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Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Fitness transformed my life say former Reading truants
By Linda Serck
BBC Berkshire reporter

'Mad' Lizzie Webb and Krystle
'Mad' Lizzie Webb and Krystle

Two former aggressive truants from Reading say their lives have been transformed by a fitness course.

Body Rocks, set up by TVam aerobics instructor 'Mad' Lizzie Webb, uses fitness to curb anti-social behaviour and offers teaching diplomas.

The course focuses mainly on young people who find it hard to learn in a traditional school environment.

Success-story Nathan said: "I myself have come quite close to going to prison, but I turned my life around.

"Mum's been to prison on a few occasions" he said, "so has my dad.

"Every single one of my older brothers has been to prison, one of them is in Huntercombe prison at the moment.

Confidence boost

Nathan was excluded from school and said he got into many fights, owing to a short temper. At the same time he also felt "shy and apprehensive" about life and had no confidence.

About discovering Body Rocks he said: "I was signing on at the Job Centre and they told me about a fitness course that was coming up. I was interested because I'm very sporty as it is.

"I came on one of the first taster sessions and I didn't leave after that.

"It's given me the confidence to look people in the eye.

"It was mainly because of Lizzie's help, she got me teaching small things and then gradually built that up.

Lizzie Webb with Frank Bruno
Lizzie Webb was popular face of TVam in the 80s

He was on a Level One assistant qualification course during the summer, but was then fast-tracked into becoming an instructor.

"Being excluded from school so many times I didn't get any qualifications," he said, "whereas with this I have a qualification now.

"I've proved to myself and everyone else that I can actually do something and stick at it."

He added: "I was a waster, but now I'm active and always constantly on the move. It's made such a change in my life."

Pregnant at 13

Krystle is also now a Level 2 fitness instructor at age 23, but ten years ago her life had taken a wrong turn.

"I was quite troublesome," she said, "at school I started getting into fights.

"When I got to the age of 13 I started bunking off school and meeting older guys. That's when I ended up getting up pregnant. I was 13 and he was 21."

After an unsuccessful attempt at going to a finishing school for young mums, Krystle lapsed back to her old ways.

"When I got to 15 I started hanging around with these older guys that were into crime.

"I couldn't get any benefits until I was 16, so I was getting involved in crime to make a bit of money on the side."

Lizzie's fitness classes were the start of a fulfilling career for Krystle.

"It started off as just a fitness class," she said, "but then I got on to the level 2 for an instructor's qualification. I passed it".

She added: "When I first started working with Lizzie I never thought that I'd be able to stand up in front of a bunch of strangers and teach them a routine.

"Now it's like I've been doing it forever."

At a recent event at St Laurence's Church in Reading, the Body Rocks team tied with a team from Thames Valley Police in a fitness challenge.

Body Rocks projects take place mainly in Berkshire and is part of the Creativity In Sport community project, set up by Lizzie Webb and Olympic rowing medallist Debbie Flood.


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