A Plymouth woman has qualified for a World Championship competition in bodybuilding – at the age of 53.
Jo Browne first started to train back in 2015, after watching her friend compete in a Miss Plymouth competition.
“I went to watch my friend compete a few years ago and I really liked her shape, she looked really fit but feminine” Jo said.
“I first started to train for fitness reasons, never with the intention to go on stage. But then someone says to you ‘have you ever thought of competing before’ and before you know it you’re ordering a sparkly bikini and going through prep!”
Jo now trains at Core’s Gym, Plymouth, with her coach Stuart Core.
In June, she competed in a bodybuilding show in the Atheneum Theatre with the IBFA, where she came second in both of her classes – toned figure over 40 and toned figure over 50.
“The results of the competition I competed in in Plymouth qualified me for the British final which was the following week, two peak weeks back to back was really tough” Jo said.
“Then I went to Gateshead near Newcastle for the British finals. I never expected to place, I just thought I’d give it a go, but then I placed third in the Over 40’s category and that’s what has qualified me to go to the World Championships.
Jo will now be heading to Rome to compete in November, kindly sponsored by her friend’s brand Super 7 Coffee.
But Jo isn’t like any ordinary competitor. Alongside her gruelling training regime she also juggles 12 hour shifts at Derriford hospital, where she has worked as a nurse for the past 25 years.
And she has also faced health complications of her own in the past. At the age of 43, Jo had heart surgery – but she doesn’t let it hold her back.
“Even though I knew it was fixed, I was living afraid for a while”, she explains. “I’ve always been into fitness so I started to run marathons, I completed the Plymouth half marathon for Derriford’s Cardiology department, and ran the London Marathon for prostate cancer.
“Before I found bodybuilding I had tried many other forms of fitness, including pole.”
Jo also suffers with arthritis, and in 2017 she had her right shoulder rebuilt.
“Unfortunately my other shoulder will need to be done after the worlds. But being more muscular helps to keep my joints more mobile and helps to support them.
On the four days a week I train I find I’m on far less pain killers than the days that I don’t.”
In the run up to competitions Jo spends around 20 weeks getting ready for the big day, adjusting her diet and training sessions accordingly.
“Most people prep for around 12-16 weeks, but because of the 12 hour shifts I do with nursing, I can’t be really depleted and tired. My job has to come first,” she said.
“Plus, being 53 and having had a child, a longer prep gives my skin the chance to tighten up. “
“Stuart Core is my trainer, he’s an ex international bodybuilder himself and although he doesn’t compete anymore, he gives me all my diet plans and nutritional information.
“Between Stuart and my partner Gary, who is also a personal trainer, I am in good hands. They work together and discuss the areas I need to improve on before I go on stage” she added.
“To anyone that’s thinking about competing, my advice would be to get up on that stage and show everyone how far you’ve come and be proud of all your hard work.”
“Don’t look at bodybuilding as though you are competing with others but instead competing with yourself to be better each time. Some of the ladies I have met backstage are so great and you will make friends for life.”
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