Sorayas’ journey to World Professional Model Champion

I joined Atrium Fitness about 2 years ago after deciding to retire from competitive cheer leading. I started going to the gym 5 times a week where I used to do about 30 to 45-minute workouts with weights. Mondays and Fridays, I attended the morning HIIT and Insanity classes.

Somehow along the way I started to lose motivation. I ate super clean during the week and when the weekend arrived I just ate all the junk food possible (starting with a big Chinese takeaway on Friday nights).

Soraya 1I didn’t have anything that would make me push hard in every workout or that would stop me from eating the whole supermarket during the weekend. I didn’t think I looked bad, or I was fat or anything like that, so I just didn’t put in that much effort.

One night during a holiday in Prague I started thinking that if I wanted to achieve the physique I always dreamed off, I had to make a change and stop sabotaging myself on the weekends. That is when I decided that I needed to do something out of my comfort zone that would actually make me stick to a meal and training plan 100%.

At the time I had created an Instagram account (@rayrayhudson) so I could post pictures to slowly track my progress, follow people in the fitness industry that would motivate me to work out and give me workout ideas, etc. Many of the girls I followed were bikini competitors, and after seeing their before and after pictures that night, that’s when I realised what I needed to do: Register for a bikini competition.

The thought of having to step onto a stage in a tiny bikini in front of hundreds of people would really help me stay away from foods I shouldn’t eat and work my butt off at the gym in every session.

Then it came the part where I had to find a federation that had a competition super late in the year (I needed enough time to prepare because my physique was miles away from a bikini competitor) and I had to find a coach. Yes, you can prepare for a competition by yourself, but as you have read already I was not great at sticking to a plan. My main goal was to be disciplined with my nutrition and training, and for that I needed a coach that was there pushing me in every workout, and that could teach me all I needed to know about nutrition (what to eat, when to eat, etc)

Soraya 2I was doing a self-defence course at Atrium Fitness and Matt Nice was the instructor. I asked him if any of the PT’s at Atrium Fitness had ever prepared anyone for a bikini competition as I needed a coach. He offered to be the one who could prepare me for that. I didn’t know then, but I was super lucky he decided to take me in.

March 30th, 2017 marks the beginning of my fitness journey towards my first ever bikini competition. Looking at the before pictures makes me super proud of what I have achieved!

It is said that abs are made in the kitchen, and I have to tell you, that is soooooo true. You can train super hard at the gym and do all the cardio, but if you go to McDonalds afterwards or eat a tub of ice cream, then all that previous hard work is for nothing.

You need to have in mind that the success of your progress depends 80% on your nutrition and 20% on your training. It is a hard reality to process, because we all LOVE food, and having to learn to eat clean is difficult. Unless you have studied nutrition, you won´t necessarily know what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it to achieve your goal. Each goal has special nutritional needs. What someone eats to build lean muscle is very different to what someone eats that wants to lose body fat. That is why it’s super important to book a couple of PT sessions at the beginning of your “New You” Journey to get a training and nutritional plan that suits your goal. Your PT will help you learn to perform exercises correctly in order not to injure yourself and to work the correct muscles.

It is not easy to start a new nutrition plan and stop eating things you love, but once you learn how to eat healthy, it’s pretty easy to stick to it. There are many different approaches that you can follow – Keto, Intermittent Fasting, IIFYM, Paleo, etc – and the key is to find the one that suits you best, as that will make it easier to follow.

Soraya 3

In my case we did IFFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), where Matt gave me the number of calories a day and per meal. I could choose any food that would fit those macros. IMPORTANT: Anything that fits the macros, but choosing the foods that have a better nutritional value, for example: Complex Carbs over Simple carbs. Simple carbs are like quick-burning fuels (White bread, sweets, regular pasta). They break down fast into sugar in your system. Complex carbs are usually a better choice. It takes your body longer to break them down (whole-wheat bread, pasta and oats, etc).

While embarking yourself in a fitness journey, one of the most important things is being mentally strong. Not only do you need to fight the urge to have some ice cream or popcorn while watching Netflix, but you need to accept that changes don´t happen overnight.

It was hard for me not seeing my body fat going down at the beginning (I was bulking to build muscle and having 2500 calories a day) and not seeing it going down fast enough a few weeks before the show (cutting to shred and having 1200 calories – total Keto diet – and 2 hours cardio a day). However, it is very, very important that you trust the process and your coach.

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I am living proof that even though you might not see the results as quickly as you like, the results come if you are disciplined. Please also remember to take progress pictures every now and then. You don´t see the changes because you look at yourself in the mirror every day, but when you compare pictures you will then be able to see, and it will motivate you to work harder!

If you are thinking of competing, you also need to know that the last week before show day (Peak Week), will be the hardest as you will be trying to lose all the extra water in your body and your carbs will go down even more. It sucks but you will love it as it´s in those last few days when you will see your body drastically change and all those muscles pop.

I am super proud of what I have accomplished this season. What was going to be a one-off competition, whose goal was just to get onto a stage and show off the six months of hard work and discipline, became three shows in a month. Three shows where I placed top 3 in everyone, received 2 pro cards and came first place at the Pro Championships receiving the title of World Professional Model Champion!!!

