoga teacher on the weekends, had videoed a new fitness concept, been in a photoshoot for my CircusFit Flyers manual, and finally before finding out (it was April 4th and I was getting inklings my 'virus' was very similar to early pregnancy symptoms) I was studying on a two-day intensive Aerial Slings teachers course.

I had not been resting. You are supposed to take it easy when you first get pregnant!

When I found out that I was, I knew I should cut back on classes and had suggested to the people I worked for I might need to do less. I started rehearsals at the Royal Opera House on Monday 27th April, and less than two weeks later suffered a threatened miscarriage. I didn't want to make a fuss of being pregnant, so I didn't mention it.

I went into shock when the haemorrhaging happened. That morning I had finished a 4-day job at H&M in Oxford Street teaching Buti Yoga to press and online bloggers, an event launching H&M's summer line of clothes. Each day I had gone to rehearsals at ROH then taught my evening classes. I was doing what I would NEVER reccommend a woman in early pregnancy to do. That very week on Wednesday evening someone at the gym had got wind I was preggers and congratulated me. I said 'how did you know? I haven't told anyone, and you know, sometimes the pregnancy doesn't stay'. I don't know if it was a premonition, but I do know that I was pushing my limits. The thought occured to me 'maybe the rules don't apply to you.'

I was forcefully shown by nature that rules apply to everyone! I am not exempt and certainly not indestructible! For 3 days I didn't know if the baby was still alive. I just cried, was furious with myself, couldn't talk to anyone, & kept meditating on a mantra going round in my mind 'nature has limits, respect them'.

Miraculously the little baby had survived, I saw a scan three days after the 'threatened miscarriage', couldn't believe it, crying all over again when I heard the strong, rapid heartbeat going 'boom, boom, boom.' But a third of the lining of my uterous had come away. I was signed off by my GP. No dancing and no fitness allowed!!

It shook my whole world, and I readjusted my priorities. I spent time sleeping, resting, eating, and looking after my 5 year old. It was marvellous to suddenly be a stay-at-home mum, something I had never experienced!! I started dancing again when Wren was 6 weeks old, it was a contract I couldn't pass up. Since then I had worked continuously. I feel like this pregnancy has given me an opportunity to look at my life from a new angle, realise everything I do is a choice, marvel at the resilience of a tiny baby (this one is a fighter!) and above all give thanks for my family, and for being alive!!

I've known you run yourself into the ground and into hospital a couple of times from being so hardworking. Has this scare really changed the way you will work in the future?

Completely. I had to take a long hard look at myself. I have written in length about this on my blog. This scare happened to teach me something. Unfortunately I can be told something over and over, but until something dramatic happens to stop me in my tracks, I don't often listen. I was in hospital in February 2013. It was a burn out, and had manifested as a 'bartholin's cyst' in my groin. My temperature rocketed and this aggressive cyst appeared over two days. I got to hospital and was put on the emergency surgery list. The swelling around the cyst was so bad my skin was splitting. After this kind of surgery you are left to heal naturally, no stitches,  so the risk of further infection is less. So needless to say I was out of action.

I have lots of dramatic stories, and stories become our lives. On some level I was attracting this drama. The yoga teaching training I went through (2014-2015) made it startlingly obvious that I set myself up for burn out because I lived in a very unbalanced way. My yoga teaching told me I was too much fire, and needed more air and water to balance . This is in the ayuvedic medicine sense, that we are made of elements of the universe (Chinese medicine works in the same way). And when we are out of balance, this manifests as illness. To achieve wellness, its a complicated journey of first getting to know ourselves better, identifying the problems (wounds, traumas, blockages) and getting on a path to re-balance and find wellness.

So hardwork is seen as a good thing isn't it? That's what I always thought. It annoyed me if I worked with someone and they didn't graft as hard as I did. Actually that is a pretty unhealthy way if seeing the world. In yoga this state is called Rajas. Most of us exist here, its the dog chasing his tail, or the mouse running round and round its its wheel. The higher state is called Satva. This is where we experience bliss. Not from any pills, and not from doing anything (exercise, extreme sports, theme park rides, sex - all give us a thrill or a high) but bliss just being.

Its a hard thing to get my head round, and a hard thing to sustain. But that's the point. For me, doing nothing is really, really hard. And there is a reason for that which I had to dig deep enough to uncover. None of this would matter that much if it weren't for the fact that everytime I end up in hospital, it doesn't just affect me, but it impacts greatly on my partner, my daughter, my parents, and to a lesser extent my friends and family.

