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As well as running “The Nail & Beauty Secret” in Driffield, Steph Clappison has been making a name for herself as a bodybuilder over the past few years. Here, in the wake of scoring a place in the NABBA Miss Universe finals, Steph chats to “Pulse” author Steve Rudd about the discipline that such a “sport” demands…

So when did you start bodybuilding, and what was it that sparked your interest in the sport?

Almost three years back, I was inspired by a beautiful woman, Lynne Bristowe, who was sadly taken from us far too early. The strength that I witnessed in her was unreal. I wanted to use that to make the most out of my life, and I decided that I needed to start challenging myself! I loved getting into the fitness lifestyle, and I’d seen the toned-figure classes and the amazing shape that the girls got into. I decided that that was the direction I wanted to go in! So, in March 2015, I went to see Dan Welburn at Workout Gym in Hull. I had seen his amazing girls on his “Musclehoneyz” page on Facebook. Being “Mr. Universe 2014,” he definitely had the experience and the knowledge to pass on.

What events have you taken part in so far, and how did you rank?

After a couple of sessions with Dan, he decided that we would aim towards an upcoming show that was to take place in June 2015. With his plan put in place, and the support of the other “Musclehoneyz,” ten weeks later I was placed third at “The British Classic.” I then competed in the first weekend of November at “The IBFA York Open,” where I received second place in the “Toned Figure” category and first in “Miss York”! I also competed at the NABBA “Mr. and Miss United Kingdom” the following day!

What do you enjoy the most about bodybuilding?

I wanted to see how far I could push myself — not just physically, but mentally, too. In this sport, every second of every day counts; every gym session that you do, and each day that you stick to your diet plan, you get a real sense of achievement. I thrive off that feeling; it keeps me pushing forward.

And what do you find to be the hardest aspect?

In all honesty, I thought the hardest part would be stepping out on stage. I’m no shrinking violet in my comfort-zone, but the thought of being on stage — especially wearing very, very little — definitely wasn’t in my comfort-zone! However, I was so wrong! Each day, as your body shape changes, and you realise that your mental and physical strength are both growing, your confidence grows with it. Little changes in your daily life happen without you realising. For example, getting dressed in the morning is no longer a traumatic experience! Once “Show Day” arrives, with all the hard work done, it’s justifiable to feel proud of your achievements, and to show everyone that it is possible to look how you want to look! The hardest part actually comes after the show. Towards the end of my prep, I’m in the gym morning and night, some mornings leaving the house as early as 4.30 a.m. and getting back as late as 10.30 p.m.

Tell us more about your diet…

My diet depends on what stage I am at, and how far away a competition is. Last Christmas, I was allowed a couple of weeks of “downtime,” so I made the most of it by enjoying alcohol and food! However, since my last show, I’ve been concentrating on trying to build muscle, which involves a consistently “clean” diet.

So what’s the most effective way of toning up?

Stop the frantic cardio sessions and lift weights! Women in particular have a fear that they’ll get muscly if they pick up a weight. I train five times a week, concentrating on heavy lifting. For example, parts of my sessions can include multiple “deadlifts” of 100kg. When it’s time to “lean up,” I introduce a higher intensity of weight training. My partner, Steve Tighe, is the owner of “Crossfit Bridlington,” which is perfect; I’ve found that the isolated training programme, mixed with intense “crossfit” classes, is most effective.

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Are there any special supplements that you take to make things easier?

No — I get all the nutrition I need from my diet. I don’t eat anything processed, or take any chemical-based supplements.

Bodybuilding comps aside, you’ve competed in Tough Mudder! How would you describe such an event to anybody unfamiliar with it, and how did actually competing in it compare to your expectations of it?

I did several of the UK Tough Mudder events before flying to America to compete in The World’s Toughest Mudder! They’re brilliant events; great fun! They’re all about camaraderie and teamwork. When you complete the course, you get a great sense of achievement; not only have you completed the course, but you’ve also helped someone else complete the course. Tough Mudders are great at developing new obstacles to help people overcome fears, whether that involves jumping off a 38-foot cliff (at The World’s Toughest Mudder in Vegas), or running through electric shocks (which are compulsory at UK events). It all boils down to challenging yourself, and seeing how far you can push yourself.

When you’re not down at the gym, or up on stage, you’re invariably behind a desk at “The Nail & Beauty Secret” in Driffield. What prompted you to set up your own business?

I started with Beauty Therapy as soon as I left school in 2008. I did “in-salon” training and was employed for the first year and a half. I was encouraged to become self-employed in 2010. After three years of being self-employed, and with my client-base growing, I felt that it was the natural “next step” for me to open my own business.

Given your experience, have you ever considered becoming a fitness instructor, or do you enjoy “beautifying” people too much?

I always say, “Find a job you love, and you never have to work a day in your life.” I am extremely lucky, because I have wonderful, supportive clients that back me in everything I do, and I’ve made some truly amazing friends! I work alongside two brilliant girls: my sister, Adele, and Ione Braithwaite. They both have a great work ethic and sense of humour, so there is always a buzzing atmosphere! I’m 100% committed to the gym and the competitions, and I want to go as far as I possibly can with them! However, I wouldn’t want to turn it into my job and become an instructor. I’ll leave that to the experts, and listen to them!

What advice would you give to anybody reading this who has considered bodybuilding but never followed through with such a desire?

Give it a go! You just need to find yourself a good trainer. I was really lucky to find Dan Welburn and his partner, Rebecca Rowley. They are a dream team of knowledge, and they couldn’t be any more supportive!

For bookings with Steph at “The Nail & Beauty Secret,” ring (01377) 538016



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