Pushups and pledges: using sport to support charities
August 18, 2017 rosalyn
Rainmaker Foundation charity accelerator fitness session at rainmaking loft

Pushups and pledges: using sport to support charities

Aug 18

Posted on August 18, 2017 by rosalyn 0 comments 0 likes

Cilia Li is an entrepreneur and personal trainer based in the Rainmaking Loft. She is passionate about using fitness to help people build their self-esteem, so she held a fitness class for charity. She decided to donate all proceeds to our #CharityAccelerator cohort partner, Foundation for Change. It’s an innovative charity that exists to bring about social change via education, to support people who have experienced significant difficulties with drugs or alcohol to participate in society.

Here, she shares her story and why she is embracing sport as a support ecosystem.

“I can and I will” not sure where this quote is from but it’s one my favourite.

Fitness has helped me gain my confidence and become stronger as an individual. I used to have low self esteem, especially when puberty hit. I became really insecure. My hip and legs grew rapidly, from a size 34 jeans to almost size 38. I remembered I measured my hips one time and it was almost 40 inches. I was thinking “Why do I have such a weird body shape and not like those fit looking models in the magazines?”

Cilia Li personal trainer rainmaker foundationFrom the age of 17, I was having an on off relationship with the gym for a few years. I was learning exercises from YouTube. But at 21 years old, I met my boyfriend, a personal trainer, and from then my fitness journey started. When I tried to do my very first pull up, it felt impossible to lift myself up.

Fitness has helped me gain my confidence and become stronger as an individual. When I did my first push up, I was so happy. When I managed to do 5 in a row, I was mentally feeling stronger.  When I did my first chin up, I was getting really competitive with myself; always trying out new challenging exercises.  I was walking with my chin up! My posture just showed confidence.

Because of my fitness journey, I decided to become a personal trainer to help others become a stronger and better version of themselves. I have been a personal trainer for almost 2 years now and teaching circuit classes, and I think that idea of linking it up with giving back to a charity is such a great meaningful idea.

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But I didn’t want to just donate to any charity. On 15th August, I taught my very first charity circuit class at the Rainmaking Loft and I donated all fees to Foundation for Change (FfC). I feel aligned with this charity, as it brings positive change to people via educational courses and supports them to develop greater self-efficacy through self-learning.  One of FfC graduates, Nash Mitchell, came to participate and speak about his journey which helped to emphasise the purpose of that class. Everyone was touched.

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I can really relate to Foundation for Change and I’m glad that I was able to support a charity that helps people establish solid foundations on which to live happier and more meaningful lives.

I had so much fun teaching that class. I had put together a brand new playlist and routine. The music had put everyone on beast mode, working hard to get those washboard abs. At the end of the class everyone was dripping with sweat and huffing and puffing. In return for their hard work, I treated them with some protein ice cream. A special thank you to Rayan Jawad, who donated £100!

Bob Bharij, director of operations at Foundation for Change was touched by Cilia’s efforts, “We were very flattered to be chosen as the charity that Project Washboard would fundraise for, even more so because there was a clear synergy between both our values. At Foundation for Change, we believe that a foundation made up of self-esteem and mental wellbeing is crucial in order to be able to live a happy and meaningful life. Cilia believes the same about physical health. Of course it’s all connected and they all feed into each other. With the donations raised, we were able to buy a much-needed fridge for our premises which, given the state of the old one, is likely to help us stay physically healthy and infection-free!”