2 x World Champion!

November 24, 2014

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I’m back at my desk after a week away in Boston, where I competed in the WNBF/INBF World Championships as Team UK’s amateur female bodybuilder. I’m delighted to tell you that I won, thereby retaining my World title (blog posts about last year’s INBF Worlds are here and here) – and can now say I am a “2 x World Champion” (even if it feels a bit weird to say so!)

Like most sportspeople, I place significant amounts of pressure on myself. I’m very competitive and expect a lot of myself. With many things in life, the further you go, the more you need to achieve in order to fulfill your own expectations (even if those expectations are of yourself). Sport is certainly no different.

That’s why this World blog post will be a little different to last year’s. I’m just as happy, just as excited, just as proud of myself. I had just as wonderful a time out in Boston with the rest of Team UK, and feel just as privileged to have been given the opportunity once again.

But, this year, my pride and pleasure at winning are joined by seeing where I need to improve, how I want to move forward, and where to go from here.

First of all, a few words about the experience of going abroad to compete as part of the UKDFBA‘s Team UK.
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Once again, being part of the Team was absolutely fantastic. Last year was one of the best times (if not the best time) of my life and this year did not disappoint. The team were all great people (I knew some of them already but there were lots I hadn’t ever met or hadn’t really spoken to), the UKDFBA’s planning and organisation was flawless, our accommodation was really great, and we had some great opportunities to bond as a team (Team training at local Gold’s gym, for example). I come away from Worlds 2014 – as I did from last year’s Worlds – with solid friendships, amazing memories, and having been part of something very special.

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Onto the comp itself

As already mentioned, I won my class and thereby retained my World title from last year. Last year there were only four competitors (split into three LWs, one HW – me – and then an overall which I won). This year there was just one open class of three (no over all) which I won. šŸ™‚ Cheery wave to the other two ladies, if they’re reading this! It was great to meet you and share a stage with you šŸ™‚

I am of course delighted to have won, it feels great (if a little surreal!) to say I “retained a World Title” and to say I am “2 x World Champion”. But I’ve got mixed emotions, too, which weren’t present last year. I guess this is what makes competitive bodybuilders what we are! And what keeps us hungry, keeps us pushing forward, stops us ever settling for mediocre, average, for “just OK”.

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As much as I am over the moon to have won, I’ll tell you now that I wasn’t completely happy with how I looked. I did not look as good as I did at the UKDFBA UK show, and I wanted to look the same (or better!) I’d been really pleased – shocked, even – with how I looked at the UKDFBA show this year. But I was heavier, less lean, less conditioned at Worlds and I am disappointed and cross with myself for that. I know why – my diet and mindset weren’t 100% in those weeks between UKDFBA and Worlds. I did diet, of course, but it wasn’t perfect enough for me.

I need a little more think-time before I could tell you why this was. I know that I was so hugely focused on UKDFBA (and the goal of winning there and taking the Pro Card on offer), that when I came 2nd (especially when it was on a tiebreaker) I had a mental wobble. I don’t think I fully appreciated at the time, but a couple of weeks later I saw it had affected me more than I realised.

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None of that is an excuse, and I know that to be a successful bodybuilder I will have to develop ways to prevent things like this affecting me, and to refocus very quickly and turn my attention fully to the next goal regardless of how I am feeling. It’s unlikely to be the last time I fall short of a goal – this is sport, after all!

A note on the Pro Card thing

Pro Cards are only on offer at Worlds to class winners when there are five or more in the class. A lot of people have said they were sorry that a Pro Card wasn’t on the cards again this year for me. But to be perfectly honest with you? I don’t feel I deserved it. I do want to be a WNBF Pro – it’s my ultimate goal in this sport. But, based on how I looked at Worlds, I don’t feel I’m ready (in terms of physique or mindset). Not quite. Nearly… but not quite. The fact that I have “missed out” a few times now by a whisker kind of confirms what I feel: that I am very very nearly there (but not quite), that I still have lessons to learn and improvements to make. I don’t want a Pro Card until I’m ready for it.

My next steps?

A very good, very constructive off season. I may or may not take a year off competing. Either way, I’ll be training hard and heavy, making improvements to physique, mindset, my knowledge about training, diet and my own body.

Stay tuned for a blog post about what to do if you develop horrendous edema/water retention after spending 5 days celebrating in an American city after coming off a long bodybuilding prep diet and then get stuck on a middle seat on a night flight between two large sleeping men (I will come up with a catchier title, promise!)

Thanks for reading!

