Leah Gilbert is a Plus Size Endurance Athlete, Specialist Fitness Trainer and Positive Body Image Advocate based in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.
Mother to one with another on the way, Leah has always lived life as a larger person, with her weight reaching up to 140kg on a number of occasions, including her pregnancy with her first child. After being diagnosed with Degenerative Joint Disorder and experiencing the pain associated with treatment, Leah made the decision to take matters into her own hands and get the weight off her joints for good. Knowing that dieting was not a positive headspace for her, Leah made the decision to set fitness goals as opposed to weight loss ones. The dream was to become a runner. After starting out walking, Leah advanced to running up and down the side of her house while her daughter slept, then finally graduated to the local area. Hard work and persistence saw distance build up over time and the rest is history.
With a strong belief that some larger people need to train with a professional who can relate to them, Leah obtained her fitness credentials and combines this training with her Postgraduate qualifications in Psychology to work as a Specialist Fitness Instructor. Knowing the mental health benefits people can achieve with increased levels of fitness, Leah works hard to not only improve her client’s physical condition but their mental strength and resilience also.
Tired of the ‘shaming’ approach to the rising Obesity statistics in Australia, Leah began to pose the prospect of inspiring people to improve their health by providing them with real, relatable role models. This proposition also applied to the sporting community. Why not encourage people to take up a sport they have always wanted to participate in but felt their size prevented it? Many sporting communities such as Triathlon and running are the most inclusive, non-judgemental sporting and fitness environments a person can enjoy. Leah is willing to put herself out there as a message to say ‘come and have a go, there are thousands of ‘me’s’ out there.’
Since becoming one of the first Plus Size Athletes to gain sponsorship (with 2XU Australia), Leah has enjoyed increased exposure both with Australia and overseas in Canada, the UK and US – a sign that society is ready to celebrate the diversity of body shapes in sport and fitness.