From Nurse to Fitness Coach
I am Eleanor. I am a fitness coach and I love to lift heavy. I am very blessed to work on and for my passion in strength training, and make a difference to my clients’ health and lives. I haven’t always been this way though. Unbeknownst to many of the Genesis Gym clients, I used to be a registered nurse (RN) before embarking on my journey as a fitness coach and I’ve never looked back since.
In the few years as an RN, I cared for patients in acute general medical and geriatric settings. My experience with chronic illness and death taught me in the early years of my adulthood, that health is true wealth. It was precisely during this time I started to focus on taking care of my health through exercise and nutrition.
Ironic as it is, it was the shift work and the inadequate rest that was taking a toll on my own physical (and even mental) health in spite of my efforts to work out regularly and eat healthily. I felt, and I still feel, that while sickness is not a choice, being healthy IS a choice. This revelation undoubtedly propelled my decision to take a leap of faith and make a career-switch to fitness coaching, where I could harness both my nursing background and love for strength training to help people to become healthier and fitter, and thus lead more meaningful lives.
How I Got Started on Strength Training
I had always aspired to look “toned”, and while I was never fat, I felt I looked “flabby”. When I started to become health-conscious in my nursing days, I picked up long-distance running and yoga with hopes of becoming more “toned”. I also dieted to a certain degree, controlling my carb intake and for a period of time, I even went on a raw vegan diet. I dropped weight, and in a rather drastic manner too. At my lowest weight, I was 39kg, which for my 155cm-tall frame, was ridiculously underweight. I liked the scale weight dropping, but did not like how the person I saw in the mirror look. Whatever I was doing was not working well, but I did not know what it was.
As destiny would have it, I stumbled onto strength training when I decided to do something different to achieve the goal body I had in mind. Initially, I was skeptical and even fretted that I might become “bulky”. When I started strength training, I quickly discovered that my fear of becoming “bulky” was unfounded. Instead, I was getting stronger, leaner and shapelier! Yes, you read “shapelier” right. As I put on more muscle in various body parts, my body assumed new curves and I started to look more defined as I progressively lost body fat.
Why Strength Training Builds a Shapely Physique
When it comes to losing weight, most people resort to long durations of cardio coupled with low-calorie dieting. Well, I did too. However, do you know that this is an ineffective method of weight loss?
The reality of losing weight is indeed based on energy balance: you need a deficit to lose weight. You either eat less, or increase energy expenditure to create a deficit. You can also do both, depending on your needs and goals.
In the absence of strength training, however, most people end up losing BOTH muscle and fat. As a result, they look like a smaller version of themselves. If you want to look smaller, cardio exercises can work for a while, but certainly not for long because eventually, your body will get used to the regimen of cardio and low-calorie dieting, and that’s when most ladies hit the weight loss plateau.
If you want to look “toned”, then this method of losing weight is certainly wrong because the “toned” look you are seeking is really just a matter of body composition. To achieve the “toned” look, you need to gain some muscle mass in order to have a more sculpted physique. You cannot acquire that look when you have already lost both muscle and fat from the cardio-and-dieting method.
Moreover, having less muscle means lower metabolism.
Think of muscle as your metabolic assets. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism and the more energy you are able to burn even when you are at rest.
This is exactly why strength training excels where cardio lacks: building muscle. As you continue to build muscle and lose body fat, what you get is a leaner and more defined physique.
My Foray into Powerlifting
Besides helping me look better, strength training has also improved my self-confidence tremendously. Every time I step into the gym, I know I am going to become stronger physically and mentally after each session. As I became more proficient and confident in strength training, I picked up powerlifting to further my lifting techniques and knowledge.
Powerlifting is a growing sport, in which an individual competes against other people for maximum strength displayed in three different movements: back squat, bench press and deadlift. In turn, my training to excel at powerlifting has made profound, positive impact on my work as a fitness coach.
I still remember my first experience as a strength-training newbie a few years ago – those 12lb dumbbells and 20kg barbells were quite the challenge. Fast forward to my first powerlifting meet in September last year, I was able to squat nearly 90kg, bench-press 50kg and deadlift 120kg at a body weight of 49kg! Presently, I am training for my upcoming competition in April this year, with hopeful expectations that I can surpass my old personal bests.
Helping People to Enjoy Strength Training
Although my work largely involves helping people to achieve leaner, fitter and healthier bodies, what gives me the most satisfaction is that my clients learn to love strength training itself. In the process, they end up being leaner and fitter and more empowered to take charge of their own health in the long run.
Time and time again, I see my clients, especially ladies, gaining new confidence in themselves as they celebrate milestones in the gym. These milestones are usually not related to their body weight or body fat level, and more like breaking their personal best in a certain exercise that they used to struggle with. More often, these women are surprised and elated by knowing they can lift heavier weights that they use to not be able to envision themselves doing. This self-confidence cannot be bought or taught, but rather, nurtured from each positive challenge you overcome in the gym by yourself and with the help of your coach. And truth be told, I personally believe that this is where Genesis Gym Singapore has done very well in with our unique training system.
As a fitness coach, I can tell you in a heartbeat that I deeply relish sharing such precious moments with my clients. I truly delight in watching my clients become better versions of themselves in the gym. I have become a much better person through my journey in strength training, and with much hope and joy, I strive to make it that way for my clients as well!
I am happy to share my journey with you, fellow reader. And I hope that this will encourage you to try out strength training. Make an appointment with us today and I’m sure you will not look back, just like me.