So all this stuff has taught me that if I want to be well, and for the people I love to be well, I need to work smarter, not harder. I need to figure out what benefits my loved ones, instead of trying to impress my bosses. And I need to care for myself like I do my babies.

3rd Trimester, looking very zen and every bit the gorgeous, earth-mother I know Hester to be!

3rd Trimester, looking very zen and every bit the gorgeous, earth-mother I know Hester to be!

Your little girl Wren is 5 now. Does she take after you? 

Wren is amazing! She has always been a good talker :-)  She spoke pretty early on, and now if you meet her she'll get your attention and won't stop talking. She tells stories, makes up songs, tells jokes (still working on how to get her to understand a punchline) draws whenever she can. Its very sweet, she says 'mummy can I draw' I say 'of course' then she comes back with a note book full of illustrations, or reams of paper and describes it all. Sometimes she re-tells a film she's just watched or a book she's read. She'll say 'This is (insert film e.g. Inside Out) but a bit different'. Now she needs paper when she's watching a film.or cartoon bevause she has to draw it as she's watching.

She has artists on my side and her dad's side. My Granny studied at the Slade, her brother paints passionately (he was a doctor by profession), my mum and uncle are great drawers and painters. It was always easy for me to draw and paint, she reminds me of when I was a kid I always had a sketch book - but she takes it to another level. Her dad is a performer, his mum is an artist and paints, makes ceramics, tiles, jewelry, everything.

Wren is a smart little thing, she knows what she likes, what she doesn't, and likes learning knew information so she can tell other people. On holiday I explained what would happen if she went in the deep water (pretty graphic, but she wantes to swim with big kids and she's just mastered a 3 stroke doggy paddle). She listened, went away, then came back again and said 'tell me what happens again mum, you know when you go under water and breathe it in'. So I explained again how drowning works, she runs off to her friends and I overhear her recounting the explanation word for word to the baby pool.

She's like all kids, she imitates adults, and I hear her saying things sometimes like 'this is stressing me out, I can't cope with this', which is a big slap in the face! You forget that everything you say has an impact on your kids, they are like a mirror to you. So I'm just doing my best, to show her I love her, to nurture her, and hope she develops a little more balance than me and her dad did! She usually tells me if I'm doing a good or bad job which is helpful :-)

Wren pulling a funny face.... if the wind changes... 

Wren pulling a funny face.... if the wind changes... 

We've known each other for so long now I'm not even sure how we first met but it must have been through FitCamps, run by your mum, fitness legend Lydia Campbell.  (SHAMELESS PLUG: YOU CAN FIND US BOTH TEACHING AT FITCAMPS IN NOVEMBER FOR THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY, EMAIL ME FOR DETAILS) What was it like growing up?

I think we met at your first FitCamps? I think it was 2001 or 2002?

Growing up I was very close with my sisters. Mum worked hard, so us girls were together on our own a lot and sometimes spent school summer holidays being shipped around between family members and friends. Mum took us to work with her whenever she could. I was a baby, in a bouncey chair in the corner of her aerobics classes. When I was a toddler I played with my sister building houses out of exercise mats. I remember toddling around Stripes in Ealing when it was a building site, and Riverside Raquet Club in Chiswick while it was being developed a few years later.

There was always work in the house. I'd see mum listening to music, planning classes, courses, shows. She ran children's dance classes and there is a picture of me aged 2 on the poster for her kids classes in Lamas park. Life was busy. When I was 10 mum and Steve (her second husband) started Fit n Fun events, then FitCamps conventions, then Sunday Mirror Beauty days at Hilton hotels. Rayne (older sister and I) became workers, Sara too when she was big enough. I remember mail shots, stuffing thousands of envelopes with promotional letters, then I remember ticketing for events, people used to select the class sessions they wanted, it would be printed out (on a very ancient printer that had holes down each side of the page) and me, Rayne, sometimes her friends too, would traipse around the downstairs of our house with these print out, matching numbers to tickets in cardboard boxes, and putting them in envelopes to be mailed out. Its was a factory production line!

