Founder of the UK’s top Bootcamp opens up about abuse

Founder of the UK’s top Bootcamp opens up about abuse

In the week that has us all talking about whether we should discuss our mental health problems in the workplace, we are inspired by one woman's determination not to let her experience be in vain. Sharon Smith, owner of GI Jane Bootcamp, has used her experience of childhood abuse to inspire others.

Entrepreneur and inspiration

GI Jane Bootcamp is the UK’s leading Women Only Bootcamp, attracting hundreds of visitors including celebrities such as Kerry Katona and Abi Titmus. The founder Sharon, 44, discusses her own life in the hope that it will inspire others to make a difference to their lives. 

1 in 7 ladies who go to GI Jane Bootcamp have at some point in their life suffered with depression. That is an enormous figure. Sharon explains:

‘I myself can sympathise greatly with these emotional journeys having been to dark places in my youth. My early twenties were filled with grief trying to come to terms with the abuse I had suffered in my childhood.'

Sharon explains how hard her personal journey was at times:

'I literally struggled to get up every day as I had lost all self esteem and felt that I would be better off dead. However I really hit rock bottom in 1995 when my then partner dumped me on Christmas day telling me that he was in love with our mutual friend. He kicked me out of his house where we had been living together, leaving me with nowhere to go. I was totally devastated.' 

Rock bottom

'I had nothing, no home, no boyfriend, no job, or money! I took an overdose, an obvious cry for help, but more than that it was the first time that I actually acknowledged that I needed help and couldn’t cope on my own.'

It was at this point Sharon knew she needed help:

'I had been so used to hiding my problems away. It was then that my mother decided that I was in such a dire state that the only place I would be safe from myself was in Bexley Mental Hospital. It was the longest week of my life, but also the turning point for me. I was surrounded by people who were so desperately ill, that it made me realise how lucky I was.’

Moving forward

After moving forward in her own life Sharon wanted to give something back and founded GI Jane Bootcamp, to inspire ladies to make positive life changes.

‘Since GI Jane’s inception in April 2009 I have never ceased to be inspired by the ladies that join us on Bootcamp. Each Bootcamp week is unique and throws up individuals who all have their own reasons for signing up.'

She continues: 'During their time at Bootcamp some ladies find it a really cathartic experience that opens up deeply seated emotions that perhaps some of them have kept under wraps for years or never even dreamed of discussing with anyone before. Many ladies are amazed to find that Bootcamp is not all about weight loss it is about self discovery and self appreciation. ‘

Everyone has stories to tell and most are full of light and hope, but there are some that are filled with horror and pain. GI Jane can really help those ladies who have suffered in their life. 

Every ‘Jane’ is different and whether they want to lose weight, to find themselves, or to realise they are OK just the way they are, GI Jane guarantees an empowering and wonderful experience, not to mention both weight and inch loss! Sharon continues:

‘We have ladies who have come to us broken women. They have perhaps been mentally or physically abused, had depression, or are terribly unhappy in their lives. But they all leave, with a new found confidence to change their lives and themselves for the better’.

But it is Sharon that is the everyday inspiration to her GI Jane’s. She is living proof that no matter what you are up against you can still achieve your dreams.

Well we at Uncovered were so inspired by Sharon's openness, a lady who has achieved so much can quite confidently and truthfully discuss the journey that has taken her where she is today - Sharon you are an inspiration and we wish you well in all your ventures.

Click for details of the GI Jane Bootcamp


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