Jel Bearder

Today we interview Jel Bearder, who served within 3rd Regiment royal Horse Artillery and is now a fitness instructor at British Military Fitness. The guys at BMF are all ex or serving members of the Armed Forces and deliver their military fitness classes with high energy, professionalism and motivation – Jel embodies these values through and through… He has worked in the fitness industry for the last 10 years with a real passion for people, the great outdoors and adventure. Here is his story...

Who inspired you to do what you do?

Initially it was my Uncle “Danny” who was a member of the Queens Regiment and I went with my mum to see his passing out parade when I was about 3 years old. I was always going to join the army from that day forward.

People like Kriss Akabusi, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dame Kelly Holmes. All ex Military and are absolute legends for pushing their personal limits to extremes and achieving success that has made them household names.

What have been the biggest obstacles you have encountered?

Initially I was homeless as I’d literally only just left the family home. I wasn’t financially able and didn’t know how to get qualified to instruct. Luckily, I got in touch with the Royal British Legion after being turned down by my local charitable trust as I had no fixed abode. They covered all the cost of my first two qualifications and transportation and accommodation at the venue in Cardiff.

Biggest triumphs?

In life, just becoming a part of Her Majesty’s Forces made me a very proud young man as it was the only thing I’d ever wanted to do. Winning the Junior Army Athletics Discus competition was a very proud moment. Also last year I was honoured to receive the volunteer of the year award from a charity that I’ve supported called Worldwide Action. Helping children around the Globe to “survive and thrive”.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Don’t take things for granted, one day you might think you have everything and the next it can be gone. Work hard but don’t forget to enjoy what you’re doing. Believe in what you do.

What scares you and how do you deal with fear?

I’ve got a healthy fear of height and water, being aware that if you stay under you’ll drown or if you fall off, you’ll hit the floor hard. So I’ve trained as a raft guide at Lee Valley White Water Centre (Olympic Course) and taken groups to ride the rapids on some amazing rivers in Nepal where they are some of the biggest volume rapids in the world. Also trekking in the foothills of the Himalayas... You could say I face my fears head on.

Don’t take things for granted, one day you might think you have everything and the next it can be gone. Work hard but don’t forget to enjoy what you’re doing. Believe in what you do.

Why is getting outdoors and keeping fit so important?

Today’s workplace environment is very sedentary being either stuck in an office behind a computer or just inside a building. Getting out in the fresh air and working out helps clear your mind, relieves stress and gives you an escape. It’s fun.

Which is your most unforgettable challenge and why?

I think going to Nepal in October 2015 to build a classroom in a remote and mountainous region is an experience I’ll never forget. We went to help the people there recover from the two massive earthquakes earlier that year. A few of us knew each other but essentially it was a group of 8 guys getting together who hadn’t met everyone else before and building a classroom in five days using soil filled bags.

The guys I met there have made a big mark on my life but the people there were so grateful they threw a celebration and the pride it gave us all has made a massive impact on me.

Who has been an unsung hero in your life?

Graeme Howell, an instructor/friend who got me involved in the project above. When he left the UK to travel to the Far East in 2015, little did he know when the first Earthquake struck he would be setting up a charity, he’d have built classrooms in Nepal, Uganda and Malawi. If you meet him you’ll know he’s a very serious and professional person, he personally really believes in the charity and does without fail go the extra mile to ensure all the fundraising goes to the projects. He went to the Kathmandu after the first earthquake and found himself in a coffee shop surrounded by 5/6 storey buildings when the second quake hit. He used social media to gain support and funding from friends and members of BMF to support the people there. He brought sanitary products for families, medical supplies and treatment for injured people, water purification supplies for those who needed and sought out projects to really make a difference to people who could not be reached by the larger charities. He’s a real hero who put himself in the middle of a disaster and made a difference.