I had often seen Luciana training in the gym completely intent on her workout, protected from interruption by a deliberate focus and big headphones. It is unusual to witness a person, male or female, who has a dedication and prowess that is unshakeable. Add into the mix a precision with every exercise and piece of equipment and you have a force to be reckoned with...or rather to be viewed from a distance.
I was first introduced to Luciana by a mutual friend, James (a delightful 84-year-old gent who coaches 2 x UK Power-Lifters, Terry and Keith who both happen to have special needs) when we were all sat in the reception area of our gym.
What struck me immediately was "this woman is either very hungry or she doesn't want to make conversation" which was odd as the introduction from James was "this is the United Kingdom's bikini body champion for 2014!" a definite talking point if ever there was. A couple of polite exchanges about football, World Cup, Brazil, "Noooo, I like dancing, not football" and I learned that Luciana was Brazilian, had a Masters in Hospitality and was a self-taught competitor.
It wasn't until after the National Championships that I saw Lu again. Big smile as I congratulated her before she could even tell me that she won. Amazing!! No time to talk in the gym as both there for workouts...obviously.
It was when Lu was on the elliptical-trainer in front of me that I noticed her posture was "out" which was causing her to exercise in a (fractionally) skewed manner. I never normally approach people to ask about "discomfort" but I was aware of how much her body endures and didn't want her to be risking a long-term injury.
I asked if anybody "looked after her?" That was almost five months ago.
Since then I have seen Lulu's body (yes, we are firm friends now!) transform from skinny, to muscle gained, to stripped. I have pummelled her on a weekly basis each time with a focus on which area she has just increased her training to with the intention of relieving just a little of the aches that she is experiencing.
I can safely say that she is a most dedicated, ambitious, disciplined and determined sportswoman. What she does to her body is incredible and the results are a testament to every ounce of effort, protein and attention she puts in. In addition to her own competing, Lulu runs #ShowgirlFitness posing classes for women who want to "show" and online bespoke fitness diets (of which I am going to be following for 8 weeks upon her return...both of us will be writing-up!) and a newly-launched fitness clothing range, HitSportWearUK.
On Saturday, Lulu flies to USA to represent UK (against another 43 ladies from around the globe) in the Arnold Amateur Bikini Championships 2015. With every good wish that bend.fit.mend can possibly muster "you go, girl!!"