Gillian Ward, originally from Queens, NY, currently lives in Eastern North Carolina and is a gym owner, head strength & conditioning coach, professional athlete, consultant, fitness model, and writer. She has a degree in Exercise Physiology from Hofstra University with a specialty in Cardiac Rehabilitation.
“My key strategy is that every moment is a new opportunity for improvement. Every meal, every workout, every rep, every article written, every client that I coach provides an opportunity to learn.”
After 20 years in the fitness industry Gillian founded the first black iron Strength and Conditioning gym in Eastern North Carolina, Crystal Coast Strength & Conditioning. Her primary objective is to teach strength training with barbells to people of all ages and abilities. Her lifelong professional mission is to improve quality of life though training, education, and community development.
Gillian was a gymnast at the age of two, and competed at the national level until she was 17. She was also a highly accomplished track and field athlete. Gillian distinguished herself in 1995 when she won the United States Marine Corps National Physical Fitness Championship, a competition that included push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, a 300yd shuttle run and standing broad jump.
Throughout her twenties, Gillian expanded her pursuits to include ballroom dance, modern dance, and mixed martial arts while continuing to train in the gym. In 2008, she placed 3rd in the CrossFit Games after only three months of specialized training.
Following CrossFit, Gillian found her true passion in barbell sports. Since 2011, she competed in powerlifting, to include a win at the 2013 Southern Powerlifting Federation (SPF) National Championship. Gillian set SPF and Global Powerlifting Committee world records in three weight classes – 165, 148 and 132s. She has also exceled in Olympic weightlifting and Strongman competitions.
As a physique competitor, Gillian entered and won her first women’s physique competition at the 2014 North Carolina Body Building Championships, earning her right to compete at the 2014 North American Body Building Championships. There, she won her International Federation of Body Building (IFBB) Professional card. She has since gone on to be a successful pro women’s physique competitor and took home a 6th place finish the 2016 IFBB Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival (“The Arnold”).
On October 22nd, 2016, Gillian set the Guinness Book of World Records record for push-ups by completing 1190 repetitions in 1 hour. Her successful attempt was part of a fundraiser that she organized in order to raise money for the advancement of physical education in Carteret County public schools. As part of her outreach, she visited every public elementary and middle school in the county to teach classes on physical fitness and nutrition.
In 2017, Gillian competed in the IFBB New York Pro, where she took 2nd place as a last minute (day of competition) entrant. She also competed at the USS Southern States Women’s Cup Strongman Competition in Tampa. She then followed that up six weeks later with a win at the Super League World Championships, becoming the Middleweight and Overall Champion of the World in a new sport that blended both bodybuilding and strength events.
Gillian has since temporarily stepped away from the competitive spotlight to focus all of her attention on developing new programs and helping others achieve their goals. She has spent a lifetime successfully training others from all demographics. She derives true personal satisfaction from the gift of quality of life improvement through movement.
Gillian has provided nutrition coaching for in-person and online clients since 2012. In addition to individualized services, she conducts both a free educational nutritional lecture series that is open to the public at her gym as well as an annual Nutritional Transformation Challenge that combines barbell training, individualized nutritional plans, tracking of metrics and weekly meetings to ensure success, motivate and inspire the participants.
She has extensive experience with public outreach teaching healthy eating habits for children as well as contest prep nutrition for weight class athletes and bodybuilding competitors from the novice to the pro level.
Additionally, Gillian specializes in the military community helping active duty service members perform better and remain in or achieve their bodyweight/body composition requirements.