2 x World Champion! is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


A World Champion… me… really?

November 13, 2013

Yes, really. It still feels bizarre to type “World Champion” and “me” in the same sentence, but it’s true, so I’d better get used to it šŸ™‚

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This is just a quick post after the INBF World Championships last weekend. Partly because I wanted to get a blog post up before too much time elapsed, but mainly because I still don’t know where to start when it comes to writing about the entire experience.

Perhaps you can post any questions in the comments; it might help me know how to tackle the task of writing about it!

To cut a long, wonderful, memorable story short:

I went with the UK Team to compete at the WNBF and INBF Worlds in the USA last weekend. The INBF is the amateur half of the federation (the WNBF is where the Pros compete). I was the only amateur female bodybuilding competitor on the UK team (there were 12 of us in all, including male and female Pro athletes, a female amateur figure and fit body competitor, and male amateurs across the age and weight classes).

I weighed in at 124lbs, which placed me in the heavyweight female bodybuilding class (they split us at 118lbs).

On the day of the competition, shortly before going on stage, I found out I was the one and only HW competitor šŸ˜¦ I was disappointed (and saddened) because I wanted some competition, and didn’t want to be on stage by myself. It’s a long way to go, and a lot of prep, to “win by default”. But I can’t control who doesn’t turn up on the day, and who doesn’t compete in qualifiers and national finals, and who doesn’t get selected for the other countries’ teams.

So I went on stage as the only HW competitor (they did end up putting the LWs and me on together, so at least I was on stage with others, although we were still being judged as two separate classes).

So, yes, I won the World HW title too, but I was the only competitor.

However, the real competition of the day for me was the over all. I would be up against the LW winner later on in the day to contest the over all and to push for the World title. I’ve never competed in an over all before, never gone back on stage for a second time against just one other person, never been in the position of knowing it’s either me or her who will get that main title.

I did it… and I won! I can’t remember the moment when my number was called, but I can remember feeling joy, elation, disbelief, excitement, relief and… I dunno! Everything! šŸ˜€

Winning the over all meant I became the INBF World female bodybuilding champion for the year. šŸ˜€ It’s been my dream, my goal and part of what I’ve been working towards for the last two years of my time in this sport. The other part – WNBF Pro status – is now next year’s focus šŸ™‚

That’s enough for now, jetlag is pressing on my eyelids and telling me it’s time for bed.

I’ll be getting official stage and backstage “mini photoshoot” images shortly and will share some with you.

In the meantime, if you do have any questions about the comp, the build up, the weekend with the team, my plans moving forward or anything else, please do leave a comment. It might help me write a better post-comp review when I have more energy!

Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for all your support, enthusiasm, interest, good lucks and congratulations.

A World Champion… me… really? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


You ask, I do my best to answer! (INBF Worlds Q&A)

November 17, 2013

In my previous blog post, I asked if you had any questions about the INBF Worlds, my prep, off-season, and my plans for future comps (or anything else relevant).

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Yes, it’s a lazy way to get a blog post out there. I plead jetlag!

Here goes:

“What does getting a Pro card mean or do?”

Bodybuilders compete as amateurs or as Pros. A Pro was once an amateur but won a certain level of competition (usually a national Final, or the amateur bit of a World level comp). Turning Pro doesn’t mean you can jack in your day job and earn a living wage bodybuilding (we wish!) “Pro” denotes the standard and level at which you compete, not that it’s your profession. Pros compete for prize money, whereas amateurs don’t, but even if a Pro was to win every single comp he or she entered, it would barely be enough to cover the cost of flights and accommodation for competing. There are a few exceptions: in the IFBB, those at the very top of the tree do make a living from competition winnings, product endorsements, sponsorships and putting their name to supplements, clothing, etc. In reality, become Pro for a UK bodybuilder actually means you have less choice of where to compete (because you can only do Pro shows, and – at present – there are very few in Europe). For me, it’s something to aspire to, it shows progress and achievement, enables you to be judged against an ever-higher standard of competition, and is one way of marking ongoing progression through the sport.

“This might be a bit personal, but are you older than a lot of competitors? The reason I ask is that your blog reads a lot different…”

I’m 36 (and a half). And thank you – I think! The blog didn’t start out life as a bodybuilding blog, or even a competing/racing/sporting event blog. It’s just my blog, and bodybuilding is one part of a big life. So, at the moment at least, lots of it is about bodybuilding. It hasn’t always been that way (have a dig back through the archives for triathlon, channel swimming, cycling races and even stuff about the business of writing šŸ˜‰ ) I’m glad you enjoy reading it at the moment šŸ™‚

“I want to know everything about the comp ā€“ what was the backstage atmosphere like, what was the process that you had to go through to prove you were natural? PS some of the guys on your team are ridiculously good looking, phew!”

