A Padiham mum-of-four is set to represent Great Britain at powerlifting after embarking on an incredible weight loss journey that saw her shed five stone.
Sinead Hines (41) signed up at FX Fitness Experience, off Liverpool Road, in July 2016 with the sole intention of losing weight and getting fitter.
It was while shedding pounds, the team at FX began to notice she also had a big talent for lifting them.
Extra powerlifting sessions led to her competing at a regional and national level, before last month she was invited to represent Great Britain at the European Masters Classic Powerlifting Championships in Albi, France, in March.
“I joined FX because I wasn’t enjoying anything,” said Sinead. “I was quite heavily overweight. I had had three children in three years, so just wanted to get fit and lose that extra weight. I was nearly 15 stones; I’m 10 now.
“I honestly thought people were always looking at me because of my size and I hated socialising. I particularly didn’t like eating out. I used to hide in bigger clothes and didn’t feel like I was able to wear nice things.
“Clothes were the trigger really. It was summer and I was dressed in what I considered old lady clothes. I wanted to be able to wear Daisy Dukes, and be comfortable doing stuff with the kids.”
It wasn’t an easy first step. Her greatest fear before joining FX - “People looking at me” - is one shared by countless others when it comes to stepping into a gym environment for the first time.
However, once Sinead settled into her training programme and the weight began to drop off, her confidence soared and the gym became a second home.
It was when trainer Matt Brown noticed her strength increasing that her training began to take on a different dimension.
“When we started training we weren’t even thinking about powerlifting,” said Matt, who has been Sinead’s coach for 15 months. “It wasn’t even on the table as an option; but I just noticed how strong she was, how well she was performing on her main compound movements in the gym.
“I started pushing the idea that she may want to do a competition and she just spontaneously agreed. She entered that one and we haven’t looked back from there really.”
Sinead said the move to powerlifting helped reframe her goals while giving her an even bigger push to continue her new, healthier lifestyle.
“I’d always done resistance training to lose the weight and when Matt started, I did a few sessions with him. I entered a competition and that’s when I started training for powerlifting.
“The first competition I entered was in November 2018 in Liverpool. I enjoyed it because it gave me something to focus on through training. I was still training but because I’d lost a lot of weight, I didn’t really have any goals in particular. I was still enjoying it but this gave me something to focus on and work for.
“I didn’t particularly enjoy the competition, because it was a bit scary. As I’ve done more competitions they’ve become less nerve-wracking and I’ve become more confident.”
Sinead competes in the under 63kg class boasting personal bests of bench (82.5kg), deadlift (157.5kg) and squat (135kg).
The European Championships in France will be by far her biggest competition to date, with the opportunity to represent her country an honour that is still to sink in.
“The training gets a lot more intense from here. I already train five times a week, along with a couple of cardio sessions. The weights will get heavier as I get closer to the competition.
“This is the first time I have represented Great Britain. When I got a phone call, it was a mad weekend really. My daughter had fallen off her pony and broken her arm the night before. Then
I got the call on the Sunday evening offering me a place on the team to go to France. I couldn’t believe it.
“I am confident. I’m excited too. The anticipation is going to be worse than the actual day I think. There will be a lot of nerves these next few weeks, but once I’m there I’ll be ready to go.”
Away from the gym, Sinead lives in Padiham with her husband Andy and her children Dion (25), Lily (eight), Scarlett (six) and Harriet (five).
“The kids come and watch me compete. They absolutely love it, and want muscles now,” she said. “They want to be big and strong which is fantastic. I feel I have more tools/skills to guide them through the sketchy body image stages they’ll go through as well.
“Going to FX has completely transformed my life. I’m a completely different person in terms of how I look, what I eat, how I feel; everything.”
Jamie Kennedy, who runs FX with brother Josh, said it was helping people like Sinead that inspired the pair to start the business nine years ago.
“When Sinead first came she was so apprehensive about starting at the gym; big gyms scared her, she felt very uncomfortable.
“When we started Fitness Experience, we wanted to make sure that when people were coming into our building, if they had any self confidence issues, they felt comfortable as soon as they walked in. That’s really what we built the business around, people like Sinead.
“It’s very intimidating for somebody when they start at a gym. We invite everybody in at first for a quick chat and a consultation; see where they’re struggling, where their biggest obstacles are and then we come up with a plan.
“Obviously you don’t become like Sinead - a powerlifter - in month one. It’s taken her four years of training, changing her eating habits, changing her mindset, changing her life completely to get her to feel like she could go and do what she has.
“Everybody at FX is extremely proud of her.”