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Working to turn ‘barrel’ into a powerhouse

By Rosemary Lowne

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Kirsten Tulloch uses the kettlebell which can exercise several muscle groups at a time.
Kirsten Tulloch uses the kettlebell which can exercise several muscle groups at a time.

AT 5ft 2in and weighing 13 stone, Kirsten Tulloch thought she resembled a barrel as a teenager. She was constantly battling her weight and, at the age of 16, decided to take the plunge and join a gym.

It was a decision she never regretted and one which was to carve her future as a bodybuilder.

Now, she is in the process of moving her family from Aberdeen to Inverness and hopes to inspire others to get active.

In particular, she hopes to encourage local women to have a go at using bell-shaped weights called kettlebells, which she believes are a perfect way to get lean and look good.

“If people could see me when I was 16 there is no way they would say, ‘She’s going to be a body-building champion’,” she recalled. “I had weight issues a lot of the time in my teenage years and I was fed up of being fat so I joined a gym and I was bitten by the gym bug.”

Training five days a week for at least an hour, Ms Strachan had won several body-building titles by the age of 20.

Since then she has represented Scotland in body-building at British and world championships.

Ms Tulloch’s partner, Ramsay Strachan, is also a body-building champion and, when they go out together, can cause a bit of a stir.

“Body-building is something you either love or hate,” she said. “When me and my partner go out in public people look at us as if we’re aliens. They don’t understand why we want to look like that. But we are walking, talking reminders of what you can do.”

Determined to inspire others, particularly women, to get fit and active, the 33-year-old mother-of-one is hosting a series of seminars at the Forge Gym in Inverness on Saturday 25th June, and Sunday 26th June where, along with her partner, she will provide information on training, dieting and preparing for body-building contests, as well as instruction on how to use kettlebells.

“Kettlebells have been around for hundreds of years and date back to ancient Greece,” she explained. “They are used for strength training which is the most rewarding part of it.”

Ms Tulloch, who is certified with the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation, explained they are particularly good for working several muscle groups at a time and getting leaner faster.

“If ever you watch Olympic weight-lifting the moves are the same as kettlebell training,” she said.

“The body is really fired up and triggered and it’s quite explosive and dynamic. Everything is a lot more powerful and a lot of people find they get leaner faster.”

Ms Tulloch is encouraging women not to be scared of kettlebells, and says females of any shape or size can train with them.

“Everyone should exercise, be that with kettlebells, or walking or swimming, the bottom line is that everyone needs to move and expend energy,” she said. “If people use kettlebells, fantastic. The main thing women need to remember is that you are not born looking good, you have to work at it.”

Having been overweight as a teenager, Ms Tulloch understands that it can be intimidating to take the first step to a more active lifestyle, but firmly believes that exercise can change your life.

“It has a huge affect on your confidence,” she said. “Women carry themselves better and feel good about themselves. If you look good you feel good, people are more drawn to you and be attracted to you in general and it’s about putting that confidence into women.

“A lot of women go into the gym and think ‘I can’t do this’, but everyone has the ability to look and feel so much better.”

As well as seminars in kettlebells, Ms Tulloch and her partner, who has also won major competitions, will hold classes in body-building which is something she would like to see more women in Inverness get involved in.

“The bodybuilding scene is not massive in Inverness but I hope that will change,” she said.

As well as training as a body-builder for 17 years, Ms Tulloch has spent 12 years working in the sports nutrition and supplement industry and is also as a personal trainer.

She also hopes to start regular classes at The Forge Gym, at Unit 2, Caledonia Buildings, Carsegate Road North, Inverness.

How the kettlebell works

DESCRIBED as a cannonball with a handle, kettlebell training has taken the fitness world by storm.

The handle, which is often referred to as the horns, is small enough for one hand to sit inside but big enough to just hold with both hands.

Unlike a dumbbell or barbell, the kettlebell’s centre of mass is offset from the handle, which means the weight constantly pulls against your hand and requires not only strength and co-ordination, but also the use of multiple muscle groups in your workout.

The beginners kettlebell workshop runs from 12.30pm to 2.30pm at The Forge Gym on Saturday 25th June, with the advanced workshop from 3pm to 5pm, followed by a bodybuilding posing workshop from 5pm to 7pm. On Sunday 26th June a beginners kettlebell workshop will be held from 10am to noon with a bodybuilding seminar from noon to 2pm. A double kettlebell workshop will be hosted from 2pm to 4pm and training tips in the gym will be from 4pm to 6pm.

For further information or to book a place, visit The Forge Gym’s Facebook page at facebook.com

ForgeGym or e-mail the gym at coaching@forge-gym.com. You can also contact gym manager Gavin Laird on 07519 580948.

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