I’ve always wanted to be strong and fit, ever since I was little.
I used to watch things like Gladiators and Xena Warrior Princess and I wanted to be like those women.
I started training with weights in my bedroom when I was 12. My sister’s boyfriend used to have some dumbbells at our house, and I nicked them and had them in my bedroom.
I wanted to be strong like Jet from Gladiators, so at school, I did things like shot putt, as well as athletics, hockey, rounders and netball.
As soon as I was old enough to get a gym membership, I did. I used to go in and not really know what to do. I spoke to a few people and picked up a few tips and would watch things on YouTube to learn what to do.
But coming to UP and doing a 12-week transformation has taught me how to train with weights properly and effectively to get results.
The only thing I would change from when I started was that I would have done it a lot sooner. I would have started years ago if I’d have known it was going to be this much fun and I would have felt this good.
Now at 32, I’m stronger and fitter than ever – and it’s down to lifting weights and eating well.
I think so many more women could benefit from this kind of training once that initial fear factor of weights and gyms is broken down.
It’s a good era now for women. We’re doing a lot of stuff and weight training should be one of them.
The best place to start is to get advice from a professional personal trainer. This will show you your starting point.
You know your fitness levels, you know your limits and you don’t have to go in all guns blazing.
There’s one thing I always say – ‘you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great’.
Even if it’s just a 20-minute brisk walk on a treadmill and you’ve not done any exercise for years, that’s a start.
Everyone has different forms and different levels of fitness, I think the thing to do is find something you enjoy, and you’re more likely to stick to it.
The thing I enjoy most is lifting weights. I’ve had friends come along with me and they’re now really enjoying it and getting into it too.
Women shouldn’t worry about lifting heavy weights. I’m now lifting far heavier than when I first started.
I think women think lifting heavy is going to make them big, bulky and muscular, but they haven’t got the testosterone for it.
If you’re adding testosterone supplements in an unnatural way, then, of course, you will get bigger.
But if you’re not, then you won’t. I think women see female bodybuilders and think ‘all they do is lift heavy weights, but there’s a lot more to it than that.’
For me, it’s about lifting as heavy as I can, as natural as I can, and as safely as I can.
Strength is all relative and individual to each of us. That’s why lifting weights that are right for you, safely and properly, is the way to get results.
As soon as your form starts to go, then there’s no point doing it. You’re better off lifting lighter, keeping your form correct and actually feeling the muscle working.
It’s something common with guys – they think it’s competition to lift the heaviest weights and you see them doing it completely wrong and the week after they’re hobbling around injured.
You’ve got to train smart rather than just going heavy.
Training heavy will help you get stronger and challenges the body. But equally, even with a relatively lighter weight where you’re focussing on the muscle, you will get the benefits.
We finished on 3kg dumbbells the other week and someone said to me ‘those aren’t heavy’ in a comment on social media.
It was the end of my session, we went to failure, there was an overload and they really felt heavy to me – my muscles were aching the next day.
This shows that it’s not always about the size of the dumbbell, it’s what you do with it that counts!
It’s form and technique, for me, over weight, every time. You can feel the muscles working properly when you have a weight that’s challenging but not too heavy.
When people go too heavy they end up not working the muscles they want – you see them swinging the weights, bouncing them off the bottom, and they will not be getting the maximum benefit from each rep, but they will also end up injured.
You’ve got to know your limits and know how to push them safely. Stick to your own goal, don’t follow what anyone else is doing in the gym and be tempted to lift way too heavy.
I always try to improve and get stronger in each session. I’m always looking to do better today than I did yesterday.
Whether that’s 1kg heavier, one more rep, less rest time or not feeling as fatigued at the end of the session. Those are the things I take into consideration most when I’m training, and if I achieve any of those things from one session to the next, then I know I’m improving and it’s a good feeling.
It’s not about losing X amount of weight each week. It’s more that I want to be stronger and fitter every day.
Each session I try to do a little bit more. This is what’s called ‘progressive overload’, and it’s something I’ve learned here at UP.
If you’re not progressing in the gym, then you won’t get the results you want.
There have been times when I’ve left UP thinking ‘I could have done a little bit more but I’m so tired’. But then you think ‘no, you’re in the gym for 45 minutes. If you can’t give 100% for 45 minutes, then you’ve not done yourself justice’.
You’ve got to get that mentality in your head.
Make every rep, every set and every session count. That’s how you get results.
My best advice to anyone starting weight lifting is just be patient with yourself. Be consistent and be persistent – it’s not going to happen overnight, you’ve got to build yourself up gradually and keep progressing.
Don’t give up after a week if you don’t see results – it will come. It will happen.
Small gains add up to big changes over the days, weeks and months. Patience, persistence and consistency will pay off. I’m proof of that.
If you’re inspired by Gemma’s journey and want to start your own body transformation, talk to us about our Personal Training Plans or BOOK A CONSULT NOW!