Rachel's Story

In Pursuit of a Purpose ...

From 'Outdoorsy' to Gym


I have never identified myself as sporty or a particular lover of exercise; instead I would say I was ‘outdoorsy’ and definitely adventurous. I adore climbing and during one climbing session I was introduced to the idea of having a personal trainer in preparation for a Welsh 3000’s challenge.
So begins my tale of how I started lifting heavy weights and putting them down again.

Starting Personal Training

Roughly 4 year ago I started having personal training with Joe 3 times a week and without his humour, support and expertise I would never have maintained my gym membership, never mind my personal training sessions. Joe managed to keep me entertained and every session varied to appease my boredom. I say this with experience of having had ... ahem ... several gym memberships that weren’t utilised after a few short months, and only sporadically before that.

Training for Mt Kilimanjaro

Now just because I was going to a gym hadn’t meant I’d lost my sense of adventure and I had a little trek planned to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in August 2011. As the route planned was going to take 8 days I was increasing my cardio and had started running. I didn’t like running on a treadmill but I did enjoy sprint interval training, unfortunately, it didn’t like me! It started with my knees and ended with my right hip giving up, totally and unequivocally not playing anymore. New plan of attack was for Joe to get me moving well enough to get up and down Kili and deal with the consequences after. I think I still have some of the bruises from the number of sports massages I had. My poor poor quads hated me! (They hated Joe more.)

Sports Rehab 

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was epic, I loved it and when I came back my main concern was getting to be able to walk without hip pain. More sports massages followed to loosen my quads as they were taking over every exercise and not allowing my glutes to do anything. No matter what we tried my bum was just not having it and was basically being beaten up by my quads. Then the realisation I needed physio. It turns out I have dodgy (read ‘flat’) feet and ultimately this was altering the alignment of my joints. With Pete’s physio / rehabilitation sessions and me following his instructions on my own, I was at Aspire three / four times a week. The amount of activation work I did on my glutes and the amount of time I spent bent over various machines concentrating on specific muscles in my bum doesn’t need detailing. It was mind numbingly boring. I hated it. But it worked. Fast forward about a year and I was still at it learning every exercise all over again.

Moving Forward

I spent lots of time learning about form and being body aware and towards the end of my ‘rehab’ sessions with Pete, he asked me to try out some heavy deadlifting. That first day I deadlifted 105kg for one rep and I think that was the first time in my life I have ever felt like I had any strength. Pete asked me if I fancied focusing on some power lifting training; and despite the fact that I had always detested training sessions that were similar in the same month, never mind EVERY session in a week, it clicked and all made sense.

Powerlifting is my focus

The only thing that had changed was that there was a point to the training and a purpose. I never knew that it was a purpose that I was seeking and had always thought of the gym as a complement to my outdoor hobbies and work, but bizarrely it has now flipped and my power lifting training is now my focus and it complements my climbing, hiking and cycling. So much so, I’ve entered a power lifting competition. Regardless of what happens on Saturday, somehow, by means of serendipity or dodgy genetics or maybe just timing I have found something that makes me happy when I do it and it makes sense to surround yourself with the things in your life that make you smile.
Hope you all find the thing in the gym that makes you happy too!!
Rach :-)