"I had all those common misconceptions about lifting weights, I didn’t want to get big or look like a man, but I gave it a go. "
I’m a 40-year-old woman, wife of 18 years with two gorgeous teenagers. I started going to the gym about 3 years ago on a doctor’s referral due to some unexplained hip pain.
I was then about 3 stone over weight. I started where most people do only doing cardio and lifting little dumbbells, and never went into the free weights room (because it smelt of sweat and farts!).
After about 12 months I had lost most of the weight and got rid of the pains but, like most women, I wanted more.
Then, I met Callum, a competitive powerlifter and personal trainer who told me that by the end of the year, not only would I be stronger, but I would have competed at least once. This scared and excited me in equal measure.
I had all those common misconceptions about lifting weights, I didn’t want to get big or look like a man, but I gave it a go.
In powerlifting you compete in 3 disciplines Squat, Bench and Deadlift. My Squat weight at the start was a dodgy 60kg, bench 25kg and I had never deadlifted but the best I could do was 70kg. With hours and hours of technique work, the weight I was lifting started to increase.
Soon I became one of a few girls in the free weights room and I realised it’s not such a scary place after all! (And you get used to the smell!)
Like most people, some days I find it difficult to motivate myself to go to the gym, but my will power and determination is a stronger force than the tiredness and aching which I feel.
Being a wife and a mum has made it sometimes challenging to fit sessions in to a very busy schedule but thankfully there is always a compromise – even if that means they all hijack my sessions.
While I’m definitely not finished on my lifting journey, I think it’s important to acknowledge how far I’ve come with the help and support of, not only my family, but Callum too. I have competed six times in two years, including a national competition.
And the best thing? I’m not doing it on my own! There is a team of lifters who are competing too. An army of girls who are proud to be strong women and show that strength is not just functional but sexy too.
CJB Strong stands for being different, but a good different, proving that not everyone has to conform to a stereotype. No matter your shape, size or ability you can achieve anything with the right people around you. Don’t limit yourself with what you think you can’t do, get in the gym and prove yourself wrong!
If you’ve been inspired by Helen’s story, find out how to get started with weightlifting.