By: Elise Chretien
Liz Warner-Osborne is a familiar face around our U Street location. You’ve probably sweated your butt off with her in cycle, felt the burn with her in VIDA Assets or caught a glimpse of her squatting with a ridiculous amount of weight on her back. As a tenured personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and bodybuilder on the side, you could say Liz spends a lot of her time here at VIDA!
Liz has been with VIDA for three & a half years, and has taught group fitness for the past year and a half. During this time she has built a loyal fan base of members who take her classes devotedly every week. Currently on her schedule are Cycle, Spin & Sculpt, Assets and our new ab class KillerCORE. As a former Les Mills instructor, Liz says she loves the creativity and flexibility that teaching VIDA classes allows.
“The classes are great because it provides that group mentality that people feed off of. But with huge, structured classes it’s hard to focus on an individual’s form and technique. I wanted to take a more one on one approach, which is why I started personal training,” says Liz. “VIDA classes are created in the gym and as instructors we have the freedom to make adjustments as needed and choose between varieties of exercises for each class,” she says.
Liz always takes time at the beginning of class to explain to first-timers what the class will consist of, how to properly set up your equipment, demos the correct form and posture for certain exercises, and will give individual attention to those who need help throughout the class.
“I always tell people I’m a trainer too, so they can come to me with any questions they have after class. I’m more than happy to help if something feels off,” she says.
Like most VIDA classes, Liz’s are perfect for people of all fitness levels! When using weights, Liz encourages people to pick a weight that feels medium-difficult to start with and then figure out what works for them.
“It’s ok to take a second to stop and adjust your weight. I’m not going to be mad if you have to take something to a lower level because that’s what works for your body,” she assures me. “There are different levels for everyone,” she says.
When Liz isn’t teaching 5-6 times a week, she’s got another slightly time-consuming hobby: body building.
Coming from a dance background, Liz explains that she was always curious about body building but didn’t know much about it. That all changed three years ago when she was approached by trainer Peter Gordon, who happened to judge body building competitions.
“He asked me if I competed, and I said no, but I had thought about maybe doing bikini. He quickly said I already had too much muscle for bikini and that I needed to do figure,” she laughs.
Competitions are broken down into four different levels: bikini, figure, physique and bodybuilding.
After attending a posing clinic here at VIDA, she was told her body type and style was perfect for the physique level. She competed in her first competition, the Baltimore Gladiator Championships, in March 2014 where she received 2nd place, and the East Coast Classic in June 2014 receiving 2nd place again.
“It’s a great way to recognize the hard work that you’re putting into your body. It’s cool to find other people that share the same mentality, and ya know, other girls who like muscle,” she says.
For as muscular and toned as she is now, Liz stresses that she hasn’t always been a gym rat. She tells me how she used to be a size 13, and that her love for the gym and lifting has evolved over time.
“That’s something I like to tell a lot of my female clients, because I’m sure they look at me and think ‘sure, she can do it because she’s probably always lived in the gym,’ but that’s definitely not the case! I like to remind folks that I have indeed been there, done that, transformed my body and life in the gym, and can certainly help them do the same,” she says.
Once Liz discovered her own love for heavy lifting she’s become an advocate for getting other women into weights. Even if it’s not at a bodybuilding level, she feels that too many women are focused on getting smaller, rather than stronger. Liz explains that lifting weights improves your muscles longevity, strengthens your bones, prevents osteoporosis, and helps with balance and stability. Plus, it makes you look good!
“A lot of girls say to me ‘I want to have Madonna arms.’ Well, you gotta lift heavy sh*t to get Madonna arms!” she says.
Having a rock-hard body doesn’t come easy, though. Liz’s typical schedule consists of lifting six times a week with 30-45 mins of cardio almost every day. Oh, and those five extra spin classes she teaches every week, too. Not to mention that as a competition grows closer (she’s about 13 weeks out from her next one right now!) her diet shifts into high gear and only allows for 1300 calories a day.
Liz’s pre-competition diet consists of two main things: protein and self-discipline. In the weeks leading up to a competition she consumes no sugar, no fruit, no dairy, and no bread products.
“Sweet potatoes, zucchini, and cauliflower are all good carb replacements. Basically any vegetable can be turned into spaghetti,” she says. (We’ll have to just take her word on this one!)
So, what food does she miss the most when following this strict diet?
“Chocolate – because it’s hard to fake chocolate. It’s also the little things, like ranch dressing. And not having to measure everything I eat. Sometimes I miss fruit, but sugar-free jello is a wonderful thing. Oh and I have to be careful with peanut butter because I can go crazy with a spoon and a jar!” she says.
Despite the strenuous workout schedule and harsh diet regulations, Liz says it’s all worth it to see your hard work pay off.
“Having muscle gives your body the frame it needs to look its best. A dress shouldn’t make you look good – you should make the dress look good. Plus when you lift you look good naked, not just wearing clothes!” she jokes.
If you’re looking to build muscle and cut body fat, Liz should definitely be your go-to expert. She’s super easy to talk to and you can tell that she loves to share her passion for lifting with others. Next time you see her around the gym, make sure to wish her luck in her next competition!