A TWISTED YEAR OF FATE: MY ROAD TO FITNESS NATIONALS by Katie Madden
It was a long haul, but I made it. I competed in the NPC Fitness Nationals Atlanta in November 2005. This marked a 3 year anniversary since my last NPC National show, with one significant difference...Bodybuilding vs. Fitness! My last article to Hard Fitness highlighted my decision to make this switch to Fitness. I competed in my first Fitness show in June 2004, but knew I still needed to improve my game. I continued to work diligently on my skills, and in January 2005, consulted with a choreography team out of Ohio...Em & Heather. I spent the better part of 2 days with them absorbing all I could of this new routine.
So it is January, 2005, and I'm driving back to Illinois, very pumped and excited at the prospect of this new performance from Em and Heather. It is my plan to take it to the stage by April. I immediately started to practice...soon realizing what an immense challenge this was going to be! Admittedly it was very difficult to organize this routine in harmony with my skills & personality. Without a background in dance or gymnastics, I was facing quite a hurdle, but my determination to clear this hurdle was my driving force! I would have to make some adjustments in the choreography to match my style, and that is when things began to fall into place.
February, 2005...an unexpected twist presents itself, which threatened my professional career in Mortgage Lending. Weighing all the factors, I made a bold decision that it was time to make a move, to a new area. I needed to find an area that presented bigger horizons than Central Illinois. I had some good leads in the Phoenix, Arizona vicinity, so I took a 6 day trip to begin my networking. I felt an immediate connection to this part of the country, and realized that my life was about to change dramatically.
March, 2005...I officially resign from my employer of 11 years, and announce my plans of moving to Scottsdale, Arizona. My Fitness training continues, but I also must focus on my quest to move across the country. This obviously would cause a disruption in my plans to compete, but I knew it was more important to establish my new career path first.
April, 2005, my packing and training consume my life. Also, please note, that it is in April, 2005 that I received a most sincere email from a girl named Kaisa Piippo, a resident of Finland. She tells me of her passion for fitness, and of her plans to be in the Phoenix area for a few months starting in June. She had seen on my website of my intentions to move to this area, so she was curious about the possibility to meet me. We therefore agreed to arrange a meeting after her arrival. Little did I know how my life would be sweetly enhanced by this stranger........as you will see.
May, 2005, I make my move to Scottsdale, Arizona...pulling out of Illinois on May 20th. Upon arrival, I set my sites again to compete...in September at the Europa in Dallas. It is hard for me to focus, as this break in my regimen wreaks havoc on my training...having to find new work, new friends, new gym, new gymnastics center, new doctors, blah blah blah! This process is rarely fun, and can really disrupt the rhythm of life.
June, 2005...I have located a gym close
to home for my own training, while pursuing a change in my career...going
from AVP in Mortgage Loans to Personal Trainer. I immediately find an
opportunity with Pure Fitness in East Scottsdale, and no sooner had
I begun, when I receive an improved offer in Phoenix. I accept the offer,
and agree to begin in July.
July, 2005...I begin my new Personal Training assignment and feel that I made a good decision to take this position. I am on target with my training and diet...and forge ahead toward my goal. Approximately midway through July, Kaisa Piippo contacts me, and we decide to meet for a workout soon.
August, 2005...I am delivered a setback
with my new Training position. My hours are drastically reduced, due
to some unexpected changes with the organization. Stressed and anxious,
I quickly realize that the September Europa Show has just become very
unrealistic. Without financial support nor companionship in my life,
I knew that traveling long distance was not feasible. I turned my focus
to find a local regional NPC show...which turned out to be in November
in Phoenix. This becomes my decisive target.
September, 2005....this month marks
some deeper strides to prepare for my competition. As I map out my training
tactics, the load is quite hefty. Per chance, I stumble upon a choreographic
coach, David...who helps out at the gymnastics center I had been using
for periodic practice. We have a brief conversation, and he asks to
see the outlines of my routine. After his initial preview of my performance,
he feels I need to work on my presentation skills. It is apparent to
me that David carries a respectable talent, so I make a crucial commitment
to hire this coach to help see me to the stage.
October, 2005...This month demands
a great deal of "balance". During peak preparation, a fitness
athlete must typically incorporate all of the following in her day and/or
week: RESISTANCE TRAINING ALL BODY PARTS, STRETCHING DAILY, PLYOMETRICS,
CARDIO (often twice a day), ROUTINE PRACTICE, MASSAGE THERAPY (for all
those nagging injuries that finally decide to rear up and bite you in
the ass, literally), EAT 8 MEALS A DAY, and finally - 8 HOURS OF SLEEP
So, it is this process that brings with it a GREAT deal
of respect for ALL the athletes, but particularly the Fitness athlete...my
hat goes off to all of you! This clearly is the most difficult challenge
I have ever faced. I meet with the "routine" coach twice a
week, and often, my friend Kaisa attends these practice sessions, taking
pictures to measure each step to the show. Her passion and dedication
is very impressive to me...rarely have I seen anyone so driven to learn
every angle of this sport.
November, 2005...The countdown begins,
but not without a snag or two. The posing suits I had rented from a
friend were beautiful, HOWEVER, in these final days before the show,
my size had really come down. I was sending pictures periodically to
Mike, who would assess my progress. But - my latest pictures revealed
irreconcilable differences between me and the 2 piece.
November 17, 2005...Kaisa and I board
a plane to Atlanta, loaded down with luggage...and nerves! Kaisa is
a very protective traveling partner, more so than most men would be!
Wow, what a refreshing gift. She is there for me at every turn, making
sure that I have all that I need. We arrive in Atlanta, and it is FREEZING
- an abrupt adjustment from Phoenix, but Kaisa makes sure I am protected
from the cold!
November 19, 2005...A.M., the day begins
very early. Up at 5 for hair and makeup again with Colette. Then to
the performance stage to practice my routine. My nerves are electrified.
Then back to the room, to dress in my routine outfit, and return backstage
to WAIT... and WAIT... and WAIT.....#33, #34, #35...ok, OH...WAIT, no,
I'm not ready...PLEASE, not yet. OK, this is IT - all reality sinks
in. These next 2 minutes will reflect the prior 9 months of training
... "just get me through this" I said to myself...and I did
it, I nailed all of my strength moves, without fail. I race off the
stage, and feel the "post performance" adrenaline hit. Wow,
this is a rush to beat all...but I am happy it is over. Time to relax.