Tag Archives: Arnold Schwarzenegger

‘My kids’ friends think I’m a superhero’

Andrea Thompson’s two children are very proud of their mum, and rightly so. She is, after all, officially Britain’s strongest woman.

“They often take in newspaper stories about me or medals in to school to show their classmates,” she says.

“It’s quite amusing when a group of five-year-olds approach me in the playground, and ask how much can I lift.

“As they don’t understand weights yet, I tell them I could pick up the head teacher – they think I’m a superhero, it’s the best feeling ever!”

Thompson, 34, won her title last August, and now has her eyes set on bigger prizes including the Arnold Strongman Classic. Founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger, it takes place annually in Columbus, Ohio.


The part-time bar manager from Melton, Suffolk, won four out of five events to claim the British crown in Northampton, having only begun competing in strongman/woman events in June 2014.

She triumphed in the deadlift contest, picking up a mammoth 215kg bar from the floor to a standing position, and destroyed the field in the giant dumbbell event by lifting a 42.5kg weight above her shoulder seven times.

Another win for Thompson came in the yoke carry, where she had to dash to 15 metres with a 230kg H-shaped frame before dropping it, she then proceeded to the farmers’ walk, where she transported 100kg in each hands back down the circuit.

She suffered a hiccup in the truck pull, coming second-to-last, but completed the day with a strong finish in the Atlas stones, where she lifted three of the four hefty spheres in the quickest time to beat her opponents to the prize.


Her focus has switched to the Arnold Sports Festival, where she competed for the first time last year.

“It’s hard as a ‘Strongwoman’ is still a niche and it takes many titles and broken records to really get noticed”

The ‘Arnolds’ are multi-sport competition which includes the Arnold Strongman Classic, fitness and figure events, professional bodybuilding, and a bikini weekend expo.

“The Arnolds are the biggest strength and fitness event in the world, they’re huge,” Thompson told Elephant Sport. “Sometime people work for years for a spot at this event.

“I competed there as a novice and came fifth in the world,” she explained. “My aim is beat that. You are competition against yourself, and if you mess up, you will only have yourself to blame.”


Although different to weightlifting as seen at the Olympics, Strongman – which, despite its name, includes events for women – does have similarities, Thompson said.

As well as lifting, the gruelling events also focus on areas such as athleticism, mental and physical strength, speed and endurance.

“It took a while to adjust my mindset, and I still have days where I want to eat kilos of chocolate – I’m a woman after all!”

Thompson has confidence in her abilities to compete at the highest level – if she can afford to…

“I was hoping there would be a flurry of potential sponsors [following her British title win],” she said. “It’s hard as a ‘Strongwoman’ is still a niche and it takes many titles and broken records to really get noticed.

“Ideally I would get a sponsor to fund my trip, and the rest I would fund through my job. I usually work extra hours if I have a competition coming up.

“For last year’s USA trip, I had help from family and friends. My husband is also very supportive, and supports my career financially, too.”

Disastrous diets

Although she’s still coming to terms with her rapid rise in the world of Strongman/woman and the costs involved in elite competition, one massive benefit for Thompson is that, after having previously struggled through disastrous diets, the sport has finally helped her to learn to love her own body.

“It started as a hobby and a way to get fit,” she explained. “I’d spent so long lifting at various gyms and bootcamps and being on disastrous diets in a body I hated. The sport has taught me to love what my body can do.

“It has also taught me to pass on that self-belief to my children and others around me. I look at food as a fuel, not as a comfort which what I used to do.

“It took a while to adjust my mindset, and I still have days where I want to eat kilos of chocolate – I’m a woman after all!”

Check out Andrea’s Facebook page.

De Vis pursues his bodybuilding vision

They say you should never meet your heroes, but Clarence de Vis will never forget the special moment he shared with his idol.

The Belgian bodybuilder recalls a memorable encounter in Spain with actor, politician, environmental campaigner and iron-pumping legend Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“He is the grandfather of bodybuilding, he laid the foundations we’ve built upon, and we are all the flowers pushing through as a result,” said De Vis.

“Nobody has ever been able to match his achievements in the history of bodybuilding. When I met him in Madrid a few years ago at one of his contests, the Arnold Classic, I got goosebumps.

