I actually found the date that I joined Life Time, which was March 11, 2010. So somewhere around that time was when I first met Steve.
Through the course of preparing for figure competitions I met several people. Each person I met who had some experience in the world of bodybuilding or figure competitions always had an opinion about training for a show. I found that talking to different people only seemed to add more confusion to what I knew and was starting to make me second guess my training.
Figure, like other sports, involves rigorous training. I have the body type that is stubborn and likes to hang on to anything and everything I eat, whereas, some people have been blessed with the natural ability to be lean. This meant that my training involved lifting four days a week and eventually cardio twice a day.
What people don’t realize about figure is that each and every training session matters. You can’t skip a workout because you don’t feel like it or because you have something else going on. The planning involves calculating things down to the day so that your body “peaks” at the right time. By peak, I mean that you’re lean but not overly vascular and your muscles are full and aesthetically pleasing.
Every single piece of food you put into your body matters and is accounted for. I knew the exactly amount of fats, carbohydrates, protein and water I was consuming. Tracking all of these elements is important to what your “end product” will look like.
I was an athlete in college. There’s no doubt that all of your practices are important and your ability to perform is a summation of those efforts. Figure is different because each tiny detail in the whole process is important. If you mess up your diet, it affects your product. If you mess up your training, muscles aren’t developed enough or in time. If you don’t know how to pose, then you’re not showcasing your product at it’s best. If you don’t have confidence on stage, it’s obvious.
My show schedule at the time was going to be to compete in the Gopher State Classic on April 10, 2010 and then the Great North competition on May 15, 2010. This was the first time I had ever done two shows so close together. So not only was I preparing for one, but I had to figure out how to get my body to peak for a second time a month later.
In this panic I called Steve. We ran through what I was currently doing and what I had done for my first show, the Northern States Natural Classic October 17, 2009. I was well aware of his expertise in training and thought it was fascinating. Through the course of his training career Steve had the opportunity to train Kelly Clarkson, the LA Lakers, Kareem Abdul Jabar Jr., actor Peter Gallagher, the US ski team and LA Dodgers alumnus Jim Riggleman. He also trained Hillary Hopkins, a car accident victim whom he helped regain full mobility after doctors told her she’d never walk again. He never used his experience as a way to boast about what he did, but I enjoyed hearing about his training past because I knew he knew what he was doing and that I was working with the best.
Through our conversation Steve told me “stick to what you know” and that I was the one that knew my body the best. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the next and not only that, what works the first time around when competing doesn’t mean replicating the plan will produce the same result.
Bodybuilders are separated into weight classes and figure competitors are separated by height classes. Each height class is associated with the letters A-F. They also have a novice and three different masters divisions (35+ 40+ and 50+).
I ended up taking second in my class at the Gopher State Classic and I took first in my class at the Great North and won the overall. I was very excited for what Steve and I accomplished and looked forward to training together in the future.
After the Great North I went out to celebrate with my sister and some friends and Steve met us for dinner. I was excited about our shared love for fitness and grew even more curious about where this possible relationship might go.
Steve and I May 15, 2010
I’m not exactly sure when Steve and I exactly exchanged phone numbers. When we first started spending time together I was training for a show.
He invited me to come to Buffalo Wild Wings with some co-workers from Life Time. I met him there and that was the first time we had been around each other outside of the gym setting.
I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. What in the world were we going to talk about? I don’t remember what the conversation was like, I just remember being more of an observer in that setting and that I packed my chicken and broccoli in my purse, a common thing for anyone who knows the training side of me.
He then invited me to go to see the movie Iron Man 2. I was glad that wasn’t our first date. Movies aren’t the best way to get to know someone.
I told him I’d meet him there. I wasn’t sure what I thought of him and I wasn’t quite sure I wanted him to know where I lived. I was still trying to figure out what he was really all about. I also didn’t know how to handle an older man. By older, he was 33 and I was 26.
I pulled up to the theater and it was pouring! I wore flip-flops… excellent choice. There I was, running through the parking lot, which was pooling with water. I couldn’t get in the theater fast enough. Water dripped down my legs and my calves were oily from my lotion. Awesome. I get to show up to this date looking like a wet dog; just how a girl wants to feel on a date.
