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POPPY'S PEOPLE: From crisis to confidence

POPPY'S PEOPLE: From crisis to confidence

Tuesday 24 May 2022

POPPY'S PEOPLE: From crisis to confidence

Tuesday 24 May 2022

In every year group at school, there is always one person who stands out as oozing confidence and seems to have it all. In my year, that person was Emily Chadwick-Vint. In reality, by judging her book by its cover, we missed the silent battle unfolding in the pages underneath.

With a thriving business, over 21,000 Instagram followers, an impressive travel history and a life as a professional dancer, I had thought that interviewing Emily would be a tick sheet of successes, but as we reconnected, the depth of her journey unfolded.


Pictured: Emily (second in from right) has worked as a professional dancer around the world including in Marrakesh. 

“Everyone thought I was so confident at school, but I was going through such a crisis the entire time,” said Emily.

“I lost my confidence through a series of different events, and I had terrible body dysmorphia.

“I would absolutely cake myself in make-up and backcomb my hair to no end; people thought I was trying to mimic Amy Winehouse, but it was actually my comfort blanket to hide behind.”

Emily recalls being shy as a child but being able to express herself through dance.

“All my earliest memories are of dancing. It has been the love of my life for as long as I can remember,” she said.

“Even though I was incredibly shy as a little girl, I would sit my mum’s friends down to watch me perform because, when I was dancing, I came to life.

“Music and movement were my happy place, and it was an opportunity for me to come out of my shell and express who I was.”


Pictured: Emily has recently finished filming her new programme, "Energy", for the Evolve You female fitness app. 

Emily knew that she wanted to pursue a career in dance.

“I wanted to dance, that was always the plan. I wanted to audition to the top dance colleges, but I was too nervous, and, on top of my nerves, there were people telling me that I would never make it as a professional dancer because of how I looked,” she said.

“I didn’t apply to the top schools, but I went to Surrey University to study dance and culture. I loved to write so the course was a fantastic fusion of dance and writing, but I quickly realised that what I wanted was to be a performer.

“I did an extra year of study at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts to build up my performing experience.”

Emily was still plagued by body dysmorphia.


Pictured: Emily describes herself as a shy child but said she came alive through movement and music. 

“I have a distinct memory of a ballet exam when I was around 21 years old. You had to have your hair slicked back in a bun for the exam, but I did a beehive with a bun underneath.

“My teacher said I couldn’t do that, and I cried my eyes out because I felt that I couldn’t stand on stage without my beehive to hide beneath.

“I eventually slicked my hair back. I felt like I had this huge body with a tiny little head, and I was so caught up in that image that I forgot my dance.

“It still blows my mind that I’m so confident in my body now. I wish that I could go back in time and scoop up that girl and let her know that she didn’t need to be so fearful and that what she had in her mind wasn’t the reality.”

Emily returned to the island after her studies but was determined to travel and continue to pursue dance.

“I researched professional dance courses in New York and I applied to the Broadway Dance Centre without telling anyone, not even my mum.

“I received an email one day saying I had been accepted. I couldn’t believe it. It was an amazing experience. I was meant to stay there for three months but I was there for a year.


Pictured: Emily said her body dysmorphia "melted away" as she grew in confidence through barre classes. 

“I was performing alongside amazing dancers and we’d often have Broadway stars in our dance classes. It was very much in my head that I could dance, I had the energy for it, but that I didn’t look like a dancer, and it really bothered me.”

Emily recalls that her negative body image had such an impact that she would avoid mirrors and battled an constant internal struggle about her appearance.

“I don’t doubt that I was one of many girls who must have felt like that. I don’t want to generalise too much, but the culture of dance and auditioning can be incredibly toxic because the focus is always on what you look like."

It was in New York that Emily first attended a barre exercise class.

“I went to a barre class because it combined the fundamentals of dance with strength training and I thought it would be like dancing.

“I associate the ballet bar with my happy place, so I went in the room and walked straight to the front of the class. A lot of people won’t try barre because they think it will be dancing, but I tried it specifically because I thought it was dancing. I was humbled incredibly quickly.

“I’ve never experienced anything like it, and I was suddenly very conscious that I was at the front of the class.

“The burn you experience in this workout was so intense that I knew it had to be life changing and I knew that if I kept showing up and doing it that I would see incredible results in terms of strength training.”


Pictured: Emily studied and danced for a year in New York, where she discovered her love for barre classes. 

Emily said that she very quickly noticed that barre was different to any other workout she had done before.

“You quickly get lost to the beat of the music. It’s rhythmic, so you don’t have a chance to think.

“It’s about coordination and you’re constantly being challenged and moving your body. It was very meditative. My previous experience with working out in the past was to punish my body, but this was the opposite.”

Emily said barre changed her perception of exercise.

“I grew up watching my mum doing high intensity cardio that she hated and being on diets that were punishing her body. I think a lot of people can relate to that feeling.

“Diet culture is so toxic. We are told to ‘stop eating, shrink yourself’, ‘run until you can’t run any longer’, ‘your sweat is fat crying’. When I hear things like that, I want to scream.


Pictured: Emily said her younger self wouldn't believe "in a million years" that she has become so confident today.

“If you strip away all that toxic stuff, movement has always been an expression of joy and celebration. We have been dancing around firepits since the beginning and movement was to bring us joy but society had taught us otherwise.

“I’m doing my best to shout and scream about this to break the belief that movement is punishment. I really want to make a shift in the thought process so that we go back to seeing movement as a celebration of what our bodies can do.

“It was a real revelation for me taking barre classes in New York. It was fitness but it was also joyful, it was challenging but empowering. I wasn’t punishing myself, I was getting stronger with every pulse and every burn and I felt better about myself and I kept showing up.”

