AS a youngster, Chester entrepreneur Sarah Haswell hated exercise and was always bottom of the class in PE.

But later in life she was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and realised it was this condition that made it hard for her to take part in team sports.

Now 35 she has discovered a new passion for fitness and finds it helps her keep calm and cope with her ADHD.

In fact her transformation has been so impressive that she has just been named the poster girl for Brio Leisure’s summer fitness campaign.

Graphic designer Sarah, who runs a t-shirt printing business, said: “I was chubby, didn’t make friends easily and was always the last one to be picked for team sports. I hated PE and I spent more time trying to avoid exercise lessons than taking part!

“I now feel much more confident as a result of being fitter. People tell me I look well and as someone who has ADHD it also helps me relax mentally.”

Sarah was diagnosed with the condition a year ago and now had a new perspective on her school years.

“I couldn’t keep still in lessons so was often in trouble and struggled with friendship groups,” she said.

“I was a daydreamer and my attention levels were, let’s say, misdirected. I loved creative subjects such as art and design but mention the words team sport and I’d be looking for ways to ‘bunk off’ or forge a sick note.

“I found my school reports the other day and the PE teachers said: 'Sarah lacks any interest and shows no enthusiasm'. I think I had a reputation as a bit of a rebel.”

After school Sarah did a graphic design course at West Cheshire College before signing up to Salford University but the effects of stress and anxiety relating to the then undiagnosed ADHD forced her to drop out after the first term.

“I got a job as a graphic designer at a local newspaper, but then I did go back to university, this time at Leeds, and graduated in computer art,” she added.

“I’ve realised my condition does mean I’m happier when not constrained to specific working hours – which is probably why I felt happier setting up my own business.”

It then took a relationship break-up to force Sarah to conquer her exercise fears.

“My ex-partner and I split up after a long-term relationship so that was the catalyst,” she said. “My local fitness centre was actually on the site of my old school so it did feel a little strange going back inside for my first fitness session. I remember it was a Zumba class … I loved it so much I went back the next day.”

These days Sarah travels to different Brio Leisure sites to take part in her favourite classes.

She said: “I use the centre at Christleton, the Northgate Arena and Ellesmere Port Sports Village. I love lots of different classes – kettlebells, hula hooping and clubbercise are my favourites at the moment and ideally I try and go to Brio four times a week.

“I like the fact that I feel and look healthier and that my well-being has improved. I’m happy and I know that exercise also helps me feel calmer and cope with my ADHD. I sleep better and I’m more productive at work. Even though I’m a late starter when it comes to health and fitness I’m walking proof that you can do it.”