Blackpool resident Ilaria Armeni is hoping to muscle out the competition this weekend, when she takes part in an international bodybuilding contest.
The 40-year-old will represent the UK team at the NABBA (National Amateur Body Builders Association) Universe finals, held at the ICC in Birmingham, on Saturday.
Ilaria, who has been bodybuilding for two years, said she was delighted her hard work had paid off to get her so far in the competition.
Ilaria – who recently took over Body Masters Gym in Blackpool with partner, Richard – said: “I feel really proud, it’s the biggest achievement you can reach within the federation for non-professional athletes. NABBA is the first and the original competitive bodybuilding association, formed in 1948. This is my second year of bodybuilding, so I haven’t been doing it very long.
“I’ve always enjoyed sport, I’ve competed in different sports – including karate and boxing.
“I started following body building on social media and I was fascinated by it. I was always interested in the science behind it. I decided to try it and I really enjoyed it.
“I love seeing the results. Muscles take time to develop and I find it really rewarding.
“I don’t have a coach, I have been training myself. As my partner has always been into training and the gym too, and trains a lot, he has given me help and advised me.
“It’s nice to have someone to share it with, but it’s nice to be able to push myself. Then I know if I do well, or if I do not so well, it’s down to me.”
Ilaria’s commitment to her training means she has long days – splitting her time between her job, training in the gym and working at the gym. As she gets closer to the final, her training has changed to become more cardio-focused and her diet has also become much more restricted.
She currently eats seven meals a day and sticks to mainly lean protein and green vegetables.
Her day starts at 5am every morning, when she takes the dog for a walk, then it’s off to the gym for an hour and 15 minutes of cardio training, before heading to Preston to work, and then after work, back to the gym for her full bodybuilding routine and more cardio training.
Ilaria, who is originally from Italy, said: “My work colleagues have all been so supportive and it is quite a demanding schedule working and training, but I love it. I love working at the gym too. We are both so passionate about it.
“We want to help people achieve their goals too and I hope I can inspire others.”