Pic by Zara Cottrill for Ben Rodford Photography

It is – as you can hardly fail to have noticed – International Women’s Day, so I thought it would be appropriate to tip my cap to the amazing women who rock my world when it comes to fitness – my squad. Literally my squad, you understand – not my #squad (which I’m told smacks of cultural appropriation anyway). Now most of them won’t even recognise the word fitspo, and would roll their eyes if I tried to explain. Most of them will frown and look embarrassed and wonder why I’m even mentioning them. And not one of them would ever been seen dead doing that butt-out mirror-selfie pose in the gym (I’m crying with laughter trying to imagine it) or rolling down their leggings to display their abs (again, weeping). But the truth is that’s one of the many things I love about them. None of those things floats my boat, and these strong, sassy women provide inspiration in spades, so I’m going to roll call them whether they like it or not.

I couldn’t choose just one out of these guys for special mention, so I’m going for the lot, because together they are the most amazing collection of strong, funny, infuriating, inspiring, kind, maddening, encouraging women who make me laugh until I can’t breathe and push me on to be stronger and tougher than I could ever be on my own.

Each of them gives something different to the whole. There are the power houses whose strength and resilience are a source of awe and wonder to me. There are the organisers who manage to herd us into some semblance of order. There are the comics and wise-crackers who make sure no event is taken too seriously and make us laugh until we cry. There are the caring ones who offer kind words and support behind the scenes, with a shoulder to cry on and much-needed encouragement. There are the cooks who keep us fed and watered at events with food that is way better than anything I make at home. And there are the nurturers who look after the new people and bring them on, sharing their wisdom and knowledge. And you know what? Incredibly, amongst the lot, there isn’t anyone I honestly wouldn’t want to spent a weekend with.


Of course, we’re all human, and every now and then we get cross with each other. But despite the occasional grumbles and irritations, if you ever needed help, any one of them would be there in a heart beat. That’s why I’m prouder than I can say to call them my squad.