Hey team, it’s Nicole here from Pretty and Powerful channel. I’m just going to go back to the basics a little bit and talk about how my fitness journey started. I was never really an athletic child, I wasn’t always really active, and I had never really got too much into sports.
I grew up in a family that was all about motorsport; my dad was a race car driver. He didn’t have a son, he only had a daughter, so I started racing go-karts; I probably did that for 11 or 12 years. We raced all over the country and I loved it. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s, that I was working away up north, I didn't have a lot to do, kind of sick of partying and doing that sort of thing, so I joined a gym. I would wake up probably 5 or 6 days a week, and I got into classes.
I got to a point, back then, when my body changed a little bit, but I still wasn’t getting anything out of it, anymore. It just so happened that the instructor of that class was just someone I joked with. She not only had a nice physique, but she was also really approachable just a friendly chick so I approached her after one of the classes I said I want to learn a little bit more. I started doing PT sessions with her and, in doing so, I started putting some extra weight on the bar and learn a couple of movements. From there, because I have an all-or-nothing personality, I just really became obsessed. I would Google workouts, I would spend half my day at work - I hope my old boss doesn’t read this - I would spend half of my day listening to podcasts and reading things on bodybuilding.com. I would plan my workouts while I was at work and just count down the hours till I could finish and go to the gym and do this massive workout that I would write for myself.
I just loved, I think more than anything, I loved being a tomboy - being a girl in a guy’s environment, and that I could do something that they could do. And probably going back to racing, I always raced against guys, and more often than not I was the only girl out there. I thrived on that; I like doing something that maybe people would generally say you couldn’t do.
I continued lifting weights with my best friend who used to compete in bikini and fitness shows. I approached her and said wanted to do a show too because of course I never do anything by halves. She offered to help me prep for my first show, I did my first one and I loved it. The thrill of getting on-stage was so amazing, and I was so proud of myself. That was it, that ignited the fire. I continued to train to do those shows. It was probably 2 years between that show and when I did my next one because I wanted to make sure that when I got on stage, I’d get on stage with a different physique. I spent all that time just eating as much food as I could and lifting as much heavyweight as I could and learning; learning so much about how to lift and about the technique to make sure I was doing the right things. Luckily, I've never actually had an injury. I always put that down to the fact that I did so much research and I made sure that I got back to basics and learned all the right techniques first.
After 2 years of training and building up my physique, I then sourced another coach. In the meantime, I packed up my life and moved to the Gold Coast and started working at a gym called EMF. I was a receptionist, and I was PTing a little bit as well, sort of doing a little bit of both. I prepped for a show here on the Gold Coast, an IFBB show, a bikini show. I did that show and I didn't get amazing feedback. I probably had a little bit too much muscle for what they are looking for, but I had myself in the best condition I’ve ever been in my life so that for me was an absolute win.
From there, I spent the next 3 weeks prepping into the Arnolds, which is a huge show that is done in down in Melbourne every year, in March. I went down, did that show, and again I had a little bit too much muscle for what the judges were looking for. I was also a little bit too lean for what they were looking for but it didn't faze me too much. I had a great time prepping, it was more of a personal journey for me. I don’t know why, but somehow I enjoyed testing and tempting myself; for example, going out to dinner with people, seeing them eat delicious foods and without deciding whether I would eat that and forget about my goals, or whether I want to stick to my goals and maybe miss out on the short-term gains but end up with the long-term gain.
I enjoyed putting myself under that pressure, and I enjoyed coming out at the other end and looking back. Maybe at the time, it felt like I was missing out but the bigger goal was so much more important to me. I did that Melbourne show, and somehow my fiancé dealt with me throughout that whole season. I prepped through Christmas and New Year’s. I wasn’t his favourite human at the time. When that was all over, it was actually over cocktails after the show that I started planning when I was going to do my next one and he very quickly told me that I was dreaming and that was not going to happen at least not for a little while. I decided that I needed something else, I needed another goal. I can’t keep plodding along doing the same old-same old; I always had to be working towards something.
That was when I decided that powerlifting was going to be the next thing I'll set my sights on. Throughout all that time I was prepping for shows and lifting weights in the gym, I did get quite strong and I enjoyed being strong. Quite often being strong was often more my goal than the aesthetics, the aesthetics just kind of followed. I started powerlifting, not with the intent to compete, it was just supposed to be something for fun. I think I got about 6 weeks into training with a powerlifting coach and I realised that there was a competition coming up and that if I started working quickly, I could prep, and I could be ready for that competition.
I had to go home and sweet-talk my fiancé into letting me compete because I already gave him my word and I promised him that I wasn't going to put us through the prep of anything ever again. Luckily, he said yes. I prepped and went to that competition, and I won, and it was awesome. I didn't ever expect to win - it was my first one ever! I was so nervous. It’s so different when you get on stage when you do fitness show or bikini show; you’re out there trying to look the prettiest and trying to have that nice physique, the symmetry and your hair, your makeup and your bikini in heels. Now it was a powerlifting comp, where no one cares about how you look, no one cares what colour your hair is; it’s just so different. As I said, I won that comp, and that was so awesome. Even my fiancé was just so excited! It was just based on your pure strength; if you moved that weight then you won; it wasn’t subjective. I enjoyed that so much that when I came off that comp, I started training to prep for another one, and I won that one as well.
I just enjoyed getting strong, and I enjoyed taking the focus away from aesthetics. When doing powerlifting, it's essential to have the correct technique and make sure that your major muscle groups are strong, but also that those smaller muscle groups and core are the things that stabilise your body. I had to learn how important that was. Coming from a bodybuilding background, we're always training to make a certain muscle group look a certain way; we want our shoulders to look a certain way, we want our back to look a certain way. When I went to powerlifting, I had to change the way I thought about things, and it was all about having really good mobility in my body. I'd never stretched, I'd never done anything like that. If my body was tight, then I couldn't achieve the things that I wanted to achieve in powerlifting, and going to those comps would have been a waste of time as I wouldn’t have been able to hit those weights or hit those max lifts.
I had to start learning about mobility and I had to start stretching. I was getting massages once or twice a week, depending on where I was at in my prep. I had to start taking care of my body, and with my technique, I had to make sure that everything was spot on. A lot of it was dealing with a whole lot of weight on your back. I think maybe a normal training session for me was squatting around 100-110kg. If I missed something, if I start going down in a squat and I'm not engaging my core or if I’m not concentrating, not pushing my knees out and keeping my hips open, that can hurt me and can damage me. I think that I just learned how important it is to strip it back and just get that technique right, and that is why I think the “Pretty and Powerful” channel is so important. It will be such a good tool for females in the gym because it is so easy for the ego to get in the way. So often you'll see a girl on Instagram or a guy in the gym, and this guy has all this weight on the bar so you think he must be the best person in the gym, and that's not necessarily the right way.
Even when you train for aesthetic, you’re not going to the get the right aesthetics, you’re not going to get that nice toned body that you’re after if you’re doing things incorrectly. You’re either going to be using the muscles that you don’t want to try to hit when you’re doing that exercise, or you’re just going to get an injury. Once you get an injury, it takes so long to come back properly that people get impatient and they don't take the time to recovery properly. For me, it would just be silly to even put myself in that position. I do hope that you guys loved this “Pretty and Powerful” post and you continue to tune in. Please give us your feedback if there is anything that you want me to touch on, anything that you’re unsure of please let me know. Write in your comments and I will make sure that I touch on it.