Determined Harrogate mother an "inspiration" for others after being body-shamed

A Harrogate who felt body-shamed earlier this month said she is delighted that her story has inspired other women to return to the gym.

Sarah Stanley and James Bower
Sarah Stanley and James Bower

Sarah Stanley said she was left feeling "two inches tall" when she caught two men laughing at her during an induction at Harrogate's Pure Gym.

However, despite the knock to her confidence, Sarah vowed to return to the gym and enlisted the help of personal trainer James Bower.

Sarah's tale of courage went viral after a Facebook post from James, condemning the actions of the two men in the gym, was shared hundreds of times.

Since shooting to fame, Sarah said that she has received many messages from women who have taken inspiration from her story.

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Many of the women have admitted that they are too scared or embarrassed to go the gym with Sarah revealing that the experience has been eye-opening for her.

She said: "I've had lots of people who have asked how I continued going after that and saying they wished they could do the same.

"Others have messaged me saying they feel so much more confident going to the gym now. It makes me feel really good to hear that.

"I've realised that lots of people are scared to go; they may think they're not pretty or slim enough to do so. It feels like they've been waiting for this story to come along and help them.

"They have this idea that gyms are full of perfect people, thin and beautiful people but it's far from that."

Sarah is still going to Pure Gym four or five times a week but said James' support was vital in helping her regain her confidence.

After hearing Sarah's complaint, James threatened to revoke the two mens' membership and described their behaviour as "unnaceptable".

The post has been shared more than 400 times but James said he had no idea it was going to strike a chord with so many people.

He said: "The problem is a lot bigger than I anticipated. There's a lot of people out there who, for whatever reason, struggle with their self confidence or feeling insecure.

"I'm getting inundated with messages like "I would love to come to the gym but this is why I don't". If people feel like that then there is something wrong.

"We've got all sorts of shapes, sizes and ages here because fitness is not for some, it's for everybody

"A lot of people can relate to Sarah's story and there mus be thousands of people desperately wanting to do things that will help change their lifestyle and their health.

"The story has given people a bit of drive. In Sarah's case she is a completely different animal and doesn't care what anyone else thinks."

James said there was no "one size fits all" approach to fitness but stressed the most important thing was for people to take that first step.

Sarah said that this was just the beginning of her self-improvement story and revealed she was keen to offer advice or encouragement to anyone who needed it.

"It's scary that this has all come to light after the story," Sarah said.

"These people could have been going a long time but I just want to tell them that they shouldn't let anyone put you off.

"I have had people shake my hand and congratulated me but I'm just determined to keep going back and improving myself."