How These Fitness Gurus Took Charge In A Male-Dominated Sport

If you have a habit of scrolling your Insta feed a little too often (guilty), chances are you've probably thumbed past your fair share of fitness bloggers. While sisters Felicia Oreb and Diana Johnson of Base Body Babes fall into that category, what puts this fit duo ahead of the pack is their devotion to carving out more than just physical strength. In fact, the Sydney natives hold firm to the belief that being strong — in mind, body, and soul — is not something you stumble upon but rather something you build from the inside out. In partnership with New Balance, they're giving us the inside scoop on what it's like being women on the male-dominated weight-lifting floor and how they help women harness their power every single day. Get to know them, below.
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Have you both always been interested in fitness?
Felicia Oreb: “We have been training in the gym for almost 16 years. We were always sporty as kids, so being active has been a part of our lives since we were young. We have always loved training together and educating ourselves on all things health and fitness; however, we didn't start our business until about six years ago.”
On that note, what sparked you to start Base Body Babes?
Diana Johnson: “After Felicia had her baby, she started to focus on her own training and getting her body back in shape, studying to become a personal trainer (I had already completed mine years before). After achieving great results for ourselves, we knew we wanted to help other women transform their bodies and help them feel better about themselves from the inside out, so we began running outdoor boot camps.”
What is the mission behind BBB?
DJ: “Weight training can be intimidating. We want to empower women to feel good in their own skin and mental strength and give them more confidence. Confidence is everything, and it allows you to do what you want.”
Tell us about your method.
FO: “Our method is very simple. A Base Body is one that is easy to maintain every day. It is made through a balanced lifestyle, using simple weight-training methods and good nutrition. It is always our aim for ourselves and our babes to be as happy, healthy, fit, strong, and confident as possible — and maintain it for life.”
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How did you first get involved in weight lifting?
DJ: “We were teens when we decided that we wanted to start lifting weights. Back then, it wasn’t a popular method of training amongst our friends and people our age, but we had heard that weights were a great way to sculpt the body, so we wanted to try it for ourselves. Our first experience of stepping on the weights floor in the gym was totally overwhelming. It was this huge room with barbells, squat racks, dumbbells, and a whole bunch of men, staring right at us. There was not a woman in sight.”
That must have been incredibly intimidating. How did you overcome that feeling?
DJ: “It was. The first thing we wanted to do was walk out. We left the gym and decided that we would learn the ropes because there was no way we were stepping on that gym floor again without guidance. Sebastian, Felicia’s husband, taught us how to use the weights, the correct lifting technique, gym etiquette, and how to follow a program. After a few sessions, our confidence in the gym started to increase. We became comfortable with our ability to work out safely and efficiently — and to walk around the gym with confidence. We knew what we were doing. We were following a program and getting great results. We had broken the barrier, and we were on our way to achieving our goals.”
What's it like being women on the weight floor in such a male-dominated space?
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FO: “When we first started, there were practically no women on the weights floor, but over the years, we have definitely seen a shift with more and more women jumping on board. There is no longer a distinction between the men in the gym and us. We no longer feel intimidated like we did when we first started training; over the years, we've developed the strength and confidence to train comfortably around anyone without caring if they are judging us on how we are performing, how we look, or what we are doing. We now have the ability to lift heavier weights than many men in the gym, which we are quite proud of, considering the size difference between us and some of them. Onlookers are often surprised to see us lifting the way we do, and we continue to surprise ourselves with our strength increases and ability to perform.”
What differentiates BBB and weight lifting from other workouts?
DJ: “BBB training consists of a combination of strength and circuit-style training with weights. We love doing weights-based circuits — they are our version of cardio. Whether the goal is to get fit and healthy, lose fat, build muscle, rehabilitate injury, get strong, improve sports performance, gain confidence, or generally have a better quality of life, strength training is the most beneficial method of training. We know from experience through training ourselves and thousands of babes around the world that strength training provides greater results than any other form of training. We truly believe strength is the answer.”
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This time of year, getting a workout in can be a struggle. Any tips for staying motivated?
FO: “It’s not always easy to find time to work out. Life can, of course, get in the way. We get busy, we get tired, we have our lazy days, but being healthy is our main priority in life, so we make the time. Our biggest driving force is our health. Without it, we don’t have much at all, so we're always thinking about what we can do to be healthier, fitter, and stronger. To stay on track, we recommend planning your week in advance. Schedule your training as you would a regular work meeting. No matter how you feel, if you're low on energy or having a bad day, just turn up — you will feel so much better once you have completed a great workout.”
What's most important to you when it comes to getting dressed for a training session?
DJ: “Style, fit, and quality are our main priorities. It's important that our workout pieces can withstand lots of washing. We like to work out in a comfortable and stylish crop top, a great pair of leggings, and a cool pair of sneakers.”
How do you refuel after an intense workout?
FO: “We fuel our bodies with wholesome, nutritious foods; we always stay hydrated with water; and we ensure we get a good night's sleep. It's important to us to make time every day to nourish and nurture our minds, bodies, and souls with quality downtime both on our own and with our friends and loved ones.”
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With 2018 just around the corner, what are your tips for starting off the year strong?
DJ: “Get organized. Put a plan in place. Get on a training program and follow it consistently. Consistency is truly key. Results are not achievable if you don't put in the work, so work out and eat well consistently by finding methods you enjoy and can maintain every single day of your life.”