Soraya 4

It’s a great reward, for me and my coach, to have 2 bronze trophies, a silver and a gold medal to back you up.


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I would like to thank Matt for all the effort he has put into every session we had leading to this amazing competition season. He has been training me since day one, making me look the best I have ever looked. He has been there supporting me in every step of the way and shouting my number in every single show. I owe you the world and wish you all the best in your future PT journey training more and more bikini girls. Bring it on! More champions coming your way.

And last but not least, I would like to thank Atrium Fitness for believing in me, and being my sponsor for the British Finals and Pro Show. Thanks to their support I was able to achieve more that I could have dreamed of.



March MEP Challenge Results

The following are the winners of our March MEP challenge:

1st Place: Geoff Shirley – A Brand New iPad Mini!

2nd Place: Sebastian Rasinger – An Atrium Backpack

3rd Place: Neil Burke – One month’s eGym Membership

Geoff winning ipod mini




















Congratulations to Geoff on his win! 🙂

March 2016 Newsletter

Managers Message

Hello all and a big warm welcome to our latest edition of the Atrium Newsletter. Our brand new State of the Art E-Gym facility has now opened, and the new exciting way of keeping fit has been a hit with many of you already with lots of very positive feedback.


If you are interested in trying the E-Gym out please see reception for details as with the layers coming off now that the weather is getting milder, what better way to get yourself into your summer shape.

– Steve

Paula’s Positive Message

I want to remind everyone that it is not always about your diet and what you do Paula - RESIZEin the gym that can prevent you from feeling your best.


Powerful affirmation can transform you, thinking about your attitude and behaviour can and will help you build confidence and help you keep motivated. A positive mental attitude will also help your determination to overcome any fears & obstacles, and a great internal mindset will help you accomplish your goals and improve your self image.


Post-Workout High Carb Smoothie Recipe

Watch Tim Shieff, World Freerunning Champion, teach you how to create this tasty and nutritious smoothie that is just perfect after a good workout session! The necessary ingredients can be found below:

  • 4 Medium ripe bananas
  • 8 Medjool Dates
  • 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ground ginger
  • 1 Litre water

Blend until smooth, Serves 4 people.


Per serving (per glass); 139 cals, 0.4g fat, 0.1g saturated), 1.6g protein, 30.3g carbs, 27.7g sugar.


+ Dates are high in chloride which aids digestion.
+ Bananas contain potassium which helps our muscles to work properly. This is especially important after exercise so that our muscles can repair and grow.
+ Drinking a smoothie like this is better than your average energy drink because it provides just as much energy and sugar but it also provides your body with other nutrients like fibre and vitamins & minerals which are needed when you work hard at the gym.

Sugar-free Breakfast Ideas

Jess has a few tips on how to replace some of the high sugar content in your diet and eat better in the mornings with some tasty alternatives!

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Fact – The Valsalva Effect

Aaron brings us this interesting fact about the Valsalva Effect:

The Valsalva Effect/Manoeuvre is when someone forcefully attempts to exhale against a closed airway, primarily when weight training during a lift. This increases blood pressure, decreases heart rate, and increases the risk of fainting and retinal detachment.

The Valsalva maneuver is commonly believed to be the optimal breathing pattern for producing maximal force, as it creates a pocket of pressure in the abdominal and thoracic cavities. The results are that you increase your power output potential and provide core support to protect your lower back from injury.

Pawel – How to achieve the perfect Flag

If you are willing to learn how to do a flag, there is one question you should ask yourself. Is my core and upper body strong enough. If you have any doubts, then you better get training.

I started with basic planks making sure my form is spot on, and making sure that I can maintain a variety of planks for a long period of time. Once I have mastered that, I then move on to doing some crazy super sets with a variety of planks, roll outs, press ups then adding some strict triceps dips and strict pull ups.

Once you have been doing this for some time, the last thing you have to do is to attempt it. When you try the flag make sure that you give your 100% and stay focused for every second of the flag hold. Best of luck!

Our very own Pawel doing what he does best! Showing the world what he can do. Any one up for the challenge? 🙂

Posted by The Atrium Club on Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Staff Training

We openly encourage our team to improve their knowledge and skills, this is what they have been up to so far.


Well Done to Paula who recently completed and passed her Level 2 NVQ in Customer Service. Paula is now working towards her Level 2 NVQ in Team Leadership.
Jodie & Donna are in the process of completing their Level 2 NVQ in Customer Service.

Fitness Team

​Jess is off to ​Birmingham to complete a PIYO course. Hopefully we can find space on the timetable for a class or two.

Aaron is is steadily working his way towards Level 3 Personal Training and successfully passed his assessment. If you are interested in Personal Training Aaron is able to offer reduced rates whilst his training is ongoing.

Stuart is always on the look out for new courses, he is finishing a Sports Conditioning course as this newsletter goes out.

One surprising change of direction is Naomi, who loves the gym and helping out members that she has signed up to become a Level 2 Fitness Instructor. This time next year Naomi may well be teaching Circuits!

