Two years of lifting, sculpting and discipline paid off for Canmore’s Katherine Kearney on Saturday (Nov. 4) with a third-place finish in the Natural Physique and Athletics Association Canadian Championships and Magnum Instincts Pro show at the University of Calgary.
Not one to rest on her laurels, she’s already strategizing how to win the competition outright next year.
“It feels rewarding to compete at that level. My hope is I will be back next spring to achieve my goal of first place,” Kearney said.
The 31-year-old works with the Banff Sports Medicine, Canmore Clinic team and first became interested in fitness modeling while working at Ridgeview Medical Clinic, where a co-worker asked her to check it out. She was hooked right away.
“The spark came from looking for a personal challenge. I felt it would be good for my lifestyle. I love fitness, sport and exercise, but this was mostly a challenge for myself, to see how far I could go,” Kearney said. “I loved being in the gym. Doing this training gave me more of a push to see how far I could go, and get a different perspective.”
Growing up in Calgary, Kearney was always active, playing soccer and baseball. As she got older, boxing, wrestling, and rugby became her go-to sports, before discovering fitness modeling.
Competing in the pro elite division, Kearney was judged on muscular development, definition, proportion (equal level of development between muscle groups), symmetry and marketability (hair, makeup, model walk and bikini). The competition is drug-free, so all 140 contestants aren’t allowed to boost their physique with steroids or other drugs.
“I chose natural because I believe it is who I am as a person. I have done a lot of hard work, and I believe in natural because it compliments my goals of creating a healthier lifestyle for myself, not drugs,” Kearney said.
“I train naturally and I know within myself I have built a body from training hard, not using short cuts or enhancements. I started to compete to create a healthier version of myself, create goals and do my best to accomplish them.”
In order to achieve top level results, Kearney worked tirelessly in the gym, spending two hours a day on weights and cardio, while maintaining a strict diet, often starting her day with cream of wheat, hemp seeds and fruit. On top of the hard work in the gym, the competition also requires a great deal of time on presentation, requiring pre-competition weight cutting.
“Staying on track and time management skills are the most important factors,” Kearney said. “Being personally driven, setting goals and accomplishing goals was rewarding; then accepting outcomes. There is a healthy competition out there. It keeps me doing my best, and motivates me to do better.
At the competition, she received encouragement from the judges and advice to hire a posing coach for her next attempt.
Fitness modeling is a huge industry, complete with big prize money. Kearney would love to tour the world one day, competing and inspiring others. She would eventually like to qualify for a larger drug-free competition in Arizona.
She’d love more Bow Valley residents to get into competition, and said watching others chase their goals leaves her inspired.
“Be brave. Have fun. In any type of competition, do your best. Seek resources for more information and if you know someone, ask questions. It’s a huge industry,” Kearney said.
She is back in Calgary in two weeks for another pro show at SAIT, and will then get back to chasing her next big goal. The best way to follow her progress is on Instagram, she said.
“My ultimate goal is being happier, healthier, and physically-conditioned with a positive perception on life. Competing makes me happy. I have a lot of fun on stage, and get to be exposed to others in the fitness industry, as we simultaneously keep each other motivated on and off stage,” she said.