From Personal Experience

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It’s funny how things turn out.

But the story of how I started in professional figure competitions is one I’m sure many people will find familiar.

From a young age I loved competing.  At school I loved netball and cross country but my favourite sport of all was gymnastics.  I would watch gymnastics on TV and be totally enthralled. I thought the skill and strength involved was amazing and I would have given anything to train and compete as a gymnast.  Unfortunately I did not get the opportunity as a child but the appeal never faded.

Cut to a few years later and I was married, working full time and along came our two beautiful girls – now 19 and 14.  Following the birth of our second child I was at my heaviest and I have say, I was miserable!  I remember wearing a skirt I had bought from Matalan which was three sizes bigger than ever before and feeling totally devastated! At 5’3” I’m quite small, so had always been a size 8 or 10 even after the birth of my first child but like most women, I gained more weight with the second pregnancy.

I remember thinking to myself, that’s it….I’m a frumpy mummy…

…as I looked down at my tummy which resembled something like tripe! After a while of feeling really down about my appearance, I just knew I had to pick myself up and get back in the gym.  The gym for me was a place I had previously felt really confident in, but returning after my second child was like walking into a nightmare.  I had lost my confidence, I felt unfit and damn bloody tired.

Thankfully, with a new routine it wasn’t long before I got back in control.

My gym time became my time. It was a break from daily chores and a place I could switch off and just be me, not ‘mum’.   I loved my training and soon began to see changes and that made me want more.  To my surprise my body had started to look even better than my pre-pregnancy body and this spurred me on even further…I guess that desire to compete as a child in gymnastics never left me and this was my chance to see what I could do.

Figure competitions are a specific type of Body Building – but before you jump to the stereotypical idea of what that means, let me simply say it’s an art form.  It’s all about training the body for shape and symmetry and being extremely lean.

Jen gymnastic routine


Taking on a gymnastic routine…

I was never going to be a successful gymnast starting as an adult so the figure competitions were the next best thing.

I regularly achieved just what the judges were looking for and I’m really proud of my achievements winning many British titles, a World title and I competed as a pro figure athlete with the DFAC.

My final competition was in 2012.  I decided to challenge myself by competing in the fitness category.  This involved a gymnastic style routine, 50% points based on shape and symmetry and 50% points were based on the routine.   This was a massive challenge for me and a risky one at that!  I have many titles and I’m very well known within the industry but I was totally out of my comfort zone.  I don’t mind admitting it now but I was scared to death!

Whatever the outcome, I was determined not to be beaten by my nerves.  At the age of 40 I trained hard to fit the criteria and took up gymnastics 3 x per week for a whole year.  Of course it takes years and years to be an amazing gymnast and I most certainly wasn’t that, but I learned enough skills to win the title of UKBFF British Fitness Champion.

Finally I got to compete with a gymnastic routine and winning this category meant more to me than any of the other competitions I had previously won.  I ended my competitive career on a good note and I feel happy that I kind of fulfilled my childhood dream at the age of 40!

My passion now is to help others feel good about themselves – and for most of the women it’s about being the best version of themselves.

Most want to look great in that special outfit, or a bikini for the beach.  Being able to help with such an empowering activity is a privilege – and I’m really hoping that my new little project, the Tuffit, will bring this feeling of empowerment to a much wider audience.

Let me know what inspired you to take on a big challenge – I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Jen xx

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