When the opportunity to prove your fitness to Olympic champion and sporting legend Victoria Pendleton arrives, you simply take it – well, that’s what these five women did.
A nationwide search by Women’s Health magazine for ‘The Body 2014’ was not simply an exercise in turning individuals not keen on the gym into committed and healthy stars, it was also to show the impact of positive sporting role models.
Pendleton, a British cycling legend, was looking for women who took inspiration from sport to develop their bodies in a way that was realistic, balanced and a positive example to others.
Stevie Hartley was one of the women who starred in the competition and she used Pendleton as a role model as she sought to embrace exercise for its mental and physical benefits.
'I wanted to pull myself out of the hole,” she explained to Women’s Health. “At first, it was so hard – after each session, my muscles were burning.
“But I started seeing results in two weeks. I saw amazing definition in my stomach and legs that it spurred me on. It helped to clear my mind, too.”
Equally, Jennifer Prosser reached the final five in the competition despite gaining two stone when she was pregnant. Sport and fitness goals helped drive her on, as did role models such as Kim Clijsters who returned to sport after giving birth to great success.
“It was important for me to get back in shape. It took three months to lose the baby weight – but I did it gradually and sensibly,” she said.
“Each morning, I’ll do squats and hold Madison out in front of me – she’ll giggle while I do it. I push myself harder because I only have an hour to work out. But the payoff has been immense. My whole body is stronger than it was, pre-baby.”
Another finalist, Marcia Copertino, added: “Exercise was what made me happy. So I hit the gym almost every day, cramming in a few hours of cardio and weights in between bar shifts. As my physical strength grew, so too did my mental health.
“Exercise has given me a confidence I never thought was possible. It’s helped me channel all the pain I felt into a positive force. It has been my salvation.”
Maya Basse was another who reached the final: “I hit the weights and began to balance out my shape. As my strength grew, so too did my confidence.
“Working out, and starting to love my shape again was the one thing that kept me sane through those first lonely months in a new country. I honestly believe I would have given up and gone home if it weren’t for fitness. It’s truly changed my life.”
Finally, the fifth finalist Natalia Bojanic, said: “When I go on holiday, I choose somewhere I can go hiking, sailing or playing beach volleyball. That way, I never lose momentum.”
At this stage, the five finalists have already achieved a great deal in their own personal development and progress in getting fit and healthy in following their sporting role models.
They may not be competing for cycling golds like Pendleton once did for Britain with such success, but they too can be an inspiration for anyone looking to get into sport, health and fitness.
- Victoria Pendleton
- role models