Natalie Prudence is Dance Coach at Elite Dance Studios. Now an experienced and talented coach, Natalie had her own battles to fight before she could help others.

I became involved in coaching back in 2007 to help make a difference to children and young people, especially those who are unable to access sport through traditional means. This has since developed to training in various areas of learning and physical disabilities, and towards catering for those from chaotic lifestyles and disadvantaged backgrounds. Having overcome an addiction myself, being able to use this experience to provide for others has provided a positive outcome for me as well.

The main barrier faced was the financial costs involved with the training. To overcome this, I worked additional hours as an assistant coach, as well as in a boarding school covering various positions, and childminding for 2 families who would provide towards tuition costs in return for looking after their children.

Becoming a coach, and developing my training over the last 11 years has given me the opportunity to improve my own quality of life, broadening my horizons and being able to really feel how it feels to make a difference in the lives of others. The enjoyment for me is seeing the positive impact that it has on the lives of others, and being able to pass on the passion for the sports I coach them in.

Having been in recovery for an addiction when I began my coaching qualifications, the impact was felt from the very beginning. Dance especially became an emotional release, with fitness providing the physical release. With this, the addiction truly took a backseat as sport took its place. As the coaching grew over time, my mental health strengthened, I took more and more of a positive outlook on life and was able to fully put the past behind me. Seeing the joy and excitement on the faces of those I’ve coached over the years as they’ve accomplished their goals has added to this, my confidence in, and enjoyment of, coaching growing daily.

Through the coaching and sessions provided, children and young people with a variety of mental, physical and learning difficulties take part. There are a number of young people that I coach who have concerns or mental health problems of their own. The work that is done through these sessions enables these young people to have a space where they can go, with someone they can trust.

Over the last 4 years, I have begun a teacher training program in Dance, in conjunction with our Examining Board – The Associated Board of Dance and the Board of Dance Qualifications and Training in which those students who show a passion for the sport are able to gain a qualification for free, removing the financial barriers. I also run a volunteering program in which volunteers are those in rehabilitation for various reasons, usually addiction or ex-offenders, or those who are classed as at risk of offending or addiction. This program gives volunteers the opportunity to gain both work experience and training at no cost.

Being a coach isn’t just work, it’s a lifestyle, and it’s the best, most rewarding job you could have. Through becoming a coach, the experiences I’ve had, the training and opportunities that have become available, and the people I’ve met, coached and worked with are second to none.