A NEWPORT mum who gave birth less than 18 months ago hopes to become a role model to young girls by becoming a weight lifting coach.

Claire Hutchison is already shadowing a qualified weight lifting coach at the Will Power Weightlifting Gym, in Pontypool, as part of a Torfaen Sports Development project to show youngsters that “strong is the new skinny”.

Ms Hutchison, 36, will also embark on her first fitness modelling competition in London this weekend when she competes against hundreds of other fitness fanatics at the Miami Pro event.

The 5’5”– tall hairdresser, who started weight training just over a year ago, wants to show youngsters that eating few calories in an attempt to look good is not the answer.

“A big lesson I’ve learned is that you can eat food and look good,” she said. “That journey has been massive.

“My youngest child Eli is now 16 months old and after he was born I started weight training. I’ve always been into general fitness anyway, but after having my fourth baby I decided to change my fitness routine a little bit.”

Ms Hutchison, who is also mum to Alexia, six, Theo, ten, and Lollie, 14, approached Justin Holly who runs Will Power gym and he began coaching her towards reaching her goal of achieving a bikini body. She now shadows him coaching at the gym and helps to teach school children there on Tuesdays.

“Justin taught me how to eat properly, five times a day and no junk,” she said. “I doubled my calorie intake and started lifting weights.”

Ms Hutchison, who weighs around 60kg, 9st 4lbs, outside of competition time and eats 2,500 calories a day, can now lift her own body weight.

“For me going to the gym is a stress-free time,” said the mum-of-four, who generally exercises before work. “You need to be taught properly by people that know what they’re doing, because if your form isn’t right, you risk injuring yourself.

“I want to be a good role model to young girls.”

The first group of girls of mixed abilities from across Torfaen will soon start training with weights at the gym with a view to incorporating the techniques in to their sport, under supervision from four coaches.

The Pontypool under-15s rugby team has already been training at the gym for around six months.

“This is weight lifting with sport, it’s not body building,” explained Mr Holly.

“Everything is coached and it’s quite a strict, disciplined environment, it’s not the kind of environment you would expect. We don’t bicep curl, we don’t bench press, that’s not very sporting. Here people learn the basic technique then go sport-specific.

“If you apply consistency and technique, you will get strong, full stop.”

The project will initially run for eight weeks but organisers hope it could be a permanent initiative.