Listen to this interviewThe Bulk Hackers robot can read Lesley's interview aloud for you (playtime 16 minutes and 57 seconds) 🤖
👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
I’m Lesley Maxwell and I’m 63 years old, although I rather think of myself as ageless. I live in Australia and am a full time personal trainer. Actually, I calculated last week that I have done over 15.000 hours training with my PT clients, so I guess this makes me very experienced.
I’ve also competed in over 30 body sculpting competitions and have won over 30 titles in fitness model divisions, many of these titles have been in the open category (including winning ICN OPEN Classic Figure as recently as 2019).
Fitness and health is my life and I love inspiring others to lead a healthy lifestyle and keep a strong and lean body regardless of age.
I’m a published author and have been featured twice on the cover of Oxygen Magazine (Australia) as well as being an Oxygen magazine regular contributor for many years.
Public speaking on health and fitness is also my specialty as I have had the pleasure of speaking on many stages. I’m so lucky to be in a position to spread the word on health and fitness and helping others to be the best healthy version of themselves. Anyone can do it – regardless of age!
I’m a mother of three grown-up children, who are absolutely amazing and we have the most wonderful friendship and love between us. my daughter has three children, too, and they call me La… and we have fun training together.
Actually, a video that Tia (one of my granddaughters) and I made actually went ‘viral’ last year and this lead to us being featured on The Today Show, Sunrise, and Skye TV plus multiple features throughout the world. It was so much fun! (Watch it here!)
As far as my other hobbies – I love art and my subject matter is ‘life drawing’, so this gives me the opportunity to draw all shapes of bodies and add my touch. I think I have a good understanding of the human form and drawing really helps me relax.
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⏱ Describe a typical day of training[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
My training routine consists of weight training four or five days weekly. I usually train on my own and I always prioritise compound exercises as opposed to isolation exercises…I’d rather train back and chest to firm and shape my arms rather than arms alone for example.
Something I’ve done for the last few years is train legs almost every workout. For example, if I’m doing a chest day then I’ll do deadlifts and squats in between chest exercises while I’m waiting for my chest and arms to recover. So this means my legs and glutes actually receive a workout four times weekly. I believe women always need more lower body exercises to remain lean.
People often ask me about how I keep a six pack all year…it’s because abs are made in the kitchen and I ALWAYS eat lovely and clean. And my favourite ab exercises are ‘hanging knee raises’ which I do often – even while waiting for my clients to arrive.
I usually train on my own – however leading up to competition I train with my coach Michael Tabban – it’s always great to be spotted with heavier lifts and have encouragement to push that bit harder with exercises. Also, support on completion day is paramount.
With regards to supplements – I only use whey protein isolate (organic of course). I spend my money on quality food – all organic – and I eat fats quite generously – including saturated fats. I prefer to get my energy from fats rather than pre workout supplements.
Even leading up to competition I never weigh my food as this can have a negative effect on me mentally. I know my macros so well that I just know how many grams of protein, etc. I’m eating. I don’t eat sugar or junk food.
My favourite form of cardio is power walking with a few intervals thrown in. Eg A hill climb or climbing steps. I don’t use pulse watches or any other form of monitor – if I don’t look lean enough I’ll train harder or walk more. I feel we lose touch with our own senses when we rely on monitors, etc. too much.
People are often surprised to see what’s actually in my gym bag. It consists of filtered water, which I drink while training – a shake made with whey isolate – hemp seeds, one raw organic egg yolk and goats yogurt (as this gives me protein – good fats and probiotics) I love this after or sometimes towards the end of my workout.
And I have an apple or other seasonal fruit (for a carbohydrate). I’m so aware of my macros as I feel it’s really important to instinctively be aware of what we are eating.
I train at two gyms: One is at The Eureka Towers where I work as it’s so convenient, and the other is a true bodybuilders gym called, Tabban Muscle & Body Shape.[speaker-voice name='en-US-Wavenet-D'][speaker-emphasis level='strong']
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
I’m so lucky as I’m always motivated to train. I love feeling strong and healthy. Health is everything and unfortunately many people don’t realise that until they become ill. Without our health we have nothing so it’s well worth looking after.