Ha ha, I have no idea what you could possibly mean about the male competitors on Team UK! Ugly mugs šŸ˜‰ Some of them proved very popular with the other ladies in my changing room… tee hee. Backstage was a lot larger than any comp I’ve done in the UK, although not necessarily any more well-equipped. There was plenty of space, plug sockets, toilet cubicles and room to pump up, but no mirrors (people brought their own) for example. In my experience, there’s always positives and negatives about every backstage area. I guess it’s because BB comps are held in so many different kinds of venues, from theatres to civic halls. This one was in the auditorium at a big University.

The atmosphere was really friendly šŸ™‚ It’s not always the case, sadly, particularly when it’s a top level comp. It often seems to follow that the higher the stakes, the tenser the atmosphere. I’m really pleased to say that this was not the case at the INBF Worlds (not in my experience, anyway). The atmosphere in the amateur ladies dressing room was… manic, frenetic, highly-strung, often hilarious, and a giggle. Imagine the largest, strangest sleepover you’ve ever been to. It’s like that. Only with bikinis. Beauty treatments, fake tan, talk of junk food, sharing makeup, high emotion, even a bit of singing and booty-shaking. It was all there. I made some new friends (“let’s take a selfie! OK, now tag me on Facebook!”), got some great advice on exactly which chocolate-covered peanut butter-filled pretzels to buy from Trader Joe’s, and enjoyed myself immensely.

To compete in the INBF and WNBF, athletes need to be 7 years drug free (some drug-free Federations are lifetime natural). Athletes are tested by urinology and polygraph. “Drug-free” is assessed against the current WADA (World Anti Doping Authority) banned list. When people think about drugs in sport (particularly bodybuilding) they automatically think of steroids (often used as a blanket term I think!), growth hormone and other exogenous hormones, and “stuff you inject into yourself”. In reality, there’s a great deal more on the banned list, from certain stimulants/”fat burners” to certain diuretics. Fun fact! Caffeine (in certain quantities) was on the prohibited list until 2004.

“What next?”

Well, I have had three goals for the last couple of years in this sport:
compete in America [tick]
win a World title [tick x 2]
– get Pro Status/”Pro card” [ ]

So, 2014 will be the Year of the Pro Card. I will compete with the UKDFBA again here in the UK, with a view either to earning Pro Status here with them (as the winner of my class did at the UKDFBA comp this year), or to go over to the INBF Worlds with their UK team again, win again, and this time earn Pro Status by doing so. Usually, the winner of the overall would be offered Pro Status at the Worlds. It didn’t happen this time, because there weren’t enough people in the class (last year there were 9). So – come on ladies! And I’ll see you there! šŸ˜‰

That’s enough for now – part 2 coming soon!

I’ll leave you with a couple of photos a mini-shoot I did on the day of the comp. I’m really pleased with them, they’re a great memento of a fantastic experience šŸ˜€

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You ask, I do my best to answer! (INBF Worlds Q&A) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


I’m off on my INBF Worlds adventure

November 6, 2013

Right! I’m packed, prepped and (partly) primped. There’s nothing left to do except try and get a decent night’s sleep before I meet up with the rest of Team UK at the airport tomorrow.

I’m going to compete in open amateur women’s bodybuilding at the INBF World Championships in Worcester, Massachusetts.

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In some ways it feels as if this prep has d-r-a-g-g-e-d on (well, it has, in the sense that I had assumed my season would be over by now). In other ways, it’s flown by, particularly these past few weeks. I mean… I’m 3 days out. From the Worlds. WHAT THE whaaaat?

I’m still not entirely sure how it all happened but it did, and is, and so the next update on the blog is likely to be show report and result šŸ˜€ (unless I have time to say hi from our accommodation).

If you want to follow along in real-time, you can check my Twitter or my Instagram (if you’re into the kind of thing) as I hope there will be wifi at the venue. Or you can keep an eye on the UKDFBA Facebook page which will be updated as regularly as possible with news not just of me but of the entire team (13 of us, Pro women, Pro men, amateur Women and amateur men across a range of classes and categories).

Prejudging for the Pro classes starts at 9am local time (EST – 5 hours behind the UK), and prejudging for the amateur classes will probably start around midday. Then the night show starts at 5pm.

