Entering a body building competition is not for the faint-hearted – it requires dedication, drive, and commitment. Our hats go off to two body builders who are training at our Wimbledon and Surbiton gyms. We love how fit, healthy and lean they look – but we wouldn’t swap their diets any time soon…
Ricardo Stylianou, aged 25, is a member of YMCA Wimbledon Gym and is entering an over 75 kilos competition in Manchester, on 31 July. It’s Ricardo’s first year of competing. He gets in shape every summer by working out, but decided to take it one step further this year. His trainer Dave Bassett is ensuring that he will be in the very best condition to compete. Is Ricardo worried about being a newbie to the competition circuit? “I don’t think it’s going to be an easy ride! It depends on conditioning,” he says. “I train five times a week at the moment, but it goes up to six as the competition gets nearer.”
So what inspired Ricardo to take his training into the realms of body building? “I’ve been training since I was 18. I’ve always had a healthy lifestyle, plus my Dad used to body build too, which is probably one of my main inspirations.”
YMCA Wimbledon has proved the perfect place for Ricardo to train, as he knows everyone there and feels very supported by staff. “I have a family connection with the place, my mum was a member before I was born, and I used to go there as a child, so it’s been part of my life growing up. I love the whole vibe of the place.”
Ricardo has to work hard to train, but his favourite go-to exercises are pull-ups. He also used to swim a lot, so his back is quite strong, along with his upper body.
When Ricardo isn’t dedicating himself to body building, he works at BMW in Croydon as a diagnostic mechanic. And his work colleagues couldn’t be more supportive as they have supplied him with his own fridge and microwave so he can freshly prepare food. “I eat a lot but it’s all healthy, on an average day I’ll eat porridge, egg white omelettes, rice, broccoli, chicken breasts, salmon, steak, soup, potato and salad, plus protein shakes. There’s no saturated fats, no dairy. Being Greek, I miss houmous and pitta bread so badly!”
Pamela David, aged 43, is a personal trainer at YMCA Surbiton
Dedicated to looking good, training hard and keeping healthy, Pamela is an inspiration. She is competing in her first body building competition in September in Birmingham. Pamela’s competition class is known as “Bikini” and there are a number of poses she has to do to show off her musculature. And all in high heels and a bikini! What inspired her to take part? “Victor, one of the personal trainers here introduced me to it, and he helped me to start the training. He knew that I had the dedication and drive to stick to the discipline to get the right physique. The hardest part is sticking to the diet!” laughs Pamela.
Sporty Pamela eat, sleeps and breathes fitness and has done so all her life, so training hard for her competition seems a natural progression. “When I was younger I used to do athletics and I studied at the University of East London for sports science degree. I actually had two children to bring up while I was studying, they are now aged 26 and 24,” says Pamela.
But working in the fitness industry after completing her degree was difficult, there were just no jobs available for inexperienced graduates. So, Pamela took up a job as a croupier in a West End casino – and ended up staying there for nine years! After that she had a normal 9-5 office job and worked her way up to be a Human Resources Manager. But the fitness bug was hard to shake off, so Pamela decided to retrain as a personal trainer, after volunteering at YMCA Surbiton.
In readiness for her body building competition, Pamela is on a maintenance diet, but in six weeks will need to change it up for extra toning – and she will be thirsty a week beforehand: “I’ll need to reduce my water intake just before the competition, so that my muscles ‘pop’!”
“My bikini alone cost me £100 – and I have to wear high heels. I’ve been to watch a few competitions and you expect it to be bitchy – but it’s not like that at all. The competitors are very supportive and give each other advice.”
So does Pamela hope to win? “I’m 43, I’ve worked hard and I want to challenge myself. I’m facing one of my biggest challenges ever – and that’s getting on stage – in a bikini!”
Inspirational stuff – but our gyms are not all about seeking perfection. They are friendly, caring and supportive places to work out, whether as a gym member or someone who attends our classes.
