A first body building competition proved an eye-opening experience for two Queenstown gym junkies.
Jess Seymour and Nova Ward, who train at Fight Science under Braden Lee, stepped into the lights at the New Zealand International Federation of Bodybuilding’s Wellington championships late last month.
Seymour, 44, placed second in the ‘open figure’ category while Ward, 28, was third in the ‘open bikini’ category.
But it was the backstage preparations that left an impression; the pumping room, glitz, glam and spray tan.
Seymour says: “It was hilarious - a little look into another world.
“We went to the venue to get spray tanned and it was like a conveyor belt.
“Then you go and stand in a room in the nude. They weren’t even splitting the boys and girls.
“So after that the nerves go and you don’t worry about anything.”
Seymour and Ward both trained religiously six days a week for five months at the Fight Science gym before the contest.
A bulking phase was followed by a shredding phase, then two weeks of ‘comp prep’ on a restrictive diet where they cut out sodium and eventually water.
Both say they’d decided after years of working out without a set goal, they wanted to train for something specific.
Ward says: “When I committed to it, I thought it would just be a change of diet and more training.
“But it completely takes over your whole life.
“And it’s emotional because as it was my first time I was always questioning Braden because I didn’t feel I was where I should be.
“Your body can change so much in the last three days.
“It was amazing. I don’t see myself ever stopping.”
Aussie Ward, who works as a personal trainer at Fight Science, plans to continue to compete and eventually train other girls to that level. Mum of two Seymour, a PA at Sotheby’s, is also hooked.
“It gave me the confidence to know I can get in that shape,” she says. “Although I did feel a little like an oompa loompa - very orange.
“Now I want to do better. There’s so much to learn. You almost need an acting class to learn how to work the crowd.
“For the figure they want to see muscle tone, so you have to really flex on stage, which hurts.
“We were holding poses for about five minutes - one of my legs was starting to shake and you’re trying to smile but you’re so dehydrated your lips are sticking to your teeth.
“I learnt you have to put vaseline on your teeth. That’s one for next time.”
Both women are now slowly working back into a bulking phase ahead of competing early next year.
Lee says he wants to put together a competition team and urges others who’d like the challenge to get in touch.