A personal trainer who struggled with anorexia has transformed her life by focusing on pole dancing.
Tash Turner was so unwell as a teenager that her weight plummeted to just six stone and she was told that she "could end up in a wheelchair" by the time she was 30.
It was only when she went to university and discovered pole dancing exercise classes that she said something just snapped in her brain and she began to eat again, reports Birmingham Live.
Previously, Tash had been very driven to be a high achiever in her sports and academic studies. She would arrive at school early, train during breaks and stay after school to improve her abilities in cross country, trampolining and rowing, eating the absolute minimum to get by.
As her body started to fail under the stress of not eating, her mum took her to hospital for treatment but sadly, which was when she was warned she could end up in a wheelchair by 30.
Today Tash is a personal trainer, helping others to get their body's in optimal shape in a safe and healthy way.
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“Back then everyone wanted to look like Kate Moss, skinny was what fitness is now,” said Tash, who lives with her partner Chris in Kings Heath.
“For me, anorexia started from creating an association with success in life from not eating.
“I would train for two to three hours and weigh myself every day. When I was around 15 to 16, I had a growth spurt and my BMI plummeted. I was having less than 800 calories a day, just a bit of cereal, fruit, fish and salad. I’d say to my family that I’d eaten at school."
“In my head, I didn’t have a problem," she said.
"My school was very sporty and academic and I was competitive in all subjects so, in order to do well, I was not eating.
"I was driven to get my numbers down in my weight and my numbers up in my school reports.”
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Tash’s anorexia was starting to affect her body badly. Her periods didn’t start until she was 22 and she had very low muscle mass.
“My mum put two and two together and realised I was more than just skinny,” said Tash, who is now 29 and a healthy 11 stone in weight.
“I went to see a gynaecologist in a hospital but I remained in denial that there was anything wrong. I think it took around two years for it to click. The gynaecologist told me I was likely to develop osteoporosis and that I wouldn’t be able to exercise and that I could end up in a wheelchair by the time I was 30.
“But it was a slow process to tell my brain that what I was doing was wrong.”
The turning point for Tash came when she was 21 and studying business management at the University of Birmingham. Whilst there, she started taking pole dancing classes.
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“I fell in love with it," she said. "It was a different sport to anything else I’d done. I started gaining muscle and I loved what I was seeing. I realised that to gain more muscle, I needed to eat more.”
After realising an office-based sales job wasn’t for her, Tash quit and became a personal trainer at Ultimate Fitness and The Gym Kings Heath.
Sadly, just after she had qualified, the Covid pandemic hit and she was put on furlough.
Instead of feeling sorry for herself at home, she decided to use her time to develop a product to help people relax and recover after working out.
“As a PT and masseusse, I’ve always used Epsom salts in the bath as part of my recovery and, at the end of each week, I’d pick up a Lush bath bomb in town and add that in as a treat,” she said.
“We were in lockdown so I couldn’t pick up my bath bombs. An idea came to me in a dream and I woke up around 4am, thinking what if there was a bath bomb with Epsom salts in it?”
After researching the market, Tash started developing her BuffBombs, using trial and error to mix Epsom salts with the ingredients she used in massage, such as coconut oil to soothe skin and essential oils to help muscle and stress relief.
She tested them extensively to ensure they would float and fizz then had a mould created in the shape of a kettle bell weight.
“Everyone loves them, I’ve had lots of repeat orders,” said Tash, who is hoping to get her bath bombs into gyms and exercise studios.
She added: “Epsom salts are absorbed into the body in the bath and help to soothe muscles that have been overworked.
"Coconut oil is great for soothing skin and essential oils can be used for all sorts of things from aiding sleep to enhanced muscle recovery.
“I am giving £4 from every box bought in the B14 area to the Moseley Homeless Charity.”
Find out more and order here.
Tash’s advice to anyone suffering from anorexia
- Listen and read first hand experience stories. I found when I was having counselling, I didn’t listen to anyone who hadn’t been through the same experience themselves.
- Find a charity where you can reach out to people with anorexia or who are recovering from it. People share their stories. I’m happy for people to reach out to me.
Find something that makes you tick so you can make that change for the better. For me, that was pole dancing.
- Realise there’s more to life than a number on a scale and that numbers can vary from day to day.
- A lot of it is about control so realise that the association of success coming with not eating is absurd and find something else to change that control in a healthy way.
For help and support go to First Steps ED (firststepsed.co.uk); ABC (anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk); FEAST (feast-ed.org) or call the BEAT Helpline on 0808 801 0677. Get daily tips on coping at instagram.com/hopevirgo_