Jennie Turner, 25, is an events co-ordinator and member of Gymbox Covent Garden. She is about to enter her first ever bodybuilding competition, the Stars of Tomorrow, which takes place this Saturday. "I used to eat Chinese or pizza every night, and I did absolutely zero exercise. Then everything changed" she says. Time to be inspired.
How long have you been a member at CG, and what do you like most about it?
Since March. I like the set up, I don't like those gyms that are all on one level and too open. I really like the people there too, both the trainers and the other members. It's got a real friendly, community feel to it.
How much time do you spend training there?
I'm there everyday - most days twice a day, especially since I've been in comp prep.
You have your first bikini/bodybuilding competition coming up, are you excited?
Yes - it's only a few days away now and I can't wait!
What inspired you to embark on this journey?
I wanted a challenge and something to really focus on and work towards. I was training pretty hard already but needed something to really get me to sort out my diet and have a reason for that final push.
Have you always been passionate about fitness, and the body?
No, not at all. I was a bit tubby when I left university and in a relationship where we'd got into the habit of dinner choices being between Chinese or pizza, and I did absolutely zero exercise. I was on a slippery slope. Then everything changed and I moved in with a mate who was just starting to train to become a PT. He decided to make me his guinea pig, and started training me. I used to whinge and moan so much and could barely do anything! I remember saying to him: 'I hate that this will never be done, even once I reach my goal (which at the time was to lose a stone) I'll have to continue to workout just to maintain it.' He looked at me like I was mad, as in why would you ever not want to train... I didn't get it at the time but then one day it just clicked and now training is my first priority.
Do you think bodybuilding can be narcissistic?
Tricky question. Yes and No. Originally it was this thought that put me off competing, I take pride in my appearance but I would hope to never be thought of as vain and I knew that taking part in this sort of competition, when the end goal is solely focused on how you look, would lead some people to think I was vain. However, I've learnt that within the gym environment and those people that are really interested and understand it I don't think that vanity even crosses peoples minds. Everyone is like minded and knows and understands the hard work, dedication and discipline that goes into achieving the end result, that's what people are impressed by, and not solely the way your body looks.
When you look at yourself, what do you see?
I see myself, someone who is strong and powerful and in the best shape they've ever been in. I'm really proud of what I've achieved, so maybe narcissistically,I see that too.
What would you like to see? What are your goals?
I don't really know what I would like to see - I try not to focus on the negatives. I know that I have areas for improvement, for example my glutes need some work, but my main goal is to enjoy what I've worked hard to create and work to maintain and improve it.
What is your drive to win?
From the start I haven't set out to win - my focus has been to feel comfortable walking into a changing room with all the other girls who are competing. I've already got my personal win - competition day is just going to be the icing on the cake!
How have you changed during training with our VPT Anthony Sherdian?
The main thing that has changed since I've been training with Anthony is my focus on technique but also having a targeted and ever changing program. Before when I trained I would pick a random mix of exercises, do them with improper form and never really change the reps or the weights. Anthony pushes me to improve week on week and hence I have got stronger and stronger. Personally and emotional it's also been great. Anthony has quickly become a friend as well as just a trainer which is great as I really look forward to our sessions. He has also been incredibly supportive since I started comp prep, including fielded text messages from me including things like "I'm freaking out about my butt!" and giving me a horribly disappointed look when I confessed to having gorged on spaghetti bolognese and profiteroles!
Are you able to handle such a strict diet and training schedule?
Training is my priority, I don't hit the snooze button in the morning, I get up every day and get my butt to the gym and in the evening I've even put off dates until late just to ensure I can fit my whole session in. It's not been great for my dating life but hey! The diet has been less easy - I have had a few really low days but generally it's OK. I use the Myfitnesspal app and just program in the numbers for calories, carbs, protein and fat that Anthony gives me, and then try and stick to it as closely as possible. With Anthony's flexible dieting plan nothing is technically off limits but you very quickly choose to opt for low calorie veggies over a high calorie chocolate bar.
What do your friends and family think? Are they supportive?
Friends at the gym have been super supportive and really encouraging throughout, pushing me to train harder and sending supportive texts when I'm on my arse drained of energy from too few calories. Other friends have been mixed, some think I'm completely nuts but have been really supportive anyway and a few have been quite negative saying that they don't like how I look - but I've let that wash over me. Their opinion on my body isn't of any significance to me. My family have been amazing - my mum is coming to watch the show and has been telling everyone about it. It took her a while to come around to it and she's now fully behind it and incredibly proud.
What are your plans after the competition?
My first plan is to eat a gingerbread man or three! They're all I have craved throughout this prep period! Then I expect a celebratory drink, although probably only one as given that I haven't had a drink since August I think just one will be enough. Then Monday morning it will be back to training and focused on reverse dieting so that my body can get used to eating like a normal person again without undoing all my hard work. Then onward and upward!
All the best for the competition this Saturday from everyone at Gymbox!