Thanks for reading!

I’m off on my INBF Worlds adventure is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


NPA South East championships 2012 – show report part 2

September 14, 2012

Last Sunday, I competed in the NPA (Natural Physique Association) South East Championships, a qualifier for the NPA’s British Final. Part 1 of the report is here.

“Oh sh*t”, I believe I said to my sister. Because over there was Chiara, the lady who placed 1st at the BNBF Finals last year (winning her BNBF Pro Card in the process) when I placed 2nd. The last person I expected to see, and pretty much top of my “competitors likely to make me say “oh sh*t” when I’m not in my best condition” list. ;D

However, that’s the nature of this sport: you never know who’s going to turn up on the day, and you never know what they’ll be looking like, either. I reminded myself that, even though I wasn’t as lean as I wanted to be, I’d improved a lot since last year, that the class was anyone’s to win, and that my main goal was to qualify and move through to the Final.

Backstage, I found myself a corner and popped my feet up. My Mum came to find me, and told me that loads of friends and family had arrived. I had a massive support crew, most of whom had never been to a bodybuilding competition before.


My sister was flying back and forth tanning me up, taking pics of me posing so I could see how I was looking, and generally keeping me smiling. We were giggling like mad when she was doing my Dream Tan: you have to slap it on, almost smacking the competitor with your palms. She’d smack my tan on (“slap! slap slap slap! slap! slap slap!”) and pause for breath, at which point we could hear Fran next door being Dream Tanned up by her trainer Ian (“slap slap! slap slap! slap slap slap!”) It sounded like two woodpeckers trying to out-peck each other in the woods. My sister started taking her tanning responsibilities very seriously. “Ian is slapping a lot more slowly than me!” she fretted. “Am I doing it wrong?” “He’s got more people than you to tan up,” I told her. “He’s just conserving his energy. Plus he’s dieting for the Worlds. Don’t worry, you’re doing a great job.”

Before long I was tanned, in my bikini and ready to go and pump up.


On stage, I found myself in the middle thanks to my number – a great place to be. I felt really good, confident and very happy. I just love being on stage, and the fact that I had so many supporters made it even easier for me to smile. The judges put us through our 1/4 turns, then our compulsory poses. The head judge reminded the crowd that you don’t need a big class for it to be a tough one. I got the impression that things were pretty close, and I worked as hard as I could. I’d forgotten how much posing “for real” hurts! My lower back was aching and my legs were shaking even before the judges asked us to go through the poses a second time.


We got shuffled around (so the judges could compare us as they wanted to) and went through everything one more time. I was working as hard as I could and trying to remember everything, but found it very hard to tell how I was doing. Although the three of us were competing with each other, there was a really friendly atmosphere on stage. It’s hard to explain, but you know it when you experience it! Chiara bumped elbows with me during a double bicep pose and whispered “I’m sorry!” At one point, when we turned to the back of the stage, we all started huffing and puffing with the effort, caught each others eye, and smiled.

We were sent off stage to prepare for our individual posing routines, and chatted to each other, cheered each other on and shared water. It was nice! I’ve met and competed with both ladies before and it was genuinely a pleasure to be on stage with them.





My routine went well – I remembered it all for a start! – and people seemed to enjoy it. I stood backstage watching the others, shaking a bit with effort, excitement and nerves, and wondering how I’d place. I really had no idea at all. I knew Chiara looked good: she carries more muscle than I do, and it’s thicker, denser muscle. She’s shorter than I am, too, so all that muscle is packed down onto a more compact frame. And of course she’s shown how good she is by winning a Pro Card with another federation. But… I felt good. By no means did I feel sure I’d won, but I dared to think that I could have done.


After we’d all done our routines, we were called back on stage to go through the poses one more time and then do a posedown. I got a sense that the judges were having a bit of a tough time coming to a decision, but before long we were told to line up to hear the results.

Third place was lovely Fran.

This is it… this is it… have I won?


Second place… Nicola Joyce. I’d taken second to Chiara again, and I felt disappointed but not surprised. I could see why she’d won, and was happy to take second place to such an accomplished competitor.


We posed for our group photo and then Fran and I left the stage whilst Chiara had her winner’s photo. I felt OK. I would have loved to have won but, honestly, as soon as I knew Chiara was in the class I knew it would be a big ask. Just one question remained: had I qualified for the Final?

I sought out the head judge and he told me that yes, I certainly had. Phew! Mission accomplished, then, even if it wasn’t quite in the most decisive way!


