COMING FROM HOBART, IT IS WELL KNOWN WITHIN THE STUDIO THAT TASMANIAN’S ARE CONSIDERED TOUGH. THERE IS NO BETTER EXAMPLE OF THIS THAN JESS SHEARMAN. FROM LIFE CHANGING SPINAL SURGERY IN HER TEENS, TO REGULARLY PUTTING UP PB’S IN THE GRIPT STUDIO.
WE CAUGHT UP WITH JESS THIS WEEK TO TALK ABOUT HER JOURNEY SINCE JOINING US IN MAY 2018, THAT HAS INCLUDED WORKING CLOSELY WITH GRIPT COACH NIC MCWILLIAMS, LOSING 20KG’S, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, PRIORITISING HER QUALITY OF LIVING, THAT STARTED BY IMPROVING HER HEALTH.
When you started, what was your situation?
Frustrated would sum it up, growing up I was a highly active person participating in surf life saving and field hockey at a very competitive level, when I was 17 I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis (which is a curvature of the spine, which left untreated can become very debilitating), as a result I ended up having a spinal fusion which has left me with 2x 30cm steels rods down my spine with 16 bolts and screws and 3 less ribs (Ouch). This resulted in me giving up all my sport, which rattled me; this caused me to become disinterested in exercise, healthy eating and living a healthy life. This was exacerbated by moving to Melbourne in 2013 from Tasmania and indulging in one too many university nights out (who can blame me really) leading to me stacking on an unwanted 20kg.
Why did you get started?
I wanted to find my thirst for an active lifestyle again, not to mention shake these extra 20Kg’s and ultimately improve my overall mental and physical wellbeing. As I was always such an active person growing up, the lifestyle I was living was very out of character for me, I felt like it started impacting on my motivational levels, my social life, my relationships and my work not to mention my productivity levels.
Why did you come to GRIPT?
Lets be honest, I tried the whole F45 thing (haven’t we all) for roughly 6 months prior to coming to GRIPT. It did help me lose some initial kg’s, however I felt like I hit a plateau very early on in my training even though I was training consistently 5-6 times per week and I grew frustrated when the results stopped coming. Coming to Melbourne from Tasmania I was aware GRIPT was owned/run by a couple of Tassie legends so it only seemed fitting to give GRIPT a go and I was not disappointed. GRIPT allowed me access to a very personalised program, which focused heavily on technique and effort, which was paramount for me with back issues, and this was when my lifestyle truly changed for the better.
What were your initial challenges/problems you faced?
What I was eating became a major barrier to me achieving my fitness goals when I first came to GRIPT, I was uneducated and under/over eating with absolutely no idea of the types of food I should be eating to compliment my training, let alone how much of it. Being such a bull at a gate type of person I also struggled to understand that I really needed to slow things down and lighten the weight to fully engage/feel the correct muscles we were trying to work (if had a dollar for every time Nic has told me to slow down I’d be a very wealthy person!). Learning to accept that real results take time, hard work, consistency and sweat was something I’ve worked hard to accept.
What was your first experience like coming to the GRIPT studio?
I was bloody nervous due to being very aware I was not in the best shape of my life, however after walking in and being greeted by beautiful Bridget at the front desk my nerves were quickly alleviated, she was so welcoming and had organised for me to do my initial consultation sessions with Nic, he was just as great and being from Tasmania himself we had lots in common which helped me feel very comfortable, we chatted about my goals, what I wanted out of my training and what barriers I had faced in the past then we got down to business (little did I know how much I would learn to love/hate this guy).
How would you describe the GRIPT Training environment?
IT’S A VIBE to say the least. I’ve honestly never been exposed to such a highly welcoming and motivating environment. It’s amazing to train amongst people who are honestly just there to better themselves, allowing themselves to be the best version of themselves they can be. We’re extremely lucky to have access to some best coaches out there who truly have your best interest at heart. Not to mention it being a privileged to train amongst such strong and powerful women who are so committed to their training (what’s more motivational than that!)
Over the last 18 months, what have you taken out of it?
- Food is everything: I have learnt to love and appreciate food for what it is, fuel for my body to get 100% out of my work outs and out of my life (I never thought I’ d be that girl eating lean mince prior to a 6am weights session, but hey here I am)
- Technique is fundamental: it wasn’t until I came to GRIPT that I developed a whole new appreciation for the importance of technique when weight training, I’ve learnt that I need to nail technique in order to lift the heavier weights and get results whilst avoiding injury.
- It’s about consistency and commitment; I’ve learnt that if I want serious results I have to be 100% committed to the process. I’ve learnt to realise I’m not always going to be motivated when my alarm goes off at 5.15am but it’s consistency, habit and commitment that’s going to get me to my sessions.
Working closely with Nic, how would you describe that relationship and Nic as a coach?
It’s definitely a pure love-hate relationship. I originally did a 12-week challenge with Nic back in August 2018. He worked hard to understand what I could and couldn’t do with my back and what muscles were affected. It was then that he changed my whole relationship with food, recovery and training and as an outcome we have got some serious results over the past 18 months. Nic has instilled in me an approach to my training I’ll be forever grateful for. I now do both PT and Volumize sessions with Nic. We get in and get it done with intensity, commitment and grit all whilst having an overall good time (and a laugh of course). Nic invests a lot of time in my training programs and my results so I feel like I owe it to him to work hard. I wouldn’t be where I am today both mentally and physically without Nic’s guidance. You couldn’t ask for a better coach, he’s invested, he’s knowledgeable, he’s nice when it’s needed however pure evil when he wants to be (I quickly learnt 10 more reps actually means 20). Nic helps people who are serious about their training realise the difference between just ‘working out’ and actually training.
What specific results have you achieved in the last 18months?
I am now the fittest and strongest (both physically and mentally) I have ever been, I’ve lost the 20kg’s I originally wanted to shake and as a result achieved a much more positive outlook on life. I’ve put on some serious muscle (never thought I’d be a girl just chasing some gains). My mental tenacity has grown to the point that I realise I am capable of so much more than my body tells me and my thirst for life has returned tenfold. If someone told me I’d be deadlifting 115kg and squatting the big boy weights when I first came to GRIPT 18 months ago I would have said they were joking. It’s crazy what you can achieve when you 100% commit and trust the in the process.
What are you focusing on now?
My lower body has always been a lot stronger than my upper body with lower body movements and their technique always coming more naturally to me than upper body movements, so I’ll be focusing on increasing upper body strength and correcting technique during Volumize sessions. Nic and I are also focusing on hopefully hitting a new squat PB during our PT sessions, as this has always been a much weaker lift for me when compared to my deadlift.
If you have any advice for yourself 18months ago, what would it be?
Don’t do it for anyone else or for how it’s going to make you look, do it for yourself and how it’s going to make you feel. Trust the process and surround yourself with the right people and you can achieve anything.