A WOKING fitness coach has beaten dozens of her peers to win Trainer of the Year at the national Fit&Well Awards.

Emma Goodman-Horne was “chuffed to bits” when she found about her success in a category which initially attracted more than a thousand responses from the public.

“They were then whittled down to a longlist of 70,” Emma said. “Of course, you can’t help trying to size up the opposition and they all had thousands of followers on social media, some of them 50,000.

“I’ve got 700 so I thought there’s no way I can win that. I nearly fell over when I got the call that I had done.”

 The judges were convinced by Emma’s energetic approach to fitness – her brand is called Emergy – and the importance she attaches to her local community, not least in her charity work.

“I have such a loyal group,” Emma said. “We’ve really stuck together and when I reopened my bootcamp recently I was so pleased that I’d kept around 90% of the people I had before lockdown.

“The first lockdown was a difficult time for everyone, but curiously I think it has helped the business in the long run.

“I found online difficult to start with, trying to get that energy across, but my clients really supported me and the engagement levels just grew.

“I made the decision very early that I was going to stick to my guns and be myself. I couldn’t pretend to be anyone else.

“Everywhere you looked it was ‘Joe Wicks this’ and ‘Joe Wicks that’, which, of course, everyone could access, so there was no shortage of competition.

“My sessions are a bit Marmite in that people either love the show and the energy, or feel that I’m just driving them bonkers. But I want to leave people feeling good about themselves.

“The online sessions have given me a much wider audience, all across the UK and even abroad. I’ve got people in Dubai, Turkey, Egypt, although it’s a bit early to say I’ve gone international.

“The downside is that it’s time consuming, so I’ve had to reduce the number of physical bootcamps from six a week to three. It’s purely a matter of not being able to do everything.”

The bootcamps are, as before, at Pyrford Cricket Club, and are on Monday (6.30pm), Wednesday and Friday (9.15am) and the first Saturday of the month.

Emma has enjoyed the return of the bootcamps, but not everything is exactly the same, at least not yet.

“The behavioural changes have been really striking, as though people have become institutionalised,” she said. “They give each other more space automatically now, and there is much less small talk. It’s as though we’ve forgotten how to do it.

“The strangest thing, though, is how much people have become screen-focused. I looked up the other day during a bootcamp and there were all these pairs of eyes staring intently at me, everyone in silence, like they were watching a screen and needed all their concentration.”

As restrictions ease, Emma plans to pick up her charity work again, which was noted by the judges in her success.

“We had to call off our big family fundraiser last year, but I was so pleased that another of our charity events last March just dodged lockdown. We raised more than £8,000 for Woking & Sam Beare Hospices and the children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent.

“And we have managed to raise £1,500 just from people doing online workouts. They’re so kind.

“I hope our family day will go ahead this year as planned.”

* For more information on Emma and her Emergy fitness classes, follow @emergy100 on Instagram, the Emergy FIT Facebook page or email [email protected]