About Leoni

I began my journey into serious strength training 2 years ago. In a way, this was the destination on a long journey of different training modalities and sporting experiences. I played sport all through my teens and 20’s and with every different sport, I committed wholeheartedly to the training protocols but always found that they lacked one of the most important fitness components- strength training. As well as the neglect for resistance training, I found that the nutritional advice given out never lined up with the long-term goals the athletes wanted to achieve. While I could take valuable lessons from each sport I pursued, it was only when I started training under Gus (then Muscle Nerd) that all the components of training, sport psychology and nutrition fell into place.

PSYCHOLOGICALLY, A PERPFORMANCE GOAL IS VITAL FOR ANY BODY COMPOSITION GOAL

I first started playing touch football in high school, and continued after I graduated competing at state level. I liked the tactics and teamwork involved but also wanted a lean, athletic body composition. Looking back, I might not have had the best mindset around my body composition but I do believe I did one thing right in that I put all my focus into performance goals and athletic training not just punishing my body with exercise. Psychologically, I think a performance focus is a vital component for any body composition goal, and while I was not eating like an athlete, I certainly trained like one.

Following my touch football career, I took up mauy thai and then crossfit. The same attitude followed me into these sports, I was dedicated to the training but didn’t understand nutrition and rebounded between different bodyweights and fitness levels. This rebound was an accumulative effort of my extreme training practices, I trained for many hours a week, and was not eating enough or the right food to support this. I was physically doing more and trying to eat less, to maintain a body I wasn’t ever happy with; my body didn’t perform or look how I wanted it to and I realise now that this is because I was fighting my body’s survival mechanisms to live that lifestyle. This time for me brought out a very negative outlook toward training, food and my body’s abilities.

The body is an amazing and dynamic organism, and I have since learnt that you achieve the best results by feeding and supporting the body rather than fighting against and depriving it.

My transition from mauy thai to crossfit was spurred on by my desire for more strength training. My fight training had a huge technical and speed focus but, in my opinion, lacked resistance and power aspects. The more I educated myself on training and performance, the more I saw the need for designated resistance training in all sports, as it builds the base of a balanced physique, prevents injuries and makes athletes more powerful. I think that strength training is one of the most important, but most lacking, training tools to improve overall sporting ability across the board.

Strength training is one of the most important, but most lacking, training tools

The switch from fighting to crossfit was immediately gratifying as I loved the variety. However, after a few years of immersed training, I discovered some discrepancies between the training style and common goals of most people who participate in the workouts at local gyms. I have a big respect for the sport of crossfit, but after years of training discovered it was just that- a sport, and not necessarily an appropriate training protocol to simply reach general body composition or strength goals. In my opinion, WOD’s are a great way to test fitness but not the most effective way to train it. I found my best progression occurred when I took a step back from pure crossfit training and focused on targeted, non-time specific and progressive strength training.

I focused on increasing my powerlifting total and found that my overall fitness improved. 

STARTING stats: 130 squat, 70kg bench, 150kg deadlift @ 77.2kgs, 31% Bf

CURRENT stats: 172.5 squat, 90kg bench, 175kg deadlift @ 74kgs, 20.9% BF

[ut_two_thirds]In July 2015, I found myself with a collection of injuries and had hit a wall with my progression; I saw big gaps in my knowledge of strength training, performance and body composition. I had gone from sport to sport looking to fill these gaps of knowledge, and had done so in part, but still was yet to reach my original goal of the body composition I wanted, and answer a lot of questions. I searched online for a strength coach and found Gus, who has now become not only a coach, but a teacher and mentor for me. Through Gus’ guidance

I have finally reached my body composition goals, filled a lot of gaps in my knowledge and uncovered a whole new world of questions to be asked.

I love strength training because it is another facet of human capabilities that truly amazes me. Through strength training I have been drawn to the psychology of the dynamic relationship between the mind and the body and have found you can learn a lot from how people approach their goals and training and vice-a-versa, ultimately teaching people a lot about themselves. At Lifters League we run on a solution-focused system, where we assess the person’s strengths, capabilities and weaknesses and match these to their goal with a step-by-step prescription. Things do not always go to plan, in life or in training, and I find strength training provides a supportive environment that acts almost like a metaphor for life, teaching us how to plan for, adapt and come back from failure. Furthermore, the physical side of training provides countless psychological benefits. I have taken my interest in psychology a step further by studying counselling, I love that I can tie this formal education in with my coaching and training.

Now that I have found a system that answers all my questions, I am happy to be able to pass it forward to others who have the same desires and questions that I’ve had throughout my journey. There is so much focus on instant gratification within the fitness industry, with events like 8-12 week challenges encouraging fast, rapid weight loss from extreme measures like cutting out certain macronutrients, low calories and more cardio. However, due to these extreme, unsustainable measures the results some achieve are not retained, and in most cases, negatively impact their physiological and psychological well-being. I have found the best results come from a sustainable, long term approach prescribed by experienced coaches. I have personally tried destructive, metabolic damaging methods that don’t work or aren’t designed for long term use, and it frustrates me seeing people, or worse trainers, utilising these methods as their primary means of teaching and aiding individuals in their goals. Now through my training and education I want to help others going through similar scenarios.

So much focus on instant gratification within the fitness industry, the best results come from a sustainable, long term approach with experienced coaches.

I am now a strength coach at Lifters League in Newstead, QLD.  I specialise in strength and conditioning, fat loss and body recomposition.

If you would like more information on program and diet, coaching and/or online coaching please contact me, leoni@liftersleague.com.au or PH: 0406 776 092.

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