Last week, we were lucky enough to be in the presence of not one, not two, but fourteen — yep, FOURTEEN — strong and successful female fitness instagrammers.
The event was a Myprotein collaboration with PowerSoul (@power_soul_) at Rise Cycling Studio in Liverpool (you may have seen it on social media, it was a pretty big deal), and we had the pleasure of getting up close and personal with all these lovely ladies to get an insight into their fitness regimes.
It wasn’t all standing about talking though, oh no — the girls were put through their paces with a gruelling HIIT session, followed by a nutrition talk with a protein snack and shake demo, and then they wound down with yoga to finish. And of course, there were plenty of selfies in between.
Here are some of the highlights of the day, along with a few of their all-important insider tips that’ll hopefully inspire you to either start your own journey, or keep pushing on with the progress you’ve already made.
First Things First, Where Did It All Begin?
As you may have seen from the pictures, it’s quite hard to imagine that there was probably a time when these women didn’t feel totally body-confident and amazing in just a sports bra and leggings (which is our fabulous Ignite set by the way, if you were wondering).
They’d be quick to tell you that it all comes from a lot of hard work, training, and dedication though — and most importantly perhaps, as a result of many different beginnings. It’s kind of reassuring to hear that you don’t have to be born already loving the gym.
For Frankie (@fjsfit), her journey started as a result of taking her own advice — being a newly qualified doctor, she wanted to be able to recommend exercise to patients with the conviction of being fit herself.
“I wanted to try and practice what I was preaching. I started off thinking ‘I should be exercising if I recommend it to my patients’, so I began by just going on lots of runs — I didn’t really enjoy it, I just thought that’s what fitness was. Then I found weights, and it all changed from there”.
It became a way to get stronger and more confident in my body.
In the case of Holly (@fittolift), exercising and weight training was a step towards recovery and a healthier, happier way of life.
“It all began for me about three years ago, I had anorexia quite badly and a personal trainer kind of took me on. It became a way to get stronger and more confident in my body”.
Gemma (@gemma_nicole_stanley), took to competing in bodybuilding after missing the feeling of being in the spotlight.
“I’ve always danced, so had an active background, and when I left uni I felt a bit lost so I went into teaching classes. From there, I got into weight training and competing in bodybuilding because I missed being on stage, and I missed the challenge because I’m such a competitive person. Three years later, here I am doing it as a full-time job, absolutely loving it. And loving how social an industry it is”.
Laura (@laura_rose_fitness) discovered weight training when she joined a society at uni, which gave her confidence to carry on individually too.
“I’ve always been into fitness and exercise, but I really got into weight training at the end of uni when I joined a Strength and Conditioning club. I loved it and ended up competing — it’s addictive, you’re getting stronger and lifting heavier weights. On top of that, I got more confidence to start going to the gym on my own”.
It took me about 6-12 months to start to see proper change in my body, but once it happened that was it.
Now a qualified personal trainer, Sarah (@sarahvictoriafit), first got into fitness in her final year of university too, after discovering the power of weight training to get strength and shape.
“I’ve never been sporty and I hated PE in school, but I’ve always been very naturally slim. People would always comment on how small I was, and I got told constantly how weak and skinny I looked. I started to try and put on weight, which led to training with weights to gain muscle and shape. My boyfriend at the time showed me all these videos of women training with weights — before that I didn’t really realise that to get a specific physique you need to work with weights and eat… a lot”.
Tilly (@tillyhulse_fit) also found fitness at university, as going to the gym became a way to keep herself occupied.
“I did Politics at uni, so I started going to the gym as something to do and to keep me from being bored (I only had 9 contact hours a week). From there, I started to follow more and more fitness accounts on Instagram, which inspired me to start with the weights. It took me about 6-12 months to start to see proper change in my body, but once it happened that was it”.
And for Stephanie (@nuttyfoodiefitness), it seems she accidentally got herself recruited as a personal trainer with no previous experience.
“I really got into fitness about a year and a half ago, and it’s a pretty random story. I was never ‘the sporty one’, but someone just asked me if I could help them get fit, and that same day I signed up to a gym and started personal training her. I trained with her for a few months to help her out, then I realised ‘I love this’, and haven’t stopped since”.
What Does Your Fitness Routine Look Like?
It’s pretty clear that the common denominator of these women’s success is a lot of hard graft, but we wanted to know what that actually meant in terms of their average week. We asked them for a quick idea of their fitness routine (…and then thought for a long time about how Frankie fits it around being a fully qualified doctor).
Frankie: “I try to train about 4 days a week, and because of my busy schedule I do full body every day, focusing on a different compound exercise each day. I can’t do a split because if I don’t make it to training because of a shift change or something, I’d end up neglecting a whole body part”.
Gemma: “Because I’m competing at the moment, I train 4 times a week. I do a push-pull-legs split”.
Laura: “I train 6 days a week — I’m pretty bad at taking rest days. I split it so that I do 2-3 legs a week, then shoulders and triceps, back and biceps, then the other days will be HIIT or abs. I’ll do heavier days and lighter days to give my body a bit of a break”.
