Denise is a bodybuilding champ

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A local fitness fanatic has become a bodybuilding champ, just one year after she took up the sport.

Denise Cassar finished fourth at the International Bodybuilding and Fitness Association (IBFA) Bodybuilding Championships in Rome on October 25 before winning a national competition in York the following week.

Denise, who is originally from Malta, started training last November after her Birstall-based personal trainer, Joel Gartland, recommended that she take it up.

And the pair have formed a winning partnership, with Joel recently becoming the UK Bodybuilding Fitness Federation (UKBFF) North East Champion.

Joel, 27, said: “It’s a nice achievement. About a year ago I tentatively mentioned to Denise that I thought she had the physique and suggested that she might like to try it and she’s taken to it really well.

“It takes so much dedication to do and I’ve found it can be quite a selfish sport, watching what you eat and your lifestyle all the time. A lot of the time it means when people ask you if you want to go out you have to say no, and if the kids offer you a cake or something they’ve baked you’ve to hide it and pretend you’ve eaten it.”

Denise, 28, who juggles training with the joys of looking after two young children said: “I’m very, very pleased. It was difficult at first because the diet is so strict, you have to give up things like chocolate and I miss things like that but I love my body the way it is and it’s all been worth it. It’s changed my lifestyle in every way.”