From Brookie to Bootcamp – actress Paula wins top fitness instructor award
2 years ago
It’s no surprise fitness instructor Paula Lamb puts her class through their paces to music from stage musicals like Hairspray, or runs Burlesque and Broadway Bootcamps from her Waterloo base, for when she’s not challenging students in her tough training sessions, she can be found treading the boards on stage.
As Paula Frances, she was Diana Corkhill in Brookside, and she continues to work as an actress – she’s appearing at The Brindley Theatre in Runcorn in Desperate Scousewives 2 this month.
But now she’s also topping the bill in the fitness world too, and has just been named North West Community Fitness Instructor 2021.
“And I’m beyond chuffed,” she says. “I’m grateful and so honoured. I never thought a little one-woman band would be even in the running for such an honour.
“But it’s a community award and my classes are not just about the physical, but about the mental and spiritual side too. It’s about providing a space where people feel they belong, where they’re accepted and supported – we are like a family.”
Paula, 52, is well known for her role in Brookside in which he played the troubled and abused wife of PC ‘Rod the Plod’ Corkhill between 1990-1993.
But less well known is her fitness role – which she’s starred in from the age of 12!
“My mum and dad opened a gym, City Health Studio in County Road, Walton, in 1982, and my dad took me there,” she says. “There was a lady who took a fitness class and one night she didn’t turn up and I asked my dad if I could take it. (It was only a 10-minute class).
“He agreed – and members said ‘we love the new girl’!
“My dad gave me a job a couple of nights a week and, at 14, I did a course for aerobics teachers.
“Even through my Brookie years, 1990-1993, I continued to teach fitness and I always have.”
It was after she had children though – Alexandra is 23 and Callum is 21 – that fitness took a more leading role in Paula’s life.
“I decided to take a year off when Alexandra was born and then for Callum,” she explains, “and it ended up being seven. I started working again and did a national tour of The Naked Truth with Lisa Riley which I loved, but I found it unbearable being away from the kids.
“Even though I came home at weekends I hated being away, so I asked to leave the show.”
Paula goes on: “When I was 35 I decided to renew all my qualifications so I went to Liverpool Community College to do dance, aerobics, Pilates and other things, and then I went to university to study Health, Nutrition and Fitness – I got a First Class degree! – and I started bootcamp in Waterloo 12 years ago.”
She runs her company, Corefit, from Old Christ Church in Waterloo, and Paula has built up a capacity 300 clients.
She delivers a range of classes including Boxing to the Beat (which she created) and private training sessions.
During Covid she started online training two days before the official lockdown, having been advised where things were heading (‘I have a lot of teachers and nurses who train with me’): “My husband, Brian, helped me with all the technical stuff but I took to it like a duck to water – as did all my members. I have got my own YouTube channel, and now I do classes online and in person, and it gives everyone options.
“Old Christ Church is so big, I’m able to accommodate 40 people even 2.5 metres apart which is great and I’m delighted to say not one person passed covid on in any of my classes. I’m proud of that, and that we could get back to exercise safely.”
The award has prompted further pride!
“When they said my name I was stunned, there are some amazing instructors, but I feel really privileged…and flattered.
“It is a community award, and we have been – and are – a community, we’re there for each other. It’s hard to ask for help, we all know that, but here we can. We’ve had women who have brought kids up on their own, their marriage has failed, and they meet someone here who is in similar circumstances, and they end up supporting each other and going on holiday together, or they go for drinks together – and that’s what community is all about.
“It’s more than exercise – it’s somewhere safe where people can feel like they belong and are not judged.”
Paula adds: “I still love to act – and do – and I love fitness. But being in class is like being on stage – it’s not everyone who can stand at the front of 50 people and do the class, do exercise – and have fun.
“I get my stage performance hit from that – and my members laugh and say, ‘she thinks she’s not acting’, but it’s great and they indulge me.
“We all have a great time – and that’s what it’s about. We had t-shirts made which said ‘we are stronger together’, because we are. And the award backs all of that up.”
* Paula is appearing at The Brindley Theatre in Runcorn in Desperate Scousewives 2 on November 24 and 25 and you can book tickets here.