It’s Wednesday evening, long after her working day is meant to have finished, but maths teacher Chelsea Jones is sat in her classroom tutoring year eleven students who are about to sit another round of examinations. Watching the clock tick towards six o’clock, there is nothing that is going to stop Chelsea getting to her Crossfit class.
The 27-year-old from Telford attends Crossfit classes religiously - as few as two hour-long sessions per week and often as many as four - even during the intense examination period, she remains unwavering in her attendance: something she says is crucial in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
“It gets me out of the door, I would definitely work more without Crossfit,” says Chelsea, who has taught at a senior school for three years since graduating from university and often finds herself working 12-hour days. “Having something outside of school keeps me going.”
Keeping up Chelsea’s demanding training schedule is no mean feat, especially when getting to her Crossfit gym means an hour round trip. “It is actually quite far for me to travel to get there, but it is 100% worth it for me, because of what I get from the class,” she says.
Guided by a coach, the mixed class involves a grueling combination of HIIT (high intensity interval training) and Olympic weight lifting: she talks me through a variety of moves including the snatch, a clean and jerk and overhead squats. “It is all to do with bar bells,” she simplifies. “We often get personal bests so I can see myself improving every time I go, and working towards a goal. I get that sense of achievement on a weekly basis.”
Not only is Crossfit helping Chelsea keep fit, she has also built a community of friends at the gym who give her a space to just be herself, a non-teacher outside of the staff room.
Starting out as strangers - Chelsea only went the first time after a friend suggested she try it - they are now people she considers a community. For her, it is this spirit of community that sets Crossfit apart from regular gym attendance.
“I’m not very motivated on my own and when you go to the gym you can turn up and talk to no one,” says Chelsea. “For me crossfit is very, very sociable.”
“In fact there are a few other teachers who go too, but we don’t talk about teaching. We just talk about general life. And of course Crossfit!”
Although she already has a lot of sporting commitments outside of her work, Chelsea is also coach for the school netball team. “That has helped me quite a lot as well, obviously it helps build relationships with the kids who I’m teaching, which is great.”
It might seem counterintuitive to commit to so many extra curricular activities, Chelsea says they are invaluable for her, especially at this point in the year.
“The last two or three weeks, started to feel a lot more stressed about the situation as it is exam season,” she says. Chelsea’s students range in age from 11-year-olds all the way up to 18-year-olds sitting their A-Levels.
But it isn’t marking or curriculum that Chelsea finds hardest to deal with. “The thing that stresses me out is kids having a lack of motivation,” she says. “When I know they are more than capable, I’m stressed that they are not doing enough to unlock their own potential.”