Weight training is one of the most effective things we can do for our bodies and eating clean is paramount. My job as a personal trainer ensures I’m always active from demonstrating exercises plus carrying weights to and from my clients (the loaded walk) is a very good exercise and I’m so lucky as this is an added benefit of my daily life.
I think I’m so motivated as I understand what it feels like to be ill…to be weak and a little frail isn’t a good feeling and until I discovered the essence of building and maintaining a strong body – this used to be ME.
So hard to imagine at one stage of my life I was softer with more body fat – and another stage I was quite thin and frail (as it was pointed out to me) at once I was hospitalised with pneumonia.
However, after taking charge of my health this seems to be a thing of the past. I feel stronger and healthier than ever and I put this down to my lifestyle. No quick fix – nothing out of a bottle – just dedication with clean eating, effective training, and consistency.
One of the biggest challenges I faced was telling family and friends that I was competing in a body sculpting competition – literally putting my arse on the line for all to see and be JUDGED!
After being married to an Italian man who was very conservative (e.g. No bikini allowed even on my honeymoon), competing may have seemed like a strange thing to do. And surprisingly telling family and friends is often the hardest thing to face, but I followed my heart and stepped on stage for the first time at 49.
I won my first competition which gave me the thirst for more. Then I broke many records by competing in the Open divisions – often against women half my age – and I won many titles including US Figure INBF World Title in New York to Open Classic Figure (ICN) even last year. So I’m still passionate in doing what I love. Plus, I love inspiring other people to be ageless.
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🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
My plans for the next five years are to maintain my healthy lifestyle and build my online training business ‘BYSB’ (Bring Your Sexy Back) training program. It’s fantastic how I can reach so many others this way and motivate them to train along with training plans and healthy recipes.
And for personal goals, I love pushing my body harder by doing challenging exercises like at the moment, I’m working on my ‘one legged RDL’ so this isn’t accomplished by lifting heavier weights but more on balance and working each side of the body simultaneously.
It’s amazing how switching things around can produce a burn no matter how fit and strong you are. Not sure if I’m competing this year or not…but sure I will step on stage again in the future.
Regardless of competing, I never miss a training session and always eat clean. I love how it makes me feel so it’s not a chore for me.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
As far as injuries – I’m so lucky as I seem to remain injury free. I’m sure it’s because I’m fastidious with technique and I believe we should be realistic about what the human body can lift.
When you really think about it, even a huge Mac truck would break if it was overloaded enough. So my belief is we should always be able to lift our own weight… I love pull ups and chin ups – push ups – dips. I deadlift more than my own bodyweight and would rather do more sets than risk injury.
Being consistent with training, using perfect technique, be realistic with what you’re expecting your body to lift — is the answer to being injury free. I stay in the eight to 10 rep range – ensuring the last two or three reps are quite challenging.
Plus, I always stretch between exercises and have the added benefit of stretching with my clients when I’m going through a stretching routine with them.
Sleep is important for recovery, I’m quite a night owl and love the quiet of the night. This is what I feel most creative and always write or draw before I go to bed.
However, as I have to start quite early with my PT sessions, I often don’t get enough sleep in one go. I believe the eight hour sleep all at once is more for the industrial revolution (8 hours rest – work – play) and it’s not always convenient to sleep for eight hours straight. This is where power naps are a great way to recharge! Sometimes a half hour snooze during the day makes me so refreshed to start the second half of my day.[speaker-voice name='en-US-Wavenet-D'][speaker-emphasis level='strong']
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
With my regular diet, I always eat clean whether I’m prepping for competition or for life in general. Investing in quality organic food and wild fish, organic eggs, grass finished meats plus fresh produce is a must for me.
I’d rather spend my money on food than fashion, and clean food shopping is my priority. Always be prepared with your meals and you just can’t go wrong.
My meals are approximately every three hours where I include a protein choice: Fats, fresh greens, and I follow my ‘One Carb @ A Time’ philosophy. Meaning, I only eat one carb choice with each meal.
In my opinion, being aware of our macros is one of the most important things we can do. For energy, I prefer to use fats, including saturated fats as this gives me steady energy release and strength plus keeps me satiated too.
I could describe my diet as paleo but with more protein plus my one carb philosophy. I never let my blood sugar levels drop and keep them steady with fats and protein. This keeps hunger in check and ensures I always have energy to train.
