EATON — Women have been involved in bodybuilding for decades, and the sport continues to gain momentum. At Eaton Barbell, two participants have earned awards in the sport and wish to continue. Kelli Ott and Sarah Wyka are two local bodybuilders who are making strides in the sport.
The sport of bodybuilding has changed over the years. Though there are different categories men and women compete in, significant changes in women’s competition have occurred recently.
Wyka is known as a Women’s Physique Competitor. She has qualified for National Championships in the National Physique Committee three times in her career. Last year, she competed in her first physique show, finishing second in the July Parmer Classic, which qualified her for nationals. This year, she competed in the Kentucky Derby Muscle Show — she placed second there as well and qualified for her third national competition.
“There is biking, figure and women’s physique. It basically replaced women’s bodybuilding,” she explained the modern world of women’s bodyshaping. “They are trying to ‘soften’ the sport so that women can be muscular but look feminine. I have competed for eight years, but have done in physique for two. I actually got into this from a friend who at the time was 50 years old. It was on her bucket list and I chose to help her out. So in 2008, I entered into the competition to help her along and have been in it ever since. Right now, I compete for trophies, but this could lead to something bigger such as modelling, exposure, things like that.
“For a while, this sport when through a phase when men and women in the sport was no different. Only recently, they decided to soften the look so that an image of how an average person would look at us and say, ‘wow, she’s really healthy looking and has a great figure’ instead of looking as freakish as in the past.”
Ott competed in the Kentucky Muscle this year, finishing fourth in masters and in the open categories. Ott had an interesting start to her young career.
“I started a new job and needed to fit into the ‘Little Black Dress,’” she said. “So I started to work out with Sarah’s husband Shane, who trains a lot of women. A year into the process, I decided to do a show on my bucket list and went from there. I compete in ‘figure.’ It’s been a huge process and I will constantly train because it’s so amazing to achieve physical goals that I thought I could never do.
“When I first went on stage in a bikini, I didn’t think about people looking at me because I was so focused on what I had to do on the stage,” Ott added. “I was so confident in my look, getting it out there. The toughest part is holding the poses — that takes up quite a lot of energy to do, and unless you’ve done it before, you can’t understand how tiring it is.”
In many competitions, awards are in the form of weapons. NPC sanctioned judge Gene Good explained the reasoning behind this. “It is based on the Greek Gods, the gladiator look. They had ‘the look’… the warrior look.”
Sarah sends much gratitude out to her husband and trainer Shain Wyka. Preston Wyka has been her biggest fan and supporter. Chris “Smitty” Smith is the gym owner. Dave Plumbo is her nutritionist, and Tracy Hess is her posing coach.
“I can’t forget all of my friends and family that always stand by my side and never let me give up. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart,” she said.
Reach Oliver at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH