Darkside is 2 years old!!!

20160712_212229_005_01It is Darkside’s second anniversary this month and it’s been an absolutely brilliant year.  In April we signed the contract to our brand new premises, trained new coaches, expanded our timetable and we now have 35 ladies competing at the next divisional powerlifting competition in November!

The majority of the women who train here were beginners when they first stepped through the doors.  Bored with commercial gyms, intimidated by testosterone-filled weights areas and bombarded with weight loss adverts and programmes they sought a safe space where they could learn to lift and appreciated their bodies.


Early in our development, we knew that we wanted to be almost the antithesis of the standard gym model.   No mirrors, no dance music, no emphasis on the ‘bikini model’ look and no endless rows of weight and cardio machines.  We purposely avoid any sense of elitism or cliques and everyone is equal – lift 10kg or 100kg and all are worthy of the same attention, respect and support.

Darkside is just 2 years old and we are a growing community.  A group of amazing women who challenge societal values and achieve successes that they never thought possible.  Together, we are creating a culture of female empowerment and all women are welcome here.

The coffee and cake is good too ;).

Big News and a Little Reflection

20160518_111617It’s been quiet on this blog for a while, but it’s all been go at Darkside.  After working from the Pacific Gym for 18 months, we now have our very own gym in Lincoln!!  We opened at the start of the month and have already added 7 new strength classes, trained two of our ladies as coaches and welcomed on board a sports therapist and rehab specialist.

It’s been busy.

None of this would have been possible without the trust and support of the Darkside ladies, who are a joy to coach and make the long hours and caffeine addiction completely worth it.  Love you all!20160510_190413

It’s at times of expansion that it’s always good to take a moment.  A moment to take stock and realise the complex relationships and encounters that have culminated to this point.  Success is never about one person, in fact, you could say that this gym actually had its birth when I was seventeen and saw a poster for Aikido in the window of the High Street papershop.  A random birth maybe, but the poster was actually designed by Phyllis Mahon, our artist and designer, and Bob Willmington, our co-founder.

20160517_182457Through Aikido, I not only met Bob and Phyllis who are now, 10 years later, integral to Darkside, but started to develop the social, physical and coaching skills necessary for this business.  Sensei Paul Chambers and everyone at the dojo who taught or trained with me have had a massive influence in who I am and if I hadn’t walked through those doors, I honestly don’t think Darkside would exist today.

20160517_184601I initially went to the Pacific to ‘get fit and lose weight.’  It was there that I fell in love with weight lifting and through one of its members, discovered my powerlifting coach Marc Giles.  His skills and knowledge developed me into a competitive powerlifter and inspired the concept of a female sanctuary of strength.

There are many instances like these and not all were great at the time, but they each had their part to play.

So thank you.  Thank you to everyone who has been a presence in my life, for whatever reason, because ultimately a part of that presence resides within Darkside.

Darkside isn’t just a gym, it is a community of women who are dedicated to getting STRONG, together.  No frills, no fuss and no bitching.

Now, where are the chocolate-covered coffee beans?20160510_191102

The Simplicity of Strength

DSC_0103Read any newspaper today and you will find a sensational article regarding fitness or nutrition – fat used to be the enemy, now it’s sugar and for god’s sake do not touch the evil that is fruit juice.  Most of the time, they also seem to forget that they were advocating the exact opposite just a few weeks ago, based upon a different piece of research with equally dubious methodology.

Add to this a fitness industry that is more interested in making millions than effecting healthful change and it’s no surprise that we are so confusWP_20150310_001[2]ed.

I am grateful, however, that the benefits of weight training for women and older people have become a topic of conversation in the media.  So often seen as the perview of men, we are gradually realising just how important this type of training is for a woman’s physical and psychological health, particularly with regard to bone density, muscle mass and the ability to function in old age.

Common feedback from my lifters is that they are surprised at how fast their body adapts to training and that the little things in life – carrying groceries, getting up off the sofa – are suddenly so much easier.  Add to that an increased confidence and determination due to meeting goals, mastering complex movements and being part of a community of female lifters, and weight training becomes an invaluable tool for improving your life.

And the beaWP_20150305_002[1]uty is that strength training for health is so simple.  Squat, deadlift, bench press and overhead press.  Chin ups and power cleans if you want.  Eat plenty of vegetables and protein, a decent amount of fat and moderate amounts of minimally processed carbohydrate.  Include some conditioning and HIIT (high intensity interval training).  Get plenty of sleep.  That’s it.

Seriously, that is it.WP_20141017_001[1]

There’s no expensive supplements or meal replacements to buy, no pitting of one food group against another, no fancy equipment or everchanging, new, products to buy.  Just add a little more weight each time you train, your body will do the rest.

It is this simplicity that I adore, that the body’s amazing ability to adapt is at the forefront of this methodology.  It is all about bringing people together, celebrating your achievements and realising that we are so much more capable than we believe.

If you think thaWP_20150221_005[1]t this type of training might be for you, then  send me a message on Facebook, shantelle.darkside@gmail.com or 07717 202065.  1:1 sessions are £25 per hour and groups of up to four women are £10 per class for 75 minutes.  I work from the Pacific Gym in Lincoln.WP_20150216_001[1]