From cigarettes to fitness competitions: Kathy shares her journey

I joined Fernwood Salisbury at the beginning of 2004. A friend who had joined several months earlier had lost weight and was raving about food and nutrition support she’d received, as well as the classes. I’d never been to a gym before, but was around 85 kilograms and not happy with my size. I was a smoker and a regular red wine drinker, loved chocolate and hot chips and gravy … and at the time, I considered my nutrition to be reasonable.

I was immediately comfortable at Fernwood. The member motivators showed me how to use the equipment properly, and my introduction to personal training and my food coaching session got me off to a good start. For the next couple of years I was happy just “doing my own thing” – I’d do 20 minutes of cardio and then some weights. Eventually I decided to give some classes a try, and began noticing that if I didn’t have a cigarette before class I wouldn’t get as out of breath. In 2012 my marriage broke up and my grandmother – who I was very close to – passed away, and I realised that that life is too short to drink and smoke away. I was tired of not feeling healthy and happy within myself, so I really kicked the habit for good and started looking after myself. 

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 A major life crisis can really make you look at yourself and the people around you. I took up personal training at Fernwood and food coaching as I needed a motivator and support network. I was doing up to two one-hour sessions with my trainer a week. I learned a lot about nutrition and what to eat, when and how much. This made a big difference in my weight loss, in combination with personal training.

I started losing weight and gaining muscle. I loved the thought of muscle gain so my goal of losing weight turned into a goal of building muscle and becoming stronger. At the end of 2013, after talking with members at Fernwood, I decided to do my Certificate III in Fitness and then went on to achieve my Certificate IV. I wanted to motivate other women to achieve their fitness goals and offer women support from a trainer who has experienced the highs and lows of weight loss. I started working at Fernwood Salisbury for a couple of months and then secured a position at Fernwood St Agnes as a personal trainer and Grit instructor.

Last year I began talking with another member who competes as a fitness model. I hadn’t been interested in competing before – I didn’t want anyone to judge my body, given the many judgements I previously had when I was overweight – however I needed a new challenge and a new focus. I started to get more curious about competing, and eventually I bit the bullet and completed 20 weeks of competition preparation, which included a strict diet and training resume.

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I competed in September last year in INBA Season B and placed fifth in the Novice Figure Division. I also competed again in ANB a week later Novice Figure Division and the Masters Figure Division, placing second and third respectively. 

I competed with no expectations of placing as I believed that I was a winner just from getting up on stage. I was ecstatic to walk away having placed at my first competitions. During this journey I learned so much about myself and the inner strength and determination to succeed that I possess. I plan on hitting the stage again in March. 

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*Fernwood client testimonial was achieved as part of an overall healthy diet and exercise plan. Regular exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss. Consult your healthcare professional before beginning any diet or fitness program.

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