In the second week of Gymbox Originals, we want to share the celebrations of Bank VPT Jayne Lo’s win at the UKBFF Kent Klassic. "I feel like I have been an art project over the past 4 months" she says. We meet her.
Hi Jayne, you just came first place at the UKBFF Kent Klassic, tell us about it
Wow… where do I start? The whole journey – preparation for the competition since May, to stepping on stage last week has been an amazing experience! Initially, I decided to compete in bodybuilding because it gave me a purpose to train and a time frame to reach my goal. With anything, a target gives training more structure, which we’re also more likely to stick to. All my clients, friends, family and many members at the gym knew I was working for this competition, which gave me even more motivation to stick to my prep!
I competed in the Bikini Under 163cm class. As it was my first show I had no idea what to expect but that made the day go by quicker which took my mind off the nerves. By not knowing any other competitors, I was also not put off by anyone else because I didn’t actively try to see whom I was up against. Sometimes ignorance is bliss!
Congratulations. How does winning feel?
It feels like all the time, dedication, disciplined lifestyle, physical and emotional stress, pushing myself in every training session and strict diet made the mere 10 minutes on stage worthwhile! Because so many people have followed my journey, seen my physical transformation and noticed the changes in my lifestyle choices and behaviours, I felt like I have done my friends and family proud. I couldn’t be more pleased!
Can you describe the feelings when you were up on the stage?
It’s impossible to put my emotions into words because I was feeling all sorts up on that stage! The nerves didn’t kick in till right before I stepped on stage… but once I was in front of the judges, the nerves went and all I could think of was to focus on smiling and pose like I have never posed before. I felt excited (to finally be doing what I had dreamed to achieve), happy (with the condition I was at and how my prep turned out), relieved (that I had gotten this far), grateful (with everyone who has supported me), and before I knew it being on stage felt so natural and easy!
For those who don’t know, can you explain what a bikini fitness model is?
Every federation have their own expectations of what a bikini fitness athlete should represent. The UKBFF looks for women with a toned body and a healthy physical appearance. They take into consideration a proportionate upper and lower body, as well as hair and make up, tattoos (if any), quality of their tan and overall presentation. The competition is open to all ages, and participants are separated into height categories, usually below 163cm and above 163cm. If there were more women than expected however, there would be a third category, dividing the taller girls into 163cm to 166cm and 166cm and above.
What did you have to sacrifice to get so lean for the competition?
A lot of people assume that getting lean means doing hours of cardio and eating merely veggies and chicken. This wasn’t my case at all. My main sacrifice was eating out like a normal person. I was still going out for meals occasionally, but I had a very limited selection on what I could have (usually a steak and steamed beans or broccoli), and would have to weigh out everything I ate so I could log it to make sure it fit my given macronutrient and calories. So I was very picky with places I could go out for a meal, and had to be adamant on my food options. Any drinks aside from black coffee and tea without milk were also out of the question.
And how did you amend your training?
I spent 4 weeks on a strength programme to put on muscle mass, 8 weeks of hypertrophy, then the final 4 weeks was a mixture of strength and hypertrophy on both lower body and upper body to prevent muscle loss as my weight dropped. I lost 1-1.5lb every week since my prep began at the end of April. I started off just under 60kg and was 50.9kg when I stepped on stage. So doing tons of cardio was out of the question for me. The most I had done throughout the whole prep was 10 minutes of sprints 3 to 4 times a week. Aside from adding cardio to 3 weeks of my regime, other main changes to my training were working on my muscle imbalance, as one of the main things judges look for is a proportioned physique. A lot of bikini competitors over train their lower bodies, and although good glutes and legs get you to the podium, at the end of the day, the girl with the best overall package wins the show.
Was it worth it?
So worth it! I wouldn’t take back any moment of my prep! Over the past 4 months I was just happy every week with the little improvements I was seeing. But at no point did I expect to win at all especially with this being my first show and it was completely outside my comfort zone – being in front of an audience in so little clothing and so much fake tan! It could have gone two ways so I’m glad it all fell into place at the end.