Emily made a commitment to herself to continue with barre when she returned to London.


Pictured: Emily said she wants to motivate women to "find joy in movement, no matter what movement that is for each individual".

“When I was back in London, I continue to audition and I continued to be rejected, but this time those rejections didn’t touch me because I had built up a resilience.

“Auditioning is a horrible life. You queue for seven hours to be seen for less than thirty seconds and by 25 I had had enough. I still auditioned, but I put all my energy into barre.

“I had in-house training and taught barre classes for four years in London while coming back and forth to Guernsey.”

Emily returned to Guernsey in 2020 when the covid pandemic started.

“I thought I was just coming back for two weeks, but I’m still here over two years later.

“Initially, I felt like coming back to Guernsey was a step back because I hadn’t attained my dream job of being a dancer on the West End. I was beside myself that I wasn’t going to dance. Then I chose to look at it as a blessing in disguise.”

Emily started filming home workouts during the lockdown.

“My mum told me that I should post one of my videos online and initially I was reluctant. It was a feeling of ‘who do I think I am?’ to be posting a fitness video, but eventually I posted one and the reaction was so amazing that it became my lockdown project.

“Alongside that, the barre studio I had been working at in London started live-streaming session and they were being viewed by over 800 people each time.


Pictured: Emily was approached by the founder of Evolve You, Krissy Cela, through Instagram. 

“When it came to my turn to do a live-stream, I was so nervous I couldn’t sleep the night before and I was really relying on the performer in me to get me through it.

“I absolutely came alive doing those sessions and they became a weekly thing. When things started to return to normal after covid, the studio stopped doing the live-streams but people would reach out to me and ask for more online content and that when I decided to set up my own business and create an online community.”

Emily said that her motivation was to promote the message that “we aren’t moving to punish ourselves, we’re moving to celebrate our bodies and realise our potential”.

“My community was growing and growing and I loved every second, but it wasn’t sustainable. I had a little moment and asked the universe for help.


Pictured: Emily sad that barre is a "low impact, high intensity" workout and that she "never talks about calories or weight". 

“I said to the universe that I need somebody to recognise what I was doing and give me some help. I need a big name or a business partner who can elevate me or invest.”

Around the same time, fitness influencer Krissy Cela messaged Emily on Instagram.

“I had been following Krissy for a long time and her message was very much the same as mine - that fitness should be joyful and sustainable. It’s not about six-pack abs in six weeks.

“Krissy’s message said that she had been watching my work from the sideline and her team had been seeing what I’ve been doing and she wanted to set up a call because she wanted me to be a new trainer on her fitness app.

“The next thing I knew I had a call with her. Then she flew me to the head office in London for an interview. It was so insane.”

Emily said that she went from sharing her content with a community of 175 members to a global audience of over 175,000 through the Evolve You app.


Pictured: Emily (in red) said that dance has been the love of her life for as long as she can remember.

“I started in December last year and it’s thrown me into this whole new world that I absolutely love.

“I’ve just finished filming my second guide, which will be on the app in July. They’re all home workouts and I never mention calories or weight. I only mention strength.”

Emily said that she is not comfortable with the term “influencer”.

“It might just be my own opinion or something I've projected but, when I think of an influencer, I think of someone who focuses on material things and the superficial and that’s not me at all.

“We live in a society which pins worth on our body and our image and success is pinned on wealth and possessions, but that’s not real life.

“Life is about energy and the people you love. We are such powerful beings, but we put ourselves in traps of what we don’t have and what we aren’t.

“My aim, if I am an influencer, is to influence positive changes in people’s mindset towards fitness and themselves and their bodies and see movement as a celebration of what you’re capable of, because that mindset can unlock so much.


Pictured: Emily said that initially she saw moving back to Guernsey as a "step back", but she is now "loving the island life". 

“I want women to change the way they see fitness and the way they see exercise and start to move from a place of love. If you are moving from a place of guilt or shame then it’s going to be toxic.”

Emily said that her dream is to franchise the method of barre she has created, an adaptation of the original, and have her own studios “dotted around the world”.

“The method of barre I’ve developed is so fun and empowering. It’s high intensity with incredible results that I really believe in.

“It will change your body aesthetically, but what it does for your mind is so powerful because the mental resilience you are building from feeling that kind of burn you feel is incredible. I always say to my clients that if they can get through this, they can get through anything.”

Emily credits her mindset to having been raised by her mother and grandmother, who she describes as “pillars of strength”.

“I am incredibly lucky and so grateful to have been raised by these amazing role models.


Pictured: Emily wants to change the "toxic mindset" of body image and diet culture. 

“My nan was paralysed from the waist down from an operation which went wrong. She was in her 60s and her life changed overnight and her prognosis was not good.

“My mum was pregnant with me at the time and my nan was giving up on life. She didn’t think she’d live to see me born, but I gave her something to live for and she came back to life.

“I grew up seeing my nan restricted physically in a wheelchair, but she was full of life and it was impossible not to be uplifted by her because her wheelchair didn’t define her or restrict her.”

Emily said that her nan was an inspiration for her and a “constant reminder” that she should be grateful for all she can do.

“My nan has been my “why” for as long as I can remember on a very deep level.

“She passed away in 2014, but I still think of the three of us as such an amazing trio and I feel her with me or have signs from her often.

“I owe everything to my mum and my nan. They drilled it into me that I could do anything, and although I didn’t believe it at the time, I trusted them, and it all came good.”


Pictured: Emily believes "we are all so much more than the shells we are contained in" and hopes to empower women through her message. 


Instagram: emily.chadwickvint


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