Sarah: “My schedule’s all over the place because of family commitments, but I try to workout 3-5 times a week, at least 2 lower-body and 2 upper-body, generally push-pull with abs included into all sessions. Then the other day will be whatever I fancy, or sometimes just recovery and stretching”.
Stephanie: “I train about 4 times a week, before work so at 6 in the morning. I don’t have a specific day for each workout, just whenever my body feels good, I’ll go”.
If You Could Give Someone One Fitness Tip, What Would It Be?
Okay, so by this point we were just completely inspired and in awe of all these powerful fitness figures, and we thought that by extracting a tip from each of them, we might get a head start on our own goals. That’s how it works, right?
Stephanie: “Go hard or go home”.
Holly: “Don’t care about what anybody else is doing”.
Gemma: “Don’t be scared to ask for advice. And believe in yourself”.
I believe excersise is just as much for the mind as the body
Frankie: “Do an exercise style that you enjoy rather than one that your favourite instagrammer is doing”.
Sarah: “Find the exercise for you. I’ve had lots of girls message me like, ‘I’m doing this because I feel like I should be, but I’m not enjoying it’ and I believe that exercise is just as much for the mind as the body. Find that thing that’s gonna make you want to get up in the morning”.
Laura: “Don’t expect results overnight. When I first started I got so disheartened by putting in all the effort and not instantly seeing results. It takes time”.
What’s Your Favourite Supplement?
We got the fitness tip, it’s only right we should follow it up with a nutrition question — what exactly is fuelling these women?
Frankie: “Caffeine! A pre-workout gets me up in the morning”.
Gemma: “BCAAs… because you can make them into ice lollies”.
Laura: “Protein. I really struggle to gain weight, so I have to eat a lot to see a change. I have a shake every single day”.
Sarah: “Pre-workout. I try not to use it that often because I don’t want to rely on it, but when I use it before a session then that’s always my best session of the week”.
What’s Your Snacking Weakness?
Well we. were on the subject of food, and we wanted to check that these girls were still human — everyone has a snacking weakness, right?
Gemma: “Cookies. Any type of cookies. With a cup of tea”.
Sarah: “I love mayonnaise — spicy mayonnaise. I’m so tempted to put it on anything, it could be a really healthy meal and then I’ll just grab the mayo”.
Frankie: “Pizza is my biggest weakness. My favourite snack is toast. If I could eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be toast and butter”.
Steph: “I literally love everything. But mainly anything with peanut butter involved. I’d even put peanut butter in a burger”.
Are You Always Working Towards A Goal?
From the outside, they definitely seem like they have everything together already, but we suspect that these ladies wouldn’t be content with just sitting on their (perfectly formed) behinds for very long. Are they always striving for more?
Steph: “Always, yeah. Right now for example, I really want to be able to do an L-sit into a handstand. I see something and think, ‘yes I need to nail that’”.
Holly: “Yeah, although not necessarily a physique goal. There’s always some motivation to improve yourself in one way or another”.
Gemma: “No. I probably spend 6 months of the year competing, but the rest of the time I just want to be comfortable and happy with myself. And to be able to spend time with family and friends without worrying about macros”.
You shouldn’t get hung up on a specific goal
Laura: “Yeah. Although goals can also make you feel bad if you don’t reach them as quickly as you think you should. You shouldn’t get hung up on a specific goal — you’re only human”.
Sarah: “Yeah, I work towards both short and long term goals. Like ‘I want to drink more water’ as a day-to-day one, and ‘I want to increase my quad size’ as a longer one. I’ve never been massively strict with myself though”.
And Finally, What Do You Say To “Weights Are Just For Men”?
It’s an age-old stereotype that’s firmly being established as #fakenews with each and every day, but still, it does resurface every now and again.
These women are living proof that “weights are just for men” is outdated and just completely untrue — each one of them is an amazing figure of feminine strength, body confidence, and beauty from the inside out (sorry if that’s a bit much, but it had to be said).
But what would they say to either disprove the haters, or encourage a beginner who’s a little less educated about what weight training can do for them?
Frankie: “We don’t have the same hormonal make up as men, so even if we wanted to look like The Hulk it’s very, very difficult for us to do that. Nutrition plays such a big part of it too, you’d have to be eating so much, it would take a lot of well-calculated fuelling. I feel like I wasted a big part of my fitness journey in the beginning worrying about being “bulky”. I did so much HIIT and so many cardio classes to try and be ‘toned’, but that’s not what ‘toned’ is. That’s not how you shape your body”.
Holly: “Females don’t have the testosterone to become bulky. You can burn fat but if you don’t have the muscle underneath you’ll never have the shape or physique you’re looking for”.
Gemma: “You’ve got to think long term as well as short term. Lifting weights is going to make you healthy and strong from the inside out, as well as creating a strong feminine shape. That’s important for me, so that when I’m older I’m healthy and can play with my kids and grandkids”.
And on that final empowering note, we’ll wrap things up. Hopefully you’ve got all inspiration you need to get going with whatever exercise suits you best, and maybe even the confidence to try something new — or heavier…