A fitness instructor is helping others beat the bulge by holding aerobics classes – while tipping the scales at 18-and-a-half STONE.
Charlotte Clarke, 38, once weighed more than 335lbs (23st) and was so heavy that she couldn’t walk up stairs without getting out of breath.
But today Charlotte is making others lose weight in this year’s ultimate fitness craze The Jungle Body – despite being a size 20 with a BMI of 41.4 making her technically obese.
Bubbly Charlotte reckons being fat like her clients makes them feel more comfortable during classes – because she’s not “preachy”.
She now holds one class a week at a studio in Chiswick, west London, and reckons her fellow fat-fighters feel comfortable in her roly poly presence and are more likely to shed the pounds.
Charlotte, from Brentford, west London, said: “When people see me, they don’t expect me to be fit.
“I want people to realise that you can still be overweight and healthy at the same time.
“For a big girl, going to the gym is a nightmare. You’re surrounded by slim girls in Lycra – it can be very demoralising.
“When I started getting fit I would stand at the back of the class so no-one could see my booty and I refused to lift my arms high so no-one would see my bingo wings.
“Some of the moves I simply had to avoid altogether because my fat would get in the way.”
Charlotte, who has not had any children, had her own wake up call when she visited her GP because she had a sky-high blood pressure and was experiencing pains in her joints.
She said: “He told me I was morbidly obese and had to lose weight otherwise I would start to experience even more health problems. That was a real wake-up call.”
Charlotte had ballooned to a massive size 26 by gorging herself on jars of peanut butter and massive portions – often enough to feed an entire family.
Since deciding to become healthy, Charlotte has ditched meat and adopted a balanced, pescetarian diet.
She said: “I ate whatever I felt like, that was the problem.
“Peanut butter on toast with bananas on top was my weakness – and I would skip breakfast, which was naughty.
“I wasn’t a complete pig all day but I would be eat a big dinner and keep snacking throughout the night.
“Portion control for sure was a problem – the size of my dinners just spiralled out of control.”
Single Charlotte managed to shed 4.5 stone using a balance of healthy eating and gym exercise and launched her “Boogieful” classes in October last year.
She teaches The Jungle Body, dance fitness classes that claims to burn up to 700 calories in an hour.
Charlotte, who works in accounts, said: “It’s a lot of fun. It’s like Zumba bit a bit more up to date. We dance around to hip hop and pretend we are Beyonc?.
“I want to help plus size women get fitter and more confident and enjoy the class as part of a healthier lifestyle.”
Charlotte is still losing weight all the time, thanks to her exercise classes and balanced, healthy diet.
She added: “I’ve decided to eat little and often and don’t skip breakfast – I start the day with porridge with blueberries and strawberries.
“Then late morning I have a piece of fruit. For lunch, brown rice and fish. Then I have another snack, a handful of nuts or something.
“Then for my dinner I don’t eat carbs – I stick to fish.
“And I don’t have much peanut butter at all now. But when I have a craving I will just have a spoonful.”