The summer season of beach bodies is creeping in and Irish people are hitting the gym with a vengeance in a plea to get celeb-like bodies. While the closest a lot of us will get to a six-pack is the off-license fridge, there are many people sticking to healthy diet regimes and exercise to stay fit and healthy.
When we think of fitness modelling we may instantly associate it with bodybuilding, bulky muscles and posing. Quite the opposite, female fitness modelling is a way to stay healthy, toned and very much sexy. The College View spoke to Sarah Clarke, a PHD student and fitness model with a killer body as a result of her hobby of working out in the gym.
Clarke started in DCU in 2003 and has since gained her undergraduate degree in pharmaceutical science and completed her masters and PHD this year. “Chemistry is one of my main interests but sport is also a huge focus, I love to train”, she said.
When asked about the point she knew she wanted to go further with her fitness, Clarke said: “when I finished final year in college, I ran several marathons and I got myself into a state where I was really skinny. You’d think most girls would love that size 6 figure but it didn’t suit me very well. A friend of mine got me into the weight training, he thought it would suit me and when I got into it then I loved it.
“But after a while I needed a goal. I was going to the gym all the time, lifting these weights and I got to a stage where I was thinking why am I doing this? So then I decided to get into fitness competitions,” added Clarke.
Diet and training
Clarke began training as a fitness model before Christmas in 2011 and it’s clear that perseverance and dedication are the key to her success. She is currently trying to improve her impressive bench-press weight, “my goal is to bench-press my own body weight but I could work with up to about 40 kilos now”.
“I do a two-day on one-day off regime so it works out at about five days a week that I’m in the gym. It’s 30-45 minutes a day weight training I’d do very little else in the gym. People think that they have to go off and do an hour on the treadmill in addition to this, I slimmed down last year very well by just using weights alone”, said Clarke.
The model began a high protein and low carbohydrate diet when she started the weight training and she says it has helped her feel better, increased her vitality and energy. “This diet allows you to stay alert and keeps your mind alert. You feel lighter, your eyes are brighter and your skin is better.” Who could argue with that?
She says her diet is manageable in stating: “I eat six times a day. I have breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks in between. I’m never left hungry and I think the key to that is the high protein. You really need that when you are in the gym, you’re tearing up muscles and you need to repair them a lot.
“If you go to Spar and get a box of potato wedges and a chicken fillet roll you are not going to gain much nutrition and you are doing yourself damage”, added Clarke.
Last June, Clarke successfully competed and won first place in her first competition with the Northern Ireland Fitness Model Association (NIFMA).
Before the competition she said she did not know what to expect: “I thought the competitions would have been more competitive but there was a really good atmosphere around the girls, we were sharing things and helping each other. The guys were slightly more competitive.
“A huge stage light is shining in your face where you can see nobody but everyone can see you. You’re there in five inch heels worrying about tripping and falling, it’s nerve wrecking.”
Posing routines are essential as participants must impress the judges in order to take home the prize. “The routines are designed so that any movements that you execute highlight your best muscle groups. Last year I did a gymnastics-based posing routine and this year I will be doing a martial arts-based routine because I have certain muscle groups that are more prominent than others and I want the judges to focus on them when I’m on stage”, said Clarke.
NIFMA organiser Martin Spence told The College View that “NIFMA Mr and Miss Fitness Models can compete in Formal – Sports and Swim Wear Categories” this year. Spence is currently organising an event to be held in Dublin in November this year.
According to Clarke, using weights is the perfect solution for any girl looking to “tone up or get a bikini body”. The only evident problematic issue is that many girls have a fear of using weights, possibly due to the traditionally conservative nature of Ireland.
“A lot of girls would be very afraid of fitness modelling, they are afraid of touching weights but it’s a nice, toned and controlled physic. I’m not going around bursting out of my tops or anything like that. It’s a stereotype that needs to be obliterated completely. More girls need to get into the weights room and lads need to stop staring like a unicorn has walked into the room”, explained Clarke.
The model has confessed that she is now “absolutely addicted” to the point where she is going to train herself up as a fitness instructor and personal trainer while searching for a full-time chemistry job.
See www.nifma.com for more details.