Bodybuilding is not all about tight T-shirts and bulging muscles.
It’s about discipline, hard work and camaraderie – according to a couple who connected over their shared passion for the sport but fell in love because of their ‘parallel lives’.
Marine biologist Dr Ian Hendy and student fiancé Clare Taubman are both champion bodybuilders – the golden couple of the local scene.
Clare Taubman has the kind of figure that turns heads. Petite, toned, with curves in all the right places, the 33-year-old is not what you would expect of a champion body builder.
Clare, from Southsea, has been into the sport since she was just 14 and her physique is the opposite of the stereotypical image that female bodybuilders conjure up – all bulging muscles and masculine features.
For Clare, it is the discipline of the sport which she loves.
She says: ‘There is a massive misconception with women that if they lift weights they will look like a man.
‘If they do look like men it’s not through lifting weights, it’s through something else’. She diplomatically stops short of mentioning steroids.
The healthy lifestyle and dedication it takes to keep in shape and win competitions has led her to devote her life to bodybuilding and, with partner Dr Ian Hendy, she owns the prestigious Lougars Gym, in Southsea, where Arnold Schwarzenegger once trained.
Love blossomed for the couple across the kettlebells after years of working out at the gym they now own. Ian, a marine biologist, is the world-champion in the natural bodybuilding league.
They were friends who fell in love over their shared passion for the sport.
But don’t for a moment think they are bodybuilding bores. Despite being teetotal and admitting their favourite, blow-out, meal is salmon and vegetables, they are both full of fun, light-hearted and quick to point out they don’t take themselves too seriously – even though they are a golden couple on the local bodybuilding scene.
‘It was almost as if we’d lived parallel lives,’ said Clare. ‘From training, to the way we are as people as well.
‘Obviously there was an initial attraction but it was more about personality and similar interests.
‘I meet so many people who train and I’ve always worked in fitness but they don’t live it in the way we do.
‘We both love the ’70s and ’80s era of bodybuilding, it’s a very classic look. It’s all about training and camaraderie, it’s more real.
‘Nowadays a lot of it is about showing off on social media and not so much about the training.
‘We train all year-round. It’s not something we do just to get on stage.’
Clare has represented the UK in the WBFF World Championships in Canada where she came 4th in the pro-figure category. A massive achievement.
But, she adds modestly: ‘I’ve not won as big a total as Ian has’. Her pride in his achievements is obvious.
‘We support each other. In fact, it’s more nerve-wracking seeing Ian compete than going through it myself.’
Ian, 43, is the current World Drug Free Bodybuilding champion. He says: ‘It’s overwhelming. It’s a dream come true. I would never have expected it and even now I can’t comprehend it. It’s crazy.’
He has always been obsessed with sport and admits to being ‘as skinny as a butcher’s pencil’ when he was a schoolboy runner. He started going to Bob Woolgar’s gym in Hellyer Road, which he now owns, when he was 13.
He and Clare have been together three-and-a-half years. Ian says: ‘We have so much in common.
‘We have the same sense of humour, which is important. I’m very kid-like and never take myself too seriously – especially in bodybuilding. When you think about it, getting on stage is quite weird. It is very gladiatorial, but I don’t think people should take it too seriously.
‘It’s not all constant talk about training with Clare and I. We love to travel and we go to California a lot. It’s beautiful.
‘We hire a car and drive the Highway One coast. It’s amazing, it’s absolutely stunning.
‘We’re also both very fond of animals. Our cat Clark follows us around the house.’
They also share a passion for conservation and Clare’s final piece of work for her graphic design degree is based around it.
She says people are surprised when she explains she and Ian are both bodybuilders.
‘I think they expect you to be walking round in tight clothes and showing off but we’re not like that. In fact we are only really in shape a few weeks a year for competitions.’
They support each other in the tough weeks leading up to the competitions when they have to diet in order to make sure their muscles are totally defined.
Clare says: ‘Ian proposed two years-ago on the morning of the British championships, it was my birthday. He went down on one knee. It was very romantic and he came second.’
They are now looking forward to their wedding next year in their beloved California.
Romance blossomed over the fish and vegetables
Clare Taubman and Ian Hendy both take their diet very seriously.
For breakfast they eat porridge and egg white omelettes.
For lunch it is fish and vegetables and brown rice and more fish and vegetables for dinner.
They are both teetotal.
The couple feel strongly about natural bodybuilding and would never allow steroids in their gym.
The natural bodybuilding and drug-free bodybuilding movements began when athletes had had enough of the chemically-enhanced entrants to bodybuilding contests.
The movements categorically exclude the use of substances like anabolic steroids, insulin, diuretics and human growth hormone.
To take part in competitions in the movement entrants are subject to strict testing – including urine testing and even lie detector tests.
If a bodybuilder meets the requirements of the sanctioning body that they are competing in, then they are considered to be ‘natural’.
There are numerous sanctioning bodies who provide their own rules and regulations that govern the competition procedures, event qualifications, banned substance lists, and drug testing methods.
To find out more go to bnbf.co.uk. For more information on Clare and Ian’s gym pop in any day for a chat.
Alternatively call (023) 9287 7874 or go to lougars.co.uk.