Female Bodybuilder Shelley Beattie Biography

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shelly-beattieShelley Beattie (August 24, 1967 – February 16, 2008) was a former professional female bodybuilder and actress.

At the peak of her competitive career as a professional bodybuilder Shelley managed to reach the top-three at the Ms. International and Ms. Olympia contests, the two most prestigious shows for female professional bodybuilders. She was also well-known for having been one of the few deaf professional female bodybuilders in the world, making the cover of DeafLife magazine twice in the ’90s. After her retirement she joined the Grinder on America3’s America’s Cup team and managed to reach second place in such competition in 1994 and again in 1995.


Shelley Ann Beattie was born in Orange County, California. At the age of three she suffered a hearing loss from an aspirin overdose. Her peers’ misunderstandings and lack of education about people who are deaf led to trouble socializing. Since she could only understand her classmates if they were facing her, she had difficulty communicating with her classmates, who assumed she was mentally disadvantaged and rejected her. Beattie became a loner and began to use sports to deal with her frustrations and lack of social life. She also learned sign language and had several operations and speech therapy to improve her ability to communicate.

In school Beattie began to compete in track and field, including Heptathlon, Cross Country, Hurdling, and 400 meter sprints. A gifted athlete, she was a natural in all these events. Her specialty was the low hurdle, where she set school records. As a standout in track and field, Shelley enjoyed the competition. Her hearing loss was not a factor when she was running. Beattie began lifting weights at 14 to improve her time in the hurdles and 400s. She wanted to compete against the boys since she was so much better than the girls on her team. Weight lifting was also a way for Shelley to rebel. She wanted to stand out from the other girls, and knew that weight lifting would allow her to achieve this. She first began weight training in her high school’s small weight room, and made quick gains. By the age of 15, she was seeing the results of her time in the gym.

At the age of 16 she tripped over a hurdle and damaged her ankle. Beattie believed the injury would prevent her from continuing to compete in track. Her family life, which was characterized by instability, added to her anxiety and frustration, leading to an array of personal problems. She found that weight lifting and song writing helped her cope with her situation. She even became the lead singer of a traveling band while in high school.

Shelley attended Western Oregon State College in Monmouth from 1984 to 1988. There, she focused on weight training and power lifting to help her deal with her emotional challenges, as well as to help her heal her body. She graduated in 1988, having obtained a degree in Child Psychology and Special Education. While at Western, Shelley also studied Jazz dance and choreography, and joined a dance company. She found choreography and dance helped her to both control and express her emotions. During this time, Shelley also began to compete as an amateur in bodybuilding competitions. She entered her first competition, the Portland Rose Cup Novice, at 124 pounds, and finished 4th in the heavyweight class. Following this experience, Beattie decided a career as a professional bodybuilder was for her.

Shelley continued to compete regularly through the late 80s, reaching the top-five of every amateur competition she entered, and soon began to win every amateur show she competed in. She soon developed a friendly rivalry with Nikki Fuller who she many times finished second to at the amateur level. But this changed when Beattie teamed-up with Oregon State exercise and physiology graduate Aaron Shelley in 1989. With him, she made tremendous progress and became a transformed bodybuilder in 1990. With improvements in her diet and training, she managed to take the overall title at the 1990 NPC Emerald Cup, the Pacific Coast Championships, and earned her pro card in bodybuilding when, at age 22, she won the overall title at the 1990 NPC USA Championship.

Afterwards Beattie had a very demanding schedule. Weight training at a professional level, coupled with working two jobs (she was a group home counselor for developmentally delayed teenagers) left her with little time or energy. She scheduled her workouts around her jobs. When she received sponsorship by a major fitness company, she had the financial stability to quit one job and follow a more normal training schedule.

During her competitive days as a professional she competed at a height of 5 feet 7 inches in a bodyweight of around 144 pounds and soon became known for her great genetics as well as her graceful and artistic presentation while competing. Beattie credited the genetics of her athletic family for her physical abilities: her mother is a six-foot tall athlete while her sister is a 5 foot 10 inch, 180-pound basketball player at Portland State University. After winning the 1990 NPC USA and turning pro she found herself in some problems with the politics of the bodybuilding federation known as the IFBB; she was unable to compete at the 1990 Ms. Olympia after her USA victory. She also was unhappy when some contest promises were not fulfilled. Beattie said, “Certain benefits and reimbursements from the USA that I was supposed to receive have never happened. I have made the proper people aware of this situation, so I’m hoping that one day they will fulfill their obligations.” After missing the 1990 Ms. Olympia she competed for the first time as a professional at the 1991 Ms. International where she finished 3rd. The same year she reached 7th at Ms. Olympia. The next year, 1992, she added more poise and grace to her physique and presentation and managed to finish 3rd at Ms. Olympia, her highest professional bodybuilding achievement.

