For anyone who has tried a fitness routine or a diet recently knows—it’s not easy.
For Grand Forks resident Sharona Witwicki, a run at the Canadian National Bodybuilding Federation (CBBF) Championships had her counting calories and hitting the gym hard for several months.
All that hard work paid off as Witwicki came home with a bronze medal in her category.
“I’m ecstatic,” she told the Gazette. “I’m so happy. When they called my name I just said, ‘Really?’ My parents flew in from Rossland to watch. My husband was there—it was our 7th wedding anniversary as well. So we all celebrated. It was a very good weekend.”
Nationals were held in Edmonton on July 5. Witwicki qualified by finishing third at the provincial championships in 2013. She took a year off after provincials to work on her physique and it’s pretty clear that was the right decision.
Now age 34, Witwicki only started serious bodybuilding three years ago. “Al and Nancy Clark approached my husband at the gym and asked if I’d ever thought about competing,” she said. “My husband said, ‘Let’s ask her and find out.’ We sat down and had a little meeting that night and that was that.”
Witwicki said she’s always worked out at the gym and has taught step classes before.
“I’d always been into sports but never thought about competing in bodybuilding-type competitions,” she said. “It was just something to keep me motivated. I was one of those people who would go to the gym for three months and then not go for a year and then go back for a couple of months. So it was something to keep me steady.”
Witwicki said having that “goal” is a great motivator in the gym.
“People train and train and never do anything,” she said. “For me it was nice having that goal. All those mornings of fasted cardio at 4 a.m., working out for 2 or 2-1/2 hours five days a week, it was nice to know it was worth it. There was something at the end of it to show all that hard work.”
Witwicki said the competition was very long and strenuous with lots of waiting.
“There were about 475 athletes competing,” she said. “This was the biggest show in CBBF history. The show started at 9 a.m. but I didn’t hit the stage until around 2 in the afternoon. So it was a very long morning of sitting around with minimal water and not a lot of food. I had to hold my look. I couldn’t bloat.”
Witwicki was thrilled when she heard her name called for the first call out. That meant she was in the top six in her class.
Witwicki competed in the Figure category, which is then split into six groups based on height. Bodybuilding competitions are divided into Bikini, Figure, Physique and Bodybuilding.
“There’s a slight variation between each category,” she said. “Figure is for big shoulders, nice defined back, and skinny waste.”
Witwicki is very appreciative of the coaching of Al Clark, who has been her coach since she started.
Her first show was in November 2011 at the Sandra Wickham Fall Classic in New Westminster where she placed sxith. A year later at the same show Witwicki placed first which qualified her for the provincial championship.
Witwicki plans to take another year off. Placing in the top three gives her two years in which she can compete at nationals again.
“I want to take a year to better my physique,” she said. “I’m not confirming this, but if I do (nationals) again I’ll do it in 2016.”
She admits that the dieting is the hardest part of competing and not something she enjoys.
“Everyone says they could compete,” she said. “Anyone can go to the gym for an hour or two a day but not everyone can do the diet. It’s hard. It’s really hard. Sometimes you don’t get any carbs, you’re just eating chicken and a cup of green beans for your meal; four ounces. It’s not a lot of food. When your calorie intake is just 1,400-1,500 a day but your exerting 1,000 calories because you’re at the gym, doing cardio. It’s hard. But you have to know when you’re up on stage competing against the best in Canada that it’s worth it.”