The rest of the day was great fun: chatting at length with Fran and Chiara backstage, cheering on the Figure ladies who competed a little later, sitting with family, friends and my bodybuilding buddies and watching the rest of the show.


I ended up the night going out for dinner with my sister, something we haven’t done in a long time. I felt good: I’d made it on to the stage after a very difficult period in my life and, whilst I hadn’t won, I’d placed 2nd and qualified for the Finals. Done, and done.

The professional photos in this post are from official show photographer Fivos Averkiou photographer.

Thank you so much to my sister for everything (not just the excellent tanning) and to everyone else who came to watch – I really appreciate it!

NPA South East championships 2012 – show report part 2 is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Debloat after Christmas with a bodybuilder’s advice (or “that time I gained 11kgs then lost 6 of them in 2 days”)

December 29, 2014

I did promise you a blog post about my horrendous post-comp, in-flight body swelling experience (such fun!) but, since it’s now been more than 6 weeks since the flight, it hardly seems relevant. Except it kind of is.

See, my newsfeeds and timelines are full of festive freak outs about Christmas weight gain, peppered with the plucky few (mostly young blokes, it has to be said) who are fascinated and a bit impressed by the amount they’ve managed to pack on.

I did learn a few valuable lessons from my trans-Atlantic edema experience, and maybe they’ll be useful to anyone looking to quickly deflate after Christmas and before New Year’s Eve.

First up, a quick look back at what happened….

I ended my bodybuilding season (which had entailed a pretty long diet) out in America. Boston, to be precise, where I’d competed in the WNBF Amateur World Championships as part of Team UK.

This year, I decided to stay out there for five days after the comp. With a friend. Who likes eating as much (perhaps more) than I do.

As you can imagine, this convergence of comedic factors led to a lot of “foreign” foods being put into my dieted-down body over a short period of time. Fats, sugar, sodium…. or, as I prefer to call it, Cheesecake Factory, Coldstone Creamery, burgers…

So by the time I boarded the flight home, I was already a bit fatter. But that’s nothing compared to what happened during the overnight flight. Stuck in a middle seat between two large, sleeping, immobile gentleman, I felt (and saw) myself expand. My knuckles disappeared into watery oblivion, my socks bit into me, and I wrestled my shoes off only to discover that I could honestly barely get them back on. Lucy, my travelling companion, looked horrified when I was finally able to “delicately” shove a sockless foot in her face. My toes were at one with the rest of my foot.

Back home, I barely recognised myself. I actually wish I’d taken photos. It was…. horrifying but fascinating. If I shook my quads, I could actually see the “water” rippling under the skin (sure, I’d also put fat on, but this was not fat I was witnessing, believe me, I’ve seen body fat on myself and this was different). I looked like I was wearing a bodysuit filled with water. I weighed myself: 11kgs (KILOS not pounds) heavier than stage weight.

Two days later, 6kgs had gone.

Anyway the point of giving you my quite frankly scary and distressing run-in with edema is this: to tell you what I did, in case any of it can be any use to you if you’ve seriously over done it over Christmas!

1) Don’t overdo it in the first place

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and this is a useless action point. But it might help for next time. I know that I wouldn’t have blown up like a water balloon on that flight if I hadn’t spent the previous few days eating my way around Boston. But I was hardly not going to do that, given the circumstances of being there. What I should have done, was spent the day prior to the flight eating less inflammatory foods and drinking more water.

2) Cut back on these things now
Some are obvious: processed sugary foods, very fatty foods, sodium, salt. But I had no idea that dairy can cause bloating and inflammation. The day of our flight, I had a latte, a hot chocolate, and then I had two yoghurts on the plane. This is after cutting out dairy during my prep diet. Nice one, dumbass.

3) Water, water, water
If you find yourself scarily bloated, drink lots of water. It might be the last thing you feel like doing, but trust me, do it anyway. When you start peeing like a racehorse, things are moving in the right direction… !

4) Eat light, plain and simple
Goes without saying. But do try to get back to your regular way of eating, to give your body a break. Cut down on carbs, knock the sweets on the head, load up on veggies and protein.

5) Move yo ass!
Get moving. Whatever you can manage will help, even just walking. Don’t sit around poking at your crazy watery body. It’s weirdly fun but won’t help.

6) Get a massage
If you can find someone to do a “drainage” type massage whilst you’re still suffering from bloat, go for it. I had a lymphatic drainage massage which was OK, but it would have been much more beneficial if I’d had it sooner. I also saw my regular massage guy – Ben Barnett, who offers hydrotherm massage – and I think the warmth of the treatment helped my body sweat things out a bit!

