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Big rewards for women bodybuilders in Trail

Being in the spotlight with all eyes on you, even judging your form it’s not scary when you work hard. In fact, it’s quite empowering.
Juggling work

It’s not a stretch to say many women shake in their boots just thinking about walking across a stage in heels and a bikini.

But how about when she’s dedicated to eating healthy, working those muscles and being in peak physical shape?

Being in the spotlight with all eyes on you, even judging your form - it’s not scary.

In fact, it’s quite empowering. And no, this story isn’t about a beauty pageant.

It’s about four Trail women - mothers, daughters, sisters and wives - who juggled their careers and lives in order to place Top 5 their first time out in a B.C. Amateur Bodybuilding Association competition called the Popeye’s Fall Classic. (There is a fifth female power house, but she had to withdraw last minute to recover from a car accident)

“You know you’ve done the prep to get there,” says Deanne Slessor,50, a bodybuilder from Performance Fitness. “By the time you get to the stage, you’ve done what it takes and you can’t do any better. At that point we had practiced so much already.”

Lean machines, Deanne Slessor, Kayla Johnson and Sheri Bentley

Collectively, the Trail athletes earned four medals in the popular Vancouver bodybuilding contest.

Two third place wins and two fifth place finishes is an impressive achievement given the size of Trail, she added.

“I don’t think there was another gym with that many people in (the competition),” said Slessor.“For all of us to finish Top 5, that’s pretty amazing for a small town.”

Sheri Bentley, 41, is mother to a toddler and a teenager. She wakes at the crack of dawn to work on cardio before her kids wake up, Sheri doesn’t like workout time to cut into family time. But in the months leading up to the competition, she kicked it up a notch and got in the best shape of her life with help from trainer Mark Slessor and his Saturday morning posing practices.

“Just the fact that you really can get all the way,” she began. “Put a bathing suit on, put your head up and (walk) on stage, it is pretty empowering. By then you’re excited and just not nervous anymore.”

Results from Popeye's Fall Classic in Performance Fitness

All five women started working out at different ages, they all have different backgrounds and each has her own personal reason for staying healthy and active. But there is one common thread that ties Coralee Bryden, Cheryl Hutchinson, Kayla Johnson, Sheri and Deanne, together - experience has taught them that there is no magic pill or diet.

A healthy lifestyle is 70 per cent eating well and 30 per cent exercise - and of course, 100 per cent commitment to staying the course.

And they have sage advice.

Instead of running to the gym in January and losing interest by February - put yourself first all year long, set small and realistic goals, and follow a fitness plan under the guidance of a professional trainer.

“Don’t come in and say, ‘I’m going to lose 50 pounds,’” said Hutchinson, 54. “Come in and tell yourself you are going to enjoy this and lose five pounds - make small goals, not such huge goals that you can never attain.”

Hutchinson didn’t begin her fitness journey until the age of 45 and at the time, she tipped the scales at 210 pounds.

“And I’ve had many surgeries, knee, foot elbow,” she shared. “But when you get fit, you heal.

“I’ve gone from being on nine medications when I started, to now being on zero,” Hutchinson added. “When you start seeing a change in yourself, it motivates you to work harder and to achieve more.”

Hutchinson holds down two jobs, one that includes night shift, and is mother to an adult daughter.

“There were days I had to be down here at a certain time (prior to the competition), and I just came, sometimes with only two hours sleep,” she said. “There’s lots of excuses to be made, but if you want to do it, you will.”

Hutchinson placed third in a grand master division of the Classic, which now qualifies her for the provincial amateur bodybuilding stage. So

Sheri Regnier

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