personal fitness to a new level
Goshen residents say diet,
family support are key to success
Kentucky & Indiana
(December 2008) Joelle Miller grew up in a large
Mennonite family where wearing shorts or skirts above the knee was forbidden.
So as an adult, she had to leave her faith to pursue her interest in
fitness and working out at the local gym.
Miller has come a long way from her days as a shy, insecure youth. Today,
she not only stays fit with regular workouts but teaches classes at
Madison, Ind.s Fit For the King gym. And for the past
year, she has even gone so far as to train and compete in regional womens
figure competitions. These competitions involve competitive posing on
stage before hundreds of spectators and flashing cameras. Unlike fitness
or bodybuilding competitions, figure shows involve muscular women judged
solely on their physique while posing in bikinis and one-piece suits
Competing in such shows requires almost as much mental preparation as
it does physical, according to local competitors. But dont get
the wrong impression; you must also have the muscle and the cut, sculpted
body before they will let you step onto this stage. And that takes months
of hard work in the gym, a strict diet, determination, discipline and
a sizable financial investment.
When I went to my first show to watch a friend compete on stage,
I thought to myself, You would never get me up there to do that.
said Miller, 36 and the mother of three children. But I
went home and thought about it, and I decided to try it because I wanted
to change my physique, get healthy and have some fun and just
the challenge of it. I used to be this very quiet, insecure person,
and this has really brought me out of my comfort zone.
Miller has taught various fitness classes since 1995 and routinely worked
out. But training for figure shows was something she wanted to do for
herself. She said it took her husband, Vern, a little while to warm
up to the idea, but now he and my kids are 100 percent behind
me, and they attend my shows.
by Don Ward
Joelle Miller poses
during the Nov. 8
Kentucky Muscle Figure
Show in Louisville.
In the past year, Miller has competed as an amateur in
four figure competitions in Kentucky and Ohio, with her highest finish
second last March in Covington, Ky. She was among several regional competitors
who took part in the Kentucky Muscle Strength and Fitness Extravaganza,
held Nov. 7-8 at the Kentucky International Convention Center in downtown
Neither Miller nor her fellow Fit For the King instructor friend, Jennifer
Sproles, placed in the top five among regional and national competitors
at the show. But both said they enjoyed the experience and the support
they received from numerous Madison residents who attended the Saturday
I have a personal goal of doing this for myself because my brother
died at 37 and I am 37, said Sproles, a self-employed beautician,
fitness instructor and the mother of two. She was competing in only
her second ever show, having made her figure show debut in October at
Im amazed that I actually did it, she said. But
the experience was amazing. And personally, the girls I work with say
Ive never seemed happier. Im definitely more confident.
I get comments all the time on how good I look, and that boosts your
Both Miller and Sproles have entered what Tommy Wingham, a former bodybuilder
competitor from Madison, affectionately calls a subculture.
Unlike the more sedate womens figure posing competition, the mens
bodybuilding show is high energy, with loud music and bodybuilders entertaining
the crowd with poses and dances and even somersaults. The women in the
figure show, meanwhile, are introduced individually on stage to conduct
brief mandatory poses. They compete in various classes based on age
Its great. I love it, said Wingham, 50, who attended
the Louisville show to watch his friends from the gym compete. He competed
in bodybuilding shows from 1974-84 and now helps to train others for
upcoming competitions. After a nearly 15-year layoff, he is training
for a show in March.
Its easier for the men; but these women they have
to work hard to burn off the fat and keep it off. And what body parts
they dont have, they have to have put in.
Wingham can appreciate what Miller and Sproles have gone through to
prepare and compete. Training begins months out with regular workouts,
dieting and nutrition supplements and concludes with six to eight weeks
of intense training, often from a professional trainer.
by Don Ward
lineup of women competing in the
Open Class at the
Muscle Figure Show.
Miller and Sproles joined a team of women who train under
the tutelege of Julie Lohre of Covington, Ky. Lohre, currently ranked
fourth nationally in figure by the International Federation of Bodybuilding
and Fitness, has spent the past five years teaching other women how
to pose and train for competition. Starting up again Dec. 21, she will
have up to 20 women traveling to her studio each week to train as a
team for the spring shows. Madison resident Melissa Jackson has joined
the team for the first time and will be working with Lohre to prepare
for her first ever figure competition.
I was inspired by Joelle, and I see it as the next level of my
training, said Jackson, 41, a self-admitted fitness junkie
at Fit For the King and Rotary Lift employee.
Jackson has been a competitive runner in 10Ks and mini-marathons for
many years but hopes competing in figure shows will help her overcome
her shyness. She will enter her first show in March 2009. Ive
been working out and dieting for 10 years, so this is for myself
to see if I can do it. It could be good for me to break out of my shell,
if I can get through it without crumbling.
It takes dedication and desire to achieve a level where the women are
ready to step out onto a stage in front of hundreds of people and flashing
cameras and strut their stuff, wearing only a bikini and heels. It also
takes a significant investment, since the costs quickly add up for training,
makeup, tanning, dieting, supplements, travel, hotel and rhinestone-studded
figure show outfits.
Some of the suits can cost as much as a wedding dress, said
She grew up in Covington and first became involved in figure competition
six years ago when she was pregnant with her son. She participated in
her first show five months after he was born. She fell in love with
the industry and developed a training program to help introduce others
to competition training. She specializes in posing and also provides
her clients with workout routines, nutritional programs and mental preparation.
