A FITNESS fanatic who cried with gym anxiety during her training programme is celebrating after being crowned a bikini champion – at the age of 52.

Jane Woodhead, from Appleton, shed more than a stone and added muscle all over her body by overhauling her eating and fitness regime over 12 weeks.

After this achievement, her coach said she was ready to compete in a bikini athlete competition.

Despite being in disbelief, she 'put her faith' in her coach and pushed herself with five gruelling weightlifting sessions a week.

At one point, she was once sat in her car in the gym car crying as she didn’t feel good enough and 'just wanted to give it all up'.

But she pushed through and was crowned British Bikini Athlete Champion in the over 50s category at the UK Ultimate Physiques British Championships in York, a victory also saw Jane awarded a professional athlete card.

Proud Jane, who praised her coach Emily Olivia for helping her overcome her anxieties, said: “I literally couldn’t stop crying.

Warrington Guardian:

"As I was crowned British champion and awarded my pro card, the photographer asked me to put my trophy down for a picture and I said there’s no way I’m putting this trophy down.

"And there is no way I am letting this golden pro card leave my hand! I was totally overwhelmed – I never, ever believed I could achieve anything like this!

“And to think I had the worst gym anxiety ever at the start of this. "I would sit in the gym car park crying.

"I remembered calling Emily and telling her I was quitting, I’d always been fit but this was just another level. And I didn’t think I could do it.

“Emily spent an entire morning on the phone to me convincing me I had it in me and that I could do it – and she was right!

"I owe absolutely everything to Emily – she has been my rock, by my side every single step of the way – through all of the incredible highs and bringing me back to reality every time I started to doubt myself!”

Jane, a former Warrington Guardian reporter, dedicated herself to a specialised training programme created by her coach, which included five weightlifting sessions a week, the gruelling stairmaster and up to 15K steps a day.

After waking up at 5.30am to fit in gym sessions before her busy job as a UK Consumer PR Director, she’d do sets of all exercise to failure, meaning she could complete no more reps.

She would then practice her posing in different positions to check her physique while Emily constantly tweaked her training programme and diet to ensure Jane was in tip-top shape on the stage.

Jane, who now lives in Parkgate in Wirral, had initially set herself the challenge of getting in the best shape of her life in just 12 weeks.

And she says she feels better than she did in her twenties and the stunning victory has given her a massive confidence boost.

Warrington Guardian:

Jane, who trains at Meritor Fitness in North Wales, added: “It’s tough being a bodybuilder, but for me it is the best ever lifestyle and I wouldn’t change a thing.

"It gives you incredible confidence – a level of self confidence which I have never previously felt.

"And I have to say it is the most incredibly supportive sport I have ever been involved in, in my life!

"The camaraderie and support among fellow competitors is surreal. We would all be high-fiving each other as we went on stage.

"We all have so much respect for each other as we know what it takes to get to the stage!"

Jane has now gone into a “build phase” in the “off season” and has her sights set on qualifying to compete abroad in 2024 as a professional bikini athlete.