Ex-smoker now has body of her dreams

Jenny Cornelius
Jenny Cornelius

A TRANSFORMATION – from heavy smoker to champion body builder – is putting a receptionist from Eastbourne in line for a top national award.

Jenny Cornelius decided to make changes to her lifestyle after losing her husband to cancer and suffering a frightening chest infection that caused her to cough up blood.

The 42-year-old said, “I was always a very heavy smoker and on top of that I suffered from asthma.

“Then, I had a terrible chest infection with shocking symptoms that left me horrified – particularly after losing my husband to cancer. It was time for a change.”

Jenny immediately said goodbye to cigarettes and joined her local Fitness First at the Crumbles retail park in Eastbourne. With a determination to improve the state of her overall health, she started attending the gym regularly.

She said, “At first, I used the treadmill a lot – sometimes running for hours.

“Then I met my new partner, Roy, at work and everything changed.”

An experienced body builder, Roy introduced Jenny to the sport and changed the way Jenny dealt with her diet.

“I had a very unhealthy attitude to food,” she said. “I avoided eating very much – convinced it would go straight to my hips. But my training helped me to realise you can eat a sensible diet and still lose weight if you exercise regularly.”

After a year of training in the gym, Jenny began to compete in body building competitions – including the Kent classic, UK Championships and Stars of Tomorrow. She won a trophy for Best Woman’s Physique and several other medals are now pride of place on her mantelpiece,

Now, Jenny has beaten hundreds of hopefuls to make the shortlist for the sport category in Fitness First’s annual New You Achievement Awards.

Jenny said, “The medals show exactly how far I have come.

“To be able to stand up in front of the judges and be critiqued would have previously been my worst nightmare. Now I can walk right out on stage in my bikini. And another bonus of my training – and stopping the smoking – is that I have used my asthma inhaler just once in two years.”

The awards recognise outstanding member achievements, and are the first of their kind in the fitness industry. The winners will be announced on January 14 at a gala awards ceremony hosted by Fitness First in London.