- Our Town
Big rewards for women bodybuilders in Trail
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 in July, she is taking her sport one step further with a goal to compete in the BC Amateur Bodybuilding Championships.
“It isn’t easy, I had to start over a couple of times because I didn’t make it, but that’s okay because it’s a goal, right?” she shared. “I get up and keep going because it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there - as long as you get to the end.”
Kayla Johnson, 31, is the youngest of the bodybuilding bunch. Her rise to the Top 3 came quick - Kayla has only been training for competition with Mark Slessor since the fall of 2015.
But it wasn’t just Mark who inspired her, it was also his wife, Deanne.
“It started when I went down to their first competition in Spokane,” said Kayla, referring to the “Night of Champions” bodybuilding competition. “That ignited my interest in the sport. I worked out here a year prior to that, so I wanted to go and support them - but just seeing that event, I fell in love with it.
Her workouts progressed until April this year.
“That’s when we decided this was the show I was going to do, so Mark prepped me for about six months.”
After placing third in her first competition, Kayla has two years to move up into provincial amateur bodybuilding - however, she’s holding off until 2018. But that doesn’t mean she is holding back in her fitness program.
“Anyone can go to a gym and lift weights,” she said. “But honestly, it’s night and day if you want to change. You need to have someone like Mark, who’s knowledgeable and knows how to adjust for your weaknesses.”
Submitted, Performance Fitness owner and trainer Mark Slessor
Coralee Bryden embodies just how much can change in 365 days.
The mom-of-two began her fitness journey at Performance Fitness just one year ago, and continues her regimen today. A car accident forced her to withdraw from the Popeye’s Classic, but as soon as she was back on her feet, Coralee was back at the gym - for her, a healthy lifestyle is leading by example.
“They love it,” she began, referring to her children, ages 11 and 19. “I started this whole journey in January last year and it’s actually changed the whole household,” Coralee said. “After a while, they don’t notice once you commit to wanting to change your lifestyle and eating differently, eating to feed your body.
“At first they would complain, ‘Mom where’s the chips, you never buy this or that anymore,’” she giggled. “Now they don’t even go for that stuff anymore and they don’t even notice - the house changes around you. It doesn’t happen in a week or month - but all of a sudden you just think,’huh, they are making better choices too.’”