A FITNESS instructor wants to help women like his mother after she ignored symptoms of a cancer so she could work.

Kamil Szczepański, a personal trainer (PT) at Didcot’s PureGym, was inspired to take on his role after watching his single mother ‘lose herself’ while raising him and his sister in Poland.

The 36-year-old said his mother, who sadly died from cancer, ignored ‘aches and pains’ in order to take on more shifts at work.

Now, he has designated his career towards helping working women and mothers in similar situations to lead healthier lives with a better focus on maintaining their mental health’s.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Szczepański, who lives in Didcot, said: “My work is for people like my mum because it got to the stage where she was ignoring herself and ignoring sickness symptoms.

“So I want to help other woman who are in similar situations when they are at that stage in life where things change, when they become mums, girlfriends, wives, they get new careers, and they identify with those new passions.

“They take the new identify but they are not themselves anymore and they forget who they are. The don’t do things for themselves to maintain their mental health. As well as fitness I like to encourage them to do things for themselves.”

Oxford Mail:

Mr Szczepański grew up in Poland and became a carpenter before moving to Oxford in 2013 where he worked at the Mini factory.

“All the problems with my mum was when I was a toddler at three-years-old,” said Mr Szczepański. “At that time in Poland, inflation was sky high, even higher than in the UK now - it was crazy.

“My mum was a single working mum with two children that she had to feed. She worked day shifts, night shifts, 12 hours nonstop and was lost herself in the process.

“She really sacrificed all her energy, everything to provide for me and my sister as much as possible.

“The times were hard even with her efforts, it was tough. We used to keep warm by collecting coal by the train tracks.

Oxford Mail:

“We didn’t really have hot water as the pipes were rubbish where we were living but my mum couldn’t afford anything else.

“We used to boil water in a pot and then put that in the bath with cold water. Most of my closet were gifts from friends so it was all very random.

“But my mum was working hard. I know how bad it sounds but that’s how it was. I saw all of that and how it made my mum crash and she was depressed and she never took care of herself.”

The PT said his mother had started to ignore signs of sickness as she didn’t want to miss a day of work and described how she didn’t have much help from anyone else.

It was discovered she was suffering from cancer and sadly passed away in later life.

Mr Szczepański then developed a chronic illness himself in later life - a form of arthiritis. 

In attempts to get ahead of his illness and live a healthier life, Mr Szczepański started researching fitness and health and eventually lost about three stone in weight.

Oxford Mail:

He said: “It impacted me into my 20s where I was bedbound, and I had to crawl to the toilet as my legs were not working.

“I was depressed at the time – I was taking drugs and drinking. So I started to look into fitness and how food can impact your mood and I noticed how much I changed.

“I lost about three stone and my health has never been better. Obviously it’ll never go away, my illness, but all of that helped me so much and my mum had suffered so much so I thought how about I apply this to other people who are like my mum, who are like me, who are going through a hard time.”

Mr Szczepański then started working part time as a PT and earning his fitness and nutrition qualifications from 2017.

He eventually left his role at the Mini factory and became a full-time instructor at the PureGym in Didcot when it first opened in November 2019.

“I knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life,” he said. “I was studying nutrition and different health conditions like backache, anxiety and depression.

“This is the kind of job where you never stop learning, we keep extending our knowledge for our clients.

“But I like how much food and exercise impacts our mental health – I’m not really interested in making people body builders.

“I like to check people into having a healthy life and a happy life. It’s not a quick fix it’s a change for life.”

Oxford Mail:

Mr Szczepański has now developed a new programme to help women who want to get into shape and get stronger.

The programme is remote or can be worked on in person with clients based in or near the Didcot area. The PT also works with male clients who want to change their lifestyles.

“People always say they want to lose weight or get stronger but I always feel like there is something under that.

“People want to get stronger to build confidence, to lose weight so they can love themselves.

“So this programme should be called, ‘For women to build confidence and to love themselves’ but that is too long of a name.”

To contact Mr Szczepański, email personaltrainerkamil@gmail.com


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Abingdon, Didcot, Wallingford and Wantage.

Get in touch with her by emailing: gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @geeharland