Story by Val Swaine – How the gym can change your life!

Story by Val Swaine – How the gym can change your life!

I returned to Bradford in 2014 after living in France for 7 years. During the last few years in France I had started jogging after wanting a lifestyle change, realising that as I got older (59) I couldn’t take fitness for granted, I had to work for it. I went jogging, mainly on my own so, back in Bradford, I decided that I would join a gym so that I could be amongst other people. I hadn’t been to a gym for about 20 years but, as luck/fate would have it, Puregym were opening about a mile from where I lived, I had no excuse! I joined online after a leaflet was posted through the door and I booked an introductory tour. As soon as I walked through the door at puregym, I felt ‘at home’! I booked a free class online and it was as simple as that! I went to the class, felt exhausted but proud of myself and realised there were lots of others like myself who wanted to change their lives for the better. Over the course of a year I attended approximately 200 free classes. I felt fitter and pleased with myself for sticking with it.

I had also met lots of like-minded people who I still see two and a half year’s later!

Mike concentrates on strength training which I thought might help slow down the ageing process and help me to build muscle which seemed to be deteriorating fast! my first couple of months training with Mike involved conditioning my body, get it ready to lift weights. After 3/4 months, Mike had taught me to do a chin-up, my first milestone!


Mike then suggested a powerlifting competition which I knew absolutely nothing about. I agreed to give it a try based only on my trust in Mike as my coach. I’m still not sure how I came to do my first competition! I though he’d gone a little bit mad but I went along with it. We had about 8 weeks to train for the GPC Nodumbelles women only competition in Manchester a year ago (July 2016). On the day of the competition I felt so nervous that I forgot parts of my kit and had to borrow things from another competitior. After my first lift however, my nerves went and I felt exhilarated and proud of myself. The crowd were fantastic, cheering everyone on and I thought, this is it, I’m hooked on Powerlifting!

Deadlift – 115kg – The World Record !


At that competition, I qualified for the GPC GB championships later in the year, for my age and weight category. Mike devised a training programme which involved training four times a week. in the space of a year, I have taken part in 4 competitions and I now hold GPC GB/ European and World records for my age and weight! When I first started at Puregym, 2 and a half years ago, I never dreamt I would be competing in Powerlifitng competions! Anything is possible for anyone, just give it a go!

Valerie Swaine


Coach Mike Oczujda

About Me

An experienced Personal Trainer for the last four years, I graduated in Gymnastics at Szczecin P.E University, where I learned how the human body functions and the significant role of physical activity in our everyday life. I’ve travelled around Europe and learned from the best coaches in the World, such as ” C.Poliquin. Wolfgang Unsöld, Ed Coan, Matt Wenning, Phil Learney and Strong First system. You can find me every day at Pure Gym Bradford Idle.

Tel : 07716446609