FEATURE: Trains by day, training by night

Polly McGillivray, Operations Learning Manager for Southern Railway hears wedding bells.

Polly McGillivray

Polly McGillivray

Polly has worked at Southern Railway since the summer of 2014, joining from London Underground where she was a train driver. At Southern she is a trainee train driver instructor, serving in her role as an Operations Learning Manager at the Selhurst Training Centre in Croydon.

Hailing from Brighton, when she isn’t inspiring the next generation of train drivers, Polly is a body builder, entering competitions all over the south, and currently holding the title of London’s Strongest Woman.

In the last three years she has won a number of titles; Strongest Woman in London 2015 (2nd), Strongest Woman in Worthing 2016 (2nd) and the top woman in a 9 Tonne Truck Pull earlier this year, as well as coming third overall, and these are just her podium successes.

With a lot of impressive competition results under her leather-covered weight-lifting belt, Polly was well on the way to and had qualified for bigger comps like Britain’s and England’s Strongest Woman. However, another date began to loom, one hopefully shrouded in love rather than sweat.

She says: “With my wedding day coming up in January I have taken a temporary step away from body building for vanity’s sake! I’ll have to show my legs on the day and Strongwoman and competition training comes with some juicy bruises; these just wouldn’t look good in the photos!”

Polly is set to marry Skylar Smith, a government official, at the end of January.

Skylar and Polly

Skylar and Polly

“I think it is fair to say that at the moment I am in training for my wedding. This basically means doing the one thing that all body builders and strength trainers hate… Cardio!

Looking beyond the wedding, Polly plans to jump back into heavy lifting, with some specific goals already on her mind. “After the wedding I will be returning to body building, bruises and all! I will be focusing on training more across the three disciplines of Bench, Squat and Deadlift. I might even try my hand at a bit of Powerlifting!

“I’m certain a Strongwoman competition will be on the horizon if my trainers have anything to say about it – and I’ll be able to take my new wife along with me as a personal cheerleader.”

When it comes to training, she is very keen to dispel some of the myths around weight training and bodybuilding – which is a very topical subject at the moment – and also is involved in the body image movement.

As if she didn’t have enough on her plate with work, planning a wedding and the dreaded cardio training schedule, Polly also finds time to give back, volunteering for The Girls’ Network which works to inspire and empower girls from the least advantaged communities.

The Girls’ Network mentoring was established in 2013 and supported 30 girls in the first year. It was soon in high demand, and the charity now operates across London and the South Coast, working with more than 1,000 girls each year.

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