For my recent competitions last year, I simply cut my portions while still eating about six meals daily. And I added in one hour cardio session daily where I would power walk plus add some bursts of interval training.
Posing is a form of isometric training and also burns calories, so posing practice for approximately one hour daily also helped burn more calories. I dropped three kilos for my last competitions, as I’m so lean anyway this was challenging.
Good to know our bodies always respond to exercise and food whatever age we are. I hear from a lot of women especially how hormones are to blame – and I love dispelling that myth. I believe if we change something (food and training) then something definitely changes with our body shape and health.
In regards to social occasions, I always eat before I head out as I don’t like being over hungry and I’ll go to a restaurant that serves clean food. Even as a child, I have never eaten junk food as I grew up in the country. I’m so grateful for that. My friends and family have accepted this is the way I am.
The only supplement I use is whey protein isolate as I add this to my oats in the morning and make my famous shake with hemp seeds, a raw egg yolk and goats yoghurt. Such an easy snack that contains so much goodness and easy to drink down, whether I’m driving or between PT clients.
However, my favourite meal of the day is mid morning – I’ll have three whole poached organic eggs, sprouted grain bread, sauerkraut, fresh green salad, Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar plus my organic mid morning coffee to which I add ghee and turmeric and it tastes yummy![speaker-voice name='en-US-Wavenet-D'][speaker-emphasis level='strong']
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
I’m an avid reader of all things health and fitness, I’ve read everything from Frank Zane to The Plant Paradox by Stephen R. Gundry. Plus, I like power of the mind so listen to Jo Dispenza as he is amazing. There’s so much out there that we can access.
On a daily basis, I’m inspired by my clients who often begin training with me with various health issues. It makes my heart burst when I’ve helped my clients not only prepare for a competition or lose weight for a wedding.
Also, the more mature clients that regain their health, improve strength, return to golf or whatever they love, alleviate back problems, which allows them to travel and enjoy a full life again – change their body composition etc. It’s so rewarding to me.
Everyone starts somewhere, I always teach my clients the seven basic moves to begin. These moves are perfected as we need them as human beings as they are natural human movement patterns.
A full body workout is how I usually start with beginners followed by a split routine within a few weeks. For just one hour four days weekly and eating clean incredible changes to our body can be achieved.
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✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
For beginners in the gym, I’d suggest working on perfect technique and no ego’s allowed by lifting too heavy too soon as it’s best to remain injury free. Weight training has so many health benefits including strengthening our bones, changing body composition (muscle/fat ratio) and helping your body burn more calories even at rest.
I focus on bigger compound movements such as deadlifts, lat pulldown, chest press, etc. rather than isolation exercises. If you’re wanting to change your body composition like firm arms, compound movements will give you a better result rather than doing isolation exercises such as triceps pushdown or bicep curls.
I like training my legs three or four times weekly – one will be more glute orientated with exercises like hip thrusts, weighted side kicks and straddle squats. Another day I’ll work more on my hamstrings and deadlifts are my favourite exercise. Of course, weighted squats and lunges and leg press are always a staple for me in my leg workouts.
I’d love to see more women using the weights as opposed to the cardio equipment, and for the guys to train legs more as they always prefer to train their ‘mirror muscles’ which are chest and biceps.[speaker-voice name='en-US-Wavenet-D'][speaker-emphasis level='strong']
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
As a personal trainer, I have trained many clients (actually over 15,000 hours) and such a variety of people. I think theory is one thing but once you begin on the gym floor training real human beings is when you really start learning.
I also have online clients with my BYSB (Bring Your Sexy back) program. This allows me to help and motivate clients globally. I always keep my programs fresh and there’s plenty of motivation too.
Consistency is key and clients often notice a change in their body shape after a few weeks. Clean eating is a must as well as the training. Our bodies aren’t set in stone – and as soon as we change something with our diet and exercise – then something changes. And it doesn’t matter how old or young we are. So exciting!
People love training with me as I get results. Whether it’s back problems they’re suffering from – or wanting to shape up. I’ve had many years of experience both on a personal level with competing in over 30 competitions, plus, online clients and not to forget years of experience as a one-on-one trainer. I just love it and it gives me great joy to help change someone’s life.[speaker-voice name='en-US-Wavenet-D'][speaker-emphasis level='strong']