Transformation Competition Winner!

Five years ago I entered my first bodybuilding competition as a way to lose weight.  Today I am a personal trainer and my mother-and-daughter clients just won 2nd place in the bodybuilding transformation competition and the athletic and teen bikini divisions.  To see competitions from the other side is an amazing experience.

They won!

The Physique Showdown was in Houston on Saturday morning, so Karelin (the mother) and her daughter (Karyna) and family drove there the night before for registration, drug testing and spray on tan.

The week before a show (“peak week”) is just absolutely crazy.  As a competitor you’re carb-depleted, slightly dehydrated, tired, cranky and more than a little nervous if this is the first time you’ll be stepping on stage.

As a trainer my week was filled with checklists (this is what you pack, this is what you do before the spray on tan, etc.), monitoring meal plans so their muscles looked their best, made them lift heavy weights when they didn’t want to and bugged them to practice their poses as I videoed and critiqued them.

Saturday morning I woke at 4am to make the 3 hour drive.  I cooked up sweet potato pancakes, but my pan died on me so it looked more like sweet potato mush.  Since neither of them barely at carbs that weren’t vegetables all week though, I figured they would probably think it was the best tasting mush ever, lol.

Karelin lost 18lbs and 18+inches!

The athletes’ meeting started at 8am and there was a lot of confusion about the poses for the athletic division.  It’s a new division for this federation and they are still trying to figure out what they are looking for, so the sample poses done on stage combined bikini, figure and physique poses, which got a lot of competitors nervous because they practiced something completely different.

Karyna looked a little nervous so I said, “Don’t worry about that.  Do what we practiced.  They don’t know what they’re looking for yet, so you need to show them that they’re looking for you.”

Karelin was up first for the weight loss transformation division.  The first round though she needed to wear her bikini.  She looked beautiful!  We pinned her numbers on the front and back of her bikini and got her oiled up.  (Bodybuilding is weird, just go with it.)

As an athlete I knew how important it is to pump before you go on so you get that blood flow to your muscles so they look prettier on stage, so I brought resistance bands and dumbbells.  Man, I held on to those dumbbells like they were pure gold, because several other people tried to take them from her!  “No, these are my personal ones.”  There is a time and place to be nice and share, but not backstage before my client goes on.  I’m protective like that.

Just before she went onstage I ran out into the audience and sat behind the judges and screamed like a crazy person.  “Keep it tight, Karelin!  Twist!  Twist!  Smile!  Glutes!”

You can have the most amazing body ever, but if you can’t pose it properly you’ve lost before you’ve begun.  The goal is to have a s-shape at all times and to look as symmetrical as possible.  Since no one is truly symmetrical, this means poses have to changed based on the person’s best features.

Comparison poses

She looked confident and glowing.  I was so proud of her!

Then Karyna was up for the athletic division.  The first round is bikini/fitness outfit and the second round during the night show is theme wear/fitness outfit.  This gives a lot of flexibility to the competitor:  you can go with a cute workout outfit, a superhero/villain (Wonder Woman/Harley Quinn), a sport costume (sexy football player, etc.), Victoria’s Secret angels, and so forth.

One of the women backstage saw Karyna’s outfit and started to say she didn’t have the right outfit, so I said, “This is the right outfit for her fitness routine” and we moved to a different area.  Most people backstage were really positive and complimentary of both Karelin and Karyna, but there is always the chance that someone will try to psych you out backstage.  (Arnold Schwarzenegger was notorious for doing that to his competition.)

She got oiled and I had her pump until she was ready to throw the dumbbells at me, but they made her biceps look really good.  I was reminded of what my own coach says to me all the time, “You’ll hate me now but love me when you win.”

I jumped back into the audience and sat next to Karelin and her family.  Between videotaping everything and taking a billion pics I kept shouting out things like, “Flex!  Twist!  Show your number!”  The judges put her in the middle a lot during comparisons.

We had practiced both the T-walk and comparisons and holding poses on the sidelines and Karyna was a natural, completely comfortable on stage.

Comparisons athletic division

The final prejudging was for teen bikini.  She brought a regular bikini from the store, but instead I loaned her my first posing suit from my first show.  I had to pin it so it would fit (she only just turned 15 a week ago) and it was surreal for me.

After everyone was done I wanted to manage expectations.  “Look, some of the other women lost a lot more weight than you, Karelin.  I know they’ve been at it for over a year and you’ve only been at it for four months, but it really depends how the judges rank that.  And Karyna, in the athletic division, some of the other women are more muscular than you and have been doing competitions for years, so just do the fitness routine for you and enjoy yourself.  You’re both already winners.”

Then the night show came.

We were finally able to test her music…and it didn’t work!  So I ran to my car to get a computer to play it off that, but they figured out how to play it off Karelin’s phone.

Marking her fitness routine

They tried to kick us off backstage, but I stood with my arms crossed in the middle and had her run through her fitness routine several times.  She had double backflips in there and I didn’t want her to fall off stage!  She was also the only one doing a fitness routine while everyone else did a T-walk, but I worked it all out with the promoter to have her go first and then come back with the group for final comparisons.

The promoter had another surprise: all the women in the transformation division would be asked a question on stage about their weight loss journey.  No one was expecting that so the adrenaline started kicking in.  But everyone answered well, and I was really happy she stuck with the white dress.  Not everyone can pull off a white dress and it really made her stand out.

Karelin looking at her prize

They called the numbers in reverse order for the winners.  Someone else was called.  And then another.  Karelin won 2nd place in the transformation division!!!  She looked shocked and thrilled and we were screaming in the audience.

Transformation winners
Backstage after her win

Then it was time for Karyna to do her fitness routine.  She was great!

Karyna won 2nd place in the athletic division, beating out seasoned bikini and figure competitors!  She also won 2nd place in teen bikini.  Karelin was crying backstage and it was so wonderful to see them both succeed on their very first try.

Karyna wins 2nd place
Backstage after her win


It was great to watch them go on this fitness journey and see how it impacted their whole family.  It also confirmed that I’m in the right business: I really love being a personal trainer.

Lisa 🙂

Train With Me

Want to enter a transformation competition?  I can help.  Email me at to apply.

Just want to get fit?  Try my online personal training programs.  Click here to order now: SLI Method.

Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, on FOX! (c) 2012-2017 Lisa Traugott. All rights reserved. No portion of this blog, including any text, photographs, video, and artwork, may be reproduced or copied without written permission.






Leave a Reply