I have always been an active person, I much prefer being out doing things. As with many women, I had body image issues and a low sense of self-esteem as a teenager and into my early twenties.
At age 16 I began training in the local community centre gym. Although I have never carried overly excessive body weight, I always thought I was larger than I am which has played havoc with my self-esteem at times.
In my early twenties I began working in the leisure industry full-time and I started training in the gym with the boys lifting free-weights. I really enjoyed lifting weights. Despite many women’s thoughts on weight training, I think it is really good for your body tone and metabolism. Also, since we don’t have an overabundance of testosterone, we women will never grow super human big muscles without taking extra supplements!
After dealing with different life issues that we in life get thrown our way, I hit a low point and found myself in a destructive relationship. It wasn’t until the end of the relationship I released that it was because I had such low self-esteem at that point in time that I let myself get treated negatively for so long.
In November 2015 I came across a particular form of functional training. The style of training incorporates weight lifting, gymnastics/callisthenics and metabolic conditioning (cardio). There is also an element of competitiveness to the sport and there are many functional fitness competitions around in which to compete. Through learning mental toughness in the sport due to the difficulty of some of the metabolic conditioning workouts, my self-esteem started to grow strong.
I had been doing this training for about 7 months when a friend begged me to take her place in a large outdoors pairs functional fitness competition. I took the opportunity despite being new to the sport. To my surprise my training partner and I finished the masters category in 5th place!
However, I was still at a point where my self-esteem was in its infancy of redeveloping and certain behaviours of mine leading up to the event meant I felt I let my training partner down on the day.
We both enjoyed the competition a lot and singed up immediately for the 2017 event. I made it my mission to ensure I put my partner on the podium in 2017. I had my eyes on one goal and I decided to train hard to get what I wanted.
On the day of the event I decided that I wanted to go out, have fun and just give my all in every event and then see where that would leave us. I believe that you can only give what you can give. Even though competitions are a situation where you are pitted against others, the only thing you can worry about is you and your own game. You can’t watch others and worry about what they are doing. If you give your all, that’s all you can do. If you have trained hard and put in the work, you never know where it might lead you. I think this ethos also applies to life in general and not just training.
I didn’t want to know where we were on the leader board all day. I just went into each event to have fun and work hard. To my surprise, at the end of the day I discovered we were the only female team to have top 3 finishes in all 5 events, with two 3rd place finishes, one 2nd place tied finish and two outright 2nd place finishes. We came 1st place in the female masters category!
I cannot tell you what an achievement this was for me. Not only was it a display of my fitness journey to that point in time, but it was also a huge personal journey of self-esteem and self-discovery. I think this is one of the proudest moments of my life so far due to the hard work in and out of training that I had put in.
From this event I went on in 2017 to have 2 more podium finishes in team competitions, both 2nd place finishes. I narrowly missed out on a podium place in my second individual competition, at which I came 1st in 3 out of the 5 workouts. I also ran my first obstacle course race and my first half marathon! Anyone who knows me knows that I do not classify myself as a runner. My friends had trouble convincing me to go along to a regular 5km run with them and before I knew it, I was signed up to run half a marathon! I am now teaching myself to run and am embarking on a journey to learn more about running through UK Athletics.
2017 was one of the most amazing years of my life and a huge part of that I owe to my training.
If there is any advice I can give to anyone reading this it is if you want it, go get it!