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Senior molds her body for competition

Muscle+gains%3A+Senior+Clara+Slade+performs+a+bent-over+row+while+she+works+out+Feb.+25+in+preparation+for+her+first+bikini+competition.+Slade%E2%80%99s+next+competition%2C+called+The+NPC+Gopher+State+Classic%2C+is+April+2+at+the+Minneapolis+Convention+Center.
Muscle gains: Senior Clara Slade performs a bent-over row while she works out Feb. 25 in preparation for her first bikini competition. Slade’s next competition, called The NPC Gopher State Classic, is April 2 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Muscle gains: Senior Clara Slade performs a bent-over row while she works out Feb. 25 in preparation for her first bikini competition. Slade’s next competition, called The NPC Gopher State Classic, is April 2 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Emily Tifft

Emily Tifft

Muscle gains: Senior Clara Slade performs a bent-over row while she works out Feb. 25 in preparation for her first bikini competition. Slade’s next competition, called The NPC Gopher State Classic, is April 2 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Ndunzi Kunsunga

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What are bikini competitions?

Bikini (competitions are) more similar to pageants than figure and physique because bikini is not that muscular. The idea is that girls could diet for a couple months and then you can walk on stage. Any girl could do it if they have the self control. What I’ll be judged on is symmetry, like how proportionate my legs are to my body: my right side being proportionate to my left side.

What’s the name of your competition?

The NPC Gopher State Classic. NPC stands for National Physique Committee.

How do the bikini competitions work?

Basically you are doing poses to show off all the work you’ve put into the gym. They judge us on muscle and body definition.

Why did you decide to compete?

I wanted to get stronger because I realized I was very weak, so I wanted to get as strong as I could, and I’m now getting stronger. Then I wanted to form a goal, and since I’m not strong enough for a powerlifting competition, I went for a bodybuilding competition.

How has your family reacted to these competitions?

I get judged a lot. My father has always been really behind me because he saw that this was my passion and my love. My mom took a little more convincing, since going up there you are being objectified. I know I am, and I’ve accepted it. I don’t care anymore because I’ve never been so happy.

What is the main goal of your training?

The goal is to grow muscle mass and be lean enough to show it off. Bodybuilding is more about having muscle size and muscle development in general. Strength would be more powerlifting and Olympic lifting.

What have you learned?

I have learned that food tastes really good and you should eat it slowly because you want to enjoy the taste. I’ve also learned that your body can do more than you think, but a lot of what you do is mental and you have to learn self control. Also, there’s budgeting, because you have to budget your macros and your money. Budgeting is a huge deal with this.

What do you like the most about preparing for the competition?

Seeing my body do new things. I never thought I would be able to lift significantly more than I weigh. When I started I could barely (bicep) curl five pounds. But now I can curl 17-20 pounds for reps. I have gained so much strength that I just feel empowered now.

Is competing worth it?

So far, yes. I definitely think it’ll be worth it overall because I have gained so much respect for myself. This is a lot of work and I can balance it with everything I’m doing right now. I can do anything.

Is there anything you find particularly difficult?

When people bring things like cookies (around me). You don’t realize how much you love food before you can only eat certain foods. The hardest thing is to not eat that bag of Cheetos that’s sitting right next to you.

What do you think will be the
greatest benefit of this experience?

Learning appreciation for yourself, the people around you. You find the people who really care for you and will support you. But there are so many benefits. You get so strong, especially when bulking that you just think, “wow I can do this.” Then you feel so healthy. Also, you can find other things that you love.

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Senior molds her body for competition