Our Master Intstructor Melissa Weldon shares her incredible transformation since joining the 1R team...

In 2015, I started a project called FEMPOWER. Put simply, it’s a movement which aims to do two things; broadly it aims to break barriers and attitudes about body image and on a more individual basis, empower women to find their own strength and confidence through physical challenge. 

This idea didn’t come out of nowhere. I started working in the fitness industry in 2002, when I was 21. Back then, social media didn’t really exist and while I am certain there were issues with body image, it was nothing like the scale of what we see today. I don’t want to get this twisted, this isn’t a preachy piece about how we should love our bodies, I want to speak first-hand about my own experiences with body image and my transformation which played a huge part in the conception of Fempower. 

In 2007, 7 months pregnant with my second child. I chose to be a single parent, rather than stay in a horrible relationship. As I am sure you can imagine, young mother of two under two and mourning that break-up, I went through a tough time and by 2009, I didn’t really recognise myself. 

On September 17th, at my sons 6th birthday, I watched my family eat cake and died a little inside. Two days later, while they were at school and work, I ate the cake…a jar of Nutella, a jar of peanut butter, 2 bags of crisps and 2 bars of chocolate (because I couldn’t decide)…that was the end of dieting for me. I was exhausted, my period had stopped, my hair refused to grow, I cried at the smallest things, I isolated myself from my friends and family…all for the pursuit of “perfection”. A mother of a young, and impressionable 8 year old, how could I say to her, through my actions, that I wasn’t enough?

But, I guess with age and wisdom on my side, I knew it was wrong and stopped immediately. I went through a short period of time on the “see food and eat it” diet, and by the New Year I began what I can only refer to now as my reverse-transformation.

A keen powerlifter, I started eating for athletics rather than aesthetics. I got stronger and stronger daily, and low and behold, with balance in my life, I started to appreciate my body so much more. By May, I was squatting 70kg and teaching 10 spin classes a week. I felt amazing. In November, I came second at my first powerlifting meet, pulling a 120kg deadlift, squatting 100kg and bench pressing 65kg. I only knew what I weighed because of competition rules.

Our bodies are these incredible things, that we put through so much nonsense to live up to this ideal that a group of strangers in a room, decided that day is hot.

In January 2015, I was part of the founding team to open 1Rebel. I feel a great sense of pride and achievement comes from seeing my journey from 2007, single mother on her ass, to teaching a Ride class at the top of the Gherkin. I get to do what I love every day, what a great position to be in.

“With great power, comes great responsibility” and I believe my position at 1Rebel has to be used to be a healthy role model to my followers. I do not look like your average trainer; I do not fit into the box with most of the other #fitspo. I’m fairly ripped because I spend most of my week moving but I have a muffin top some days, I probably have some cellulite; I eat cupcakes and pizza, I would rather die than eat kale. I do not look like your average #fitspo and I don’t give a fuck. I was not put on this earth to fit into someone’s box of what is hot. I’m 60something kilos of awesome. I can run, jump, lift, climb and I would totally win in a zombie apocalypse.

And this is why Fempower exists. Fempower isn’t about telling women they are strong, or beautiful, or awesome…it’s about giving them the opportunity to find that out for themselves. That is what empowerment is, that is what real confidence is. A person can tell you that you are amazing a thousand times a day; until you see it for yourself, you’ll never truly believe it.


If you want to know more about Fempower follow Melissa's journey on Facebook and Instagram.