Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hi! My name is Wendy Broekx and I live in Adelaide, South Australia. I am 51 years of age.
I run a successful Natural Superfood Company – Optimal Essentials with my business partner, mentor and best friend Dr Philip Sheldon.
Together we have also developed another business called Body Design by Wendy with range of Vegan and Vegetarian protein and superfoods.
I’m also a trainer, teaching a couple classes each week at a local gym near me called KicknBox Fitness Studio in Stepney.
Ever since I can remember I have loved sport, fitness and exercise. I played premier league hockey and represented my State. I also played tennis, did athletics, swimming, softball, competed in triathlons and loved horse riding (just to name a few).
I became a fully qualified Fitness Instructor back in the late 80’s, travelled to World Fitness Conferences in the USA, competed in fitness competitions and personally trained the likes of Claudia Schaffer, Madonna, the late Eartha Kitt and met and worked with some of the world’s top trainers.
I have always been competitive. The best thing about my fitness and training now is I compete against myself.
I truly do not believe that age is a barrier and a goal we should all reach for is to be the best and do our best, but strive for good health.
Three years ago, I started competing in Natural Figure Bodybuilding competitions. Apart from winning many 1st, 2nd and 3rd places, I have also won 3 x ANBSA Figure Overall and 1 x ICNSA Figure Overall.
Even though I absolutely love doing competitions, I can’t say that it’s been easy – physically or emotionally!
A few years ago, both my sisters passed away from cancer (the eldest from breast and middle sister from bowel – I’m the youngest), so I became even more fanatical about my health.
I wanted to be fitter, stronger and healthier than I have ever been in my life. I wanted to challenge myself, I wanted to do something that hopefully would help me become a better, more confident person.
So, with the support of my mentor and best friend Dr Phil Sheldon, I set out on a journey which to be honest, was a very strange choice for me.
I have always struggled with confidence and body image and in my younger years even battled eating disorders. Extreme diets and getting up on stage wearing an itsy, teeny weeny, sparkly bikini frightened the life out of me but in another way also electrified me.
Even though I found I absolutely loved being on stage, (and yes, I still get as nervous as hell), it’s been confronting and challenging.
Training wasn’t a problem – the harder it was the more I loved it, even the extreme diet wasn’t a problem, but learning how to pose (and I’m still learning), was the hardest, the most physically and mentally exhausting.
Standing correctly, walking correctly, feeling confident and posing in front of the camera, posing on stage in front of everyone and being judged, making it look effortless.
So much to learn, so far out of my comfort zone, but each competition I learn and I improve. It has become very empowering.
My other passion in life is wildlife, nature and landscape photography. I am proud to say I have won many National and International awards and travelled extensively around the world doing photography expeditions.
I love all animals and have worked overseas in Wildlife Rescue Centres with elephants, tigers, bears and more.
I have photographed Polar Bears in Northern Alaska, climbed Mt Kinabalu, Mt Kilimanjaro and trekked 100km over rough terrain in Tasmania and over Mt Tongariro in New Zealand, rode horses through some amazing National Parks in Canada and the USA, and dog sledded through the White Mountains in Alaska.
At home, I have a beautiful spoodle called Ella and 2 Ocicats (aka the lounge room leopards) Oliver and Lily – they are my fur babies (oh and I also have lots of fish).
I love life, care deeply about the planet and truly believe that you should have no regrets, reach for the stars, be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire, love life and be kind and help each other.
Describe a typical day of training
I train every day, twice per day and I train hard. It’s what I like to do. I like to be very focused and in the zone so I always put my head phones on with my music up loud and don’t really chat during my sessions.
I train very differently to most people (especially bodybuilders), but it’s what suits me. I have tried all sorts of splits but don’t enjoy it and don’t seem to get the results so I prefer to work legs one day and upper the next (yes, so that’s 2 x leg sessons on leg days and 2 x upper sessions on upper days) and continue that rotation.
I mainly train shoulders with upper, (which includes some chest), a bit of arm work, but minimal back. For back, apart from Deadlifts which I prefer to include in leg days, I mainly just do a few rows and pull ups.
