Emily Boulter is one of the most promising prospects in the world of Channel Island Body Building, but has battled through hell to get where she is today.
Daniel Andrade caught up with the inspirational talent on what it was like to have an eating disorder, why she started training and finally on why she is now starting up her own online coaching buisness to help others reach their own goals.
Have you always been into sport?
Yeah without a doubt, I have always been sporty. My dad was into ultra running, and as they went travelling for eleven years he had a team in Hong Kong and Lebanon where they competed. He got me into running when I was nine. I had always got involved at school before that, such as football with the boys and had two brothers who were really good tennis players so I would play with them sometimes too. We would play badminton, tennis, table tennis – all those kind of sports. My mum used to do lots of horse riding so I could ride before I could walk! She would take me down for lessons ever weekend, I got my first pony when I was six and rode until I was fifteen. At that point I was doing that and athletics, and school was getting more serious going into A-Levels so I needed more time to revise so I stopped riding which broke my mums heart. I stopped athletics when I started going to the gym and by the time I was nineteen I was just doing the gym.
Do you miss any of those sports?
I do. I miss the people. I was a member of Spartans and we had such a nice group of girls. I wasn’t very good, but did it for the enjoyment and I do miss everyone who did it with me.
What made you first go to the gym?
I was going to Loughborough for university and that was the point where I stopped running with Spartans and I was just running on my own. It was going into winter and the weather was turning, so I was thinking ‘am I really going to go out to run in England’ compared to running here with the nice scenery. In Loughborough, if I had joined their athletics group I knew that they would be Olympians basically!! I said to myself that I wanted to do something active as I had never not done, so I tried the gym. My friend Katy was really into the gym so she took me along to Fitness First and showed me how to use all of the weights and everything. I didn’t want to use the cardio machines, because if I wanted to run, then I would just go outside. I wanted to build a bit of muscle, and when I moved to England one of the gym instructers gave me a programme and that set me off. I did that programme for a year and a half as I didn’t know what else to do as I did no research at that point and just did it.
Do you remember the first time you entered the gym? Were you daunted?
No to be honest! A lot of girls do say they are scared of the weights area at first because they say it is male dominated, and they are quite big, so for a small female it could be quite intimidating but I have never been like that. Even when I was really under weight, I was literally tiny, I would go up to the biggest person and ask if they were done with whatever machine they are on so I could jump on. I think it was because it was an exercise environment which I have always been confident in. If I was brand new to any sort of exercise and I hadn’t done sport before I would have been more intimidated but it is something I am familiar with so it was fine.
You had an eating disorder around that time – how difficult was that time of your life?
It was horrible. The main part of it was before I started the gym, from when I was 12-15 years old. By the time I was 15 I was weight restored and had gotten out of my bad habits and back to ‘normal’ again. It was when I was 12 when it first got really bad. I was around 31kg at one point. I was the same height as I am now, the same build. I havent changed, but I think about it now when I pick up 30kg dumbbells, I would think that was literally me. I weighed less than my dog. I was in hospital for two months when I was in Year 9, when I was 13. Those three years were absolute hell both for me and family, especially for my mum because we are basically the same person, and are so close. Between the ages of 15 and 19 I was pretty much fine, and literally back to normal Emily. However, literally three months after I started to go to the gym, I was at university and I always want to do well in education so I would work my socks off and get stressed, and through that I stop eating. It is not because I want to lose weight, it is because I get really bad anxiety and it makes you physically feel sick, meaning you don’t want to eat. That is what started happening around Christmas time. I would slowly lose weight without even realising because I was subconsciously restricting what I was eating because I was so focused on my January exams. It got worse from there, but never as bad it did when I was younger. I lost about 6kg in total, so losing that amount of weight still had a big difference on me and I looked very underweight. I never stopped going to the gym, and would even say I got a bit obsessed with it. My sessions were taking longer, I was doing an extra set of everything. At one point I was going seven days a week, not having any rest at all. I was training to failure, just to say I did it.
How much did getting a coach help you?
