THOSE GORGEOUS LONG LEGS OF CLAIRE PRESTON ARE NOT ONLY THE PRODUCT OF HER AND GENE SMASHING THE GROUP AND PERSONAL TRAINING SESSIONS. NOW WE KNOW GENETICS PLAY A ROLE AS CLAIRE’S SUPERSTAR MUM WENDY MITCHELL SPORTS AN EQUALLY FABULOUS PAIR OF PINS. AFTER PUTTING IN A MASSIVE EFFORT OVER JUNE, LIFTING SOME BIG NUMBERS NOW STRENGTH GYM IS BACK IN FULL SWING AND CHATTING A LITTLE LESS IN CLASS (EVEN IF IT’S BECAUSE CLAIRE WON’T CHAT BACK), BODIES BY RYAN HEAD TRAINER RYAN DEVEREUX SAID THE VOTE FOR THIS MONTH’S SUPERSTAR MEMBER WAS UNANIMOUS… CONGRATULATIONS WENDY! WE LOVED HEARING WENDY’S STORY; SHE’S BATTLED THROUGH A LOT, SUPPORTED HER DAUGHTER’S FITNESS JOURNEY IN A MASSIVE WAY AND SHE’S NOW GOING FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH. YOU DO YOU, WENDY, WE BLOODY LOVE YOU!! AND PS WHO ELSE GETS AWAY WITH BACKCHATTING RHINO? NOBODY, THAT’S WHO!
Above: Wendy and Claire after a Saturday morning sesh together with all the good endorphins pumping.
When did you first join Bodies by Ryan and what was the state of your health and fitness prior?
I started seeing Gene at Allen Park with Claire about Feb 2019. I knew Claire needed more than a gym membership to help her with her new fitness regime so we found Gene through a Margaret River friend. Claire (and I) had no idea what being with a personal trainer meant so she was reluctant to start without me having to suffer along with her. Obviously, it took one exercise to realise that it was not only Claire who needed to become fitter and stronger, but I also could benefit from Gene’s support and guidance to improve my strength.
Gene had all the qualifications as well as the calm, kind nature to help us build confidence as well as strength. When Gene started at BBR not long after that we moved to training there. Claire started the classes in about July and I followed about a month later. Sport and I have only had a passing acquaintanceship. I am uncompetitive, clumsy and at school was a little skinny kid last to be picked. I really was the second reserve of the D hockey team. I could swim a bit, with a bronze medallion, but never found that easy either.
When I finally grew, my kneecap took its own course and started dislocating at my few sporting attempts at uni, like tennis and volleyball. From then on my fitness came from being (self-assessed) superb on the dance floor at nightclubs, 80s style of course. Sadly that left kneecap hadn’t finished with me. It dislocated so badly when I was 37 that I ended having two reconstructions on the left knee and one on the right in the next two years. Then, about ten years ago I had a repeat ACL reconstruction on the left. Since then it has been me trying to manage the pain and trying to gain strength without causing further injury, something I have found almost impossible to do.
Gym classes were not a real possibility as the chance of injury was too high (I thought). I started swimming with a swim club in Margaret River about six years ago, first in the pool and then all year swimming at Gnarabup Beach. That was great fun, I did the Port to Pub in a team a couple of times, but not only did it not help my lower body strength, I swam too much and ended up have a shoulder reconstruction nearly two years ago. With all this, coming to BBR, especially at my age, was very intimidating and something I never thought i would do.
What was the motivation to join BBR?
I joined when Gene suggested (insisted) I was strong enough to at least have a go at the classes. The timing was ideal as I had become increasingly concerned that, despite the swimming, in my 50s I was functionally very weak. I saw a photo of myself in bathers showing my legs that shocked me as I could not deny how thin my legs were. So, I knew I had to do something and coming with Claire to Gene and then BBR has been a life-changing event for me.
What was your first impression of the gym?
