Self Belief 011: Meet the inspiring personal trainer who makes healthy meals for Stormzy
When Gina Obeng broke up with her boyfriend of seven years in 2011, she was, like many people after a break-up, heartbroken and depressed.
But although her weight went up and down as she dealt with her broken heart, she knew her struggles went further back than that.
“Going through the break-up made me feel really down and insecure,” Gina says.
“But if I’m being honest, my journey was much bigger than my break-up.
“I had always had an unhealthy relationship with food and issues with my weight.
“At the age of 11, I weighed around 11 stone and was wearing adult sized clothing during primary school.
“As you can imagine, this did nothing for my confidence and affected the relationships I formed with people, whilst growing up.”
Following a philosophy that Gina would later use to inspire and help others, she decided to turn a negative into a positive.
“One random day I was fed up with feeling depressed and I decided to go for a run to see how I felt,” says the 26-year-old, from Barking, east London.
“It was only about eight minutes but I just found it very therapeutic.”
Taking things one step at a time, Gina started going to the gym and discovered her passion for exercise.
As she began to see and feel results, she decided to share her incredible journey with friends through an Instagram account.
Although some people were sceptical, many were encouraging and in 2014 she qualified as a personal trainer, which she worked for alongside her full-time job as a probation officer.
“It was a passion not a plan to be a personal trainer,” she says.
In 2014 she launched her business Just Geen, which includes a healthy meal preparation service which Gina makes with the help of a nutritionist, alongside her personal training.
“I really enjoy cooking,” she says. “When trying to lose weight I found food plays a bigger role than exercise.
“I was doing meal prepping for myself and posting to Instagram and people wanted me to do it for them.
“Some didn’t understand the concept of someone else cooking your food but I have always not cared too much about other people’s opinions.
“I didn’t care what anyone had to say because they didn’t understand my vision so I still kept at it.
“I had got nothing to lose. I would rather say I did it and it didn’t work than not because I didn’t give it a go.”
Thankfully Gina’s determination and hard work paid off and she now counts Stormzy, Wretch 32, Konan, Julie Adenuga and Maya Jama among her clients.
Stormzy is one of the people who receives Gina’s healthy meals – which are Afro-Caribbean inspired, with her favourites ranging from plantain lasagne to jerk chicken.
“For his lifestyle it kind of works because he is always in the studio,” says Gina. “I am his biggest fan so it is really exciting to work with him.
“I am very much a grime fan, when I train I listen to grime as its high tempo, great for a really hard session.”
Gina says she would love to work with Kano next, “I need him to taste my plantain lasagne,” she says.
She has set her sights on doing Just Geen full-time by the end of the year as well as opening a restaurant.
She is also about to have her third Just Geen Fun Day, which brings hundreds of people together to do exercise in Barking on June 4.
Asked her advice for other people wanting to turn their life around, Gina adds: “Embrace the journey. For me I had to embrace the negative and that is what allowed me to push through.
“Everyone wants instant results but you kind of have to embrace the time it takes and embrace everything about it, like focusing on why you are doing it.
“Exercise is the cheapest form of therapy.”