I naturally have very wide lats so it doesn’t take much work for them to grow. But I do have to work extra hard on my legs as they have never had any muscle or shape – just plain skinny! Thankfully I love training legs.
At the moment, I think my favourite exercise for legs is Deadlifts. They make me feel super strong and powerful!
I prefer to set myself an 8 – 10 week program so I have a challenge and something to follow to keep me focused. Sometimes I repeat the program, make a few tweaks or set myself a new challenge.
I like to keep a journal (yes the old style pen and paper), so I can look back to see how much I have improved and also repeat programs sometimes.
I always make sure I have a few different resistance bands in my bag as they are great for warm ups, during various exercises and also great to help stretch. Plus they are light and small so can be taken anywhere in the world!
I generally enjoy all my training sessions. I love feeling strong and setting challenges and then seeing results.
I was a typical cardio bunny in my younger years, but these days I no longer do any, even when prepping for competition. For me, it just seems to eat up all my hard earned muscle. So, if I do any, it will be something like sprints or a class at KicknBox Fitness.
I also practice Yoga very regularly. I have been going to Kensington School of Yoga for quite a few years now as they teach my favourite style – Iyenger Yoga. I find it very strengthening, balancing and grounding.
I love doing head stands, handstands and other challenging balances and learning new poses.
It’s completely opposite to bodybuilding but I find it compliments it in so many ways. I do this on what I call my ‘rest day’ as it helps recharge my brain and relax my muscles to give them a break from lifting.
How do you keep going and push harder?
Hmmm, that’s a tough question but one I get asked a lot. I am naturally a very driven person and training is a huge part of my life (it is my life).
Maybe because I have played sport and done some sort of fitness since I was 5 years of age, it’s strange for me not to go to the gym or do any type of exercise every single day. It’s ingrained in me, it’s who I am.
Of course, we all get tired from time to time and some days feel harder than others. If I happen to have one of these days, I push through and do what I can as I know I will feel better once I have finished.
My biggest challenge is finding enough hours in the day to fit work, training, eating and sleeping!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I am probably today, the healthiest, fittest, strongest and leanest than I have ever been in my life. I have never enjoyed training as much as I do now.
I strive every day to improve myself and make sure I always have a goal in place. The next challenge I have set myself is to receive a pro-card in bodybuilding – figure division.
I am working hard on a few things I know I need to improve to get there, but that’s what makes it a challenge.
And no matter what happens, at the end of the day, at least I know I’ll be stronger, fitter, leaner and certainly better than I was this time 20 years ago, or 20 weeks ago, or even just 20 days ago!
My biggest regret is I wish I started my weight training journey in my early twenties. Being a fitness trainer, I did use weights but nothing like I do now.
I decided to continue to play competitive sport and do lots of running and other cardio as I thought this was the best to keep me fit and thin. But who knows what life would be like if I had chosen go down that path.
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I hate being ill or having injuries so I work hard to keep myself healthy and strong.
Good nutrition is vital so my day to day eating is very healthy and balanced. Along with my own products, I also take Optimal Essentials Boost, Ultra Bone & Joint and Stress Relief (also from Optimal Essentials). They are my favourites and I really feel the difference if I don’t have them.
Sleep is also vital. I’m up early every morning so I make sure I get to bed at a reasonable time as I like to get at least 7-8 hours each night.
I make sure my bedtime routine is very consistent as sleep is so important for good health, physically and mentally, but one that is often overlooked by many of us.
I’ve had a fair share of injuries over the years from sport to many push bike accidents and general training, but thankfully nothing too serious and have recovered quickly – except one!
It happened only a few years ago when I just started to get serious with doing competitions. A push bike accident left my AC joint hanging on a thread as well as lots of grazes, bruises and stitches just above my eye.
I was determined not to get surgery so worked extremely hard rehabilitating myself every day. I was lucky I had my best friend and mentor looking after me who had the knowledge and gave me the support I needed to get back to being better and even stronger than before the accident.
It was a long, slow process and one that I do not want to go through again.