She retired from bodybuilding competition after placing 7th in the 1993 Ms. Olympia contest. Retirement from bodybuilding didn’t bring and end to her athletic endeavors, though. Beattie competed as a grinder on the America³ sailing team (the first all-women’s America’s Cup team). Grinders alternate between periods of inactivity and grueling physical work during each sail hoist, tack, and gybe. They require tremendous strength as they operate the winches that reel in the sheets and halyards.

During the early 1990s, Beattie also joined the American Gladiators TV show as “Siren”, performing in 44 episodes between 1992 and 1997. Because she was deaf, she received visual cues from referee Larry Thompson as well as from fellow Gladiator, Salina “Elektra” Bartunek, while competing. Spectators would wave their hands in the air or stomp their feet, rather than applaud, to acknowledge her performances.

She was married to John Romano, a well-known columnist for the magazine Muscular Development, for six years.

Until her death, Shelley lived on a farm east of Salem, Oregon, with her partner, Julie Moisa, and worked with people with physical impairments. She also made drums and jewelry, and worked as a personal trainer.


Shelley Beattie, who had long battled with bipolar disorder (previously known as manic depression), attempted suicide in Portland, Oregon on February 13, 2008 and died February 16, 2008 as a result from hanging herself.


  • American Gladiators (TV Series) – Siren (1992-1996)
  • Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993) – Siren

    Shelley Beattie was in the hospital for depression for six weeks when she hung herself. She lived for four days but never regained consciousness.

    Contest history

    • 1986 – Portland Rose Cup Novice 4th (HW)
    • 1987 – Collegiate Emerald Empire 1st (HW)
    • 1987 – Portland Rose Cup Novice 3rd (HW)
    • 1988 – Portland Rose Cup Novice 3rd (HW)
    • 1988 – Oregon Championships 3rd (HW)
    • 1989 – Western Oregon Champioships 1st (HW)
    • 1989 – Collegiate Emerald Empire 1st (HW)
    • 1989 – Vancouver Natural Championships 1st (HW)
    • 1989 – Portland Rose Cup Novice 1st (HW)
    • 1989 – NPC Emerald Cup 2nd (HW)
    • 1989 – Pacific Coast Championships 2nd (HW)
    • 1990 – NPC Emerald Cup – 1st (HW & Overall)
    • 1990 – NPC USA Championship – 1st (HW & Overall)
    • 1991 – IFBB Ms. International – 3rd
    • 1991 – IFBB Ms. Olympia – 7th
    • 1992 – IFBB Ms. International – 7th
    • 1992 – IFBB Ms. Olympia – 3rd
    • 1993 – IFBB Ms. International – 9th
    • 1993 – IFBB Ms. Olympia – 7th

    Other Competitions

    * 1994 Grinder on America3 America’s Cup team – 2nd
    * 1995 Grinder on America3 America’s Cup team – 2nd

    Magazine covers

    * December 1990 – MuscleMag International
    * July 1991 – DeafLife Volume IV, Number 1
    * January 1991 – NPC News
    * December 1992 – DeafLife Volume V, Number 6
    * March 1993 – Female Bodybuilding
    * August 1993 – Muscular Development
    * December 1993 – Iron Man
    * February 1994 – Muscular Development
    * September 1994 – Muscular Development
    * November 1994 – Women’s Physique World
    * January 1998 – Muscular Development

    Lori Braun

    Lori Braun

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    0 Responses to "Female Bodybuilder Shelley Beattie Biography"

    1. tim  November 16, 2009 at 10:10 am

      how sad for her and her family. i wasn’t aware of her death. rip shelley.

    2. Roland Bar  November 20, 2009 at 9:45 am

      You were an inspiration for all those who met you, you were my Idol and the most beautiful women in bodybuilding, thanks God let us to know a great woman like Shelley!

    3. liza scott  May 13, 2010 at 3:33 pm

      I wathched an A&E special about shelly a couple of days ago and was so shocked at the end to find out what had happened, I wish I could have met her, what a beautiful, beautiful woman, there was a certain light in her eye in the pictures I saw that I cant explain, except to say I am certain she is with the Lord no matter what!!!!! to her family I am so sorry for yalls loss.

    4. Alana Thurston  May 25, 2011 at 9:13 pm

      I went to college with Shelley, met her in an aerobics class, back then she was very awkward in her dance ability and self conscious about it, great to see she got over it and danced beautifully in her competitions. She was such a beautiful person with so much energy. I’m definately sad that I lost touch with her. She was so much fun, it is definately sad to know she went in this manner.


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