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We caught up with the weight training advocate, Sarah Matelart, to find out her journey from a full time journalist to than becoming a Personal Trainer, Studio Instructor and competing in her first WBFF Fitness Diva competition, where she won 3rd place.

What made you change your career path?

I've done 9 years as a journalist and voice over artist. I was reading the news on the radio in one of my last jobs. I remember waiting impatiently every day with my gym bag under my desk in the newsroom for my shift to end and sprint to the gym next door. Suddenly I realised I'd done my time in media and asked myself: where do I feel like a fish in the ocean? The answer was obvious and the career shift had already begun.

When did you decide to start competing?

I competed only once, it was this time last year. My coach scouted me in an advanced instructor workshop. He encouraged me to start resistance training and said I would become a better teacher for training myself in the gym outside of my teaching hours. Back in the days I would only teach and do classes such as body pump, spin, circuit (...) I got given a little program and went to do it on my own. My body changed dramatically (for the best). I was single and going towards my 30th birthday (queue the life crisis) and thought dammit I'm gonna do all I can to look fantastic and get in the best shape for my 30th. Soon after, people in the gym noticed the gains and kept asking: "When are you competing? What show are you prepping for?". I thought if they saw potential in me, I might as well do it, otherwise I could regret no taking up the challenge. I turned to the man who got me into resistance training at the first place. He said I should 100% do it. He became my coach and the rest is history.

Grabbing 3rd place WBFF Fitness Diva gave me an incredible sense of achievement. Not only because I was 30 and looking hot on stage. But mostly because I proved all the doctors wrong.

When I was 15 years old, I was diagnosed with really bad hereditary hips (dislocated) and back problems (fused vertebrae’s). I had to stop playing tennis and was advised to stop any physical activity unless I wanted to end up in a wheelchair by the time I hit 30 years old. I stopped for a bit but going from being a very active kid to a vegetable didn't sit well with me. I listened to my body, started moving again... No tennis to avoid impact but dancing and aerobics were OK to start with. Later, I strengthened those weak areas (hips and back) and never looked back. Now the only wheels that carry me are those of my bike. It's ironic that I was told I would be in a wheelchair at 30 and instead I was there on stage with a trophy in my hands. It goes to show that when there's a will there's a way.

Do you feel pressure to be in the perfect shape?

Not at all. I'm a fitness professional but I'm also human and I'm allowed a few slip ups. After my competition, I put on 10kg and I haven't lost them so I'm far from my lean days and stage weight. But that's fine. I'm healthy, moving, breathing and loving life.

What would you advise women who are looking to get into weight training?

Resistance training will make you feel and look a million dollar. Do it do it do it. Just make sure you fuel your body accordingly. Diet and training go hand in hand. You can't lift and grow on low calorie. I normally tell my clients who hesitate because they're not confident to step in the weight room, look left, look right and understand that (no offence) half of the people here have no clue what they're doing.

What are the three biggest myths in terms of weightlifting?

How can I pick only 3 when you open Instagram and 50% of what you read there is a myth... Let's focus on what's true instead: eat right, sleep right, train right, that's you sorted. And when I say train right I mean no Mickey Mouse nonsense or trendy workout. Compound movements. Foundation lifts executed with correct technique and incorporated in a program that will get you closer to your goals.

Is cardio training necessary for weight loss?

It's not necessary but it will help. HIIT is also a good idea to lose weight. And I'm a big advocate of resistance training (Sorry if I sound like a broken record) to improve body composition. All aspects of fitness are important. I like to mix weight, cardio, HIIT, calisthenics, gymnastics etc. to be as complete as I can.

What is your favourite and most effective way to booty workout?

Heavy and multi-joints. Girls (and guys), if you want strong glutes (and posterior chain), do your squats, lunges, deadlifts, step ups, bridges. The rest is accessory. And don't expect to change your body with bands and cables...

What one thing do you never skip in your workout?

A selfie. Joking... A workout is a ritual. I need comfortable active wear. Enough time as I hate being rushed (especially on leg day). A plan. My bottle of water. Food for before and after. I always start with joint mobilisation, then I execute the plan and finish with a quick stretch.

What are the benefits of a TRX class?

I guess you'd have to come to my class Monday 6pm to find out. I see more and more people using the TRX but they always perform the same thing (basically a squat, a row or knee tuck). The suspension trainer allows you to train all body parts with an incredible variety of exercises. It's a good idea to come to class and get familiar with the TRX library. Besides it's a piece of equipment I recommend as it strengthens your core without you specifically targeting your abs. Come and make your body your machine.

How do you keep a group of people motivated?

I love it when we share the energy with the members. It bounces back. The crazier the better. Although class participants can get a bit competitive, they all know that at the end of the day, their only competition is themselves. Everybody's got a different reason for being in class and so it's in everybody's interest to help each other out on their journey and have fun.

Any advice to someone wanting to start training or a beginner?

Whether you want to hire a PT, do classes or train with a group of friends, schedule those workouts in your diary and make no excuses. The results will follow and you will get addicted. Let exercise become your therapy.

What’s the biggest mistake that fitness newbies make?

I see too many people on restrictive diets crashing in the gym. If you want to train, you've got to eat!!!

What does balance mean to you?

I feel like I'm constantly seeking balance. In the food I eat, balance between the macros, balance between fuelling my body and allowing myself cheat meals. But it's so easy to lose it. I guess the key is to allow slip ups and immediately get back on track, being as consistent as humanly possible.

Work-life balance is something I haven't got right at the moment. I probably need more me time and holidays. But I'm working with a life coach to sort that out...

What can we expect from you for 2017?

I'm really excited to be part of the team in Tower Hill where the new ONE LDN Studios open in April. Watch out for that.

Social media:

Instagram: @sarathletic

View our studio timetable here

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