A female fitness coach from Liverpool has won a national coaching hero award, after providing specialised fitness classes to support pregnant women’s physical and mental health
Juanita Steel is one of only 25 coaches across the UK to be crowned a winner at the UK Coaching Hero Awards. The coaches, who were voted by the public for their innovations and achievements to keep people physical active during the coronavirus lockdowns, each received a memento from UK Coaching’s Royal Partron, HRH The Princess Royal to mark the considerable difference they made to people’s mental and physical well-being.
Juanita wins this award for her exceptional, work during lockdown with pregnant women plugging a significant gap in maternity services caused by the pandemic. Following face to face sessions for pregnant women being halted due to lockdowns, along with MSP and Active Cheshire, Juanita provided free-to-access pregnancy-suitable workouts via Facebook Live and YouTube. Juanita Steel – YouTube. Juanita worked hard to create an essential support network, persevering past the ban on social gatherings by making a Facebook Group to keep pregnant women feeling connected outside of the sessions.
A coach for over 20 years, Juanita has expertly crafty sessions that empower women at all stages of pregnancy to be active, adapting classes for each trimester. And in a time where mental health mattered more than ever, she has provided support, advice and maintained a constant social environment for those who are pregnant, or who have recently given birth.
Just happy to be making a positive difference, Juanita said:
“I’m blown away but thrilled to have been selected as a UK Coaching winner from the thousands of amazing coaches who entered. It’s a real honour to be recognised for a job I love and one that I have worked so hard at to carve out my niche, and for it to be successful, especially in an industry that is saturated with fresh new talent coming through daily.
“I’ve had to overcome so many challenges to reach the women who needed my support more than ever because of lockdown. My skills as a coach took a whole new direction because my clients were no longer face to face. I had to adapt coaching so that I could perfect my awareness on each client’s posture & technique so that they were free from injury or discomfort.
“As a mum myself, I know that from when I was pregnant there was simply no fitness provision that was suitable for me. I wanted to fill that gap, and make sure that sport and physical activity is accessible for all! Coaching is about focusing on individuals and putting their wellbeing first, and so I really wanted to consider the impact on pregnant and post-natal bodies. That meant that the classes I run are built around accessibility; they can be low-intensity, you can bring children, you can do whatever you need to build yourself back up at your own pace.
“The most pleasing thing is the sense of community that we’ve managed to develop. I want women to feel valued, and to feel as though they have a place in sport and fitness. I start every class with a talk to emphasise to all who attend that mental wellbeing is as important as physical, and that this environment is one where everyone can feel safe and included. As a coach, I’m proud to educate others, and impart the values of community within sport”
Reflecting on the exceptional contribution of the award-winning coaches like Juanita, UK Coaching Director of Coaching Emma Atkins, said:
“Many congratulations to Juanita and all our winners. We applaud your efforts and the role you played in your communities, boosting morale and lifting people’s moods in a completely alienating time.
“Helping people to use sport and physical activity positively through challenging times is a privilege and one which carries huge responsibilities, and you took your duties seriously, using your initiative to create solutions to the embargo on most sport and physical activity – looking always to what was possible – thank you.”
UK Coaching opened nominations to its UK Coaching Hero awards initiative in 2020 after the first major UK-wide COVID-19 lockdown. The charitable organisation wanted to acknowledge the efforts of coaches, who in difficult circumstances persevered and re-thought coaching techniques to deliver legal digital and one-to-one training, utilising sport and physical activity to keep people connected.
If you are interested in coaching or to progress your coaching career, visit; ukcoaching.org.