What did you look forward to treating yourself with post-contest?
I wanted to eat EVERYTHING so it was really hard to decide what I wanted first. Since the show, I’ve eaten brownies, entire tubs of Ben and Jerry’s, cocktails, champagne, Brazilian grill buffet, popcorn, entire tubs of nut butter (which may not sound too unhealthy to some but it’s ridiculous in this volume!), whole packets of chocolate rice cakes, chocolate, chips, deep fried bananas, pancakes... my boyfriend even got me an ice cream cake (for 6 portions) to celebrate my win which I ended up having all of by myself in one setting! I’ve also taken this opportunity to eat out and catch up with my friends from home and university. So every day this past week has been a celebration.
Good lord, where did you put it? You’ve been picked by Gymbox as a ‘Gymbox Original’ for your field, how does that feel?
I’m honoured! All of us VPTs at Gymbox are unique in our style of training and obviously come from very different sporting backgrounds. I hope my journey and experience will be an inspiration to other members, instructors and fellow trainers!
What do you love most about Gymbox Bank?
It must be everything I have learnt from the team I work with. I’ve been exposed to such inspirational people and exceptional athletes who have achieved great things in their working and training lives. Every day I learn something new. We’re like a little family at Bank, as we like to train together with others of the same sport. We share a lot of banter whilst still respect each other’s profession, and exchange knowledge across our fields.
In what ways do you think Gymbox as a brand is original?
The Gymbox concept of initially being a boxing-based gym, which slowly developed to accommodate all types of athletes and people of various interests, makes their brand original. Not only is the diverse range of classes exceptional in catering to every individual, it also provides opportunities for those who want to explore new challenges. Gymbox VPT Managers also strive to hire trainers from various backgrounds – at Bank our team comprises of bodybuilders, powerlifters, MMA fighters, CrossFitters, and boxers. Gymbox ensures the gym caters to the uniqueness of every individual that uses the gym.
What made you move into weight training after a love of purely cardio?
I took up weight training initially because I wanted to try something different. Having met so many people training at the gym with different methods of weight training, I was encouraged to try everything. I did some power training for a while, and watching my weights and strength go up every week became a huge accomplishment for me, which motivated me even more to continue weight training. I also noticed that merely weight lifting and the occasional short sprint sessions kept me lean whilst maintaining a curvy womanly figure. So after a while the longer runs I used to do in the park became more of a leisure activity rather than a training session.
How do you feel about your body now?
I feel like I have been an art project over the past 4 months… my body has been a canvas on which I had to display my dedication to dieting and training over time, focusing on improving particular muscular weaknesses to make it more proportional to the rest of my physique. I was in the best shape of my life on that stage, but since then I have gone back to eating like a normal person. Although I am less ‘confident’ about my body now knowing it is not in its best condition, I know I am doing it good by giving it a rest from a strict diet regime.
Even after a win, are there still moments when you feel insecure?
It is funny because even though I deserve to be treating myself and taking time off, having been at my peak physique, I have now put on weight and am no longer as lean as I was on stage and this makes me feel more insecure than ever before!
What confidence has weight training given you?
Weight training is what really changed the shape of my body over the period I’ve been lifting. Because I now know how to alter my physique I also feel more in control of my body image. Rather than being the girl with (far too) muscular quads and ‘potatoes’ as calves growing up as an athlete, people now compliment my calves and quads at the gym. I have learnt to accept that my legs define who I am, and people respect me for that. Weight training has given me the opportunity to explore my body’s full potential – be that strength or aesthetics.
And how can this translate into other areas of your life?
My entire outlook of the physique has changed! I now no longer see a ‘fat’ or ‘skinny’ person. Rather than just looking at a pair of legs, I look out for the imbalances of quads and hamstrings. I worry about the skinny person more than the overweight person because the former thinks they are healthy by starving themselves and eating lettuce leaves three times a day even though they are high in bodyfat despite being very light, whereas at least the overweight person is more likely to be aware that they need to make a lifestyle change.
Read about Jayne’s competition journey here.
Any enquiries about training her at [email protected]