From Beginner To World Champion!

“How I got into the best shape of my life”

By Lauren Young

World Champion! Matt Marsh Photography

I started out life as a dancer attending the Maria Barinovski School of Ballet in Bedwas in Caerphilly. I loved it! I sailed through the grades and was even scouted by the Royal Ballet School which took me to Covent Garden to audition for the Royal Academy. Those were the days where they could discriminate on height and unfortunately even at the age of 8, they decided I would grow too tall to be accepted as a professional ballerina. It was a knock to my confidence as a dancer, but I continued dancing into my teens.

Little did I know then, but this experience would later lay the foundations for what was to come.

I’ve always been ‘sporty’ but never excelled at just one sport. The all-girl school I attended had hockey and netball teams for which I played both.

I had a bit of a flare for gymnastics but never pursued it. The summer months I would turn my hand to track and field where I participated in long and short distance

running, and long and high jump. Even when I left school I continued to train, I was a member of a gym and would run often.

I travelled to Australia with a boy (who I later married) and whilst studying there as a personal trainer. I worked as a PT in Australia for a few years until returning home where I worked in a David Lloyd. Back then the PT wage wasn’t great, so I decided to return to University to train as a nurse and have worked as an A&E and Critical Care Nurse ever since.

Training has always been part of my life. I tried my hand at a few things like boxing, pole and ice skating, I ran a few half marathons, done some weight training and did yoga. I was due to get married, so hired a coach who had competed in body building and said I would be perfect for the stage. I always wanted to try but it took me 9 years to get the courage.

At the age of 39, after 2 kids I decided to give it a go. In January 2022 I hired my now coach, Holly Wilson and began my preparation journey. The prep lasted 7 months during which time Holly took me through a build stage, which is essentially where you gain weight and lift heavy weights in order to build muscle or ‘get gainz’. Then the ‘cut’ started mid-April. During this stage calories/macros are put into deficit, in order that body fat is reduced, and the lean muscle mass underneath is revealed. It’s a difficult one to explain but anyone who has been through a prep knows the struggles. Extreme hunger, extreme fatigue, brain fog and a short fuse are the highlights. But… I got through it and stepped on stage July 3rd as an amateur, later that day I went home with a professional athlete status and four trophies including a 1st place 2 x 2nd places and a fourth place. I had placed in four out of five categories. I also had an invite to the European and World Championships later that year. I was on such a high at the time I hadn’t really processed it but now I know that this is very rare and almost unheard of for a first-time competitor.

The hardest part for me was fitting in the gruelling gym sessions which often lasted about 2 hours a day. I am a mother of two children, aged 6 and 7. I’d get up at 4am to train for a few hours before they wake so that I’m home to get them ready for school. People think I’m nuts, but you just have to get it done. On the plus side I am also showing my kids a work ethic and how to build good habits to stay strong and fit.

The posing is something that most people underestimate. Having a great physique is the base but you have to learn to pose correctly to show it off. At the end of the day, you are being judged on your body. I spent hundreds of hours over the last year or so prancing around my living room in 6-inch platform heels. My posing coach Audrey Kaipio is incredible, she lives in Canada so we spend hours on zoom calls perfecting my routine. What you must remember is that during peak prep I was calorie depleted, sore from training and beyond tired but that woman is relentless and wouldn’t let me stop until I was completely prepared for the stage. There were times I hated her but like me she is a perfectionist and made me video the routine over and over until she was happy. I owe a lot to her.

I never expected to do that well and at the age of 39 I had finally found my niche. Almost immediately I sat with my coach to make plans. We decided the European Champs would be too close and entering another prep that soon could be dangerous. So, we decided to go for the World Champs in only four months’ time! The next stage was reverse! This is where it can all go very wrong. Hunger Hormones are deranged at this point which can lead to overeating and extreme weight gain.

Four months after my first competition I was there again, this time I was a pro which raised the ante. I had no expectations and the girls I was competing against were phenomenal. But… I did it again. That day I went home a World Champion! Again, almost unheard of, in four months I had gone from an absolute beginner, to a pro, to a World Champion. Moral of my story, don’t listen to anyone, not a single person. Not your parents, your partner, your friends, colleagues, strangers, influencers, no one! If there is a burning desire within you to do something, no matter what that is (as long as its legal) just go for it!