‘Body building has built my confidence’: A female form competitor in her own words

Kat Appleton is a former Leeds Met student and personal trainer. She’s also a female form competitor. Read her story

It was recently reported that only 3% of women are happy with their body, and I’m one of them.

A few years ago this wasn’t exactly the case. After a 4 month trip to the USA I gained a stone, but instead of Weight Watchers or the 5:2 diet, I became a body builder.

I now compete in female figure competitions, where competitors are judged on their muscle tone and symmetry. This year I hope to qualify for the British finals.

Kat competed in the Yorkshire Championships 2013

Kat competed in the Yorkshire Championships 2013

I discovered I had a natural ability to gain strength. I had been a sprinter growing up and through university, so I’ve always been sporty, but it still surprises me how motivated I can be.

The day before I start dieting for a competition I absolutely dread it, I start thinking ‘how am I going to do this again’, and then when the day comes it’s like a switch has flicked in my brain and I’m raring to go.

Before and after

Before and after

I find it easy to train, working as a personal trainer helps. I love the gym and never resent going to work. I sell diet plans through my Facebook page, where I also post photos and tips to help motivate others.

She started training after gaining weight working abroad

She started training after gaining weight working abroad (c) Miles Collins

Bodybuilding has made me more confident in every aspect of my life. But everyone has critics – one of my favourites is “you look good now but don’t get too big.” Why? Would it personally affect you if I wasn’t nice to look at in your view?

I don’t think it matters what anyone else thinks about my body. If you’re happy in yourself then it shouldn’t be an issue.

Apparently only 3% of women are happy with their body…Kat is one of them

It is a bonus that my boyfriend is really supportive. He trains himself, so isn’t intimidated by my muscles, or even if he was, he wouldn’t dare say! The only downside is when I’m training for a show and can’t cuddle up with a bottle of wine and a takeaway… but chicken salad can be just as romantic!

Kat now works as a personal trainer in West Yorkshire

Kat now works as a personal trainer in West Yorkshire

People are always surprised when I tell them my unusual hobby. I think there is an image that pops into people’s heads of women striving to look like men, but that’s not true at all. There is a competition category above mine where women do gain a lot more muscle, but even then they still remain feminine.

Some competitions do allow drug use, but all of the ones I compete in are strictly natural. The majority of women do struggle to gain muscle, as it’s not what we’re built for, so I respect the amount of time and hard work it must take to reach the standard you see in natural competition.

I’m always working on my body, at the moment I’m trying to get a more defined look on my glutes and abs, ready for a British National Bodybuilding Federation show in June. Female bodybuilding definitely seems to be getting more popular, #StrongNotSkinny is taking off on Instagram, with girls everywhere sharing photos of their muscle definition.

If you love the gym, all you need is some self-discipline, and you could do this too!

As told to Flo Perry