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Booty Camper of the Year 2011! I've Lost 25kg and 4 dress sizes

Belinda Arena: Booty Camper of the Year 2011


I had hit rock bottom and Booty Camp brought me back to life Weight has been an issue for me my entire life. I had always been overweight but it wasnt until I went through the worst experience of my life that it got out of control. I was 25, having the time of my life travelling, and preparing to settle in London on a working holiday. Of course, I fell victim to the ‘Heathrow injection’ (automatic 5kg gain courtesy of the very social London lifestyle!) but soon learned that this was the least of my worries. I had finally found a job and things seemed to be coming together, until I received the phone call I will never forget. “Mum’s pneumonia has gotten worse; she’s likely to be put into an induced coma. Get home now”

I had been away from home for 6 months of my 2 year plan. I flew back into Melbourne on Thursday 14th December 2006 and went straight to the hospital. Mum was in intensive care, hooked up to machines and an oxygen mask over her face. She couldn’t speak to me. I sat beside her bed and cried. She mustered up all the energy she had to raise her hand to my face and wipe the tears away. The next day the doctors induced the coma and by the Sunday she had passed away.

I arranged the funeral and once it was all over and the friends and family stopped visiting to pay their respects, it was just Dad, my brother and I left to piece our lives back together.

I decided not to return to London but to stay and support Dad and my brother as they were really struggling to cope and we so desperately craved family unity. I found a job in Melbourne but, obviously, was not happy and the weight continued to pile on.
I joined a gym and trained 4 times a week yet the weight was still there. After a year of being disheartened I finally saw a doctor and was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. (One of the catches: losing weight will help your PCOS but having PCOS makes it twice as hard to lose weight). I was facing an up hill battle.

Fast forward a few years and I was at rock bottom. I’d managed to lose a small amount of weight but was still overweight, had 2 failed relationships (one of the main issues being my body insecurities), and my best friends had moved interstate. I was bored, lonely, unhappy and unhealthy. I decided I needed a distraction and googled “boot camps”

The next click changed my life forever. “Booty Camp”

I’ve been training with Booty Camp for a year and a half now. I still remember my very first session. Walking to Catani Gardens in St Kilda, thinking “why did I do this? And what would possess me to start an outdoor fitness program in winter?”

I was blown away by the group of amazing women training that night. Their motivation on a cold winter’s night inspired me. I walked home that night thinking “this is going to be hard but it’s only 6 weeks”. By the end of the 6 weeks, I was hooked and I’ve never looked back.

I’ve had 2 trainers during my 18 months of Booty Camp, and I credit those women with providing me the inspiration to achieve my goals. I changed my diet, lifestyle habits and most importantly, my attitude. The weight started coming off and the progression was noticeable, both physically and emotionally. My family, particularly Dad and my brother, have never been prouder.

My favourite session was earlier this year. It was freezing, raining and extremely windy – the worst conditions yet. Only 3 of us campers braved it. We were so rugged up we looked like Michelin men. We spent half the session laughing at how we must’ve looked attempting to move in what seemed like gale force winds. Even doing a simple sit up was a challenge in that wind. Now that’s dedication! We still talk about that session to this day!

I’m now happier, healthier, enthusiastic and confident. I look forward to seeing the girls twice a week, we have our catch ups before the hard work starts and we always manage a few laughs during the sessions as well. I have made so many wonderful friends and it’s great that we share common goals as not all our friends and family outside of the “Booty” world understand what it’s like to be overweight and struggling to stay on track.

I now have the drive and determination to continue achieving any goals I set for myself and I look forward to continuing with Booty Camp well beyond reaching my physical goal.

My goal this year was to lose weight for my 30th birthday. I trained 5 nights a week and stayed focus thanks to the Booty Camp girls and our incredible trainer. Overall, since returning from London at a size 18, I’ve lost 23kgs. It’s been a long and challenging 5 years but I know that if it wasn’t for Booty Camp, I would not be in the place I’m in now, physically and mentally. On the night of my 30th birthday party, I was in a size 10 dress and had never felt so ecstatic about my own body.

And as much as I wish Mum could’ve been there to celebrate with me, I know she would’ve been looking down from above with a massive smile on her face, tear in her eye and teasingly thinking “only took you 30 years to look this good!”

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