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  • Writer's pictureCoach Cathy Barry

My First Fitness Competition October 2019 - Coach Cathy Barry

Pre-Conceived Ideas:

Just because you see something on TV, read about it online doesn't always mean it's always true. Information about Fitness is everywhere—and it can be quite complicated to determine what is fact and what is fiction.

Women and strength training have not always been a popular combination, although I suspect and believe wholeheartedly that this trend is definitely shifting in the right direction. However, some women are still holding back, often because of the mythologies they've heard surrounding this form of exercise.

Bikini, Fitness and Figure Competitions:

Before I decided to do this, just like a lot of other people I had preconceived ideas and notions about the women and men who participated in these types of competitions.

Here’s a shortlist of my preconceived judgemental ideas:

o They are not real athletes – just muscular people who are not functional

o They starve themselves and deprive themselves of water

o They must take steroids

o It was degrading and older women shouldn’t do this

I fully admit that I too was judgemental and all this based on conjecture and not true facts. I was never more wrong. There is nothing more real than to thrust yourself into someone else’s shoes to gain a true perspective. Once I started the workouts I discovered that the workouts while concentrating on one to two muscle groups also had other components of cardio and core strength building. I admit that constant exhaustion of one muscle group was tough for me, it was definitely something I wasn’t used to and found myself really tired after my workouts. But as I kept doing the workouts each week, I found that I got stronger and stronger, I could lift more weight than the previous week. With that came confidence and an even greater passion and drive.

Steve's Fitness Circus Competitors: Left to Right: Coach Steve, Jessie Harness, Erin Pearce, Lindsey Cancelliere, Cathy Barry (me), Kris Little, Taylor Small, Melanie Harness

Workouts & Steroids:

We didn’t work out all day long, we had 5 prescribed workouts with two days off from lifting. Most of the women that I’ve met who do this are also full-time working ladies, some of whom are married with children. In other words, we are regular women who chose to do something completely different, something for ourselves, something difficult and life-changing - something to be admired. Something Inspirational

The stereotype of "steroids", while warranted, does not necessarily permeate down to all levels and athletes. SAF and IDFA are two drug-free organizations and while there probably are others, it’s certainly not the case that all athletes need the assistance of steroids to gain muscle weight and look a certain way. Just like other sports, there are those who consciously decide to play fair, be drug-free and compete knowing they’ve done their best on their own. On the flip side, there will always be those seduced by steroids and the desire to do whatever it takes to win.

Dehydration and Starvation: to eat or not to eat:

Almost everyone I know associates these competitions with dehydration and starvation and “hangry” competitors. I can tell you that while water was restricted the day before and the day of, it’s really not as bad as they make it out to be. Water was restricted but by no means completely eliminated and our meals while smaller in nature the day of, were timed and consisted of protein and simple carbs. Enough to sustain you throughout the competition. But throughout the process, I never felt like I was starving, if anything at times it was difficult to consume all the food I was supposed to. I also had a lot of discipline and so it was easy to cut out things like snack foods, candy, chocolate, sugar, take out, etc.

The Results of What I Put In:

While it’s only been a few weeks after my first SAF (Serious About Fitness) Athletic Model Competition and I’m hooked for the next one – the IDFA (International Drug-Free Athletics) on December 7th, 2019 in Toronto. Perhaps it also has a lot to do with the fact that I did well for a first-timer, coming 2nd in my category! I also have to secretly admit that I love the way I looked after my prep and during my competition. It’s become addictive but in a good way.

I began in June of 2019 with my Coach Steve Oldfield, owner of Steve’s Fitness Circus in Bowmanville. At first, I had no real ideas about what I was getting myself into. But I decided to follow through and commit to the training. Each week I would receive my food intake chart and each day my prescribed workout would be provided. I met and became friends with others who trained with Steve and we helped support and encourage one another through this process. I can't tell you how much it meant to have the support from my coaches but the whole team behind me.

Trust the process: Each week we would be provided with our breakfasts, lunch, dinners and snacks. Definitely, if you want to do well and be successful you have to follow the plan. This is where you trust the process with your coach and do as coached. As time went on and we got closer and closer, I began to see the results in the other ladies each week at posing. Their weight dropped and their muscles began to pop. It was incredible to see the transformation right before my eyes. Posing, Practice and Training:

