Meet Chloe, a VPT at Gymbox Old Street. She shares with us her amazing story of leaving home at 16, to becoming a British, European and World Powerlifting champion. "As a VPT I am fearless!" she says. "Therefore I teach others to be fearless. Self belief is something I want everyone to have".
Hi Chloe! What were your highlights of 2016?
I was back competing in February 2016 after not doing so well at the GPC British finals in 2015. This time it was to qualify for the GPC Europeans. I was nervous about stepping back onto the platform, but I had so much more to prove, and didn't want to let myself or my team members down. Luckily, the competition went well, and I qualified for the European championships in Finland! I came first place and got best female lifter. I also broke a British record. It was safe to say I was back on track, and had four months to get ready for the Europeans championships.
Impressive! What was it like competing in Rovaniemi, Finland?
It was a roller coaster of a day! However, I came out fighting. I got one squat in of 190kg – which was a new British and European record. I went on to bench 85kg and deadlift 198kg, which was a new British, European and World record for the under 90kg body weight category. All those hours I had put into training was all worth it. Within less then a year of lifting I became a multi-record holder. Later on in the week I competed again for the deadlift only competition in a higher body weight category, and I managed to surprise myself. I pulled a 203kg deadlift out of the bag. I came to Finland to do my best, and lift better then my last competition, but I managed to do better then that and come back with two world records, three European records and three British records.
Amazing work! We're so proud of you. Did these wins put any pressure on you in the months to follow?
When you step onto the platform, so much goes through your head. You never know what's going to happen. Every lift you have done in the gym no longer matters. All that matters is what happens right then, in that moment. I'm very good at putting myself down, because I always want to do better. The mental battle is to tell yourself that you can do it, and that you're a machine. You have to believe it to achieve it! What's the worst that can happen? You fall down, and you get back up and try again.
After Finland you broke more records at women’s only competition in Manchester. Tell us about that.
I competed at a competition called No Dumbbells in July 2016. My body was still recovering from the Europeans, but I wanted to go and give it everything I had. The contest was 14 months after I started my powerlifting journey. I managed to squat 206kg – this is an all-time British record – as well as being a new British and European record. What this meant was that no other female in any other federation or weight category has ever squatted that much. Now I'm looking to do even more! Pre-nerves are always there, but as long as you care about what you do, and want to achieve your goals, they will always be there. It's about how you use those nerves to win.
What goes through your head when you’re mid-contest?
Competition day is a very long day, so you have to keep focussed. I like to do this by listening to music, and thinking about how I can go out and lift better. I try not to watch what other lifters are lifting because this doesn't help me. When I warm up for each lift, I warm up like I'm on the platform. Start as you mean to go on!
What is your diet and training schedule leading up to competitions?
My diet always depends on what weight category I want to compete in. Most the time I have to lose a few kilos, so I would just cycle my carbs, and cut out some foods a few weeks before competition day. You always want to train as close as you can to your competing body weight, so it's not too much of a shock to your body. Training is always full on, right up until the day, but it's also important to make sure you take rest when needed. Most people think being a powerlifter is all about lifting heavy all the time, but it's not. A lot of it is about technique – not about what weight is on the bar.
You struggled with dyslexia as a child, how did sports and fitness help you with this?
As a child I wasn't very academic. I struggled with school and lacked confidence. I couldn't read or write until I was about 9-years-old, and later on I discovered I was dyslexic, which explained a lot. Being in a classroom when you don't understand anything is really hard. Some teachers assume you just don't want to take part. In my case, I was put back academically, and seen as a child that wouldn't go far in life. This continued until I was at secondary school. Then I started taking an interest in fitness and sports and everything changed. I was soon able to have a voice, through becoming more confident, instead of being painfully shy.
Do you think sports and fitness can help other people who are struggling with confidence?
I'm a great believer that sports can help people find their confidence. In team sports you have to learn to work with one another, and trust each other. This may seem like basic skills but for some people, but trust me, they're not! The skills one learns in a sports environment can also help in the work place.
You’ve been independent from the young age of 16, how has this impacted on your ability to succeed?
I've always wanted to prove to myself and others that you can succeed in anything in life, if you work for it. I like to show the world what I can do. Being out in the world on my own from young age has given me the drive I have today – everything happens for a reason. I guess I seek approval from myself, and I won't stop until I'm happy.
You say fitness helps you with anxiety, can you tell us about that?
I was working in retail for a while, and wasn't enjoying it. At the same time I lost a close family member. Due to this, I quit my job and stopped training. I very quickly fell into depression, and suffered with anxiety. I wasn't sure how to get a grip of myself and pull myself back up. I soon came to realise that fitness made me happy, so I decided to go back to the gym. This helped me to come out of my depression, and I soon started taking control of my anxiety. I knew I didn't want to go back into that dark place. I was ready to work again, so I decided to become a personal trainer, so I could help others with depression, anxiety, and weight loss, and to help them know their self worth.
Fantastic. As a Gymbox VPT, what gives you the edge?
As a VPT I am fearless! Therefore, I teach others to be fearless. Self belief is something I want everyone to have. I want all my clients to learn to love themselves for who they are. I can teach you how to lift – and so much more. But it's a journey, and I'm willing to go on a journey with you. Fitness is a way to heal the mind and body, and to rebuild your life in a positive way.