Thursday 18 December 2014

Time to fight the power

TV3's Lisa Cannon has gone from novice to competitive powerlifter in eight weeks and, though she has found it a tough challenge, she is excited by the effect it has had on her body.

Lisa Cannon in Body Health and Fitness gym, Stillorgan. Photo: Ei Keegan.
Lisa Cannon in Body Health and Fitness gym, Stillorgan. Photo: Ei Keegan.
Lisa Cannon is excited by the effect power lifting has had on her body.
TV3's Lisa Cannon
Lisa at Newbridge Silverware

Attending top star-studded award ceremonies and getting up close and personal interviewing Irish and international stars on the red carpet is all in a day's work for Xposé's roving reporter Lisa Cannon.

Now add to the equation the strength sport of powerlifting, and it feels like an unlikely match for the stylish television presenter.

"Everyone thinks it's a contradiction. The great thing is that's it's about dispelling myths and to show people you can do other things, because if you always do the things you're used to, you will never do anything different. Maybe I am glamorous – that's part of my job – but there is a huge side to me that's not glamorous. Before I get my hair, make-up and nails done I'm certainly no glamour puss."

Cannon has taken on the ultimate challenge when she takes part in the Powerlifting Championships this Saturday.

In just eight weeks she has gone from novice to competitive powerlifter and is hoping to be able to lift weights of up to a hefty 100kg in two days' time.

"It's been a massive battle, a struggle, a challenge, really hardcore. Going from your normal person who gets up in the morning and slides out the door with a banana and a latte in hand, to now having to get up and make porridge with a protein shake with strawberries all over it, pack a lunch and eat six times a day – it's so different to what I'm used to."

From the age of four until 19 years of age, the ballet barre was Lisa's best friend, where she spent years of training learning and mastering the performance dance.

"I still have a lot of that muscle memory. I wanted to be a prima ballerina but realised my body shape was completely wrong as I'm rubenesque, very curvy with a 34E sized chest. I have a smallish waist and hips; I'm not particularly tall, either. I've got that Kim Kardashian, a bit of a shelf going on and I wasn't built for a ballerina stature, so you have to think about other options."

Playing lots of hockey, netball and cricket in Mount Anville, her all-girls secondary school in Goatstown, Co Dublin, this soon fell to the wayside.

"When I went to college I discovered boys and booze so a lot of exercise went out the window," says Lisa (35). There was a good lull of 10 years there and something would interest me for six months and then I would give it up. I have never done as much exercise as I have done now."

The curvaceous style queen has had to work hard to keep in shape and has spoken previously about struggling with her weight, trying every diet possible. "Like everything, you go through periods where you don't care but there are periods where you do mind and you need to pull back and can't believe you have gone up a dress size again. You realise, unfortunately, you're not genetically programmed to be a skinny mini and I'm the type of person where if a cupcake is left on a table and I look at it, it will go on my hips. I haven't been blessed with eating whatever I want and it not going on me."

As much as she is realistic about her body type, losing weight is secondary to why she has chosen to put herself through this hard slog. "It's a bonus that I'm losing a bit of weight but I'm actually gaining lots of muscle, so it won't be drastic what people are going to see on television, it's me tightening up the loose bits but gaining lots of muscle so my weight essentially doesn't change. I'm not going to look like Christian Bale from The Machinist after just eight weeks. It's about being strong."



It was while the presenter was training at her local gym in Leopardstown that the idea came to light of pushing herself beyond her comfort zone. "At the gym one night I saw a girl pushing and grunting doing these weights and I thought 'what the hell', so I went over and talked to her and she was so nice and gentle, she told me weights burn loads of calories and it is a really great way to get out aggression and it makes you stronger. I thought it would be a great way to tone up and, the more I learnt about the way it changes your body, I got excited."

Lisa said that her granny was another one of the reasons she decided to take on the body-builder programme in the first place and started to feel better about herself. "I also spoke to my grandmother, who turns 101 in April; we had a big chat about it, she told me to do things that challenge me and set goals for myself, so I'm also doing it for her.

"My mum passed away five years ago, so I'm obviously very aware how important your health is and to keep your body physically strong so it has a whole dimension to it, not just 'I want to lose weight' – that comes so far down the list."

Irish Independent

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