“It was emotional. Thousands of people were present that day, but what struck me was his humility.

“He said that he was my biggest fan and that I had a great future ahead of me. This was a honour for me. It still is one of my biggest drives.”

De Vis has become a legend in his own right, putting bodybuilding on the map in Belgium and developing a reputation as its most in-demand personal trainer.


“People come to me because they know of my success,” the man known as ‘The Belgian Predator’ told me. “They see what I’ve done with other clients.

“I’m different to many personal trainers. Unfortunately, some don’t take their jobs seriously, or just do it for financial reasons. For me it’s a hobby, a passion. I have this job in my veins.

De Vis with his idol Schwarzenegger

Based at the Painworld Fitness Centre in Luxembourg, De Vis’s clients have included footballer Samuel Eto’o and Mr Olympia runner-up David Florentin.

Now a leading model for brands including Bikkembergs, Moncler and Porsche Design, Florentin, 28, has featured at fashion weeks in New York, Milan and Paris.

Does De Vis see him as his ‘product’? “Yes, definitely. He was my first client in Luxembourg [in 2010].

“What strikes me the most about him is his humility. He is modest – like his coach,” he smiles.

Like his role model Schwarzenegger, De Vis has always possessed the discipline, single-mindedness and self-belief to be the best at what he does.

And he insists that aiming for the top in bodybuilding need not involve using potentially lethal substances such as anabolic steroids.

The consequences of using them can range from acne and raised blood pressure to diabetes, low fertility and a high risk of heart attacks.

‘Eat well, train hard’

“Nowadays many young people take them,” said De Vis. “They read about steroids in magazines and on websites and they order them online.

“And more often than not, they buy fake products which can have very dangerous consequences.

“The sad truth is that today 13 and 14-year old kids take steroids. Incredible, I know. These teens won’t stay long in the business, let alone in the world. Taking steroids often seals their fate.”

“I eat six times a day, 15 eggs every evening and at least three meals of fish and three meals of meat a day. That’s how my life looks”

According to the 35-year-old “eating well, training hard and regeneration” should do the trick. No need for illegal substances. You can get your dream body without them.

“Basically, the secret to make it in bodybuilding is very simple,” De Vis claims. “Everything revolves around nutrition.

“Milk, fish, rice, noodles and water are indispensable. You need proteins, carbs and fat.

“If you eat properly and train intensely you’re going to get results. There’s no point training for hours and hours if then you don’t add the right food to it. Sometimes it’s better to train less but harder, and cap it off with great meals afterwards.

“Sleep is vital too because you know, muscles only grow during regeneration.

“I eat six times a day, 15 eggs every evening and at least three meals of fish and three meals of meat a day. That’s how my life looks. Muscles are built in the kitchen, not in the gym.

‘The past is gone’

De Vis also insists that anyone who is serious about building muscle and generally increasingly their fitness has to reject the unhealthy aspects of their social lives.

“Alcohol, cigarettes and fast food should absolutely be avoided,” he stressed.

“Alcohol is the biggest enemy of the gym. When I drink a glass for instance, which happens very rarely, I notice that I lose some volume.

“In fitness like in any other thing in life, you need to set yourself a target and work towards it. Focus. Concentrate”

“It chases water out of the muscle and as muscles are made of water…it’s like killing them.

“Not only is alcohol detrimental to the muscle growth but it also reduces your muscle mass while increasing your body fat.”

De Vis adds: “It goes without saying that if you want to see results you can’t cheat. Many people fail in this sport because they don’t train seriously and don’t give it their all.

“In fitness like in any other thing in life, you need to set yourself a target and work towards it. Focus. Concentrate. Don’t look at what the neighbour is doing, just focus on yourself.”

De Vis is not, however, resting on his laurels. “The past is gone, I have dreams for the future. I want to finish among the top three at Mr Olympia one day.”

He may never match Schwarzenegger’s seven Mr Olympia and four Mr Universe titles, but the Belgian already has a giant reputation in his chosen field.

Clarence de Vis is on Facebook. For more information about the Painworld Fitness Centre, click here.