7) Don’t panic
I won’t lie, when I got off that plane and could barely get my shoes on, I felt horrible. I was so swollen I was in pain. I spent the next 48 hours in a panic. Don’t worry – yes, it’s horrid but it won’t last forever. And, honestly, if most of that weight gain is edema and not fat (you’ll know), it WILL go.

8) Sweat it out
I’ve no idea if this was the right thing to do, but I bundled up and did a few sweaty cardio sessions whilst I was still blown up like a balloon. It felt as if it helped.

9) Are herbal diuretics worth it?
It’s your call, but I don’t think it’s worth taking dandelion or uva ursi or any other herbal diuretic whilst you’re trying to debloat. My thinking was that I’d already messed with my body quite enough, and wanted it to rebalance itself naturally. I had to leave it to its own devices. One thing I did do was up my vitamin C intake (from tablets).

10) Don’t go on a long flight…
Yeah.

11) …and if you must, don’t get stuck on a middle seat on an overnight flight!
Yeah, that too. I really wish I’d just woken those chaps up and moved about more. I’m not sure it would have helped a great deal but I’m sure it would have been better than sitting there basically motionless for 6 hours.

Well, I do hope the embarrassing tale of The Time I Put On 11KGS has helped somebody, somewhere, somehow. It’s an experience I hope never to repeat! šŸ˜‰

Debloat after Christmas with a bodybuilder’s advice (or “that time I gained 11kgs then lost 6 of them in 2 days”) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Learn from the Champs: natural bodybuilding Q&A with best of British beef

March 25, 2014

There must be something in the water. Because Britain seems to produce a huge amount of very, very good natural bodybuilders. And, because the sport is so small and friendly, these people walk amongst us šŸ˜‰ Such is the family feel of our sport, I’m able to call various World Champions, British Champions and multi-titled bodybuilders “friends”.

Last weekend, there was a natural bodybuilding training meet at Future Fitness gym in Coventry. I couldn’t go (prior engagement) but the event was filmed in two parts for NMTV.

I watched the Q&A section this morning. It’s beyond motivating. If you’re into natural bodybuilding, want to find out more about what goes into the mindset, training, diet and off-season approach of champions, or just need some fire in your belly for your next gym visit, give this a watch (the link is below).

The video features
Richard Gozdecki NPA British 2010 winner, UKDFBA 2011 winner (and WNBF Pro Card), Pro Debut 2011 at WNBF Pro Worlds – HW winner & Overall, WNBF Worlds 2012 HW winner
Gavin Gibson NAC Novice British 2008 winner, NPA SE HW 2010 winner, UKDFBA LHW 2011 winner, INBF amateur World Champion 2012 & Pro Card winner – now competes as a WNBF Pro
Matt Argall NPA Midlands 2012 overall winner, 2012 & 2013 NPA British winner, UIBBN 2012 World LW Champion
Steve Howarth perhaps the most decorated Masters Champion in British natural bodybuilding: 5 x amateur British titles, 2 x amateur World titles, and won DFAC Pro card in 2013
Mark Oakes 4 x British titles (NPA and ANB), 3 x overall British titles, 2 x UK titles (1 of them an overall), 1 World UIBBN Title, and now a WNBF Pro with one WNBF World title (2013)
Nigel St Lewis BNBF Novice British winner and NPA Novice British winner (both in 2011), NPA British HW winner 2013, UIBBN World HW Champion 2013
(I hope I got all of that right!)

and they answer questions relating to mindset, training protocols, contest prep, dieting, the logistics of work/life/training, how their approach has changed over the years, and what’s next.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you to all the guys for taking the time to be part of it, and to Mark for facilitating (and to Toby for filming and editing).

You can catch the rest in the NMTV series here.

Learn from the Champs: natural bodybuilding Q&A with best of British beef is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Happy New Year from thefitwriter: 2013 in review

December 31, 2013

What a year it’s been! I’m looking forward to the opportunities and adventures which 2014 will bring. Here’s how 2013 went down in my world (and on the blog)

nicola joyce inbf world champion

I did five bodybuilding competitions and experienced the lows of not placing at all right through to the highs of competing in the USA and winning an overall World title!

comp 1) BNBF Centrals – 6th place physique
comp 2) BNBF Midlands – 2nd place physique
I was then invited to do the (new) Athletic class at BNBF Finals and decided to go for it
comp 3) BNBF Finals – 4th (of 5!) athletic
comp 4) UKDFBA Open – 3rd place bodybuilding
A few days later, I was invited to be the amateur female bodybuilder on Team UK at the INBF Worlds! Getting that phone call was one of the best moments of my year and I think I’ll remember it forever.
comp 5) (aka What the whaaaaat?! :-O ) What an experience… competing at the INBF Worlds as part of “Team UK”. I won the women’s bodybuilding HW class (by default!) and then competed in the over all against the LW winner. I won it, and became the INBF women’s bodybuilding overall winner and World Champion for 2013!

