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Part 2: Training for a Fitness Competition

This week we’re exploring what the exercise regimen looks like for fitness competitors in Edmonton, so we checked in with some of our competing Personal Trainers to get the inside scoop. How often are they hitting the gym? How do they stay motivated? And why do they spend hours in front of the mirror?

“Think of it like eating food,” says Otty Nguyen-Sears, competitor in training. “If I gave you the best tasting steak in the world but coloured it green before presenting it to you, how appealing would it be?”

Otty is speaking on the phenomenon that is posing for fitness competitions. If you’ve ever seen competition photos you’ll know what we mean- there is an intricate mix of flexing, turning, pushing out and sucking in all happening at once. “Fluid and polished posing is what separates high level competitors from mediocre ones,” adds Otty.

Jessica Grudzinski, a past competitor, echoes that stage presence is hugely important when it comes to competing.

“You want to make your physique appears the best on stage,” says Jessica, listing a small waist, wide v-taper and rounded shoulders as key areas she focuses on. “While I’m prepping for a show I practice posing as a daily routine.”

Jessi Zelinsky backstage at ABBA.

Jessi Zelinsky backstage at ABBA.

Speaking of daily routines, majority of the competitors we chatted with say 4-7 cardio workouts a week are pretty standard, and breaking a sweat more than once a day with added weight training is common.

“It wasn’t always heavy lifting,” says Mariya Patrick of her time preparing for her first show. “Some of my training involved running outside, which was more like nature therapy for me.”

Training is naturally different for everyone as every individual has different strengths and weaknesses, but one thing is for sure: they’re working incredibly hard.

“Regardless of whether you believe in heavy weights and low reps, or moderate weight and extremely high reps, the training is brutal,” adds Otty . “If it isn’t, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.”

Of course, the intensity level of the regimen leading up to show day isn’t meant to be maintained forever.

“Most competitors are able to do what they do because they are making sure they stay hydrated, are intaking all necessary vitamins and supplements, getting massages, seeing chiropractors and physiotherapists when necessary and listening to their bodies,” explains Jessi Zelinsky, past fitness competitor. “You can’t sustain competition ‘ready-ness’ for a long period of time, a lot of work and science goes into that one day.”

Anyone looking to compete in a fitness competition should do their due diligence and ensure they fully understand what their body will need at each stage of the process.

“Hire a good coach, at least for the first time around,” suggests Jon Kassian, past fitness competitor. “You don’t want to mess with your diet too much without knowing what you’re doing.”

One last piece of advice?

“Remember why you started,” says Hannah Hayes, competitor in training. “You wouldn’t have signed up for it if it wasn’t something you thought that you could do… don’t cut yourself short.

Would you ever consider signing up for a fitness competition? Part 1 of this series, in case you missed it.

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