Steve was already inside and had purchased our tickets. We greeted each other with a hug. He wore glasses to that date. Man did he look mature. I often wondered what we looked like together. Did people think we were a couple?
We took our seats and the movie started. I wasn’t fully engaged in the movie because I was too concerned about what was going to happen during the movie. Was this guy going to try to hold my hand and if he did, what was I going to do? I barely know him, he better not try to. He’s pretty cute. He looks so sophisticated in his glasses. What is he thinking?
He made a good choice. There was no hand holding that night. We watched the movie and walked out together. We said goodbye, hugged each other briefly and I thanked him for treating me to the movie.
I proceeded to drive home re-living the highlight reel of the date in my head.
More to come.
After I had graduated college, I continued to live in Lakeville and did some substitute teaching. I applied for a few teaching jobs and later had my first post-college interview in Stillwater at a private school. They ended up offering me a .6 position as a physical education teacher (which meant I wasn’t full time). I prayed about it and later ended up turning it down. My dad really scratched his head when I made that decision. In his eyes, a job was better than no job, but for me, I wanted to be in a position that felt right.
I later had an interview in the Shakopee school district and accepted a long-term full time teaching assignment. I had to smile because I trusted God that He’d provide when I turned down the first assignment and of course He did!
The long-term subbing position led to me being hired for three years after that. I had the opportunity to team teach with many different people. I was an itinerant teacher. I traveled between two schools every year except for one. Every class had two physical education teachers in it with two full classes. It was great. I had the opportunity to learn the ropes from some seasoned vets and we had a blast in the process. I like to keep things light-hearted and fun. You can’t take life too seriously. You have to learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes and continue to grow through the process.
After figuring out the south metro was where I was going to plant some roots, my sister convinced me it was time for me to join the Taj Mahal of the fitness world, Life Time. My sister and I would often workout together and compromise in the process. She was the queen of cardio and I preferred lifting. I was training for a figure competition when I switched gyms.
At the top of the steps of the workout floor sits the personal training desk. The faces of the trainers became familiar after several trips to the gym and a few small talk conversations.
There was a trainer who I thought was attractive, his name was Steve. He was about 5’10” with a stocky muscular build; what I consider to be my “type” in terms of physique. He was very smiley and social and I’d always see him zipping around the gym like he was on a mission. He’d say hi and usually strike up a small talk conversation. He was definitely older than me, but I wasn’t sure how much older.
I proceeded to take my post on the elliptical for some cardio when I noticed in the mirror “Mr. on a mission” was approaching me. He made some sassy remark, and asked me what I was doing.
“I’m just getting my cardio in.” I responded. “Well, you should come to my boxing class.” “When is it?” “I asked. It starts in ten minutes.” “Okay, I’ll go.”
I proceeded to get off my machine, trying not to display too much excitement, wiped down my machine and followed him to the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) room. I was actually relieved that I could switch up my regular cardio routine and trade it for something I hadn’t done before. Of course it wasn’t in my nature to turn down a challenge either.
My sister Melia embarked on this adventure with me. She was and still is my sidekick so it was only fitting that she’d be my boxing partner. Class started and Steve explained the basics of how to punch, proper boxing stance and different types of punches.
Oh man, what did I get myself into? Boxing is quite the workout! Definitely not the type of sport you can muscle your way through, although many people try and I have to admit I did too. I did my best to “float like a butterfly” and my lungs were stinging like a bee. Mel and I were giggling in-between punches trying to get the hang of things. We were getting our butts whooped, but it felt good!
I have to admit that my mind wasn’t totally focused on boxing. Many questions raced through my mind…I wonder how old he is? I wonder if he has a girlfriend? He probably has a girlfriend. I wonder what he’s all about? Would he ever date me? I’m probably too young for him. Gosh, he’s handsome and he has really nice legs!
In-between my hooks and jabs, I’d glance around the room to see where he was. Truth be told, I didn’t even have to look. When someone peaks your interest you instinctively know where he or she is.
We finished boxing and thanked Steve for the great workout. Mel and I walked out of the MMA room and proceeded to have girl talk about Steve. “You were right, about switching gyms. I think I made a good decision.”
