WOMENS FITNESS CHAMPION – The road to the Arnolds – Coach Leigh Purcell

A little over 3 months ago I made the big move from the UK back to South Africa. A combination of reasons not least of all being the weather and lifestyle!  I have been competing in the UK since 2004 in the women’s fitness class and in that time have met some of the bodybuilding and fitness industry icons, made some amazing friends and connected with a vast number of fitness professionals.  I got to know not only competitors, but also the officials and people involved in the bodybuilding shows.  Because of this I was totally comfortable and at home when competing – more like a massive social occasion catching up with people!!  One of my priorities with my move, was to compete and get my face and name known in the industry in South Africa.

Less than 5 weeks after arriving, and only 2 days after my furniture arrived, I did my first show.  Battle of The Titans is an IFBB show held in Cape Town and open to anyone in South Africa. I certainly wasn’t at my best, but it was the best I could do given the circumstances.  What a nerve wracking experience!!  I felt like a complete newbie – hardly knew anyone, didn’t know the venue or the judges. Even the format was different – registration the night before (a fantastic idea I might add!!!) and then pre judging in the morning with both routine and quarter turn rounds and then several hours break before the evening show where I had to do my routine again.  I have never had to do my routine twice in a day and it took its toll which I will go into later.  For those who don’t know, the fitness class includes a gymnastic/dance based routine featuring elements of strength, balance and flexibility.  Tough enough on a normal day, but dieted down and dehydrated it is hard!

I won the Women’s fitness class but in the evening show I cramped badly and tore my gastrocnemius (calf) during my routine and although I somehow finished my routine, adrenaline I guess, I was basically carried off stage after the prize giving.  I believe one of the main reasons this happened other than doing the routine twice, was changes to my usual supplementation.  One of the big things with moving countries or continents is finding similar products that work as well as the ones you are used to.  I’m very prone to cramp and in the UK, I always used multi minerals from Holland & Barrett and they worked wonders.  I am now trying a 3rd brand of multi minerals over here and they seem to be working.

On the plus side and knowing I had only just moved over, the IFBB were impressed enough to select me for the South African team to go to the Arnold Classic in Madrid in September this year – a huge honour and incredibly exciting!  Not only do I get to compete at this prestigious event, but I get a few days in the UK before hand to catch up with friends and the other guys from LCF who have been amazingly supportive – especially Dan and Darren who have not only looked after my prep, but dealt with my moods and the emotional roller coaster brought on by a combination of diet and missing everyone from the UK! In the meantime, I’ve done another show, the Western Province championships (WP is a regional qualifier) and after walking away with the title here as well, was selected for the Western Province team for the South African championships 2 weeks before Arnolds!  This prep went better and I think I have now resolved the issues of getting supplements that work well for me.  I’ve also now got myself a training partner who not only trains like me, but is also prepping.  We did WP Champs together and he won the super heavyweight division, so we are now both prepping for SA’s.

For me, this experience has reinforced just how important looking after your body is that and giving it the right vitamins, minerals and nutrients can make a huge difference to performance.  Don’t be afraid to try different brands – not all products are equal and you may get better results from a different combination.  Also, never underestimate the power of a good training partner!  Those days where you struggle for motivation or energy, they push you and you end up pushing yourself because you don’t want to let them down.  When the diet is messing with your head and you’re having a “fat” day, they are there to give you an objective opinion and usually reassure you that it’s all in your head!!

Even after over 10 years of competing, I still go through the same insecurities and seeing things that aren’t there.  As I write this, I am just under 2 weeks out from SA’s and can feel the anxiety creeping up that I’m not going to be ready, that I haven’t got enough time to lose the weight and the water, wishing I hadn’t had that little slip-up a few weeks ago even though my logical side says it probably helped boost my metabolism.  The last 2 weeks are not just the toughest physically, but also mentally. Although, my last few workouts are probably the most intense of my whole prep as I frantically try to get as much out of them as humanly possible!

Normally we can look forward to a nice cheat and a bit of relaxation regarding the diet after a show, but I have 12 days from SA’s until the pre-judging at Arnolds, so it will be straight back onto the diet.  On top of that, at SA’s they will be choosing a team to attend the first ever Africa Amateur Olympia which is being held a month after Arnolds.  Staying on contest diet for another 2 months will be tough if I am selected, but what an honour it would be to be able to compete at such a prestigious event!


Watch this space…..

Find how more about how you can be coached by the Champion herself, Leigh Purcell, through the Life Changing Fitness coaching plans. Click the below image to find out more and ask for Leigh when you make contact.

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