Harley Young goes on a fitness kick with Corporation street gym The Olympus Projects

Working in the Food & Drink Journalism industry is good craic. You’re the first to know about any exciting new openings, meet some of the most talented, influential foodie entrepreneurs and chefs, and you’re invited to try all their wonderful dishes. 

But, like all things that are done in excess, constantly eating rich and plentiful dishes starts to take its toll on the body and, before you know it, you’ve piled on a few extra pounds (or stones, in my case) than you’d accounted for.

In order to improve my relationship with food, grow muscle and get back to a position I’m happy with, I’ve teamed up with The Olympus Projects’ PT and strength & conditioning coach AJ to take part in a 12-week intensive course designed to help me kick the gluttony and tone my body. Alongside this, I’ll be periodically checking in with nutritionist Oliver to manage protein goals and keep my healthy eating habits on track. 

For reference, I’m 5ft3 and my starting weight is 78kg. 

Now the spiel is out of the way, let's get down to business. 💪

This article documents weeks three and four of the 12-week course. If you haven’t already, read the other weeks, you can read them below. Check back in two weeks time for another progress update. 

2024 05 08 Olympus Projects Thumbnail

Week 5

Monday 27 May

After a lovely weekend spent out in the sun with friends, I was in high spirits and ready to tackle another week of strength training at Olympus Projects. I was joined by a few familiar faces for this morning's 'Labours of Atlas' session. 

I realised that I must be making progress as the weight size AJ would normally ask me to pick up had increased incrementally and...much to my surprise, it didn't feel as difficult any more. Back when I started the sessions, bench pressing with a 7kg dumbbell in each hand was a real struggle. Now, I could do it without breaking a sweat. 

Obviously, the aim of these sessions is to continue to challenge yourself - not to get comfortable. So AJ upped the weights and I was back to huffing and puffing my way through the set. All for the greater good, though.

Tuesday 28 May

Usually by now, I'd be waking up with sore legs, hobbling my way up the stairs at Cornbrook tram stop to get to the gym. But I actually didn't feel bad at all. It seems my hamstrings had gotten used to the paces I'd been putting them through - I even managed to get to the session 10 minutes early. Go me!

I hit a new personal best with my deadlifts, managing 35kg (not a lot to some, but to a girl that has to stop a few times whilst carrying the shopping home, I'll take it).

A barbell weightlifting class at the Olympus Projects in Manchester

Wednesday 29 May 

This session, things ramped up a bit. I got to try a few new moves I hadn't done before - Bulgarian squats, which are a lot harder than they look, and box squats, which I found quite easy - swings and roundabouts I suppose. 

Since, with a box squat, you're not going as low as you usually would be with a normal squat, your body can handle a bit more weight as there's less driving force to get back up again. I managed two reps of 45kg. I hope to increase this to 50-55kg next time.

Thursday 30 May

Fourth day on the trot (can you believe it? I must be a changed woman), I got up early and headed over to Olympus Projects. Today, me and a fellow gym-goer took turns in following various circuits, doing a variety of pull ups, floor presses, kettlebell swings and running with the prowler (probably my new favourite bit of gym kit). 

My face was beetroot red by the end of the session, but boy did I feel good. These high intensity workouts are challenging, but such high reward as the endorphin boost afterwards is brilliant.  

Week 6

Tuesday 4 June

My gym streak was short lived as I was struck down by a nasty cold this week and only managed one session before it took ahold. However, the one session I did get in was a good one and I hit a new PB on the bench press, managing a few reps at 10kg. Not bad for my little chicken wing arms that hate carrying things, I thought.

AJ and I sat down and planned in my macros, too. I'd been a bit lax at hitting my protein goals so he gave me some tips and made a quick and easy protein shake that I can prep at home. 

2024 05 08 Olympus Projects Chin Press

Week 6 weigh-in

My weight kind of hovered around the same mark this time around, dropping and gaining a few pounds here and there. I'd admittedly not been as strict with myself as I had been the previous weeks, and as event season ramped up again there was the odd portion of chips that I'd snuck in. 

I was still feeling optimistic though, as by the end of the two weeks I'd dropped another 0.4kg. A loss is still a loss in my eyes, and I'm willing to be patient with myself in the knowledge that I'm more driven towards reaching my goals than I ever have been. Onwards and upwards.

Interested in reaching your body goals? Enquire at The Olympus Projects.  

 The Olympus Projects, 109 Corporation St, Manchester M4 4DX

Read next: A chat with Niall Keating as 'Tender' opens

Read again: Strength training at The Olympus Projects: Weeks 3 & 4

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