Having Lydia as a mum meant lots of opportunities to be on stage. Mum had danced and got accepted to London Contemporary Dance School, before grants or busaries where available. It was too expensive for her, so she created her own opportunities and used to choreograph big shows. The shows at Fit n Fun and FitCamps were legendary, nothing was small scale with mum. So at home, downstairs would become a workshop for sewing costumes, making wigs, props, scenery. Once we did a version of 'Sweet Charity' I was a bit older then, about 13, and I studied the film, learning the choreography and helped put the show numbers together. Then by some coincidence we we doing Sweet Charity at school (maybe it was the other way round and mum was inspired by that!) I was cast to play Charity in the school production, so it was my world at home and at school for a while. Unfortunately my school head mistress put a block on our drama group doing the play because its about a prostitute. However, at home, the show went a head, there's a video somewhere, and about 30 of us on a big stage at Butlins, quite a spectacular thing. Rayne qualified as the youngest AFAA instructor aged 17. When I was 16 or 17 mum trained me as an aqua aerobics instructor so I could take on some of her classes. Holidays were at Club La Santa, mum worked training the fitness instructors on the Green team and me and my sisters sunbathed, occasionally did some sport, and danced in the disco a lot.

We opened a dance school together when I was 18, Rayne was at Uni and Sara at Brit Performing Arts School. So weekends were spent either teaching the kids or at events. Mum and I used to do dance workshops in schools together. Even when I went off to study at Bournemouth Film school I'd go back to London on the weekends to teach dance or do events There's loads I could go on about. But basically it was busy. Wonder where I get the hard work addiction from? Hmmmm

Her influence has clearly shaped your life. You're a fitness legend in your own right. Tell me about your fitness achievements. 

Ah bless you for saying that.

I hardly think I'm worthy of the word 'legend'. I love movement, and exercise, because it brings people together, and the benefits are endless!! I feel fortunate to have had teaching opportunities, and I feel fortunate to have been given positive feedback from the people I teach. When the people in front of you feel great, you feel great too, its a mutual appreciation feedback loop!!

I'm proud of things that would be insignificant to other people, like the dissertation I wrote on the psychological effects of fitness on dancers, of teaching pre & post natal exercise on Instructor Live for a year, and launching 'Circus Conditioning' on Instructor Live in 2013. I haven't won any awards or competitions, so not sure exactly what is classed as an achievement! I've followed whatever I have been passionate about, and always tried to have integrity and honesty in everything I do!

After I burned out in Feb 2013, I looked for another way to earn a living. Teaching 30 classes a week wasn't working. I applied for the Studio Creative role at Gymbox in 2013, and it was there that I began to test what I could do. Gymbox is a creative company, and that provides lots of opportunities to do things differently and think outside the box :-) if it wasn't for Gymbox I wouldn't have created aerial fitness programmes, CircusFit would have been a lot harder to  get off the ground (no pun intended). I was trusted to deliver interesting classes, and to train instructors to excel in their classes. Somethings worked better than others. So I'm not sure what can really be counted as an 'achievement' but I'm very proud of all the work I did there, and feel like I made a contribution, but most of all I'm proud of all the teachers I hired, the ones who I gave their first class, and are now little superstars. Its a wonderful thing to give an opportunity to somebody and watch them flourish :-)

I'm also proud of the teachers I have trained up, watching them go on, in their own right, and be brilliant. I think this industry is all about passing on passion, being inspiring and motivational, and letting people know how great they are!!!

I have always just done whatever I enjoyed. At school that was art and music, then film, then I decided to pursue a career in dance. Fitness was the back drop to my life. I didn't alwats appreciate it. Its an odd industry at times, lots of trends and fashions, but at the core, group fitness brings people together. There is a popular hashtag now #fitfam

Before hashtags were invented I had a fitness family. Many people I would never know personally, watched me grow up on a stage, or behind a registration desk handing out event goody bags. I wasn't sure what fitness meant to me until I went to study a second degree, Dance Theatre at Laban. There was a 'new' relevation in dance research that dancers where not 'fit'. After VO2 max testing, dancers were in line with general population, not athletes. I was fortunate to be at a school that was pioneering dance science research. We had a fitness class once a week in our BA1 year, underwent in depth health screening and fitness testing. I began to love the science. I found the fitness classes so easy, I wondered why others in my class were red faced and out off breath. It reminded me that at school I was always good at the beep tests, cross country and 1500m where my events and I usually came first in my year. 

So after going through a period of being disillusioned with fitness, I came back to it on my own terms. I had stopped going to work at FitCamps, had felt like it was taken for granted I would always be one of the workforce when actually I needed to find out what MY interests were, not those that were thrust on me by my mum's career. 

