We talked with Rebecca Kirkup in June, 2020.
Rebecca Kirkups Stats When We Talked with Her 💪
Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Bec Kirkup and I am 26 years old. I am a personal trainer and I also run my own online coaching business. My whole life has revolved around sport and health and fitness, so jumping head first into the health and fitness industry was an easy choice for me. For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be able to help people and teach people, and being a coach allows me to do both.
I grew up playing soccer and also training in gymnastics/trampolining. I represented Queensland and Australia in both soccer and futsal, and I was the National champion for trampolining in Australia. I copped quite a significant injury which took me out of sport about nine years ago and that’s where I jumped straight into the idea of becoming a personal trainer.
Whilst studying and building my business, I worked fulltime as a barista in Brisbane. Sometimes this proved challenging with my injury and working around injury limitations, but it was nothing but character building nonetheless and becoming a barista was something that I also really grew passionate about.
I have been training, honestly, since I could walk but I transitioned into the gym during my injury back in 2011 as most of my rehab led me there. I had done a little bit of weight training prior to this, but not much. Since then, I grew a massive interest in weight training and quickly learned the beauty in becoming strong and being able to literally shape your body by lifting weights and growing certain muscles.
Over the last three years, I have transitioned into strength & conditioning/functional style training. I have really been enjoying this training style and the friendly competition/banter with my gym crew ever since, plus it really fills that sporting void for me too.
The mental and physical benefits you gain from this training style is incredible and it’s so good to see so many people getting amongst it now. I really encourage more and more people to give it a good crack. You don’t need to be any form of athlete to do it, all you have to do is start.
Describe a typical day of training
A typical day of training for me includes myself, some mates that want to hurt equally, my garmin watch, and some loud music. I do also really enjoy training by myself, I find it’s a different experience and a good test for mental fitness, but I love the atmosphere involved in training with a group of likeminded people.
Usually I’d start with some strength work to begin with, followed by some accessory work, then some sort of metcon/hiit burner to finish. Strength work consists of compound movements (squats, deadlifts, bench press, cleans, snatches, etc).
Accessory work consists of exercises that complement the compound movements/help me to progress my strength and skill, and then the metcon/hiit is always the fun part (in a painful kind of way) that always gets the heart rate spiking and the lungs burning. For me, this is where the mental game comes into play and I love the challenge it involves. I like to call it, the “pain cave”.
My training sessions can go from anywhere between 45mins to two hours, depending on time. If I am short on time, I will either go for a run, or put together a little metcon/hiit session.
For the past 2+ years, I have trained and worked at World Gym Ipswich. This gym has honestly been the one stop shop for all gym goers, and it is full of epic humans that I have been so lucky to train with and work alongside.
Another gym that I have had a bit to do with and am about to have a lot more to do with is Fitstop. The atmosphere is always energetic and encouraging and this is a big reason as to why I enjoy the training style that I do. It screams community, and I love when we’re all in the same pain cave together just trying to get it done.
How do you keep going and push harder?
Honestly, on the days I am struggling for motivation is when community and my circle is so important. Training with friends is a great way for me to stay accountable and FINISH workouts. Like I said earlier, loud music and a group of people that want to hurt equally is my typical/ideal training day, no matter the mood. But other than that, it literally just comes down to me and how badly I want it. I don’t often struggle for motivation and I think a big reason for that is from my background in sport. That, along with training being one of my outlets.
If I find I’m lacking motivation, it’s usually a good indication that I really need to rest. The times I struggled the most would have definitely been during injury and returning from injury- That first proper session back after a little while off is always a little soul defeating. But on the other hand, I also find it motivating to have a blank canvas to build on. It’s almost like hitting rock bottom in life- you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
With my sport, it was nothing but compromise and dedication and constantly weighing up what was most important to me. My sport commitments always meant I didn’t have the same social life as everyone else or that I couldn’t enjoy other hobbies outside of sport as much as I would have liked to sometimes. But it never bothered me much.
My friends outside of sport always understood and I still found time to see them whenever I could. My family have always been incredibly supportive and would be at every game which I am extremely grateful for. And my hobbies were always going to be there, sport or no sport. Both sport and the gym have always been a social thing for me as well. I have definitely developed some incredible friendships through both.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today, I am doing great. I am on the other end of a knee injury, which saw me through two years and two surgeries. I am back to training, surfing, running, and honestly just loving life. I am running my online coaching business and about to move cities and start work within a new gym. I am also looking into becoming a firefighter which is also super exciting.
My training is great, I have a great circle around me, and honestly, I am just really excited to watch my hard work unfold. If I could give my younger self any advice it would be to trust the journey, don’t doubt myself, and always have a plan B. Every challenging experience you go through shapes you- It’s character building if you allow it to be.
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
Rest and recovery for me usually consists of a nice walk in the sunshine, days at the beach, surfing, and lazing up on the couch watching movies. I always try to get seven to eights hours of sleep- nothing less and nothing more.
If I sleep more than eight, I feel super sluggish. If I sleep under seven, my recovery and performance lacks. I also highly rate sports massages and keeping up with them regularly (approximately every two to four weeks). I always find my performance is much better when I keep up with it. I also have a massage gun and use that regularly, which I love.
