It’s four days to competition, and Amanda Landry is on pins and needles, pretty well constantly.
“I can’t sleep, it’s nerve-wracking,” she says.
And that’s a problem for the Rossland resident, because eating and sleeping right is essential for a good performance for a body builder.
Landry, 39, is a self-described gym rat. She spent countless hours power lifting when she was a teen in Nova Scotia, and even ran a cardio studio in Castlegar until recently. While she toyed with body building as a teen, she really started getting interested about three years ago.
“It’s a love that I always come back to,” she says. “I may get out of it for a bit, but I always come back to it.”
For the last five months or so, however, it’s been especially intense.
That’s because Landry was working out with a goal, to perform in the International Drug Free Athletics competition, held in Vancouver on Sunday.
“On the days I work, I’m up at 3 in the morning to do my cardio, then I go to work, then the gym, and another set of cardio, so I’m up from 3 until 8:30 at night.”
Landry’s competing in the bikini class — the entry level of competition, with an emphasis on form, posing and feminine aesthetics than the more stereotypical muscle-mass focus of the figure and fitness model classes.
“They’re looking for a softer look,” she says. “It’s more your shoulders, your waist, butt. So your posing is more elegant and important.”
While she has a bit of experience this time, Landry says it’s still a big challenge.
“The posing is a big thing for me, because I’m not a ‘girly-girl,’” she says. “So getting on stage, half-naked with heels and trying to be graceful, I’d rather do the working out, the weights, the prep. I really enjoy the structure it gives me.”
“It’s almost like torture for me to do.”
The event, however, is really just the tip of the iceberg for Landry’s commitment to bodybuilding. Besides the 22 weeks she’s spent lifting weights and practicing poses, she’s followed a strict diet and prepared herself mentally as well as physically.
“I have an online coach, a guy in Grand Forks,” she says. “He gives me a meal plan, a workout plan, it gives me accountability. I check in every week with my weight and measurements.”
The diet in the lead-up to competition limits her to 1,000 calories a day, and she sticks to natural foods, cutting out things like protein shakes.
“I try to keep as many chemicals out of me as I can. Though the pre-energy drinks I’m bad at,” she admits, laughing. “They’re my weakness. At the end of the day you just want that boost.”
Landry says she made a big mistake after her last competition, and found herself relaxing a little too much, and gaining more weight than she wanted. This time, she says, it’ll be different.
“I didn’t have a goal last time for after my goal, which turned out to be a really bad thing,” she says. “My reverse diet went really badly. The first time after your competition you say ‘I want to eat everything!’ and your body really absorbs the fat. It just loves it and craves it.”
So this time, she’s setting longer-term goals to keep her balanced after the competition.
Join the club?
Landry says she hopes her story can inspire other women to take on the fitness challenge, and join her in the gym. She’d love to see a group of women get together regularly to support and learn from each other how to compete.
“I would love a group of women — then it wouldn’t be just me going to the show, it would be group of us all training together — but I find now there’s no connection,” she says.
She says people should approach her if they see her working out, if they’d like to get involved.
“Although we’re often focused at the gym, and we have our earphones on and it looks like we don’t want to talk, I’d love for people to come up and say ‘what are you doing?’”
Landry’s tried starting Facebook groups to develop a local women’s bodybuilder group, but it never gelled.
“It’s always excuses, and it’s always ‘I don’t know what to do, or where to go’,” she says. “And I’d like people to know there’s such a big community here, but it’s almost hidden for people who are passionate.”
After the weekend competition in Vancouver, Landry isn’t going to take much time off. She plans to continue to develop her physique, and move to higher levels of competition.
She says people can really benefit from the exercise and discipline body-building brings.
“It’s a good feeling. My body feels good, my mind feels good. it’s an unbelievable feeling… I love it,” she says. “This keeps me happy.”
Update: Landry did really well at the Drug Free Athletics competition on the weekend, placing first in the fitness model category and third in the bikini competition.