You can read the UKDFBA’s report of the INBF/WNBF Worlds 2013 here – it’s a great read and I encourage you to take a look.

I won a two awards in the naturalmuscle.com end of year awards (Best Journal, and I tied for Toned Glutes, LOL) – thanks, chaps!

WordPress.com has generated a handy summary of my blog stats for 2013. Have a look, see if you spot yourself in there! thefitwriter 2013 blog activity.

My most active blog commenters in 2013 were
Tara of Sweat Like A Pig (a fantastic strongwoman blog which tackles some meaty issues about training, women in sport, nutrition and competing – read it!)
Trish (she doesn’t have a blog but give her a cheer anyway, she’s probably making her bodybuilding debut next year)
Helen of Diary of a Newbie Strongwoman (as the name suggests – a strongwoman blog charting Helen’s journey through training and competing)
Rooobarb & Custard of Adventures in a Campervan (a wonderful blog about adventures in Ruby the 1967 split-screen campervan)
Fiona of HiFifi’s Transformation (a blog about a one-time (and future?) figure competitor who’s working out a way to eat and train for life)

Thank you, ladies (and gent)! But really it’s a big thanks to all of you who read, share and comment šŸ™‚ Apparently people read this blog from 155 countries, mainly the UK, USA and Australia.

Most popular post and product reviews in 2013 were

Tesco Nutri1st Advanced protein products
Monkey Nutrition whey isolate Primal26
Bio Synergy
Bio Synergy and Melanie Sykes supplement range
What I learned from the Phil Learney Fat Loss & Performance seminar
(You can see all my product reviews here)

Big up yo bad selves

I’d like to say a big thank you not only to my blog readers but to my friends and supporters in sport and business. Clients, agencies, PRs, collaborators, designers, editors, interviewees: thank you all. You can find me (wearing a slightly more professional hat) on my website, my linkedin and linkedin company page.

To anyone who has read, shared, liked, commented on or visited this blog in 2013: thank you! If you stick around into 2014 I promise to bring you plenty of interesting content, training info, competing reports, and behind-the-scenes news from a competitive bodybuilder who writes a lot. Hey, 2014 might even be the year in which I actually write more about the business of writing šŸ˜‰ You never know.

Happy New Year from thefitwriter: 2013 in review is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Booost canned oxygen

October 17, 2013

booost-website-headers-1-_What

What the… what, now?

Canned oxygen? Air… in a can?

I’m only voicing what I know a lot of people are thinking.

When booost oxygen sent me some of their canned oxygen to test, I admit I had no idea what to think. And nor did my friends on Facebook. Responses were varied and vociferous. But then along came one or two high-level athletes (including our own World Champion, WNBF Pro Rich Gozdecki) saying that, yes, they use canned oxygen and yes they do feel it is of benefit to training and recovery.
can

So what’s the idea?

booost oxygen comes in hand-held canisters with a piston. You put the piston to your mouth, create a seal, “spray” into your mouth and take a big gulp (repeating this up to four times). It felt a bit naughty, like I was down the bottom of the school sports field doing something I oughtn’t. But rest assured, this stuff is nature’s finest. 99.5% pure oxygen and something minty which gives it a mild peppermint “taste” (does one “taste” oxygen?)

The company behind it say that only 2.7% of people train hard enough to need canned oxygen. I honestly doubt I’m one of them, even on deadlift day. But cyclists, biathletes and strongmen – all of whom are on record as using booost – almost certainly do.

The idea is that extra oxygen helps you recover more quickly from extreme exertion, so you can train harder. Athletes use booost when they hit their particular version of “the wall”: between challenging sets in the gym, during stoppages, after sprints or climbs, in transition, or before a big lift.

I have used booost on leg and deadlift days, but I haven’t measured my recovery, and I should point out that I’m currently dieting hard and not lifting at my one rep max or anything approaching it.

I’d be very interested to hear your experiences, if you’ve used booost, and your views.

