I have had the pleasure of being bikini designer for Sara Harpin for three seasons. Sara holds the titles GPC & BPU British Champion Powerlifter, British and world records for deadlifting and most recently competed at BodyPower in Birmingham (May 2018)and came away with the Gold medal in her category and lifted a total of 535kg the second highest raw female total in the UK.
I am always amazed at Sara's dedication to her sport, her inner strength and grace and her physical transformation....so I asked her about it....
Hi Sarah...when we first met you were definitely a bikini girl! And now you are a powerlifting champion, woah! Tell me about it...
Well Chrissie, I competed 5 times over 2 years in UKBFF bikini...I did ok but I love muscle and lifting heavy and I felt that genetically I’d be better suited to a more muscular class so I decided to take a year off to put on some size. During my year off I got invited to compete in a friendly powerlifting comp...I thought I’d give it a go...id never trained any of the powerlifts but it turned out I was really quite good at it and by the end of the year I was a British Champion...so I guess Powerlifting actually chose me!
Do you feel that you have more body confidence now than when you were competing as a bikini competitor?
Absolutely, it’s very easy to start believing your comp physique is the best version of yourself, people compliment you n tell you you look amazing and they aspire to be like you which is fine the 1/2 weeks a year you are in that condition but it is very difficult to deal with the other 50 weeks...I remember my first rebound after a comp and people actually asked me what was wrong with me..like I was sick or something because they too believed that that was the true version of me. Now I know that there are many versions of me...this one is the strong AF one and I like her!
When did you decide to change your body shape, and what influenced your decision?
Like I said above I love muscle and I love lifting heavy. Mostly it’s about the respect...I think as women we are taught that beauty will command respect but it doesn’t it’s a lie...strength commands respect and nothing feels as good as respect!
Do you intend to make further changes?
I competed successfully in ukbff women’s physique after my year off but I felt there were a few improvements I could make so I intend to return to that in the near future and there are still things I want to achieve within Powerlifting. Who knows what the future will hold...maybe I’ll decide I want to be a marathon runner next...haha.
How has your training made you more comfortable in your own skin?
Knowing I am in control of my body...I decide how I want it to be. It’s an empowering feeling.
Has your mindset changed over the years as you have competing ? If so...how?
I don’t think so...I’ve always had the same do or die mindset when it comes to competing...if I say I’m gonna do something I’m gonna do it...to the best of my abilities...whatever it takes!
Did you have any personal reflections on your competition achievements so far?
Yes it’s important to reflect...it’s the only way to learn! There are loads of things that I would have done differently along the way but if I hadn’t done them I wouldn’t have known not to do them the next time. A lot of people wait to be perfect before they do something and never end up doing anything.
Has the competition process benefited you in any ways?
Certainly not financially unfortunately but it has made me rich in many ways...rich in friendship...adventures...knowledge...and of course that all important respect.
What has been your worst competition experience so far? (you don't have to answer this obvs)
The 10 hour coach journey to Manchester for my first British Championship was quite vile!!!
You have now also trained several girls on their competition mission.....it must be very rewarding to help other women reach their body goals?
Absolutely...I feel more nervous when my girls compete than I do (both my bikini girl and my powerlifters) I think it’s the lack of control...you have got them to this point but when they walk out onto that stage or platform you are helpless.
What best advice would you give to someone who is new to the competition circuit?
Keep it real!
What's your superpower?