It has been my absolute pleasure to have been Lisa Kelly's bikini designer for the past two years, I have seen her go from strength to strength and look forward to many more competitions working with her. Lisa has been such an infectious inspiration I asked her if she would share her experiences with me, and I hope that you also find some inspiration to dig deep on your fitness journey too.
Trained by the legendary Eddie The Savage Abbew, and sponsored by First Protein, Lisa Kelly recently stormed the stage at UKBFF qualifier in St Albans and then took the UKBFF Grand Prix Body Fitness over 163cm and overall body fitness title a couple of weeks later.
Huge congratulations Lisa! Please share with us some of the experiences you have had on your journey...
Thank you... I am absolutely over the moon with my recent success. I have competed 7 times now and each one has meant that little bit more to me. I firstly competed back in April 2013 when I set myself the goal of getting on stage after my eldest sister Karen passed away in December 2012. Karen was left deaf, blind and brain damaged after her vaccinations at 16 months old. I first choose to compete because of her, because I had choices and freedom to live whatever life I chose unlike her. Her strength that she displayed daily inspired me to chase after my goals and achieve them no matter what it took and that’s how my competitive career began.
I had my sights set on being a bikini girl from the outset and never listened to my coach when he repeatedly told me my shape was destined for bodyfitness. Needless to say after trying my luck at bikini in Kent 2014 I switched categories 2 weeks later and won the bodyfitness class in Birmingham. On to the UKBFF finals and I didn’t get a call out which fuelled my fire and has driven every single training session since October last year. Every time I felt like giving up or missing training I remembered back to that feeling on stage last year of being ignored and it pushed me through. When I won my class in St Albans on 28th June, every training session felt like it had been worth it – I proved to myself that hard work pays off!!
It is really interesting what spurs someone to decide to change their lives, be it a traumatic experience, an aspiration to achieve a goal or simply a eureka! moment. Although I am not a competitor myself I can relate to the challenge of self improvement....where do you see your goals heading to from here?
Earlier this year I went to Ohio to support my savage sister Claire McKee at the Arnold Classic. I spectated and sat in the audience dreaming big and aiming high and said to Eddie “one day I would love to represent the UK on the international stage” and after competing at the UKBFF English Grand Prix on July 5th, that dream has been realized and I have been invited to compete at the Arnold Classic Europe in Madrid in September. My goal is to work hard, get my head down and make some improvements before I step on stage again. I believe in hard work and with the support of such an amazing coach and team I believe the sky is the limit and success comes to those who never give up.
Yes, having met so many of the Savage Team now, I think it is amazing to have such a supportive team and an epic mentor like Eddie The Savage Abbew.
Their support and encouragement is second to none and when any of us step out on stage and hear the support and cheers from the whole team you can’t help but feel 10 feet tall – even the compare commented on how we raise the roof!! Haha.
How did that all come about?
I started lifting weights and training because like many others I hated what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I had tried numerous diets over the years and was fed up of feeling fed up with myself. I was bored of starting over every Monday and when I finally accepted that my get up and go had got up and went I knew I had to make a commitment to change my lifestyle and my eating habits once and for all. I contacted Eddie and made an appointment to go and see him and I have never looked back since. Eddie is a one of a kind coach. Aside from the fact he is completely childish and never appears to take life seriously at all – when he means business – it’s on. Eddie believes in all of us. He supports us all like we are his extended family and genuinely wants each and every one of us to succeed. His support and encouragement is contagious and cascades down through the whole team. He makes us want to work hard and succeed and the results from the shows are merely the icing on the cake.
Speaking of cake, how do you deal with the diet restrictions and the on-off nature of the competitive beast?
Off season is the hardest thing to get your head around. I feel as a woman we are conditioned to want to lose weight and celebrate our success when that number on the scale goes down which is the complete opposite to the requirements of off season. As a member of team savage our check in procedure is very personalised and whilst many of my friends are bodyfitness athletes – our off seasons are all completely different. Due to changing categories in the last year over Christmas my plan was to go very off season so I could build some muscle and I enjoyed the process. Every week I check in with Eddie and he assesses how everything is going, and that for me helped me deal with what I was doing to my body. It was a process and it was controlled so even though the scales kept on going up – it was all part of the plan. I embraced my off season and kept telling myself that it’s not about how I look now – what matters is how I look next time I step on stage. The thought of being ignored again drove me to get on with it. I’m not saying I didn’t have my melt downs – I certainly did, but the good thing about being part of such a supportive team is that there are always people around that will help you deal with the struggles you are having.
l-r Michelle Leach, Eddie Abbe, Hannah Barrie, Lisa Kelly
Many people I have talked to find the diet regime much harder than the workout sessions, what would you say is a typical week for you?
My daily routine is largely the same. I eat 6 times a day, every 3 hours starting at 8am.
I work Monday - Friday in a preschool and train in the evenings with Eddie and Norbert. Weekends are spent at the gym helping with check ins and then catching up with family and friends. I usually have my cheat meal on a Sunday which works well for me as after my cheat meal, its bed time and Monday is a fresh week and a new start.
It is really important to work with the genetics you have, instead of trying to force your body to an unsuitable type. As you mentioned earlier you originally had your sights set on being a bikini competitor...what appeals most to you about body fitness?
The food! I tried to be a bikini girl but it didn’t suit my body type at all. My body loves the dietary requirements for bodyfitness and for the whole of my last prep I was hardly even hungry on the food I was on which was a welcome change in comparison to prepping last year. I also love the training, I grow tissue quite easily (whether it be muscle or bodyfat) and I am able to train hard and heavy and feel like I have achieved something with each workout.
For me now, I would say I am body confident. Training and competing has helped me learn to love my body and accept it through all the different phases I put it through. The main thing for me is knowing that I am in control of how I look and with a few tweaks here and there I can feel happy and confident in my own skin. For me, that’s been the biggest plus about this whole lifestyle change.
And building up to competition day...you've trained hard, stuck to your diet and done everything Eddie has advised what else gets you excited about the big day?
Having the right bikini is one of the most important parts of presenting your physique on stage. Since being introduced to you by my savage sister Hannah Barry, I step out on stage each time feeling beautiful and trusting that I can showcase my hard work without having a bikini mishap (i.e. connectors breaking and you showing the audience parts of your body they do not need to see!!)
Having a bespoke bikini allows you to showcase a little bit of your personality and seeing your ideas come to life each time you receive a design layout and then the actual bikini is one of the most exciting parts of the whole process. There are some hard days when competing but choosing your bikini helps you dig deep and work hard as you can’t wait to put it on and show it off on stage.
And finally what's the last thing you do before you step out on stage?
The last thing I do before I step out on stage is take a deep breath, smile and think to myself “I have done everything I can – so go out there and enjoy it”. If there is music playing ill always do a silly dance to loosen up and try and relax too! Hehe.