GGS Spotlight: Hilary Milsome


Name: Hilary Milsome
Age: 60
Location: Melbourne, Australia

What does it mean to you to be part of the GGS Community?
It’s wonderful to have a safe place to ask questions, share successes, or even vent. These women are wonderfully supportive, and my idea of what “strong” looks like has changed radically since being introduced to such a wide range of views and perspectives.

Strong is sometimes being physically able to lift stuff, sometimes able to keep going in the face of adversity, sometimes being able to support others, and maybe even being strong enough to ask for help when you need it.

In the GGS community, I see all these things and much more. Even though I’m on the opposite side of the world to the majority of the members, I feel like many of them are friends, perhaps one day some of us will meet “in the flesh!”

How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
I wasn’t sporty as a kid or teenager, always the short “fat” one. But although I have been a gym member on and off for the last 30 years, mainly going to classes, no one had ever managed to inspire me to strength train. Then, eight years ago, I “accidentally” took out a gym membership that came with three included personal training sessions (I went along for a sales pitch with no intention of joining). I was 52 and I described myself to friends and the sales guy as “old and slow.”

The personal trainer I was assigned was a young woman in her early 20s. Her compassion, empathy, support, caring, and encouragement set me on a wonderful path. I lost 18 kgs and found strength and mobility for the first time in my life.

But more than that, she gave me the belief that my body was capable of pretty much anything I put my mind to if I was prepared to work at it.


Favorite lift:
Deadlifts every time (although I do love a bit of kettlebell work).

Most memorable PR:
It’s not my current PR, but in my first year of strength training, my lovely trainer told me that when she saw me walk onto the gym floor she told another trainer I was going deadlift 50 kgs for the first time that day, the other trainer said “Who? Her? But she’s tiny!”

I was shocked that someone else thought it was a big achievement for me because I felt quite ordinary. I lifted that 50 kgs, and I’ve never forgotten the amazing feeling of success and I hold that memory close to remind me not to underestimate myself.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
I have eclectic music taste, mostly old school, so anything by Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Living End, Jethro Tull, Nirvana, Michael Jackson, and Cream are great. But I’m currently loving lots of Muse (the Drones album in particular) and P!nk.

Most memorable compliment you’ve received lately:
One of my own personal training clients recently Facebook posted a photo of our small group session with the post “Hilary understands us” — that was pretty awesome.

Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
I try all the time to let my personal training clients know that I love how hard they are working and the way they are challenging themselves to try new movements and new weights.

What do you do? 
I’ve been a self-employed bookkeeper for 18 years, which I have loved. But I qualified as a personal trainer two years ago and am slowly transitioning to work more as a trainer from my home studio, and doing less bookkeeping.

My passion is to help others discover the positive benefits of strength training, no matter what their physical starting point, age, or health conditions.

What else do you do?
I love spending time with my family, particularly my young grandkids (aged 2 & 4). They never fail to make me smile and warm my heart with the best hugs. Growing my own fruit & vegetables is very rewarding as well as being a great way to relax. I enjoy travel, both Australian & overseas, New Zealand is a favorite destination.

I also love to study and I’m currently studying GGS-1 which is fabulous. My original personal trainer qualifications didn’t go deeply enough into many aspects of being a trainer so I was excited when I saw the GGS-1 certificate offered and couldn’t wait to sign up. I haven’t been disappointed.

I love the fact that the first priority in the course addresses issues and attitudes that affect women in the gym and in life. I’ve finished the second part on nutrition and again it explores areas that weren’t even mentioned in my initial personal trainer course. I’ve started the section on exercise now and I love turning those pages or watching those videos — there’s always something new to learn.

Your next training goal:
My current personal trainer will be moving on to another career sometime soon, so my goal will be to self-train for the first time in my life. To start with, just being consistent and challenging myself will be the goal, more specific goals might come later!

Favorite way to treat yourself:
Nothing I like better than taking time to sit in the garden on a lovely day, with a good book and no thought of “I should be doing…”

Favorite quote:
There has to be more than one:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” — Henry Ford

“If not now… when?”

Favorite book:
In non-fiction, The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris was life-changing for me. It helped me turn around a bout of anxiety that had been causing me problems for a few years and it gave me a new attitude to acceptance of who I am and where I’m at.

In fiction, I love to read so there are many. Dystopian books like The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984, and Brave New World are high on the list. And Australian novel Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey blew me away recently.

What inspires and motivates you?
I’m motivated by all the fabulous strong women I have been meeting in person and online since becoming involved in strength training and since joining GGS. They show me that so much is possible and there are so many new things to try.

I’m inspired by anyone who is committed to whatever they are doing, working hard and moving towards their goals.

And I’ve been close to family and quite a number of friends who have experienced life-changing illness, and I’m inspired by how they just get on with their life no matter what they have to deal with.

For what are you most grateful?
I have a wonderful family and friends who support and encourage me no matter what stage of my life I’m at. I am blessed to be able to share so much of my young grandchildren’s lives; it’s a privilege that not all grandparents are offered.

I’m also very grateful for a number of fabulous young women who have changed my life in many wonderful ways. Among them are my first trainer eight years ago who inspired me to honor and trust my body, my current trainer who has generously supported me as I develop my own skills as a personal trainer, and Molly Galbraith (who I met at the recent Women’s Fitness Summit in Melbourne) who has opened my eyes to so many positive and inclusive attitudes to women in particular, that I hadn’t encountered before.

And last, but certainly not least, I turned 60 last year and I’m grateful that at my stage of life I have all that I need to live a comfortable life, being able to make choices to do the things I enjoy.

Of what life accomplishment do you feel most proud?
I am proud that I didn’t just give in to feeling “old and slow” and stay on the couch, which would have been the easy option.

I hope I’m setting a good example for people around me, that it’s never too late to start looking after yourself both physically and mentally, and that it’s important to care for yourself before you can really care for others.

Tell us about a time when you overcame fear or self-doubt.
Definitely making the decision to study to be a personal trainer and then taking on clients was a big step for me. It was a struggle for me to believe that I had something to offer others. I’m not some lean, young marathon runner or competition weight lifter so I thought people would think “What does she know?”

But it seems that my clients are reassured that I understand where they are coming from. I love that I can work to motivate others and teach them that we can all be strong and healthy to the best of our ability and that it can look different for each of us.

How has lifting weights changed your life?
I feel strong and powerful, I can do so much more than I ever could before, and I love that I can play with and look after my grandkids without thinking about how I’ll cope running after them. I don’t groan when I get up off the couch or get out of bed in the morning (except for DOMS of course — lots of groaning then).

I’m reminded of how much I’ve gained when I see other people struggling to get up and down off the floor, having difficulty getting out of cars or chairs, or sitting on the sidelines instead of playing games with their kids or grandkids.

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve experienced from strength training?
Oh goodness, so many great “side effects.” Believing that being strong will help me move into this later phase of my life with the best health I can hope for, and seeing my body positively for all it can do. Oh yeah, and being able to cross the monkey bars in one go!

What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
Give it a go. Find someone to help you get started, a person who really listens to you, helps you identify your goals, and is encouraging and supportive. Maybe find a small boutique gym, or a good personal trainer in a big gym, where you can have some private sessions to learn technique. If you feel that you know what you are doing, it can make all the difference when you head into the gym on your own. And don’t settle for a trainer who doesn’t treat you with respect or give you 100 percent of their attention in every session.

You can connect with Hilary and find out more about her on Facebook.

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