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Pru Comben - Zero to hero via the No.36 bus

My story starts with the No. 36 bus in Bristol. Fondly known as the druggy bus, this  slow, unreliable and expensive rattler was my way to get to work, what with the cost of parking and all. One winter, as the 36 failed to show up again and I was faced with an hours trek in the rain to get to my rather unfulfilling job as a motor insurance claims agent.

As I trudged along one boring road after another, I was passed by one cyclist, then another, then another. Could cycling be the answer to my  bus problems? That Christmas I received a B.S.O from my husband (no, that’s not some dodgy euphemism!)...in the cycling world it stands for ‘bike shaped object’. It was a hunk of junk but it was the fuel to my fire. From a B.S.O I graduated to a proper bike, which was promptly nicked. So I brought another. And a better lock.

As I started to cycle more, I also wanted to cycle further, faster, to get up big hills without pushing, so when a large chain of gyms came to the hell hole of insurance where I worked, I joined up and started to enjoy classes, at least once they had finished. I entered the Race for Life and ran 3 miles without stopping! And then, a few years down the line, I did my first Indoor Cycling class. You know what? I hated it. It was vile. It was torture. So I went back and did it again, and again. The torture-queen was a lady called Tash, and I will be eternally grateful to her.

One day I plucked up the courage. How could I become a Spinning(r) instructor? Tash helped out with advice and encouragement. I found a course that I could do without having to do four other courses beforehand, and so what if it was in Exeter? The Master Instructor, Sandro, was an inspiration.

I was in love (with Spinning(r))! Tash set me up with some classes. One Spinning course turned in to another. Then Exercise to Music instructor, Body Combat, Personal Trainer, from Pilates to Kettlebells.  5k turned to 10k, then half marathons and triathlons. Then going to fitness events became volunteering at fitness events (with an awesome gang of friends, I must add!) presenting at fitness events.

I left my admin based roles and felt years of sitting and slouching vanish from my slightly hunched cyclist shoulders.

It’s not all been plain sailing. One especially horrific paralegal job broke me. Literally I was a non-person for about 6 months and used medication and counselling to help me though, but the gym was the glue that stuck me back together...and the love of my most wonderful husband. The classes I teach come and go as trends change, and COVID 19 has put a massive dent in what I’ve been doing. I’ve spent 4 months as a cleaner at a local hospital to make ends meet, and if you think exercise is hard, try mopping floors all day!  But today I’ve just completed another course (about training with power meters on bikes if you want to know) and in just a few months, I hope to reach a milestone I’d not even considered when I first got on that bike at Fitness First... I will train to be a Spinning(r) Master Instructor, a trainer of other instructors.

When I reflect on how I got to this place, I am always surprised. I used to bite my tongue. Afraid to rock the boat, or make a mess. Agree, politely. But the more I learnt, the more confidence I gained, the more I went to events, the more amazing and lifelong friends I have made and I realise that everything I’ve done from the highs to the lows, has taken me from zero to my own hero. Katy Perry wrote the song but I feel I’ve lived it.



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