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Viv Rattigan, 39


Fitness instructor


pounds 13,000+bonus


Tower Bridge, London

How did it all start?

I used to be a secretary. I've always been a sporty person. I was encouraged to become an instructor while I was a secretary - my trainer told me that my aerobics technique was fairly good. I did some research and thought, why not?

So where do you work?

The Club at County Hall in London, which is in the old GLC building opposite the Houses of Parliament. The gym is enormous, the biggest I've ever seen, with more than 80 pieces of equipment. There are six instructors, two females and the rest are fellas and a fitness manager. It's a friendly team. I really like it.

What do you do at work, apart from causing people pain?

Looking after the gym. Writing fitness programmes. I take a couple of classes each week and also have my own client list of about 13 people who are a mixture of abilities, mostly fellas - the youngest are in their late 20s, the oldest their early 40s.

What kind of classes?

I do a Reebok cycle class where everyone is on a cycle machine and we go for an imaginary ride: a ride along a country lane or the Tour de France. Then there is the body pump class, which uses light to medium weights and high repetitions: great for body toning, shaping and strength. This is done to motivating music. Both classes are mixed; a lot of women go to the body pump class. We work in eight-hour shifts. There are a mixture of long and short weeks.

Doesn't it all get a bit tedious, all that sweating and agony?

Not for me, no. It's important for everyone to enjoy it. If it's tedious then something's wrong. We try hard to find things they enjoy and vary the programmes to break up the monotony. We find out that if a client doesn't like a piece of equipment, it might be because they are not using it correctly.

Are you careful with your food?

Yes, if I'm going to teach somebody to be healthy I've got to eat healthily as well. My diet is fairly good: salads, fruit and vegetables plus lots of carbohydrates. Occasionally I let eating lapse but I try to eat balanced meals. Shift work makes this difficult: eating at midnight is not a good idea. Sometimes we are so busy at work that you don't have time to eat.

What do you find stressful about your job?

We are given projects to complete with deadlines. For instance I was put in charge of a organising a photoboard which entails not only getting everyone's picture taken but also ordering the frames and finding out what qualifications everyone has for the blurb underneath. Changes to timetables can take weeks. But the perk of watching someone achieve the results they want is worth it.

Do you live in central London?

Yes, I rent a nice cosy flat near Tower Bridge. I'm doing it up very slowly. It was all white but I've painted the front room peach and warm yellow in the bathroom. I try to make it as cosy and inviting as possible. I do some entertaining but it is difficult to see anyone with my hours. Nine times out of 10 I fall asleep in front of the telly. As for music, when you have listened to it for eight hours at work you don't want to hear any when you get home.

How do you get to work?

I have a car, a blue Escort, but I use public transport to get to work: a bus to Waterloo then a five-minute walk from there. I live on my own through choice. I don't have any pets or anything like that, there's just me.

Do you get good holidays?

We get four weeks a year. If I have a week off I usually just chill out. In the New Year I'm off to New Zealand to see a good friend.

Better start saving, honey

I know, tell me about it. Like everyone I wish I earned a little more money to afford the finer things. In general fitness instructors are paid badly for what they do and know. If someone my age works in an office they'd earn a lot more than I do. But money isn't everything. I love what I do and I'm happy.