Never underestimate posing practices. There’s a reason why they said to practice each and every day…practice does make permanent. But posing was tough. Not only do you need to stand in a designated pose for a bit, but you have to be able to enhance your angles and make yourself curvy, look relaxed, all the while wearing 5” heels and keeping a smile on your face. Then there was the dreaded T-Walk! For someone who has never done this before, it can be downright scary, cause anxiety and totally out of your comfort zone. That was me. I’d never done this before and especially while wearing a bikini and trying to be sexy. But the more I did it, the more I practiced and the more I realized that everyone was in the same boat as me, the more comfortable I became and it was all part of the competition. Many times, in our lives we do things we don’t quite feel comfortable with. Sometimes those things are by our own design and sometimes they are not. However, the more we do it, the better we get at it and then we realize that our fears were greater than what was actually taking place. I wanted to thank my Coach Tina for all her expertise and support through this stage! Finding the time to fit it all in, can also be a bit overwhelming considering all of our work and some of us are moms with kids or husbands and other needs that have to be taken care of. Sure, it’s a choice we make to do this willingly but never underestimate the commitment and time required to do something like this. It’s very much the same as with anything, if you put in the effort required plus more, you will do well and see the results. This is what I also tell my athletes. If you prioritize your goals and put in the effort and heart into the things you want, you will achieve success. For me, this also meant getting up earlier than my usual 5 am to go to the gym to workout or going later at night when life had quieted down for the day. It also meant being organized and prepping meals ahead of time and planning them out to ensure the right amounts of protein, carbohydrates and good fats. I also had to be dedicated and persistent and not give into temptations and cravings. Discipline was my number one friend. Competition Suits, Spray Tans and the rest: Your physical appearance, posing and stage presence while all very important, are also intensified by the competition suit you choose. So many decisions: what is the best color, bling or no bling, what type of connectors, any adornments or embellishments, custom made or rental suit? I decided to go with Crystal Suits in Orangeville. The owner – Colleen was just as passionate about her suits as I was about my upcoming competition. Colleen was knowledgeable, professional, friendly, positive and a very easy person to deal with. She made getting a suit a comfortable and fun experience. Once I put on that suit, I felt beautiful, feminine and sexier and ready to get on that stage. The day finally came when it was time to finally put all the training and preparation together.

Suit by The Crystal Suit, Hair and Makeup by Violet Noir Artistry and Spray Tan by Cherry Dolls

The day before the competition was my first experience with getting a Spray Tan from Cherry Dolls. All I knew was that everyone got tanned and that once I got the tan I would look more muscular and my muscles would pop, and so they did. Just like wearing black makes you look thinner; a spray tan will also make you look thinner and outline your muscles while covering up any marks and blemishes you may have. With the bright lights on the stage the darker you are the better you look with a tan. I was also lucky to have my hair and makeup was done by Violet Noir Artistry (Justine Stevenson Tomchick and Monica Kalra) who did an amazing look and specialize in fitness shows. My whole look was perfect and it took away one less worry and I could concentrate on what I was there to do. Never underestimate what hair and makeup by a professional can do for you. Dear Haters: After the competition, came to the celebration and pictures of what I thought was a really proud achievement. In fact, I had so many compliments, support and congratulations from so many people some of whom I didn’t even know. I was told I was an inspiration to many, the vision of strength and femininity. I was extremely proud of my achievement and the success that came from all the hard work that I put in. But, as with anything, there also came the criticism from some, mostly other women who failed to grasp the concept. Comments like “check out her IG, she’s parading around half-naked”. While I shouldn’t waste one ounce of my time on these haters, I figure I should set them straight. Until you try it, and you see what it’s about, your comments have no value or meaning. I actually believe these comments come from a place of deep unhappiness, insecurity, self-directed dislike and really low self-esteem. It must really suck to feel like this deep down inside. I personally think that we should take it for what it is, “a body of work”. For someone to be able to transform their body into what it takes to be on stage and have the guts to put themselves out there – I applaud you, I applaud myself because I know how much work it took to get me there. I am proud of my team and teammates and all the women out there who put it all on the stage that day.

SAF Winners -

38 days from today I’ll be competing in my second competition – the IDFA Universe – (Amateur and Pro) on December 7th, 2019. Now armed with some knowledge, I enter the new universe of a different federation, different judging and different poses. What I do know is that with everything I take on, I will put forth all of my effort and discipline into this and be the best I can be on stage. Credits to: Steve’s Fitness Circus #coachcathy #safcompetititions #athleticmodel #fitness #idfa #stevesfitnesscircus #thecrystalsuit #spraytan #cherrydolls #violetnoirartistry #team #workouts #training #weighttraining #bikini #fitgirls #girlswholift #makeup #hair #posing #stage #muscles #nutrition #confidence #accomplishments #success #model #fitnessmotivation #journey #challenge #transformation #blog #blogger #information #insight #experience #eclipse #eclipsetrackandfieldclub #eclipsecrosscountryclub #personaltrainer #athletes #bowmanville #clarington #courtice #newcastle #oshawa #whitby #coachcathybarry #eclipsetrackandfieldclub

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