WAKE-UP CALL: Breast cancer survivor Catherine Hayter has lost a significant amount of weight  and now teaches the fitness class she says changed her life, Bokwa.
WAKE-UP CALL: Breast cancer survivor Catherine Hayter has lost a significant amount of weight and now teaches the fitness class she says changed her life, Bokwa. Mike Richards GLA160818SURV

How a dance exercise saved cancer survivor Cathy Hayter

BREAST cancer survivor Catherine Hayter is the fittest and happiest she's ever been and she owes it all to a quirky fitness trend - Bokwa.

Nine years ago, the mother of three from Boyne Island was diagnosed with an aggressive strain of breast cancer but now the 53-year-old has been given a new lease on life.

The Bokwa fitness instructor said her terrifying diagnosis was what led her to discover African-dance based exercises and inspired her to change her life.

Hip shaking and J-saluting, Mrs Hayter has lost 35kg since starting Bokwa and said her oldest participant was 80 years old.

"I came to my first class in 2015 and just fell in love with how different it was from anything I've ever done," she said

"People think cancer is negative and it only brings bad things but cancer was a big wake-up call for me.

"My youngest child was two years old when I found out I had breast cancer. I had to change my life."

The Boyne Island mother said it was an exercise for all shapes and sizes and any fitness level.

"It's hard to convince new people to come and try it because it does sound a bit unusual," Mrs Hayter said.

"But it's not a dance class, it's all cardio with a bit of African music to it.

"My 12-year-old daughter reckons I shouldn't twerk."

Now training to become a personal trainer, Mrs Hayter said she's feeling better than ever.

"Anyone can change their life, it's a mindset and a bit of courage," she said.

"I'm still on medication ... but my oncologist said that the biggest thing for cancer sufferers was to look after your weight.

"Being as healthy as you can is going to give you more chance of survival.

"I love my life now and there are so many new things I want to learn. Bokwa was just one of those things."

Mrs Hayter said even her husband comes to her classes.