Women and Weight Training


This social media gem has been circulating for some time now, any yet still at least once a day
I have women, and men for that matter, utter the phrase, “I don’t want to do weights as I don’t want to get massive like a body builder”. Well let’s look a little further into this;

Muscle tissue is what we term metabolically active tissue. This basically means it costs the body calories to maintain it. Fat tissue is metabolically inactive tissue; it doesn’t cost the body anything in terms of energy. So right away we can see that an individual with more muscle mass will expend more energy (calories). Why would you not want to use more calories when sitting around?

In all reality muscle tissue is HARD to build. The body will only build muscle as an adaptation of it being broken down via resistant stressors and will get rid of it when it is not being used. This goes back to it costing us energy. It will only carry out this adaptive process with adequate recovery via food and sleep. When you look at people in shape i.e. bodybuilders, physique athletes and the people that litter your Instagram and Facebook feeds it is easy to think this can be achieved in as little time as a year. Honestly, it is NOT going to happen. Can you build a good amount of muscle in year? Yes of course. Can you lose a large amount of body fat in a year? Undoubtedly. And you’d probably look and feel a hell of a lot better for doing so. But the people at the top did not get there overnight and they did not get there in a year, or 12 weeks like some “rags to ripped” programme may have you believe. They have most likely been training for 10 years plus to get into that condition.

Women have roughly 10% of the natural circulating testosterone that men have. Testosterone is an essential hormone in building muscle tissue and burning fat, it is extremely useful and we want to maximise our natural production though things like saturated fat, good sleep and reduced lifestyle stress. Utilising weight training will also boost your testosterone levels with compound movements such as squats, pushes, pulls, lunges etc. Don’t be afraid of attacking the weights, get in, work hard and get out. Build some muscle and when it comes to revealing that summer body you’ll have something to show!

If you are looking for that “toned” look then you need to be embracing some of these aspects of training. No one ever got a defined toned figure doing 60mins of treadmill, cross-trainer and bike work. It’s a great way to keep the heart healthy and use some fuel but with no muscle to reveal it is unlikely to get you the body you’re after.


HIIT Training


People spend longer in the gym than they need too. A lot of people follow the same exercise programme for a number of months, which is great as they have a plan to follow and a good routine. However, after a while, your body gets used to the exercises that you do which can lead to the person not seeing as much progress/change to their body as they would like too.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of interval training, an exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. This type of training is great for people who do not have much time to spend exercising.

HIIT means working at a high level by doing short bursts of exercise. This allows your heart rate to stay up in the high zone which means you will burn fat effectively without having to spend hours in the gym.

I would recommend HIIT to everyone who would like to hit their own individual fitness targets without becoming bored and demotivated.

– Jess

It’s National Heart Month


February is National Heart Month. All month the British Heart Foundation are out promoting healthy hearts. They do this by asking you to make small changes to your daily habits.

The heart is an absolutely incredible tool. It beats around 100 000 times per day, to move around 3600 gallons of blood through 75 miles of blood vessels.

Sadly the heart takes the brunt of a lot of our lifestyle choices. In the UK alone around 160 000 people die from heart and circulatory disease. Every 7 minutes someone in the UK has a heart attack. This is bad in itself, but when you find out 1.2 million men and 900 000 women live with chronic angina, you really start to think.

Being a health club,  we naturally advocate exercise and diet as the way to battle against these heart-related issues. There are other things like stress and smoking also adding to this huge problem.

So, exercise, you knew that would be our number 1 right? There are so many benefits to exercise, that you would get bored of us listing them here. The biggest benefits are weight control and heart exercise. We have a great tool in the club to help you make sure you are training your heart hard enough and long enough. MyZone. MyZone helps you know just how hard you are working by showing your heart rate in 5 different exercise zones. MyZone recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, that is blue and green zones. Or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise, red and yellow zones. Or of course, you could do a combination of the 2. The great thing about MyZone is it takes all the guess work out of it, and tells you all about your exercise session, and effort.

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Nutrition goes hand in hand with exercise. If you are not putting good clean fuel in your body, how can you expect your body to run smoothly?

To start with, control your portion size. Using a smaller plate helps, but if you are loading your plate up make sure you load it with fruit and veg. The more colourful (naturally) your plate of food looks the better.

In terms of grains, of course, Whole Grains are the way forward. Things like whole-wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, barley whole-grain bread etc. If it say whole, go for it.

Reduce your salt. You should be aiming for just 1500mg of salt per day. Too much and you are opening up to a risk of high blood pressure.

There are many ways you can be healthier, if you smoke, you already know you should stop.

Laughter has been proven to help. An article in the Huffington Post tells you about how laughter can lower stress levels, and we know what stress does to you. You can read the article here.

New Atrium Fitness Logo......

We love exercising and helping people obtain a healthy lifestyle. We have been doing it since 1992 and have helped thousands of people, and we can help you too. Give us a call on 01353 668888 or email to find out how we can make National Heart month be the month you change your life.

Coming in February is our brand new eGYM Circuit. Read more about it by clicking the eGYM logo.

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