A KENDAL bodybuilder has returned to competition after a two-year absence.

Helen Thwaites, 44, took part in the qualifier for the NPA Physique (Natural Physique Association) over 40s competition on Saturday.

Beginning her competitive career in her twenties, Helen has won several accolades including the British Trained Figure and Miss Britain in 2017 and 18.

After recovering from surgery, and delays caused by the Covid pandemic, Helen returned to competition on September 11 to take part in the Over 40s contest.

She said: “I had major surgery back in December of 2019 and during recovery I wanted to prove to myself that I could still do this.

“This was my first competition back on Saturday for The Mike Williams Classic which is part of the NPA association.

“It was the Miss Training Figure for Over 40s competition and I was so proud of myself.

“It meant a lot knowing that I could still do what I love.”

Helen has claimed a total of 22 major titles in bodybuilding, including winning the Cumbria and North title three times, Miss Britain, Miss Figure and multiple NPA titles.

Thwaites has been bodybuilding and competing in the Miss Figure Class since 1999, representing the United Kingdom on several occasions in places such as Greece, Spain, Germany, and Malta.

She added: “This year out I couldn’t compete both due to Covid and due to the time it took to recover.

“It was important for me to have that goal in mind during the time I was out of competition and just hoping I could return to it.

“Now I have.

“I’ve lived in Kendal all my life and I train at Westmorland Crossfit Gym.

“It’s been 22 years of competing and 22 titles through that time.

“Aside from the last two, I’ve competed every year in my career.

“Training takes up a lot of time and even during the off season you need to keep yourself in shape.

“Outside of bodybuilding I enjoy relaxing, walking my dog, listening to music. But still, this is my passion.

“I transitioned into bodybuilding after being a gymnast.

“Having that as background helped with bodybuilding a lot, as they’re both very individual sports.

“During the competitions you have to display good muscle tone, display symmetry on your body, and perform a routine of compulsory turns and poses.

“You also do your own choreographed routine which you do to music. I try to include some cartwheels and splits, which comes from being a former gymnast.

“Next month there will be the NPA British finals so hopefully I can go for that. You need to train a lot, but it is important to have some rest days before starting again. I love my sport and I’m glad to be back.”