The biggest thing for these girls is understanding the training
and type of nutrition they need to compete, Lohre said. The diet
she recommends allows for only 1,500 calories a day, comprised mostly
is a typical
for one figure show:
$650: Eight-week personal training program
$80: Annual dues for National Physique Committee
$160: Competition entry fee
$100: Makeup, hair
$100: Spray-on tan
$850: Two competition suits and heels
$250: Two-night hotel stay
$200: Travel, food
The diet eliminates fast foods, bread groups, pasta
and dairy, and focus more on a protein diet, such as chicken, fish,
turkey and vegetables. It also allows complex carbohydrates, such as
oatmeal and sweet potatoes. Its a clean diet that helps you lose
the fat and maintain muscle.
While the average woman carries about 20 percent body fat, Lohres
regiment helps her teammates get down to 11 percent body fat in time
for competition so you look lean with muscle and lots of energy,
Sproles said her experience of training with Lohre: Julies
amazing; she really knows her stuff. As a first-time competitor, I felt
better having someone telling me what to do. And its amazing to
see the transformation of these girls over an eight-week period.
Figure competitor Heather Bear of Aurora, Ind., believes 80 percent
of her preparation is centered on diet. The 31-year-old mother of two
young children carries her meals in tupperware whenever the family goes
out to dinner or to visit relatives. They are all used to it by
now, she says. Its just become part of life for me.
Her protein-laden diet consists of baked fish, asparagus, egg whites,
oatmeal, two gallons of water a day, protein shakes and vitamins. The
protein helps burns fat and the water flushes her system. Its
amazing to see your body change over the 12-week period that I train
for a show, she said.
Bear grew up in Milan, Ind. and attended the University of Cincinnati
to become a veterinary technician. She wanted to lose weight for her
2003 wedding and contacted Jen Hendershotts gym in Cincinnati.
She fell in love with training and eventually began working at the gym.
When Hendershotts Phat Camp for women suddenly grew from eight
to 18 shows a year, Bear quit her job and went to work full time for
Hendershott. Today, Bear travels the country and the world as director
of the Phat Camps. Her job has taken her to Australia, New Zealand and
Canada and most of the United States.
Most Phat Camp clients are everyday people from all ages who just want
to get fit, she says. Now that Hendershott has moved her operation to
North Carolina, Bear has developed her own personal training business
and directs the workouts at her home-based gym in Aurora. Those who
want to step into the world of figure competition, she says, must be
prepared for the ultimate sacrifice.
by Don Ward
flexes his muscles
during the Kentucky
Show held Nov. 8 in
Louisville. The show
features a high
It is very extreme, but Im all about setting
goals and doing what it takes to achieve it, so fitness training is
perfect for me, she said. I consider it kind of a selfish
sport because for 12 to 16 weeks its got to be all about you.
You have to gain the support of your family to get through it.
Family support is important to Corey Mollak of Goshen, Ky. He credits
his wife, Teresa, and two daughters, ages 12 and 9, for allowing him
to pursue his hobby. He was among the oldest competitors in the mens
bodybuilding class at the recent Louisville show. At age 53, he has
been training and competing in such events for 13 years. But this was
only his third competition in all that time. The Nebraska native moved
to the Louisville area with his wife and two daughters from Aiken, S.C.
He works as the director of operations for Blue Fin Seafood in Louisville.
Mollak is unusual in that he trains alone in his basement gym with not
help from a personal trainer. I go downstairs and crank up AC-DC
and go to it, he said. I m pretty much my own motivator
and have a lot of discipline in what I do. I like the results I get
for my body and how good it makes me feel. I have so much energy all
day. It gives you self-confidence and builds self-esteem, and you want
Mollak is of the belief that anyone can do it if they set their mind
to it. Its mind over body; you just have to develop the
right mental aptitude and self-discipline. Your body will do anything
you want it to do; its just your mind that keeps you from doing
Mollak worked his way down to only 4 percent body fat for the November
show. He says he will take time off from training over the holidays
and start back in time for the March show in Covington. He has impressed
his younger co-workers with his physique and regimented lifestyle, and
takes every opportunity to encourage others to try it.
Attending the shows is not only fun but inspiring for others who may
dream of stepping onto that stage.
Ive always wanted to do it and coming here to watch these
girls makes me want to compete. But I know it takes a lot of dedication,
and thats a big commitment for anyone, said Madisons
Chandra Riley, who attended the Louisville show as a spectator and works
out at Fit For the King.
Wingham added: Most people dont realize what goes into this
sport. It is more than training; it becomes a lifestyle.
Amanda Teltow of Madison served as the inspiration for Miller. She also
works at Fit For the King and began competing in figure shows a few
years ago. Her hours in the gym are evident, and she now trains and
helps others who are considering doing this type of competition.
I am so proud of Joelle and Jennifer, said Teltow. People
who go to the gym are here for fitness and healthy living, but they
go back to their jobs and lives. But when you are training for a competition
like this, you are always in training. Its tough, but I think
it is rewarding.
Miller said anyone who might consider moving up to figure competition
level should consult with a professional trainer to get prepared. She
also warned that it takes a real commitment to see it through, but that
the experience is rewarding and the results are not only physically
evident but can be life-changing.
If you are going to dedicate yourself to something like that,
it will require a lot of self-discipline and time away from your family.
But the benefits far outweigh the negatives. It improves your self-esteem,
helps you stay healthy and fit, allows you to meet new people, and the
best thing is, I can inspire other women to tackle a challenge in their
To learn more about figure competitions,
training or those mentioned in this article, visit these websites: www.KentuckyMuscle.com;
Back to December 2008