In 2005 or 2006 mum invited me to go to FitCamps as a punter, just join in with sessions, no work. I loved it. I did yoga with Gary Carter, Tai Chi with Beko Kagee, Movement Therapy and Reiki with Michelle Snedden, and took part in other masterclasses and workshops, mainly holistic. I suddenly saw the events from another angle. And it was great that I did. Mum must have known it would make an impression on me and it did. So then mum asked if I would like to present. I was alsi assiting mum on alot of Pilates and Aqua courses. I lead a course called Aqua Dance for GLL, so mum asked me to present that at FitCamps (well before Aqua Zumba!) I team taught a bollywood workout, I gave a lecturer on qualities of motivation in exercise & prevention of exercise drop out. I covered loads of Pilates for mum in London, then she asked me to present at FitCamps. All of my lessons at Laban had made me want to share what I was learning. So I taught Body Mind Connection workshops, Pilates flow, Pilates partner work. Mum kept asking me to present, I didn't really know why, maybe she needed someone for the 8am slots!  But she said people were talking about my sessions and asking after me. That didn't mean much to me. I didn't know who she was talking about - she mentioned names and I'd say 'Oh'. 

After I had my daughter fitness took on a different meaning for me. I had taught alot while I was studying, but suddenly I had a dependent and I HAD to earn a living. Fitness was my saviour. It had always been the backdrop to my life, but I had never really appreciated it, now it was my bread and butter and I was grateful. I went hustling for classes, as many as I could find, went back to the places I had taught at before I got pregnant, and the place that suddenly opened their arms to me was 37 Degrees, I went from having 1 Zumba class to 8 classes a week. That was all down to the phenomenal Adele McGrath. She was so positive about me, and spoke so fondly about people from my childhood in the industry, it hit me that the fitness world was a pretty special place.

I was also working as a dancer, mainly at the opera house, sometimes film or tv, sometimes entertaining at kids parties, and had contracts with agencies that sent me to teach at schools all round London. Dance was my passion, life was empty without it, so when a dance contract at the opera house ended in January 2012 I started looking for another opportunity, to get further skills (to stand out against thousands of dancers) and keep the passion and joy in my life. I needed an artistic outlet, or I couldn't see what the point was! I had regulars in my fitness classes, I taught zumba, circuits, aerobics, I loved teaching but, just teaching for the foreseeable future was also depressing me.

You've got 3 beautiful sisters: all so similar yet wildly different- each so highly achieving in their chosen areas. You're all so supportive of each other. What have been the positives and the negatives of growing up as 1 of 4 girls? 

Well the first negative was being 'one of the girls'. I found it a real struggle to find my own identity. I was the middle daughter of three, then when I was 11, Antonia was born. Us older girls helped to raise her, school runs, packed lunches, day trips to museums, I did a lot with Antonia on my own. I changed nappies, and got her to sleep. When she was older I took her out to the park. Helped that I knew a gorgeous boy James who a had sister the same age, we would take our Antonia and Jasmine (aged 4) to Hyde Park, and really I was more interested in snogging James!

Big families are hardwork, there isn't always enough to go around. Money, food, sometimes love is in short supply.

You realise as you get older how precious family is, they fact that you have people in your life who have known you your whole exiatance, seen your mistakes, seen your highs and lows and still love you. Our family has been through alot of ups and downs, and it doesn't end! That's just life. Its full of challenges, moments of happiness, loss and sadness. We go through it feeling all the emotions possible, so we know we are alive! Real family are the people that continue to take an interest in you, even after you have been unreasonable or even hurtful towards them. Family are the people who forgive you and help you grow. Its not only the people you are related to. We have grown up with lots of extended family. The house was always full of people. Mum took in friends with nowhere to live, or friends in crisis. 

My sisters and I are bonded by experiencing many of the same life challenges. Divorce, broken homes, emotionally unavailable fathers. Mum always kept us together. Our family is a strong matriarchal hierarchy!!

We are also bonded because we have gone our own separate ways at different times and experienced the world alone. I know some families have tensions because one sibling may have flown the nest to explore the world, and another stays home in the small town, perhaps feeling it's irresponsible to leave. Mum always praised us and told us we could do anything (some of her suggestions were at times odd...she told my younger sister Sara, who had massive boobs aged 15, that she could be a porn star????) 