It was all a blur of burpees, assault bikes and sleds. As I was commuting between Margaret River and Swanbourne, I only had ten-class passes for the first six months, so I knew little of the full scope of BBR’s amazing services. My main memory was how nervous I was at being worst in the class and whether that would be embarrassing. But the trainers were all kind and knew when I needed help or when to push me a bit.
What challenged you the most in your early days?
The most challenging was definitely the 35 variations of squats and lunges that seemed to be on the board at every class. Without any muscle support these were really difficult for me. What amazed me was that rather than injuring myself, I improved very quickly.
Please share your physical and mental transformation over your time at BBR…
I still very much see myself as a work-in-progress. However, I do recall Gene having to help me push the sled with no weights on it a year ago and today I did it with 60kg. Obviously, my goal is to do that with Ryan standing on it (How much does he weigh?!). And I even had a good go at chin-ups last week.
Mentally I have still some work to do, but I think that has been the best side of it for me. I was very nervous of failure and very conscious of what I could NOT do. Now, I am amused and surprised that I CAN do some of the exercises so well. I must, however, stop trying to show off when I manage to do something. Ryan caught me smirking with pride while doing a chin-up. One! I was so pleased that he took that as an opportunity to make me do the whole set, which was never my plan. I couldn’t even lift my hairbrush to my head the next day!
You’re also the mum of our recent success story Claire Preston… what is it like training with your 19-year-old daughter?
Claire and I have very different personalities. She is much more focused and disciplined than I am or ever was. So I am always pleased to train with her because she keeps me focused. On the other hand, it would be nice if she would chat occasionally to give me the opportunity to slack off with a few more 40 second rather than 50 second sets.
What was it like seeing Claire flourish under the tutelage of BBR and Gene in particular?
Flourish is indeed the word for Claire these last 16 months. Gene has such a calm, kind, but focused and disciplined approach to training that, right from the horror of our first training session at Allen Park, when we both nearly expired red-faced on the oval from doing not very much, Claire was inspired to keep going, train a little bit harder and attain goals she had thought were beyond her. And, as soon as she started the BBR classes and could train differently and with company, everything came together. For her, as everyone can see, BBR (and Gene) and her healthy diet are fantastic lifestyle choices for her.
What’s the biggest health or fitness challenge you have ever overcome or achieved?
Biggest health challenge overcome: Definitely walking without a limp. Biggest fitness challenge: Turning up to the classes.
Tell us about any of your daily health routines that help you achieve your goals outside of the gym? Are you a green smoothie drinker like Claire?!
Oh dear, can we skip this question? I am useless at this stuff. I eat porridge for breakfast. Lunch is usually soup I make myself with my own stock. Dinner is chicken, steak or fish and veg or salad mostly. Sounds good? Yep, BUT i have a sweet tooth and a small appetite. So, all the serves of the good stuff are quite small so I can fit in a chocolate croissant for elevenses, a half cinnamon scroll or biscuits for afternoon tea and chocolate with my evening tea. Claire keeps telling me to eat more so I gain more muscle. Haha!
What are some of the goals you are currently working towards?
See above about pushing Ryan on the sled as my next challenge! Actually, I have surprised myself at how strong I am now compared to a year ago. My goal is to be equally surprised in June 2021.
Tell us something special/surprising about yourself that we wouldn’t know?!
I was the only foreign lawyer in private practice in Austria for ten years (Is that fun?)
Fast five Favourites
Fave HIIT/Strength station? Is there such a thing? Active elbow planks because I’m pretty sure Ryan can’t see how “active” I am the whole 50 seconds.
Least fave? Easy: that one where it’s bike-burpees-bike-froggers-bike. It’s impossible to cheat enough to get through that.
Fave café and your order there? Bib&Tucker for turmeric porridge and a double espresso
Fave cheat meal? Pizza
Fave holiday destination? Salzburg and Vienna to see my friends and eat cake. Broome for some northern warmth