Emma Paveley is a 25 year old fitness fanatic, competitor, and personal trainer from Essex. She has been representing the UK internationally for the last three years and competes in the women’s category, wherein she must perform a fitness routine showing strength, flexibility, and agility, before getting judged on her figure.
She has three British champion titles and just won the Arnold Classic Europe and IFBB Diamond Cup. She also has three bronze medals in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 world championships. Having recently won her IFBB Pro card, she will be moving onto the professional stage later this year.
It was during a photoshoot with a sports photographer. He told me I had a really good figure and asked if I had ever considered bodybuilding. I hadn’t. I just knew that I loved being in the gym and always had.
Shortly after this shoot, I looked into the sport and tried to find a category that included body building, fitness routines, and gymnastics. And it immediately felt like the perfect thing for me… almost as if it was tailor made for someone like me.
Working on my body for the last five years and being someone who is very much about promoting feminine muscle are two of the reasons I pursued it, but I became even more interested when I realised that lifting weights would give me the ability to shape my figure however I wanted it.
When I first started, my family weren’t supportive. For the first two years, they didn’t understand what exactly I was doing. They didn’t want me to look like a stereotypical body builder, and they were very worried about my dieting. It wasn’t until they saw me on stage at the British Championships that they realised how passionate I was.
Once I’d proven this is what I do, this is what I look like, and stayed stubborn, they started to accept what I do. They know now that I’m not putting myself at risk with my diet or exercise. It was just a matter of making them see it through my eyes.
I started at just the right time. It was the year that the federation introduced a wider range of categories by separating women’s body building into aesthetically pleasing categories, like the “Figure” category and the “Bikini” category.
So for me, being in the sport hasn’t been difficult. The stereotypes associated with it are changing. People are more accepting than before and that makes both the sport and the athletes more popular.
Participation in female bodybuilding has increased tremendously as a result. There were a total of 800 athletes, male and female, in the last British Finals. A few years ago there were only around 200.
More and more girls are working out and lifting weights because they want to compete in competitions; and this comes when you start to see your body as an art form that you can sculpt to your liking.
Of course, the problem of drugs never goes away. A lot famous bodybuilders have been associated with drugs at one point or another in their career, but body building isn’t an exception. It’s an issue faced by sport in general.
Personally, I don’t want to look hugely muscular so I don’t feel the need to take them, but if an individual wants to take drugs, they should just be honest about it.
But with the new categories introduced, the figures can be achieved naturally, and because of that, they are aesthetically more pleasing – because it’s a natural human body, just with a lot of hard work put into it.
A lot. Bodybuilding is opinionated sport. There are no set guidelines on how to perform or how to make the judges like you. You’ve got to go on to the stage for your own reasons and be confident in your ability no matter what happens.
As for the future, there is a long way for me to go in the sport. I have to compete and win many more competitions to be classed above the amateur stage, but I am hoping to make it to the pro stages in the near future.
Also, as it’s not an Olympic sport, I do still have to work part time and it can be a real struggle to find a balance. I’ve just launched my personal training career, which goes hand in hand with my own training, and I’ve also got a new sponsor to support my advancement to pro shows. It’s all a step by step process, hopefully leading to me getting into the sport full time.
For me, bodybuilding was a personal journey. I wanted to do it for me because I enjoyed it.
Now I just want to be the best I can be.