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Ex-Miss NI Anna Henry swaps her tiara for the treadmill opening female-only gym

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Former Miss NI Anna Henry in her Gym 'The Yard' in Portglenone. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 16-09-2020

Former Miss NI Anna Henry in her Gym 'The Yard' in Portglenone. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 16-09-2020

16/05/2017: Student engineer Anna Henry from Portglenone in Co Antrim was crowned Miss Northern Ireland 2017 following a glittering black tie event at the Europa Hotel. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

16/05/2017: Student engineer Anna Henry from Portglenone in Co Antrim was crowned Miss Northern Ireland 2017 following a glittering black tie event at the Europa Hotel. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

Former Miss NI Anna Henry in her Gym 'The Yard' in Portglenone. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 16-09-2020

Former Miss NI Anna Henry in her Gym 'The Yard' in Portglenone. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 16-09-2020

Former Miss NI Anna Henry in her Gym 'The Yard' in Portglenone. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 16-09-2020

Former Miss NI Anna Henry in her Gym 'The Yard' in Portglenone. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 16-09-2020

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Former Miss NI Anna Henry in her Gym 'The Yard' in Portglenone. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 16-09-2020

Former Miss Northern Ireland Anna Henry has swapped tiaras for treadmills after opening her new female-only gym.

The Portglenone beauty, who was crowned Miss NI in 2017, decided to open the fitness studio after reassessing her career options during lockdown.

The 26-year-old said her time as a beauty queen gave her the platform to become a personal trainer instead of an engineer.

She told Sunday Life: “It was an amazing experience and seems very glamorous compared to my life now, my days have really changed from getting up and doing hair, make-up and putting on a dress — it’s now pulling on the lycras and tying the hair in a bun.

“That’s 2017 and seems like a long time ago but I loved that experience, it was absolutely amazing and I would never have any regrets.

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16/05/2017: Student engineer Anna Henry from Portglenone in Co Antrim was crowned Miss Northern Ireland 2017 following a glittering black tie event at the Europa Hotel. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

16/05/2017: Student engineer Anna Henry from Portglenone in Co Antrim was crowned Miss Northern Ireland 2017 following a glittering black tie event at the Europa Hotel. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

16/05/2017: Student engineer Anna Henry from Portglenone in Co Antrim was crowned Miss Northern Ireland 2017 following a glittering black tie event at the Europa Hotel. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

“I definitely got a lot from it and a lot of exposure which has helped my business now, I’m glad I did it but I have been there and done that now and have to start taking life a wee bit more seriously.

“It definitely helped my career progression, it was during that year that I studied my PT course, so it allowed me to do that.

“If I hadn’t done that year as Miss NI I would have just went straight into engineering. There’s a reason for everything I suppose. I graduated with my engineering degree in July 2017 and had just got the Miss NI and had to take a year out to do that.

“Having just come out of uni and school before that I think I found it strange not studying, so just did the PT course on the side and then started taking clients and one thing led to the other. I think it was meant to be.

“I’m still doing the odd job modelling but my gym is my main focus, I like to do a wee job here and there to keep in with it all, but this is my priority.

“There’s new, younger girls coming up through so I feel like I should give them there chance, I’m one of the oldies now unfortunately,” she joked.

Anna, who opened her gym Workouts With Anna in Portglenone earlier this month, says she decided to keep her gym women-only to make her clients feel more comfortable and gets huge job satisfaction as a result.

She continued: “This is where I want to be, there’s mornings the alarm goes off and I can’t see it far enough at five-o-clock in the morning but when you see girls happy with their results and telling you how great they feel physically and mentally and the effect it has on their lives it’s all worth it.

“I know it sounds very clichéd but you do get major job satisfaction.

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Former Miss NI Anna Henry in her Gym 'The Yard' in Portglenone. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 16-09-2020

Former Miss NI Anna Henry in her Gym 'The Yard' in Portglenone. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 16-09-2020

Former Miss NI Anna Henry in her Gym 'The Yard' in Portglenone. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 16-09-2020

“Seeing so many girls all biz, having fun and a bit of banter is just amazing. Nothing is too serious, we get the work done but it’s relaxed, comfortable and female-only at the minute.

“That’s actually a selling point for loads of females at the minute because then they’re not paranoid about others at the gym.

“That’s what makes me different from other gyms around, there’s no issue with mixed gyms at all and I might introduce males or mixed classes at some point but that’s my selling point at the moment.

“Girls come here and they don’t have to worry about anyone else looking at them, they don’t have to worry about wearing their pretty gym clothes or having their make-up on because we’re all the exact same. They could come in pyjamas and they’d be fine. I think women really enjoy that aspect and I like that dynamic.

“All the classes are pre-booked as well so the girls can get to know one another and they do, I see them building friendships as a result which is great. This is their happy place, people tell me that all the time, they might dread coming here because of the gruelling sessions but they leave 10 times happier.

“I started out doing PT in an upstairs room in my garage and I still have all of those clients I began with two and half years ago, it’s actually mad because they’ve been with me every step of the way. Now because I have more space I can take on a larger capacity which is always nice, it’s always good to have some new fresh faces.

“I think people are more keen post-lockdown, I think everyone had long enough sitting about their houses, maybe people had intentions of working out but it’s always hard when you don’t have someone pushing you.

“I do a seven-week strength and fitness programme and the girls can see the progression through that which is very rewarding for them and me.”

Anna started out teaching workout sessions in 2018 and has gradually grown her business since but says it was lockdown which was the catalyst for throwing herself into the business full-time.

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Former Miss NI Anna Henry in her Gym 'The Yard' in Portglenone. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 16-09-2020

Former Miss NI Anna Henry in her Gym 'The Yard' in Portglenone. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 16-09-2020

Former Miss NI Anna Henry in her Gym 'The Yard' in Portglenone. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 16-09-2020

She added: “I had a smaller gym before which I opened in 2018 and had been working from that until just before lockdown and then obviously the gyms all closed down.

“That was when I realised I needed thinking about either expanding and moving into a bigger premises or go back to my roots which was my engineering degree. I eventually decided I wanted to upscale the gym, I’m passionate about it and always have been, so I decided to invest in that over lockdown.

“Once things were eased we started to get works under way and opened up earlier this month.

“It’s great being back doing what I love, everything is nice and new and fresh and clients are so keen and loving the new environment.

“Throughout lockdown everyone had kind of turned to home workouts but with my clients a lot of it is weight training and when I told them I had a new facility and equipment they were buzzing to get back. I can’t complain.

“Everyone is so upbeat and full of motivation and determination. Seeing everybody geared up and ready to get at again is great.”


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