To Be Continued…
Growing up it was always easy for me to get along with people, both guys and girls. I was social, athletic and enjoyed being competitive in sports, but at the same time I didn’t want to be just “one of the guys.” I dated a few different guys in high school and eventually had a long-term relationship when I went to college. When I moved to Hawai’i for a semester of college, I broke up with my boyfriend. I wanted to embark on this new journey and have a full experience without feeling like I was held back or tied down. Although we weren’t together, he still had a way of controlling me.
My dad really liked this guy, and I really did too, but our relationship began to change before I left. It went from being something beautiful to something controlling and unhealthy. I felt like I couldn’t be my true self and that my spirit was crushed because I couldn’t be me. I tried to explain that to my dad when I was in Hawai’i, but we are both stubborn so there was no agreeing on that situation. That relationship caused more tension in my relationship with my dad than anything else in my life. Thankfully we have a great relationship now.
When I got back from Hawai’i we got back together. Our relationship at that time had several ups and downs. While I was gone he ended up doing some things that absolutely crushed me. I did forgive him, but eventually we broke up for good.
I later moved from Mankato to Lakeville to complete my student teaching assignment. I joined a small gym at that time which is where I first heard about figure competitions. For figure competitions you compete in a similar manner as bodybuilding except you only have four poses. A guy at the gym, Nikko, who was training for a bodybuilding competition, approached me. He asked if I had ever thought about competing and I didn’t have any clue as to what he was talking about. He explained it to me some more and showed me pictures of what a “figure girl” looks like. I had always been curious as to what my body could look like if I trained consistently and had an impeccable diet. I accepted the challenge and began training for my first figure competition in 2009.
I’ve been in love a couple of times. There was one guy in particular I met at a girl friend’s wedding. I had heard about him long before I went and knew he would be there. We shared similar passions and interests and ended up talking late into the night. I was leaving for San Diego in the morning and I was bummed that I couldn’t stay with my friends and hang out with him the next day. I ended up locking my keys in the car at about 3:00 am, but thankfully made it back to Lakeville in time to get on the plane the next day.
We kept in contact and ended up dating long distance. He lived about six hours away from me, but he was worth every minute of that drive. He also drove to see me several times and he was great at surprises. He drove all the way to Minnesota to surprise me on my birthday once. He made me melt. I was in love with him but he wouldn’t have ever known because I never told him. We actually never had the relationship conversation about what we were either. I never really cared for the relationship status conversation because I didn’t want to appear to be that overly eager girl that needed to “define the relationship.” I was dying for him to call me his girlfriend, but the conversation just never went there. I adored him and was totally in love with him. There was no way I was ever going to put myself out there and say, “I love you” first, especially if he’s not my “boyfriend.” That was scary. What if he never said it back? Before I knew it, a switch was turned and it was as if he just shut his feelings off. He just came here and surprised me from my birthday and now we’re done?
I was completely crushed. Was I talking to a different person? Was he not present in our conversations? I felt I was either lying to myself about what went on or he was lying to himself about how he felt but I knew he was lying to himself. Sure long-distance relationships take work, but if you want it bad enough and it’s in God’s Will, it’s totally worth it.
After he ended things, I held on to the hope that he’d come to his senses and realize he couldn’t live without me. I waited for a long while, but that never happened. I kicked myself in that situation for not taking more initiative, although it might not have mattered.
If you asked my sister she’d tell you I’m a “commitment phoebe.” Me, have a boyfriend? Probably not. If there was a guy who wanted to date me, I was very skeptical of them. If I was out with my girl friends and was approached by a guy, I would drill him with all kinds of in-depth questions; my own screening test. I certainly wasn’t going to waste my time and I didn’t want to waste his if I didn’t see any sort of compatibility. The main question I’d ask was, “what are the three most important things in your life?” For me, Jesus is and always will be the must have answer. If Jesus wasn’t even mentioned in their response, it was a no-go. I was also hoping to hear health and family as the other two responses.
This wasn’t a flawless system because some times I’d let the conversation continue and would go on a few dates with guys that didn’t pass my test. I’m not going to say I haven’t ever dated someone I shouldn’t have, because I’d be lying, but I can say I’ve learned my lesson from dating the wrong people. I’m thankful God steered me away from those situations and helped keep my head on straight. Some times we lose focus of what we truly want and what’s best for us; we just need God to adjust our lenses.