Meet the bodybuilding family – including a mum who became a world champion in just 18 months of training and her 11-year-old son who she reckons is ‘the new Arnie’.
Mum-of-four Kerry Macdonald, 43, only set foot in a gym for the first time in April 2021 but has since won multiple competitions.
Her youngest son, Aaron, 11, has become an avid fan and although he hasn’t yet started doing weight training, one business has already offered him a sponsorship, while Oliver, 14, likes working out a few times a week.
Their dad, Steven Johnston, 47, urged Kerry to try bodybuilding when the couple first started going out 18 years ago, but she was too shy.
Steven keeps her training regime on the rails and gives Kerry encouragement, but she was inspired by to take it up by a pal who won Miss Cumbria and also has a coach.
Both their daughters from previous relationships are not fussed about the gym, Kerry’s daughter Ellie, 24, prefers yoga, while Steven’s daughter, Athena, 21, works as a dancer on a cruise ship.
Kerry, who works as a cleaner, got diagnosed with ADHD a month after she began doing weight training and said it helps her focus.
She said having the support of her family and making them proud is the best part, as well as having shared interest – and slammed lazy assumptions that she uses steroids.
Kerry said: “After lockdown I joined the gym and that was it, I’ve got a good physique for it.
“I’ve always been a very active mum but I haven’t done athletics since being 13.
“For years I couldn’t ever complete anything, I started hairdresser training and left because I couldn’t retain information.
“I could do the practical stuff, but I never gained any qualifications.
“With ADHD you are grieving for what you could have achieved, but the gym really helps me.
“I think my story shows anybody can achieve anything, just give it a go.
“That feeling of being proud of yourself is such a nice feeling.
“Having your family be proud of you is much nicer than any world championship or glam stuff.
“Me and Steven have been together 18 years and it has rekindled our relationship, because we go to the gym together, we eat together, we plan the shows together.
“I can hear him shouting at me at shows ‘keep it tight’.
“It annoys me that people assume I’m on steroids, I go to the gym four or five times a week, I eat clean – people just make their own assumptions.
“I have rest days and I get enough sleep, I go to bed at 10pm and am up at 6am.
“I’m just naturally built to do this, I’m a genetic freak.
“This is just the way that my body has responded to the exercise, the food, and rest.”
In only 10 weeks, Kerry had racked up multiple trophies and tiaras and won the women’s trained body category at the PCA bodybuilding world championships on November 20.
She has inspired her sons to get involved, and Oliver now goes to the gym but his main interest is seeing his friends.
Aaron has become obsessed with the bodybuilding community and loves to chat to other competitors, and spotting who he thinks will win.
He has been offered a sponsorship deal by a woman who makes Kerry’s bikinis although his parents think he is too young to start training – but he loves to copy the poses and even got himself a tan and trunks to go on stage, with no encouragement.
Kerry said: “Just a few weeks ago he got up on stage and performed a bodybuilding routine.
“He got a tan and trunks.
“He was getting the crowd going and they were cheering.
“You can’t make kids do that.
“Steven did it years ago so we had the photos around the house and Aaron used to look at the photos and copy the poses.
“My youngest hasn’t missed a show, he was saying ‘I want to travel around the world with you’.
“He goes round speaking to the bodybuilders, he sent one a message saying ‘you weren’t looking your best, you would have won if you’d looked like you did at another competition’.
“The guy sent him a message back saying ‘you’ve inspired me’.
“People say to me ‘my god, your son’.
“I’ve got a bikini maker who has offered to sponsor him, he probably will do bodybuilding in future.
“He might be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Aaron has really benefited from the people he has met, he’s got so much confidence.
“It’s family time for us, we travel around going to shows.
“It’s not for financial gain, it’s a passion and we are enjoying doing it as a family.”
She trains at a gym in Workington, Cumbria, a short walk from her home.
Kerry said: “It’s a really good community.
“It’s helped me a lot mentally.
“I got four regional title wins in 10 weeks, a British title, gold, silver and World title.
“I’ve got trophies and tiaras.
“It seems impossible to do it in such a short space of time.
“I know there are some men who wouldn’t want their wife posing in a bikini, but Steven loves it.
“I can hear him shouting ‘keep it tight’., he doesn’t let me give in.”