Rayne, Sara and I travelled together to Australia and to America at different times. Antonia came to Granada in the South of Spain on her own to share my room when I was there studying Flamenco dancing. Sara lived in Madrid and we all found time to be togther. Sara, Antonia and I spent a few summers at festivals together, being hippies and running barefoot in fields.

We have 3 more sisters and a brother, from my dad's second marriage. Sophia, Anna, Rose and Adam. Antonia and Anna are the same age. I would try to get them all together whenever I could. There is something very special about siblings. I am lucky that I have so many!

Naturally there is some competition, but I think only if you are constantly compared to each other. I've got along best with my sisters since I forged my own path, and became surer of who I was, and what made me different. Not just 'one of the girls'.

I am extremely grateful for them and they are often the first people I call when I need help!

Rayne, Hester, Sara, Lydia & Antonia... The Girls!! 

Rayne, Hester, Sara, Lydia & Antonia... The Girls!! 

Your first love however is performance. You're an accomplished dancer and now an aerial artist. Do you see the aerial performance as an extension of what you do in your dance life- was it a natural progression for you? 

Mmmm. I haven't fulfilled my aerial ambitions yet. I romantically dreamt of being an aerialist as a teenager watching Cirque du Soliel. I thought they were celestial beings, not of this world. Antonia went to classes at the circus space when she was little. I felt like 'hmph... I never got taken to circus school! How is that fair?' When i decided to pursue professional dance training aged 22, I visited the Circus Space. I was living in Shorditch working at a film production company. The waiting list there for classes was impossible. I would go and watch through thw windows at thw students rehearsing and training, and felt so strongly I wanted to be part of it. I decided to accept a place at Laban and trained their on the professional dance programme. In the evenings I started courses at the Circus Space in Acro-balance and Dance for Acro. But as usual I was doing too much and had to stop because of a back injury.

Years later aged 31, after finishing a 4 month contract dancing in La Traviata at ROH, I took a giant leap and spent my savings on a full time Circus Arts Foundation Course at the Hangar in Woolwich. I trained in the day and taught Zunba at night. 4 months later I graduated and performed a Rope act in my first ever cabaret. That course was a pivotal moment in my life. I didn't discuss doing it with my family, not even my partner. I mentioned it in the dressing room to one of the other dancers in Traviata. She said 'do it, you'll be great'. That course was the hardest physical thing I have ever done. It was perfect for me! At dance school I was one in a hundred, at at circus school, I was alone in the spotlight.  Just me, my muscles, and my imagination. I miss the feeling of climbing 7 metres and hanging from just my hands, responding to the music playing. In circus it isn't about what you look like, if you are fat or thin, how long your legs are, its about what you can DO. I have never met such a supportive group of people, everyone willing you to succeed, everyone appreciating how for a moment you can make something so hard look effortless. And for a moment I did feel like those aerial artists in Cirque du Soliel. Training at the Hangar opened a new world to me. I went there a fitness instructor / dancer and they gave a whole new treasure chest of opportunity. I graduated in May 2012 at that summer I was performing with Aircraft Circus in the gardens of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich for the Olympics opening weekend. 

I felt like a new family had embraced me into their arms, it felt very normal, and I felt utterly alive!! My teachers also had kids, and training was a child friendly environment so I could take Wren along when possible.  Soon after I started teaching for them on their youth circus programme and their Trapeze Tots classes. And of course, as soon as she was old enough, Wren started as a Trapeze Tot!!

Was meeting your partner what got you into it, or were you already doing that when you met him?

I didn't actually tell Dickon I was going to get into aerial. I didn't think it was his business! I thought he might not like me doing something in the same field as him. We met in Soho in January 2009. He was working as an actor at the Opera House and I was out with friends who worked in the theatre. Once we got to know each other, he told me what he did. I saw videos of him as a flying trapeze catcher. He was training as a trapeze catcher at the circus space when I was looking through the windows day dreaming about it. 

People have asked me if Dickon got me into the Opera House. I happened to get a contract at the Opera House through a recommendation, and through auditoning for two years on the trot before I got a part as a dancer in La Traviata. I had been first recommended as a Flamenco dancer in 2004, and didn't get a job until 2010! That was nothing to do with Dickon. When I got accepted to the full time programme at the Hangar, Dickon was cross I hadn't discussed it with him, as it also meant putting Wren into full time nursery. It was very much a decision I made on my own, and a journey I went on alone. 

