From studying rules and becoming a corporate lawyer, to joining our gym's band of rule-breakers, Antoinette Gibson has gone from trainee solicitor to trainer of fitness and found her purpose amongst the pull-ups, planks and Pilates. Holding classes in our Sweat, Strength, Aerial and Holistic categories, she's doing it all; in true Gymbox-er fashion. Our blogger Kat caught up with Antoinette to find out why she swapped law for lifting and how her life has changed since...
Antoinette, you teach a whole variety of classes at Gymbox. Would you mind giving me a rundown of what these classes are and where you’re mostly based?
I’m so lucky to teach an awesome range of classes. At the moment I teach: Aerial Pilates, Aerial Yoga, am:RAP, False Grip, Gymnastic Conditioning, Pilates, Suspenders, Swingers and Swingers Club.
I have classes across all the Gymbox clubs, except for Covent Garden. Ealing is the club I teach at the most even though I live in East London!
Have you always been into fitness or was it something that you got into later in life?
No, it’s something I got into more recently.
I did not excel at, or enjoy, any of the sports on offer at school, but I was always very active and loved being outdoors. From my mid-teens until my mid-twenties, I did a lot of horse riding. I competed at day events most weekends during the eventing season and I did indoor show jumping in the winter.
I first joined a gym and started doing spin classes to maintain my fitness when I moved to London, as I couldn’t ride everyday but still wanted to compete on the weekends. Eventually I had to stop horse riding, but I carried on going to spin and body pump type classes.
It wasn’t until I moved to Dubai as a trainee solicitor in September 2015 that I really got into fitness. A colleague of mine recommended a circuits class to me during one of my first weeks living there and I fell in love with it instantly! I hated my job and life in Dubai, but Circuit Factory provided the perfect, sweatiest escape!
After about a month, I started to train with some of the trainers at a 24 hour gym in the industrial area. They taught me how to squat, deadlift and bench and changed the way I viewed working out. I went from using classes as a way to stay as skinny as possible to wanting to get stronger.
Before you started working as an instructor at Gymbox, you were working as a corporate lawyer. That’s a big change! What made you decide to give up the white collar life and start a career in health and fitness?
It was a massive change! It came as a huge shock to my bosses but it made total sense to me and the people closest to me.
At the time that I quit, I was working with some amazing people - I was doing really well and getting paid ridiculously well. But the fact that I could do my job well and I liked the people I worked with wasn’t really enough to keep me there. I hated the work, some of my clients were vile, the hours were really long and I didn’t want to get trapped in a career that made me miserable. So I decided to do something else.
I actually knew that law wasn’t the right career for me from the moment I started the Legal Practice Course, and that was before my career even got started! I didn’t quit right away because I had a job lined up and my tuition fees had been paid for by the firm I was due to work for. So I stuck with it, completed the course and the two year training contract, qualified and worked for about 2 years.
I was planning on doing a food and wine course with the aim of opening a cafe or restaurant, but my sister suggested that I do something fitness related instead. At the time, I was living and working in Doha and spent every morning swimming in the sea or at a yoga class before dragging myself reluctantly into the office. I’d escape to the gym sometimes at lunchtime and would train after work with a PT. My weekends were spent stand-up paddle boarding, practicing acro yoga and occasionally running in the desert.
But despite the fact that pretty much all my spare time was spent doing fitness related things, I initially discounted a career in fitness for various reasons, including the fact that I’m very quiet and the idea of teaching a group class terrified me. But in the end I changed my mind, and I’m so glad I did!
I really hated the work I was doing and instead of helping individuals (and the entities they worked for) make more money, I wanted to help people move better, get stronger and live happier lives.
In what ways has your life changed since making that switch? Particularly, what positives have you experienced?
As well as switching careers, I moved back to London, got married and joined Gymbox as a member in the space of one summer, so a whole load of things changed all at once!
I’m so much happier now and I absolutely love my job! I can’t quite believe how much fun I get to have at work - I get to coach awesome people, share my passion for Pilates and play the music I love as my job! I also get to see members get stronger which is awesome.
I have so much more freedom over how I spend my days. I’m not stuck behind a desk all day everyday and I don’t have to wear a suit anymore which is a definite bonus!
What’s your favourite class that you teach at Gymbox and why?
This is such a hard question because I absolutely love all of the classes I teach!
Swingers at Ealing on a Tuesday night has a very special vibe, it’s always packed and members push themselves so hard which is incredible to see. In the class, we do lots of kettlebell swings and it’s awesome seeing members get better week by week. I also get to play all of my favourite grime bangers - I love creating playlists for classes, particularly the more hype ones!
I absolutely love all of my Pilates classes too. They are delivered in a much more chilled way but are still quite intense which members don’t always expect! I love seeing members leave the studio sweatier than they thought they would be, feeling accomplished and a little more relaxed than when they came in.
What’s something you did in the gym recently that made you really proud?
I did three pistol squats with a 24kg kettlebell which is a new PB!
Hitting PBs is always nice, but I’m actually proudest of myself when I train consistently and actually get through all of the workouts Firas [Iskandarani, Master Trainer] programmes for me - including the metcons, which I always dread doing and put off but sometimes aren’t as bad as I expect!
What are some of your goals for the rest of the year, both personally and as an instructor?
In September, I’ll start a comprehensive Pilates course that will cover all the different pieces of Pilates equipment and deepen my Pilates knowledge and make me a better instructor.
I have to say, I’m not very goal driven so I don’t really have any personal goals!
Finally, you mention how much you love getting to play your favourite music during classes. Do you have a specific genre or artist that never fails to hype you up?
I love grime! There’s a Sir Spyro set with Manga Saint Hilare, Roachee, Novelist, Fudz, Lioness, Queenie and So Large that is so sick and perfect to train to.