He (AJ) is amazing. From the day that I started with him my mind set has never been as bad as what it was. What I really like the most is when I went him I only weighed 38kg, I was really small, but he didn’t treat me any differently from any of his other clients. He helped me with my mindset, which he may not have to with others, but in terms of training he wouldn’t say ‘take it easy’, he always pushed me which I loved. Every time my weight went up he told me not to look at my stomach, don’t look at places where every girl does, look at your legs, arms and look how they are growing. Having him there was enough. I could message him whenever I wanted, which I did at first but he just listened and set me straight. My training improved so much. He has taught me to make every repetition quality, whereas before my form was terrible.
How hard was it to ask for the help?
He is all online and he lives in the UK, but he is one of the top natural bodybuilding coaches in the UK which is one of the reasons I went to him because at that point I wanted to compete. I followed him on social media which I liked because I could see him talk on his stories all of the time and could see his other client testimonials and their progress. He posts a lot on social media so it is as if you know them already. I felt that I resonated with him and his approach to everything I agreed with and admired.
When did you first think about competing?
It was when I went to see the show in Jersey in 2018 as I saw it in the newspaper and knew about bodybuilding but I didn’t know any of the categories such as bikini and figure etc. I literally thought it was body building! I went to watch as saw girls in bikinis, there was this one girl doing figure and I realised that you didn’t need to be hugely massive. Don’t get me wrong I would love to be hugely massive, but I know I wouldn’t be that for another fifteen years. It gave me a realistic goal. I love all the classes. I would do whatever class suits me but my bone structure and the way I am shaped really suits bikini’s, and that is where most girls start out too anyway as it is the ‘least’ muscular one. I started following some of the girls from that show on social media, and from there I found more people and that is how I discovered it all. When I approached my coach I said that I wanted to compete, and asked when that could be and he brought me down to earth and said that I needed to built up quite a lot and that it would take time.
What is the competitive side of the competitions all about?
Firstly you need muscle. Some people go into it thinking that if they look good they will do well, but you do need to build the muscle to do well. You need that foundation to start with. You need to be lean when you are on stage which does involve doing a diet, which I hear a lot of people mess that up and develop eating disorders as a result because they will try do it themselves, without guidance which leaves them in a bad place. If you do it with a coach who knows what they are doing, you can come out of it absolutely fine. You are only actually in that ‘stage lean’ period for the day/week of the show. A common approach now is that people will get ready early and then eat into the show, kind of reverse dieting and that gives them a really nice look because your body is getting fed again. For the girls, you have to wear heels, and the type of heel depends on the federation. There is also the posing, which takes a lot of practice. You get judged a lot on the whole package, so the bikinis and tan comes into play as well. Your physique is the main part, but these other factors are all judged. You could have the best physique on stage, but if you have a cheap bikini on and your hair is a mess then you would not win.
When do you think you will be ready to compete?
Probably not until 2022 or 2023. I want it to be a long term thing, you see girls competing until they are late 30’s and I want to be like that because I love the whole lifestyle of it. I don’t want to just do a show and think that is it. I have done one now I can stop. I want to do it for as long as possible! I want to compete with the IFBB which the main route to getting your pro card and I do one day want to be able get my pro card and compete with the pro league. That is the very long term goal, and that would take a very long time. My coach has said that I have my bone structure, but need to build the muscle. We will see how it goes.
Talk to us about your online coaching business.
It is for anyone who wants to gain some muscle, lose some weight or literally want some help with the gym and their food, mindset and basically everything. It is not just a case of getting a programme, it would be checking in with the coach every week, message whenever you like and I will look at any form clips. I would look at the sleep, digestion and stress levels. Literally everything that the client would like me to look at, in whatever detail they want too. Sometimes I talk to my coach about things that are not even related to training! I want to have clients who I am with for a long time too, where they could leave me because they are knowledgeable, but they stay with me because they like my company and the relationship we have.
How can people get in contact with you?
Find me on Instagram. That is where I am most active, which is Emily_Victoria_Rose. It has my email on there too, so you can click on it and email away!
It was brilliant to chat with Emily and hear her story so far. We wish her well when it comes to both her competing and coaching!