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We catch up with the spinning sassy queen Annie Buckland, to find out how she manages to stay motivated and take on the fitness industry, whilst being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system – which normally protects its health by attacking foreign bacteria and viruses – misfunctions to mistakenly target the joints. This creates inflammation that causes the tissue lining the inside of joints (the synovium) to thicken, resulting in swelling and pain in and around the joints. It also causes side effects including fatigue, brain fog (memory loss) and depression, as well as some secondary conditions such as Raynaud’s.

What has been you biggest challenge?

Since being diagnosed nearly four years ago, my biggest challenge has been finding a way to live my life without letting my condition take over, to find my voice with it and turn it into a positive. It has been a battle to learn to deal with every day as it comes and realise that it’s okay to not be okay.

It’s a horrible disease to have but I’ve finally come to a place where I can say I am grateful that this happened to me as it has made me a better person. Its given me a better outlook on life and made me a better personal trainer!

From sick, to becoming a personal trainer / instructor, what inspirational advice can you give us?

To never stop dreaming or pushing yourself. Yes, there have been times when my body has been giving up on me but I managed to find the strength and push through which has actually lead me to achieve a lot whilst being quite poorly. For me, it was about finding my new normal and then embracing it, not fearing it. It is different from everyone else’s but that’s what makes it so special! No one has my ‘normal’ way of living or coping and I love that - it’s mine and it works for me.

When did you start dancing?

I started dancing quite late when I was 10 years old. I am so glad I trained in a variety of different dance disciplines as even today the skills I’ve learnt and gained from 10 years of training are helping me now!

What is your training schedule like?

To be honest I don’t really have a training schedule, I find by setting myself structured training sessions it can lead to really messing with my head if I don’t or can’t complete them. Through trial and error, I have found that it’s a lot better for me if I plan to go to one or two classes a week alongside the classes I teach and then pencil in times when I could train that week if I feel I am up to it and if I want to. Let me be honest here, if you have to force yourself to train all the time then something isn’t right.

I’ve just taken three months off from any real weight or class training because my body and mind needed it. I’ve now started to train a little more and I’m finally falling back in love with it!

Do you find it challenging after each session?

I generally always feel better after training and get energised by all the endorphins running around inside me, which is exactly why I love exercising. Not only is it good for the body but it’s also so good on your mind. If I’ve had a big training session, then I will feel and know that I need to be sensible with the rest of my week. I’m pretty active everyday so I make sure I get some good rest time on the weekend and allow my body to catch up and recover.

How many rest days do you have between training sessions?

This all depends on how my body is feeling that week. With a busy schedule teaching and training clients, I’m active everyday. With my additional training, I take it day to day and really listen to my body so some weeks I might only train once but other weeks I might train another four times, but I generally always try to have at least one rest day during the week and one at the weekend.

How many times a week do you recommend training for someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis?

As many times, as they want to or can do! There doesn’t need to be a limit to how much someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis can train. BUT the biggest thing you must do is listen to your body. Exercise is actually good for someone suffering from RA but as soon as there is any pain during exercise you must stop otherwise you can do more damage than good. This is extremely frustrating but all part of it.

What are the benefits of mixing strength training and flexibility together?

When we train our muscles contract and get smaller which is why it is so important to stretch after you’ve trained, so you can lengthen the muscles again. Combining strength and flexibility training can help decrease your risk of injury and help improve important skills like balance, range of motion and posture.

What motivates you to keep training hard and stay on track?

Having this condition is the best motivation! Never have I wanted to push my body to the next level or to see how I can change my body through exercise and my lifestyle but now I feel like I have a purpose to do so and I feel like I can. Wanting to prove my mind, my body, my doctors and RA wrong makes me keep working and keeps me fighting.

This condition makes it very easy to stay in bed and feel sorry for myself but for some reason it’s done the complete opposite for me. It’s given me a new lease of life and I’m so grateful that I can train and do a job I love because for many people with RA they can’t. I’m actually very lucky.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone just getting into working out?

Don’t be scared to try different things! Go to lots of classes to find out what you like doing and gain confidence with exercising. Have a couple of sessions with a PT to learn the basics of the gym and correct techniques. Do what you enjoy! There is no point in slogging away in the gym doing a training programme you hate because you saw someone on Instagram doing it. Yes, it’s important to exercise for all the health benefits but its also got to be fun. Life is short so don’t waste it trying to bench press heavy when you really want to do some HIIT training. AND girls remember there’s more to life than just training that booty!

What are the top three classes they should attend at ONE LDN?

Well it’s got to be my spin class to get sexy, sassy and sweaty all at once!

Adrian’s WOD if you want to have a near death experience through exercise but be hooked so you keep going back!

Chris’s grit classes for 30 minutes of sweaty hell!

What three words best describe you?

Sassy, strong and quite often sweaty!

What does balance mean to you?

Balance to me is being a fitness professional and being able to eat a whole bag of M&Ms in one go without feeling guilty about it. It’s being able to love my body and work on it at the same time. Loving and being content in the job I do but always wanting to learn more. Struggling with a chronic illness but being grateful, in a sense, that I have it. It’s not doing things I don’t enjoy because life is too short. It’s being happy and present in the moment.

What new challenges will you be facing this year?

I was due to be running the London Marathon next month but because I have been so poorly recently I couldn’t train properly. I gave up my place which was really disheartening but I’m a month into a new medication which always throws a few curve balls at you. I’m taking my time getting back into training and making sure I rest when I need to. I’m doing two new qualifications which will open me up to new experiences. And I’m living, as we all know life is so unpredictable and we never know what we will face so that is one of the biggest challenges.

Whatever challenges life or RA throws at me, I am ready for them!

Check out Annie's classes on our timetable here or view Annie's Personal Trainer Bio here

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