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I eat extremely healthy year-round and mainly plant-based, have been a vegetarian/vegan for over 40 years.
I’m probably 90% vegan but do include a little yoghurt (I prefer Paris Creek Farms natural yoghurt as it’s biodynamic organic and from the Adelaide Hills, so very local).
I also have some egg whites with the occasional egg to keep my protein level up and they also contain choline which is a very important nutrient as it protects your DNA, memoy and muscle movement, but it’s often overlooked.
I don’t have a sweet tooth and never eat cakes, donuts, sugary pastries, sweet foods, desserts, etc or any form of junk/fast food. I never have cravings for these even when getting ready for competition.
Generally I don’t weigh my food except a little when prepping for comps and this won’t be super exact, but I never count calories.
My diet is pretty much the same all year, I just eat more of the same foods during the off season and also include more nutrient dense food and healthy fats like nuts and nut butters, etc.
I prefer to stay on the leaner side during the off season as well and would only start shredding/cutting around 4 or so weeks before comps.
I prefer to eat around 6 small meals per day as it suits my digestion. If I go out to eat it will only be at restaurants that I know have food that I’m happy to eat or they are happy to adjust.
I would rather go hungry then eat food I don’t like or consider unhealthy. Most good restaurants and cafes are happy to modify their menu so thankfully it hasn’t really been an issue.
I do enjoy coffee – mainly espresso style or long black and will have around 2 cups per day.
I used to suffer from constant headaches and migraines when I was young and it wasn’t until I started drinking coffee on a regular daily basis that these decreased.
What has inspired and motivated you?
Life can be tough in so many ways so I really respect and admire people who are fighters in life and overcome any obstacle in their way.
We all have stories to tell but some people seem to push through and grow stronger after whatever life throws at them and find the time to help others.
I am a very driven person so can easily motivate and push myself, but I admire these people and they help ignite the fire inside of me, pushing me forward to improve, to be the best I possibly can be.
If there is one trait I think we need more of in this world is kindness. Kindness to each other, kindness to animals and kindness to the planet.
It takes so little time to be kind to someone and yet can in its simplicity be a game changer.
As my best friend and mentor always tells me ‘there is nothing to fear in life but fear itself and fear is really only ‘Future Experiences Appearing Real’.
And while we are on the subject on advice, he always tells me if you are faced with two choices in life, inevitably the hardest decision tends to be the right one.
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
Be consistent, believe in yourself and have patience.
If you’re not consistent then you will never improve or change. You don’t necessarily have to work out every day but you must be consistent in your sessions.
Unless you believe it can happen then it never will. And have patience. It won’t just happen; you must make it happen. And it won’t happen overnight. It’s a slow process so enjoy the journey.
Don’t find excuses not to work out. Yes, its’ hard work but the results will be worth every minute! A great quote – ‘The sweat. The time. The devotion. It pays off!’
And to all the women out there – stop thinking about losing weight. Think about becoming strong. Building muscle will give you an athletic, healthy, strong body.
But don’t be afraid to lift, and I mean really move some weight here. Running for an hour on the treadmill or using super light weights that feels comfortable won’t do it.
Get out your comfort zone and pump some iron. There is something very empowering about being stronger and fitter than a lot of guys half your age.
Set goals so you have something to work towards. This will help keep you focused and help if the motivation fades.
If you’re not sure how to start, then ask. If you not sure if you’re doing things correctly, ask.
I’m not sure how many times I see people doing things so incorrectly that I’m not sure how they don’t do any serious damage to themselves. If you’re not sure, find a trainer and ask.
Learn new skills, try new things. Keep your body guessing. It helps with motivation and it helps the body and mind stay balanced.
Are you taking on clients right now?
At the moment I don’t really have time to broaden my client base. For help with nutrition, I have basic meal plans to purchase on my website and also offer customised plans.
I’m also working on some full body workout programs that will help if you go to the gym and find yourself wandering around unsure of what you should be doing or if you need to recharge and refocus if you’re feeling bored and need a change.
Where can we learn more about you?
You can log on to my website bodydesignbywendy.com.au