In the space of 18 months three women from Belfast have won the gruelling Tactical Strength Challenge, a competition that tests the strength of gym enthusiasts worldwide.
All three of these iron ladies are members of Hybrid Fitness in Belfast’s Queen Street.
Fiona Maguire was the winner of the worldwide challenge in October 2014, Vix Sharp took the accolade in October 2015 and just this April Tina McDermott finished first overall in the novice category beating 400 female competitors from around the globe.
Their mentor is Lenny, known on his birth certificate as John Lennon, a former amateur boxer and a Strongfirst-affiliated kettlebell instructor.
He explained: “The Tactical Strength Challenge is a mixture of three different disciplines. The deadlift tests your absolute strength, pull ups test your relative strength. It then finishes with kettlebell snatches to test your endurance.”
Both Fiona and Vix have a long background in fitness, with Vix having been Lenny’s personal fitness trainer at BMC. For Tina it was a brand new world. She’d run the Dublin Marathon four years ago but has been kept busy with two young children since then.
“I never expected to win it in a million years,” said Tina.
Fiona on the other hand had only one aim when entering the Tactical Strength Challenge. “I wanted to win it,” she said. “That was my goal. When I started I thought this wasn’t possible, but Lenny gave me the self belief.”
Vix commented: “My background was in endurance never strength. This was new for me. I was at the gym for the first Tactical Strength Challenge but I wasn’t ready so I just watched. I took part the next time round when I felt I was up to it.”
All three women agreed that the biggest factor in winning the Tactical Strength Challenge was the self belief that the instructors at Hybrid gym gave them.
Fiona commented: “Hybrid gives you both the mental and physical strength you need. Because they specialise in kettlebells it’s a big advantage.”
Tina added: “PJ and Lenny are both amazing, they push you that extra mile. One of my friends had said to me about Hybrid gym. The first day I came in I just fell for it.”
Lenny said: “You’ll get a lot of people not using kettlebells properly so it’s much easier to train someone from scratch rather than retrain someone who’s been doing it wrong.
“People are overcomplicating training programmes that don’t need to be complicated. We keep it simple.”
As well as the three female winners, Hybrid gym also trained a male winner of the Tactical Strength Challenge – Paul Magowan.