What do you think to the idea behind athletes using canned oxygen for recovery and performance?

You can find booost oxygen on Facebook and follow booost on Twitter.

Thanks, booost oxygen people for sending me the samples!

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Booost canned oxygen is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


A few thanks yous: Moving Comfort, Brooks, Adidas, Boobydoo

August 28, 2012

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I went and did a training session/photoshoot combo for a Muscle & Fitness article I’m writing? Well, I need to do a follow-up post, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the fitness model who was in the shoot with me (lending an air of glamour, professionalism and… y’know… actually knowing how to model in front of the camera) was a jolly nice chap by the name of Shaun Stafford. Shaun was dieting and training hard at the time of our shoot. He competes as Pro fitness model with the WBFF, and this weekend was the WBFF Worlds – a huge deal for Shaun, the pinnacle of his competitive career. He only went and won! Yes, Shaun is now the World 2012 WBFF Male Fitness Model World Champion and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer (and harder-working) guy. So, first of all I have to say massive congratulations to Shaun at reaching your goal!

Secondly, and the main point of this post, is a series of over-due thank yous. You see, when Muscle & Fitness asked me not only to write the article but be in the photos, too, I panicked. Not least on the topic of outfits. Was I really going to be in a magazine wearing my ratty old mis-matched gym kit, some of which I have honestly had since University (circa 1842)? No. Help! So, I put a few shouts out: to clients (I do copywriting for sport and fitness brands), PRs and anyone who felt moved to help me!

Four generous companies sent me kit, and I owe them a great deal of thanks – and a few reviews!

Moving Comfort
Adidas
Boobdydoo Sports Bras
Brooks running shoes
… thank you. Very much!

Moving Comfort is the the number one bra brand in the USA and I can see why. They sent me a load of stuff, including bras, and they’re all such amazing quality, very soft (but supportive) and great designs. Really top-end stuff. I’ve worn their kit for intervals, for steady state cardio, in the gym, walking the dog and just out and about, it really is that nice.

I think one of my favourite items is this Urban Gym sweatshirt (which has been admired by several of my gym-going girlfriends – and my friend’s 5-week old baby, who snuggled into the open-neck fleecy bit). It’s just lovely, so so soft and perfect for after the gym or just wearing at home. And it’s ever so slightly glittery if you look carefully…

Of the bras Moving Comfort sent, I really like the Rebound racer. That’s if I had to choose, because seriously every single bit of kit they sent me is amazing quality, design and comfort! I love a racerback (for the look and for the freedom of movement) and what I particularly liked about this bra (and a few of the others) was the clever way they adjust: at the front, the shoulder strap passes through the main bra and doubles back on itself, fastening with velcro. So clever and so easy to adjust, and not something I’ve come across before.

Another thing I’ve been wearing a lot is this Urban Gym tee – it’s a bit heavy for hot training sessions but perfect for yoga (if I did yoga that is…), pilates (ditto) or just for wearing out and about. It’s a lovely design.


Brooks running shoes are the sister company to Moving Comfort. They kindly sent me the PureFlow shoes which are a neutral shoe, really comfy and suited for running or gym work. I love these shoes! So very comfortable! I wore them straight out of the box for the shoot and did all sorts of plyos, jumps, hurdle work etc in them and the shoes felt supportive and springy but really lightweight. They also gave me great advice over the phone and got my size spot on (despite me initially insisting I was a size 6). I’d wear them more often but… my two-year old nephew removed one of the insoles without me noticing, so the insole is now in Kent and I am in Berkshire. When I am reunited with the insole, you can bet I’ll be wearing my PureFlows again!


Adidas sent me their Supernova racerbra and Response shorts. I like both but I really love the bra! It’s so flattering, can just about be worn as a crop top and is a lovely design and – being slightly padded – gives a really great shape.

Thanks also to Boobydoo Sports Bras – a great online source for sportsbras (they always give such fantastic advice and service) who sent me a few of the bras they stock to try, including the Sportjock action sportbra which is a simple design but extremely comfortable and plenty supportive enough for anything other than high-impact. I’ve been wearing them a lot in the gym and for cycling/spinning and they’re perfect – lightweight, comfy (and they come in lots of bright colours too!)

A massive heartfelt thank you to Moving Comfort, Adidas, Boobdydoo Sports Bras, Brooks running shoes. Join them on Facebook why don’t you?
Boobydoo on Facebook
Moving Comfort on Facebook
Adidas on Facebook

A few thanks yous: Moving Comfort, Brooks, Adidas, Boobydoo is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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