Amanda Harris always saw beauty in women with muscle. Growing up, she watched women’s fitness competitions on television and marveled at their toned, muscular physiques.
After years of training, discipline and hard work, starting from weight training in high school, she now stands tall with the physique she has always wanted. Harris now is a fitness model, a personal trainer at Fit-4-Life in Kinston and a figure competitor.
Harris now can add pioneer to her resume, as she is the first woman in her height class to win the newly implemented women’s physique category, which straddles the line between toned and muscular.
“The new division, called women’s physique, is between figure and bodybuilding, as far as muscle goes,” Harris said. “Figure is a little bit softer, more streamline look. Bodybuilding is getting as big and hard as you can. There were a lot of women that were in that in-between area, which I was. I was always too big and muscular for figure, and I didn’t want to do bodybuilding.”
Harris won the title at the Junior USA Bodybuilding Championships in Charleston, S.C., May 21.
Making the win even more significant was the fact she and the winner of a shorter height class were the first two women in history to earn their “pro cards” in the physique division. Earning her pro card means she can compete on a professional level next year.
Harris may have found a new comfort zone in defining her body, but getting to the top wasn’t easy. She said out of the two height classes in the competition, 52 women competed for the titles.
She also has to go through strenuous preparation before competitions. Harris eats a high protein, moderate carbohydrate diet for 16 weeks. On top of her normal workout routine, she does an hour to an hour and a half of cardio a day.
Harris said dieting, which means eating mostly grilled chicken, tuna, broccoli and other veggies, was always the most difficult part of preparing for competitions.
“I’ve always worked out, but the eating part is hard for me,” Harris said. “I’m always hungry. Eighty percent (of the preparation) is diet, which is another reason I compete. It’s the only thing that will keep me in shape. I have to scare myself into eating right!”
But when Harris was feeling down and defeated before the competition, she always had the support of her husband and trainer, Jeff, to push her past what she thought her limits were.
“This is the first show she ever really wanted to quit, and I refused to let her quit this time,” Jeff Harris said. “Look what happened — it turned out good. But she worked very hard. It’s a lifestyle — it’s not a day-to-day thing.”