Wanda Northcutt, 87
Wanda has been coming to YMCA Wimbledon for 30 years, and originally started when she lived in South Wimbledon, coming to classes in the evening. She then moved to New Malden and used to come on the bus, and now her daughter brings her in from Esher. She has a daughter, two grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
Wanda loves the classes in the morning, although she prefers classes where she can stretch rather than energetic ones like Zumba. She finds the staff very friendly, which is why she keeps coming. “The staff are what make the difference here, they are so friendly and encouraging.”
Working out and keeping fit and supple is something which Wanda has done all her life. Before she left Germany to come to live with her husband in the UK after the war, she trained as a professional ballet dancer in Cologne.
Sarah Smadja and Sarah Medja, aged 23 and 24
The two Sarahs joined YMCA Wimbledon back in September 2015 and come to the gym to work out three times a week, plus they love the indoor cycling classes, too. “I’m trying to lose weight,” says Sarah Smadja, “so this is perfect for me. The staff here are great too.” “I love the programme I’ve been given,” says Sarah Medja.
Eric Alegre, 33
Eric has been a YMCA Wimbledon member for a couple of months, after leaving Nuffield which he thought was too pricey. He thought the membership package was more flexible, and has joined with a six-month package. He has had a personal trainer in the past so knows what he should be doing, so hasn’t needed a bespoke training programme. He is between jobs at the moment (he is a business developer for start ups) and comes every day to the gym. He is also gearing up to be a father for the first time in September. He is very pleased with his choice to switch gyms. “ The gym is very clean, the machines are good and you never have to wait or queue to use a piece of equipment.”
Victor Ciobotea, 63
Victor is a resident at YMCA Wimbledon and goes along to the gym four or five times a week. He joined in December 2015 and has lost 5 kilos since then. “I feel so much better,” explains Victor.
Betty Wilson, retired
Betty joined YMCA Surbiton in February via GP referral, after suffering a back injury. She attends once a week with her daughter Susan. She has a tailored programme that helps her recover from her injury, and already she has begun to notice the difference. “I like the rowing machine and the bike best!” she says. She is a very active lady, particularly with her gardening, so is keen to be back to her old self again as soon as she can – she used to be a ballroom dancer, with a special interest in Old Time Dances.
Nilanthi Kudamaduwage, 47
Nilanthi has been a member of YMCA Surbiton for one month. After a gastric operation, she was referred to the gym on a 12 week programme by Kingston’s Public Health team, to help her build up her strength. She completed the 12 week programme and was so impressed with the staff and facilities, she decided to join as a member. Her tailored programme is easy to keep to and she feels comfortable with it, and attends three times a week.
“I love the range of equipment and I find the staff very helpful,” she says.
Fin Robjohn, 19
Fin has been YMCA Surbiton for the last five years and is a student at Cardiff University. He lives locally when not at uni and comes to work out according to the fitness programme drawn up by his rugby club at university. “ I love the free weights and squat rack,” he says.
Colin Gardner, retired
Colin is a local resident in Kingston and has been coming to YMCA Hawker since April. He has ligament issues and staff have helped him to tackle the problem with a tailored programme. He usually works out two or three times a week. “ I like this gym because it’s local, has good equipment and the staff are very friendly”
Denise Wyatt, 69
Denise is a Richmond resident and has been a member of YMCA Hawker for the last 16 years. She attends classes and the gym three times a week. She recently underwent knee replacement surgery and so needs to strengthen her legs. “Although I love the centre, I would love to see the development of an adult, quiet area to sit and chat.”
Becky Dodsworth, 30
Becky is a local mum who attends the gym at YMCA Hawker when her twin sons attend nursery. She visits the gym five times a week, usually a mixture of gym and classes. She likes body pump and body vive. She has been a member for 5 years. “ Staff are helpful and friendly. The gym is nice and personal”
Rachel Sharrod, instructor for the Public Health Get Active exercise referral programme.
Rachel is based at YMCA Hawker and YMCA Surbiton and helps many different people with very different conditions, such as mental health, diabetes, osteoporosis, recovering from stroke and so on. “On a weekly basis, there are around 20 people who I help who are on a 12-week programme of exercise, referred by their GP.”