Let's hear Gillian talk about her dreams and passion!

    Leading with over 800 votes, personal trainer and devoted rugby player, Gillian Benjamin is officially the winner of our first SHAPE Fit Girl search. This tough, happy-go-lucky 32-year-old has dabbled in many sports, but rugby seems to be her life now. Here, she talks about her love for fitness and rugby, as she shares her tips on staying positive and motivated in pursuit of fitness.


    1.Fall in love

    “I’ve always loved contact sports. It started when I was six with my grandfather who taught me about boxing and since then, I’ve just loved sports like that. Rugby happened when one of my senior trainers invited me to support her at the Jonah Jones Rugby 7s tournament in 2013. I was shocked at first – I didn’t know Malaysia even had women’s rugby, but I was also intrigued. To double my interest, I was invited by someone from the Malaysian Rugby Union (MRU) to give rugby a try. That’s when I fell in love with rugby. I started training and setting targets for myself, and it has been a part of me since then! Currently, I am still under training to develop my skills. I played for the KL Tigers under Andy Pritchard and currently with KK Sharks under coach Lena Kula in Sabah. I’ve played a few 7s and 10s for now but will try for national in the future if age isn’t a limit.”


    2.Embrace your shape

    “Back in school, I was bullied for being too thin. The other kids used to refer to me as the ‘broom stick’, but there was nothing much I could do about it except to stay positive and go on a quest to get stronger. I began to accept and love my shape but also strove to keep it fit. What I love about my shape now is that I look strong and beautiful as a woman when I lift weights. Yes, girls can lift too and we won’t look like men! That mindset about lifting is archaic. Lifting doesn’t make you look masculine, just stronger and more confident. People are always surprised when they find out that I play rugby, and they question why I would pick such an extreme sport where I’m open to injuries. I tell them that they don’t need a reason to do what they love.”


    3.Meditate and reflect

    Meditation is a powerful thing. It helps me to manage stress and anxiety, and keeps me aware and focused. My awesome client, Mrs Tan taught me how to focus and meditate two years ago. I’ve been meditating daily since then. I also find relaxation through music.  Music helps me when I need a motivational boost and peace of mind – it feeds my soul.”


    4.Nourish the body

    “Food affects everything in your life – your mood, energy level and it also helps to keep you strong and motivated, so eat well. I don’t follow a particular diet all the time, but I do know what’s best for me through trial and error. When there is a rugby tournament, my daily protein target is 2.5g to 3g per kilo of body weight from sources like eggs, lean meat, nuts and fish. I also snack on protein pancakes or peanut butter on sliced apples. When there is a fitness competition, my diet changes again, and when I’m on a festive mood, there goes my diet! I love cakes and creams and if I feel like eating something ‘bad’, I just eat it. Why punish yourself? As long as you understand the concept of reward and hard work, you’re on the right track, baby!”

    5.Work at your goal

    “Some of us know exactly what we want in life. But there are also those who learn and discover what they want along the way. For me, I’ve always known that my life is in fitness, and that’s one of the reasons why winning the SHAPE Fit Girl search means a lot to me. I have a few plans that I’m working on now – one is about kids’ fitness so we can start them from young. I also want to create a group workout for people with specific injury or disability – no one should be left behind!”

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