I’m Ellie, 33, from Ardleigh. By day, I’m a Training Manager, but when I’m not training others, I’m busy training myself! I started powerlifting about 18 months ago, after joining Hamilton’s Strength Gym in Colchester. My personal trainer, Tiffany, is a highly decorated powerlifter – and infectiously enthusiastic – so it wasn’t long before my interest had been piqued!
I didn’t always plan to be a powerlifter. After years of trying to diet and exercise on my own, I decided it was time to seek help. I’d experienced “cookie cutter” personal trainers before, and was reluctant to join any kind of gym – let alone a strength gym! But when I arrived for my induction, I instantly realised that this would be different. At Hamilton’s, strength isn’t seen as a discipline for just powerhouses and muscle heads: Regardless of age, gender, shape or ability, everyone is welcome, and made to feel part of the family. Feeling a part of something was one of the most important steps at the start of my journey.
For a while, I was resistant to strength training. Like a lot of women, I was scared of becoming a hulk! Months on, and now a qualified personal trainer myself, I have a better understanding of how the body works, and I’m keen to enlighten other women that muscles are not something to be afraid of. Still, my background had always been running, and I had developed my own “tunnel vision”, that cardio was the only true fat-burner. But I realised that I needed to open my mind to other possibilities. And it truly has been life-changing.
My journey, which has seen my confidence improve tenfold, has opened up so many new doors for me. I have completed several mucky races (having overcome my fear of climbing), I’ve started to learn boxing, and I have completed my first half-marathon: testament to the fact that you can combine cardio and strength training! I used to think that physical activity had one benefit – weight loss. But the true reach is astounding. Physical activity is important for a sense of achievement; for overcoming personal challenges; for supporting others and widening friendships; for improving self-confidence and for broadening horizons. Being part of the Colchester Powerlifting Club has opened up a network of amazing men and women, who are rooting for me as much as I am rooting for them – and that feels pretty incredible!
Every day is different. You may achieve a new Personal Best, or perhaps the biggest achievement is just getting off the sofa and doing something active. No journey is linear, and one of the biggest challenges we face as women is finding the motivation to keep going amidst image and confidence issues. I’m excited to see what my active future has in store for me. This Girl Can really opened my eyes to the other amazing women around me, who are refusing to let gender bar their way to achieving their goals. Broadly, the campaign has made me realise that there are no limits, and that you don’t have to be a particular shape or size to be awesome. In my own circle, if I can help even a few women to feel confident and empowered, and to love being active, I will feel proud to have played my part.