Handling injuries is always challenging and different for every injury and every person. But all I can say is keep your loved ones close, give the injury time to recover, DO THE REHAB, trust your physio, and then when your rehab is completed, CONTINUE to train and strengthen up.
Being honest with yourself and how you feel is so important too. If you are struggling, I really encourage you to talk to someone. Learn to communicate how you are feeling and don’t ever feel like you are weak for doing so. The mental game is just as challenging as the injury.
The biggest challenge I have faced is my injuries. My first injury that took me out of sport was the hardest. It was five years of chronic pain, crutches, moon boots, splints, many surgeries, many scans, and many appointments.
It went undiagnosed for six months due to how much fluid was surrounding the injury, they couldn’t see. Due to this, coaches and no doubt some players were starting to wonder if I was injured or just didn’t have the same passion anymore.
Back then, I struggled to communicate how I was feeling. But no one could feel the amount of pain I was in every time I tried to walk. I knew there was something more going on. Roy Saunders is an incredible Sports Doctor that I saw for my injury. He diagnosed it straight away (Lisfranc injury) and sent me off to a surgeon.
My surgeon decided to put me under to have a proper feel of my foot and quickly realised there was nothing holding my foot together. When he cut my foot open, my foot literally fell apart in two… my skin was the only thing keeping my foot together. So a few screws and plates later, it was stable again.
I didn’t know what my pathway looked like anymore, mentally I really struggled being that this was my first serious injury. I think I was 17 when it happened and being a professional soccer player seemed so far out of my reach now.
It was a lot for me to try and overcome and understand at such a young age. And that was just the beginning of it for me. Surgery is the easy part; the rehab and everything that followed was the hard part.
Little did I know that I had the following ahead of me for 4/5 years; constant chronic pain, osteopenia, chronic regional pain syndrome, another four surgeries, back to back rehab, a car crash damaging my foot even more, crutches and moon boots for 90% of the time, many tens machines to try block out pain, lessons in learning how to walk properly again, chronic bone stress in my sesamoid bone, and an almost complete stress fracture through my calcaneus from trying to increase load to higher impact rehab exercises. The list goes on.
The bone stress and stress fracture was when we found out that I had osteopenia in my left leg due to so much time spent on crutches. I learnt so much about myself during these five years.
Even though I really struggled, I never gave up. I always stayed optimistic and always did exactly what my physio and sports physician said. Something inside of me just refused to ever let me give up.
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I know supplements and food tracking are both a big thing in the health and fitness industry, but I very rarely take any protein supplements/pre workouts/BCAAs and I rarely count my cals/macros. I put my focus into water consumption and a just generally eating good food with some kind of protein source, carb source, and fruit or veg in every meal.
I don’t follow a strict diet at all. I eat everything in moderation and I am just aware of what I eat, how I feel, and what’s important. I am definitely not afraid to enjoy a bowl of ice cream and I will never turn down eating out. I completely understand why people count macros, but for me, what I do and have done for the majority of my life seems to work really well for me.
If I know that I have a big day of training or a competition the next day, I will always make sure I increase my carb intake and still include good sources of protein into each meal.
What has inspired and motivated you?
Honestly, working with people and spending a lot of time in the gym talking to plenty of different people has been incredibly eye opening. I could not recommend enough just having genuine conversations with people and listening to their stories. I can almost guarantee that one in three times you will feel like all of your excuses and problems instantly feel minimal.
Other than that, I honestly just want to make myself and my family proud. I remind myself of how badly I just wanted to be able to walk and run and train properly during my Lisfranc injury. Never take your body for granted and everything that it can do.
Every day you wake up above ground with four working limbs is a GREAT day that you should take advantage of. ☺ Check out Bethany Hamilton’s story. She also has a new documentary out called “Unstoppable” which is super inspiring. She is by far my biggest inspiration.
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
Invest in a good coach/mentor. Honestly. Most coaches even have their own coaches/mentors. Be confident, but never think that you are above anyone else. Be consistent in your training and your mind-set development and always practice positive thinking and affirmations. Start today, not tomorrow. Don’t let fear stop you from starting and trying something new.
Once again, have conversations with people and surround yourself with those who motivate you, support you and push you. And lastly, invest in good education that will benefit you and your business. Network with as many people as you can.
Are you taking on clients right now?
100%. I absolutely love coaching. Strength & conditioning style training is definitely where my passion lies, but I am also incredibly versatile in my coaching and have coached clients of all different fitness levels and abilities for many years. I back myself as a coach due to my background and knowledge in sport and the health and fitness industry.
I have an extremely understanding, energetic and encouraging nature. I know how to work around injuries and I know how to improve athlete’s strength to minimise risk of injury. Plus, much more. I absolutely love working with people and having the ability to have such a positive impact on lives. It truly is an extremely rewarding job.
Where can we learn more about you?
Your best bet will be to find me on Instagram @beckirkup OR @metamvmnt ☺
1 thought on “How I Became Stronger After an Injury and Transitioned to Strength & Conditioning Coach”
Bec! I’m so proud of you and glad that I have had the chance to meet you and form a friendship. I loved reading every word of this! You have been through so much & never given up. You’re an inspiration to a lot of people! Get it girl. ❤️