Alison Abbink-Ouellet is a talented 27 -year-old business analyst in Edmonton, Canada who has a very interesting hobby. Since May of 2012, Alison has been training as an amateur body builder. Always enjoying working out with weights, she would use them particularly when there was a special occasion. She didn’t seriously became involved in body building until 2010 when she wanted to look fantastic in her wedding dress. She began to read fitness magazines for meal plan ideas and work out tips. She now competes in the bikini category of body building. Initially she thought of how awesome it would be to have a figure such as the bikini competitors, but at that time she didn’t think it was a dream she could ever achieve.
Alison says she was not born gifted with an athletic figure and didn’t know anyone who did body building competitions, so at the time nothing came of it. Eventually she became tired of the way she looked and the way she was performing at the gym and decided that she was going to turn her ‘one day dream’ into ‘right now’ and compete as a bikini body builder. The worst thing she decided could happen was that she could go up on stage and not place as a finalist, but she would still be in the best shape of her life and have the photos to prove it.
For only competing in 2 competitions – 1 regional level competition and 1 provincial level competition – Alison has done very well. She says if you place top 5 in your category, you have the opportunity to compete at the next level. To compete in the bikini category you are classed by your height rather than your weight, making this category very subjective as gurls come in all shapes and sizes. The important factors are: An athletic physique that still looks feminine; no very hard separations or striations in muscles; attention to details such as hair, makeup, bikini selection, shoes, nails etc.; and also a good tan (fake or real) as the stage lights can really wash a gurl out. Alison says “[U]p close with a tan and makeup you look like a Las Vegas oompa-loompa, but on stage under the lights competitors look natural and pretty.”
In Alison’s first competition she placed 2nd in the (5’6 and up) category; she was shocked! Her goal was to just get up on stage and rock it regardless of how she placed. She was just happy to be there after all her hard work. She states that most people will continuously work on areas they want to improve, such as fuller shoulders. Her goal between her first and second show was to bring greater shape into her legs and glutes, so she focused her training in those areas, incorporating more days for exercises such as squats and lunges.
Generally, Alison trains 5 days a week as her body needs a couple days to repair and recoup. She says rest is as important as diet and training. Alison favours HIIT for cardio because it is short, intense and works well. She uses the Stairmaster because it is good for raising your heart rate and “burning up the glutes.” She attempts to schedule herself so one day she works on her lower body and the other she works on her upper body. Rotating your upper and lower body allows you to recover and rest the parts of your body you aren’t training.
Before Alison competes, she focuses on her diet and workout, taking about 12 weeks to prep for a show. This is done by slowly losing body fat to reveal muscle definition. As she approaches a competition, Alison dials in to ‘peak week’: She prepares her body to have just the right amount of fat and muscle fullness to best show her physique.
“Everyone seems to have different processes they follow to find what works right for their body during competition prep,” says Alison.
Alison has some advice for gurls who want to start building: She hopes you never forget to love yourself and says it is easy to get caught up in the body building world. Never forget why you are doing it in the first place and don’t lose sight of your goals. There are too many woman who are ‘all or nothing’ and do whatever it takes to achieve a look to win a plastic trophy. Alison warns you not to be that gurl. There is nothing wrong with pushing yourself, but you only have one body and you need to take care of it; the only person you are competing with is yourself.
This business analyst has learned a lot about herself through body building; she has discovered she is a stronger person than she ever thought by honing her work ethic and seeing it pay off. She says normal people can achieve great things, not just athletic people. Alison enjoys body building because it makes her feel like a strong woman who’s breaking barriers having a body that’s not culturally acceptable for women. Alison says she can control her stress better by leaving it at the gym and that she has brought back so many friends; she calls them her “gym family.”
Such as any sport, Alison says you have to have balance in body building. It can be an incredible rush to get up on stage or push yourself in the gym (lifting heavier weights than the boys), but body building also has the capacity to start eating away at a gurl’s self-esteem. There will always be haters because not everyone enjoys the way a gurl looks when they are bodybuilding; however, Alison is fortunate to have many friends that remind her of her reasons for competing and who encourage her to keep pushing herself. There are always bigger, better and leaner people in body building and it’s easy to get carried away. “You always have to do it for you, not anyone else,” says Alison.