Inspiring People - My journey to stage
Following on with our 16 part series on inspirational stories this post is written by Annita Jayne Preston for dandi London and how she became inspired to train her body to get on stage and enter bodybuilding competitions.
Annita Preston - Beauty Therapist, boot camp instructor & body building winner
My name is Annita Preston a mum of three, owner of Annita Jayne Beauty and co-owner of MA fitness with Matt Adams in which I am a qualified boot camp instructor. I started training about 12 years ago to get fitter and more toned. I joined a gym and started with a few classes and then moved into the weighted area. It was more cardio based as I thought lifting weights would make me big so stuck to the cardio based equipment. Little did I know what my future held!
I continued with this for about four years. I then got into running something I was never able to do so challenged myself to train for a half marathon. In 2015 I completed the Silverstone Half in 2hrs 15mins and 6 months later completed the Oxford half in 2hrs 6mins. Such an achievement, but by this point, I had enough and felt it was time to hang up my running shoes.
By this point I had changed gyms and I joined a gym that focused on training and more knowledgeable on body muscle and goals rather than cardio. I was enjoying lifting weights and quickly learned that you won’t get big and you need to do weights to tone the wobbly bits. I enlisted a PT and we started from the beginning. My journey to stage actual came from me battling a serious health problem called bulimia, a condition I had for many years and nobody knew. I felt ashamed at the time and could not find the courage from within to speak out. I had no self-love and no confidence. It got so bad that my children started to notice me not eating much and then going to the bathroom. At this point I knew I needed help otherwise I may not be around to see them grow up. So in August 2015, I approached my PT and asked what the chances getting to stage would be. He did not actually know my true reason for this just I lacked confidence and struggled with the how I looked. His response “Why not. It is not going to be easy your body shows your life’s journey, be proud as that is who you are”. Actually he was right. I had not looked at it in that way before.
This is where my body building journey began. January 2016 my prep started with training 4 times a week putting cardio sessions in, prepping meals 6 times a day. Trying to eat that much food, working full-time and being a Mum was very tough. There were a lot of low points when I first started competing. Having to build muscle and putting the right foods in to getting stage lean.
My first show was May 25th 2016, the Cambridge Classic. I was scared yet excited, my emotions were all over the place. Walking into the dressing room with these beautiful girls I actually turned round and walked back out. But Matt was great and said you have worked just as hard as these girls and deserve to be up there now go shine like the star you are.
The sport is an expensive hobby. I had my bikini designed and made by a wonderful lady called Bobett who owns Diva’s fit wear. I felt a million dollars when I stood on that stage and felt so beautiful. My first show I had no placing. I knew my weak areas, and it is a competition after all. Not many girls on their first appearance on stage actually place. I was just so proud of myself at that point to even making it to there. Eating the foods, training and finding the place to have enough confidence to wear a teeny weeny bikini in front of hundreds of people.
A week later I competed at a show called the Appollo. I had over 20 friends, family and clients who came to watch and cheer me on. I placed third at this and had an invite to the NABBA finals later that year. By this point I was tired and needed a rest, I wasn’t sure what to do, carry on or stop, so my partner became my coach. Later that year in November I competed up North with NABBA. I didn’t place but a week later at the Coursebrook Classic I went on to win. What could I say, wow I won, can you actually believe it. Four shows and two placings, amazing.
This then gave me the bug. It was such an amazing and life changing experience. The competitors, the shows it is like having another family. Everybody is so kind and friendly, it is so heart warming. Early 2018 I had a baby, so had a two-year break. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it again, but then in August 2019 I started prep, with the view that if I am ready I am ready if not I am not. I did not want the stressful situation, my life is very busy so I decided instead of putting pressure on myself I would go with a relaxed approach. Thankfully I was ready and competed at NABBA UK and placed third with an invite to the NABBA Finals (due to take place in October 2020).
A week after Nabba I competed at the Battle of Bedford. This is my partners show that he runs yearly. It is also a very special show to us as this is where he proposed to me in October 2017 on stage in front of 600 people wow. I placed 3rd and was blown away as was not expecting to place.
One of my most memorable experiences that I will treasure forever was hanging out with the legend himself Mr Tom Platts. He stayed with us for four days two years running. He is one of life’s greats and if you are into bodybuilding you will know him as Golden Eagle or Codzilla.
I thoroughly enjoy training, it is a little bit of me time and I love everything to do with it. I do 1-2-1 coaching, training, and help people to pose with my posing lessons. If you can’t pose on stage that whole journey of training, eating, getting stage lean is actually a waste of time because if you can’t present your body in the right way then the judges won’t look at you so you will be marked down. It is not easy to prep, it takes commitment and dedication and a strong will to resist diverting off plan.
Yes it is a sacrifice. But if you drive to do well and get on stage proceeds all of this and you can stick to the plan then I definitely would say this is for you, even if you try it at least once. My advice is, do your homework and look for a qualified fitness and nutritional coach. There are lots of PT’s and coaches out there that do this to get you show ready, but unfortunately they end up putting you on a low carb diet which will help you to lose weight but is not the right diet and healthy way for you.
If you would like to find out a little more about what I do or interested in taking the bodybuilding journey then take a look at our website and social media contacts below.