Michelle MacDonald was in fine form May 21 in Kelowna, where she captured two titles at the Western Canadian Body Building Championships, and she's hoping that good form continues next weekend at the provincials in New Westminster.
Competing in her first body building competition on May 21, the born and raised Sunshine Coaster said she at first didn't believe she had won when the judges called out her name.
"I actually had to look down at my number to make sure it was me. I was so excited I just hugged the girl next to me," said MacDonald. "I won the tall class, which was fantastic, but to win the overall class is pretty cool."
Weight lifting, dieting and living a balanced and healthy lifestyle have always been passions for MacDonald. She said she was inspired by her aunt Sherry, who is a pro fitness trainer, to get into competitive body building.
"I had lots of family and friends who encouraged me to give it a try," she said. "I have always been a bit scared getting up in front of people and crowds, but I just decided to throw it all out there and to do the most extreme thing, like body building. And to be picked apart up there on stage by judges is certainly throwing it all out there.
"I knew I wanted it, once I went to one competition and saw it. And the energy from being there was amazing. You'll know right away whether you want to compete once you see a competition in person. I just knew right away that's what I wanted to do."
So began several months of intensive training on her own preparing for her first competition. Her training schedule varies, but in general she trains seven days a week with weights and cardio for an hour and a half at the Gibsons and Area Community Centre. That, combined with a healthy diet, got her ready to compete.
Judging in the sport is complex, as competitors are judged on everything from their appearance (skin colour, hair and make-up) to the way they walk and pose on stage.
Besides the hard work at the gym, MacDonald travels every Sunday into Surrey for posing sessions with her coach Dawn, a former Ms. Canada who works at Fitness World.
"From the moment you walk on the stage, you are judged," MacDonald said. "Depending on the competition, there are three to five required poses. Once you do that, you smile and do your good-bye and walk off. You wouldn't think it, but smiling is so important. You also have to look confident, even though you are totally terrified - it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but if you want something that bad, you just have to go for it. You can do anything if you put your mind to it."
MacDonald's success has also proved to be inspirational for not only her, but for her family and friends.
Two of her friends have begun training with her and could take to the stage in their first competition in November. And her son Kyler, who just turned nine, is quite excited to see his mom on stage competing.
"He didn't see me in May, but he's pretty excited to see me next weekend at the provincials," MacDonald said. "I want to be an inspiration to my son and show him that if you keep trying and working hard, good things can happen."