The people that run the Hangar and Dickon go way back. But just like within my family, I needed to forge a path on my own. They found out I was Dickon's partner a few months down the line and couldn't believe I hadn't said anything. 

I have never liked being 'put' anywhere by other people, and always worked to do things on my own merits!!

There has been a huge resurgence of circus arts in the last few years. Why do you think this is? Is it the feminine/dancer's version of CrossFit? What is the lure? 

I don't really know. As far as I'm aware, starting aerial classes at Gymbox when I did in 2013 was the first of its kind. Aerial yoga had started a few years before in Scotland, Anti-Gravity had come to the UK from the US in 2012. I was asked by Loren Barclay to create an Aerial Yoga class for Gymbox. Loren had asked me in September 2012 to perform at the Gymbox Urban Circus party, so Dickon and I performed. I was recommending Dickon as a flag pole teacher ans calisthentics teacher, but what he was doing seemed so unattainable to a normal population. 

When I was studio creative at Gymbox I created CircusFit, to make aerial circus equipment accessible for everyone, at all levels. This was the first class that I know of to happen in a gym, using trapeze, silks, rope, and slings. Aerial Hoop classes had started at Gymbox in 2012. Around the country in small pole studios, people began to put up aerial hoops, realising that the strength for pole was transferable to aerial. However nothing was being monitored, and there were no accredited teachers courses. 

When I was at the Hangar I was leading fitness warm ups. Just as I had run morning fitness training classes at Laban when I was a student.

Some of the people I met at the Hangar also worked for Flying Fantastic in Battersea. They were providing classes for all levels in a large hall, the emphasis not so much on performance but on exercise. 

I felt passionately that aerial should be taught safely, in a gym environment, so that members could benefit from all the fitness gains.

I brought in aerialists and trained them to teach for a 'gym'. The gym world is very different from the circus world, and what I wanted to do was figurw out how to bridge the gap.

Pole was already pretty massive, Gymbox had been running pole classes since they opened. I had never trained in pole, but sudde suddenly I was meeting all the pole girls and guys because they were coming to aerial yoga and Circus Fit.

Without specifically training to get a certain physique, my body had changed. People asked if I was a gymnast. 'No', I said 'its aerial'. If there was no trapeze to hang off, I would do my aerial conditioning on a frame. Girls asked me 'what weight training do you do? How often do you train?' And I would say 'I don't. I don't even have any time to train aerial anymore, I do 5 mins from a bar after class'.

Then other people would ask if I was a CrossFit instructor 'nope'. I started teaching Frame classes at Gymbox and putting in a bit of aerial conditioning. I took on a Gymnastic Conditioning from John Hood (Crossfit and Frame fitness guru) & my class was full.

The stuff I was teaching worked. Low reps, high difficulty, progressive exercises strength leading to skill. I had my class doing acro in the martial arts cage. I had them climbing ropes, doing dead hangs and straddle climbs. Everyone around the gym when that class was going on would just stare. The classes I taught on the frame where largely men. The aerial yoga classes were largely women. When CircusFit got started at Gymbox Old Street I was started to see an equal mix. And everyone training with me went through some kind of body transformation.  Either strength, skills, fitness, or body composition. Its what I knew, aerial training can be for everyone! Its bloody brilliant! 

When are we going to get you in a class Zoe?

Umm, when i rehab this rotor cuff injury!  You've created courses in this which seem to be doing very well! What trainings do you offer?

CircusFit has now become a brand that I'm working hard to develop. There are now teacher trainings in:

CircusFit Aerial Yoga Level 1 (16 CPD points)
CircusFit Aerial Pilates Level 1 (16 CPD points)
CircusFit Flyers Level 1 (8 CPD points)
Antenatal Aerial Yoga (8 CPD points)

I'm starting work on a course for teachers of able and disabled bodies, with a very talented friend and legend! I've also got a kids programme in the pipeline. 

All the courses are REPs accredited. 

Its been a joy these last 12 months, the courses have been so well recieved. I have to pinch myself!!

Where can people find out more about these/book etc? 

On the website!  


I'm looking for people to work with who can lead courses, as baby no. 2 d-day approaches. So its a good time to get involved :-)

Thank you so much for this, Hester.  If anyone out there has been blessed by today's interview please like, share and leave a comment.  And if you want to be involved in CircusFit, check out the website and get in touch, or drop me an email and I will forward your details.