Leanne Hurst is a UK-based body composition consultant who placed third at the 2016 WNBF World Championship. However, she wasn’t always the confident, impressively toned woman she is today. Her transformation from skinny to sculpted is inspirational to say the least, and we spoke with her to get the scoop on her decision to compete, body transformation and motivation.
Click through for more photos and to find out how she accomplished her goals, and check out her progress on Instagram at @leannehurst or on her website at leannehurst.co.uk.
I have always been interested in fitness. I played for the sports teams at school and then when I went to University I was always aware of trying to keep active by running/swimming or going to exercises classes, etc. It was only when I left University and got a job that a became less active and decided to join the gym. I had no idea what I was doing and just spent hours on the cardio equipment or in classes.
What was your motivation to start a fitness routine that involves more weight training?
It was my husband that motivated me to start weight training. When we met we would go to the gym together and he would go to the weights area or “the men’s” area as I used to refer to it and I would go and jump on a treadmill. He kept working on me to try a session training with him and eventually he persuaded me.
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When did you decide to compete in bodybuilding?
It wasn’t until the beginning of January 2016 that I decided to compete. I had been with an online coach and we discussed competing and we set a goal for a competition in July 2016.
Did you have any setbacks when you first started? If so, what did you do to overcome them?
At first it could be a bit frustrating because I felt that I wasn’t very strong compared to other people around me. I also initially found it difficult going to the gym without my husband because I felt slightly intimidated using the weights on my own and I felt like people were looking at me because I wasn’t doing things correctly. I kept at it though because I did enjoy it when I was there and as I started to progress it became quite addictive. I used to love going into the gym and being able to feel my body getting stronger and seeing the changes to my appearance.
How did your fitness routine change once you decided to compete?
Once I decided to compete my fitness routine did change slightly. I had been weight training five times a week and that continued but as the competition got closer I added in extra sessions of either high intensity cardio or low intensity cardio to help me to lose body fat. My diet also changed as it got closer to the competition. I had to start tracking what I was eating a lot more carefully.
How did it feel when you hit the stage for the first time?
Although I became very confident in the gym I am quite a shy and reserved person. I would never have imagined for one minute that I would have the confidence to get on a stage in front of so many people. To do this it in a tiny bikini and be judged was such a huge achievement for me. I was very nervous prior to going on stage but once I got on there I really enjoyed myself.
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Did you always eat healthy or did you change your diet along with exercise?
I think it would be fair to say that I was always aware of what I ate but I wouldn’t say I ate healthy. As I child and probably up until I left school I didn’t really think about food. I was always fairly slim and very active and so fortunately it just wasn’t something that crossed my mind. Once I started working and became more sedentary I became more aware of what I was eating and it was at this point I became susceptible to some of the fad type diets which looking back were not very healthy at all.
What’s your diet like now?
I really enjoy my diet now. At this moment in time I do not have any competitions planned. My aim is to give my body chance to grow so I can come back bigger and better next time. I will look to compete again towards the end of 2017. I have a huge appetite and I love to eat. I eat approximately five times a day but this is because I am always hungry! I don’t eat a typical “bodybuilder” diet and although a large proportion of my diet is made up of nutritious, whole foods I still enjoy bread, bagels, cereals etc no foods are off limits. I still track my food but it is much more relaxed at the moment.
I am now 31 years old. I spent a long time studying law and training to become a solicitor. This is something that I really enjoyed doing, but as my love for fitness grew, I knew that I could use my passion and drive to help people become fitter and healthier. My drive is to change the stereotype of lifting weights. Weights are not just for men, these create a lovely toned figure which you cannot achieve by doing cardio alone. You need to build muscle, and the only way to do this is by lifting weights. After my first competition in July 2016 I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to work alongside my own coach Joe Parish when he expanded his business and I am now a part of Team JPhysique which is an online Body Composition Consultancy which specializes in body transformation.
What are your future plans as far as fitness and competition?
In my first year of competing, I became the UKDFBA UK and INBF international figure champion 2016, and was invited to represent the UK in the WNBF World Championship where I placed third. My aim is to retain my UK and international title next year, and hopefully qualify again for a shot at the world title.
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What is your motivation on days when you aren’t feeling your best or don’t feel like training?
I think it’s important to distinguish between between days when you are so exhausted or ill that you shouldn’t train and days when you are just slightly low on energy or drive. I will often find that even when I’m tired, once I step onto the gym floor I completely forget about my tiredness and just get into the zone. I know that I have to work to improve, and that no one else can do the work for me. My achievements are the result of hard work and determination, and I know that any session is better than no session.
Do you have a specific motivational quote or mantra that motivates you?
“The body achieves what the mind believes.”
“If you do what you’ve always done, then you’ll have what you’ve always had.”