My Training Journey
My name is Zoe Neirinck and I am a member of the team in the Gym at Maryborough as a Fitness Instructor. My daily work would include facilitating classes such as Spinning, body tone, aqua exercise to name but a few. A big part of my day is supporting our members with their personal training sessions. I work closely with our members designing specific programme to meet their individual needs and help them reach their unique goals and targets.
I have been working with the Gym team for almost a year and during this time I have grown and developed skills which in turn helps me benefit our members. The team of staff are always supportive and make work a very nice experience.
I have always been interested in fitness and for many years chipped away at various gyms doing various classes but never had a specific aim, apart from keeping generally fit. As with many people I was a firm believer that cardio was the way forward and it was all about how much I could sweat which defined how hard I worked but realistically my weight and my body shape didn’t change that much during this time.
About 3 years ago I changed gym again after having a conversation with a friend and I said I’d try it out. Since then my fitness journey changed and so did I. Then aged 42, and a mum of 3 girls, I started to lift weights. Weight training and very specific training programmes soon became a way of life and I realised I was good at something and really enjoyed the feeling that lifting heavy weights gave to me. Lifting weights not only helped me gain strength, lose weight, but it also benefitted me emotionally, physically, and psychologically and a passion was ignited.
I was asked if I would be interested in entering a powerlifting competition. Powerlifting is a competitive sport whereby you complete 3 different exercises: The Squat, Deadlift and Bench Press. You get 3 attempts at each lift. The person who lifts heaviest wins. Individuals are placed into categories based on age, weight and gender. I had never competed before in anything, maybe in a sack race at school so naturally I was apprehensive but with such a very supportive coach I decided I would try something new and give it a go.
In May 2016 I entered my first powerlifting competition. IDFPA National Full Power in Dublin. I enjoyed the whole experience and won my category. Coming home to Cork a National Champion Powerlifter was something I had never envisaged. Over the next few months I grew in confidence and kept my training consistent. I was encouraged to have a go at Natural Body Building and just like the Powerlifting it was something new and I yet decided to try it.
Under the careful guidance of my coach I continued to focus hard on my weight training which did differ from powerlifting. I entered a whole new world of nutritional science and learnt so much along the way. I soon realised that bodybuilding is an amazing sport at so many levels. The discipline and commitment can be very extreme, but it soon becomes a lifestyle to those who chase it. It challenged me in a way that I had never been before. Reducing body fat to a low %, whilst retaining muscle mass and learning to pose to show case it all was intense training. I entered my first bodybuilding show in September 2017 – NBFI.
I entered the Masters (over 40) Figure category. Although standing on stage posing in a bikini and heels was something I never imaged I would do or want to do. It was an amazing, liberating and powerful experience. I was so proud to come home with first place and National Champion 2017. I couldn’t wait for the next competition.
This year I challenged myself by competing with a British Federation the BNBF who have world class reputation of one of the highest standards in Natural Body Building in the world. My aim was to enter a qualifier competition and hopefully compete in the British Finals in October. I started prepping in January 2018 and I competed in Belfast in June. I pushed myself harder and entered the women’s physique class this time, which meant being bigger, leaner condition and sharper posing than the figure class. I loved the challenge of this class and once again training and nutrition went to a much deeper physical and psychological level. I completed and won my category but most important for me was my invite to the British Finals in October. I was over the moon with this achievement which I am now in preparation for.
This year the World Championship for powerlifting is being held in Glasgow, UK, this is unusually close to home. Furthermore, the National Full power, which was the qualifier for the Worlds was held in Killarney again very close by. So, a seed was planted and my coach approached me and asked if I would consider entering the National Full Power completion in Killarney in August. So, a few of us took the challenge and starting training just for a few weeks for the powerlifting meet. It became a great distraction from the bodybuilding training for a while.
On August 11th I competed in a lower weight category than in 2016. I won my category and became the IDFPF full Powerlifting National Champion 2018. It was a total surprise when I received a very special trophy for the Best Female Lifter overall. This meant that my total score was higher than any other female lifter there across all weight and age categories.
When I look over my achievements and where I have come from I do so with great pride. Although I know I earned it and worked extremely hard for it. I’m sure it was not possible without the support of my coach and my children who always encouraging me when it gets tough. I’ve learnt that there are no excuses if you want something you must go for it, dream big, and age is only a number.
Surround yourself with positive people and start training no matter what level you are at. It may not be a competitive sport you want to do. It maybe just to lose a bit of weight or tone up or just to start to take more care of your health. If your like me, and seeing the 50’s is in sight then take note. I have never felt better, looked better or felt stronger inside and out than when I was in my 20’s .
You will never know what you are capable of until you take that first step and go for it.