Thu. May 23rd, 2024
Audi Bara
Audi Bara is a local female bodybuilder who began her journey in the sport about a year ago. Photo by Sarah Connors-Petro.

After just nine months of intense training, local female bodybuilder Audi Bara entered her first competition in November, the Think Pink Grand Prize Championship.

She took third in the Women’s Novice Physique category as well as the Women’s Open Bodybuilding, which qualified her for an appearance in a national competition.

“My whole life I’ve had an interest in muscle – I’ve had an interest in power,” Bara said.

But she didn’t pursue bodybuilding until January 2021.

Up until that point she’d focused on building strength, and while working out at Area 56 Warehouse Gym, she trained for strongman competitions.

In the summer of 2020 she entered her first contest of that kind – Strongageddon – and took first place and the women’s overall.

However, her journey didn’t begin there.

Bara started working out in high school, joining her male classmates in the weight room to lift, but she credits her childhood chores for the initial interest.

The Sidman native was raised by a single father who she said instilled in her a “we don’t give up around here” attitude and required her to carry a lot of firewood, she said.

Every job after that was built on the basis of manual labor.

Throughout high school, Bara worked on a dairy farm to help out her family and after graduating from Forest Hills High School, she took a job at a power plant where she threw a sledgehammer in an underground runner for 12 hours per day.

After several years, she decided she needed a change.

Bara said she fell into nursing, earning her degree from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in 2017 and accepting a job at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center shortly after.

She worked there for several years but after her interest in bodybuilding grew, knew another change was needed.

Bara accepted a position with SCI Somerset in December 2020 with her training staring the next month.

“It was like all at once,” she said.

After following bodybuilder Justine Albert, of Apollo, for some time, she decided to reach out to her.

“I could definitely tell that she had a good base in weight training in-general,” Albert said. “I could tell she had a lot of potential.”

After that first meeting, the professional trainer of 17 years decided to take Bara on and was excited to do so.

That led to a lot of early mornings and late nights, long drives and sacrifice for Bara.

The budding athlete would travel to Albert’s several days per week to train while also keeping her own routine.

“It was every day,” she said.

Bara was on a strict diet and was required to dedicate nearly every moment of downtime to this pursuit.

Albert noted that her trainee has a good mental discipline in regard to eating right and keeping a set workout routine.

Bara said she missed family gatherings, events with friends and endured teasing comments about what she was eating during this time.

It was easy for her but she stuck with it, even finding time during her shifts at SCI Somerset to fit in a workout.

Albert said the mental aspect of the sport is the hardest and bodybuilders deal with a significant amount of stress because the premise of the events is being judged on their physical appearance.

She knows first-hand because she’s been a professional bodybuilder for some time.

Throughout her training with Bara, the pair focused mainly on making the new competitor leaner.

“It’s really hard to get to the level you need for your very first show,” Albert said.

But Bara did it.

She dropped from 196 pounds to 173 and after nine months of training entered her first bodybuilding competition held by the National Physique Committee and placed.

She described the NPC contest as “by far the most sought after, highest federation for amateur bodybuilders that there is.”

When she took the stage she also saw a lot of familiar faces in the crowd.

“All my friends from Area 56 who kicked me in the ass to do this were all there,” Bara said. “Everyone from work who pushed me and made sure I did any unfinished training and had time for meals and rest and breaks was there. They were all there for me – all those people. I couldn’t believe it.”

After that she was hooked, and her first thought when her placing was announced was “What’s next?”

Bara was set to compete nationally, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic only the first- and second-place finishers are moving on.

“I’ve come to realize that me not going to nationals is OK,” she said.

“Because this experience means I’m just going to keep climbing – because the wolf climbing the hill is hungrier than the wolf sitting on top of the hill.”

Bara plans to compete in the same contest in September and see where she can go from there.

Her trainer considers the results of the competition a great achievement.

“For her to place at her first show is really incredible,” Albert said. “It’s really a big success.”

Bara also received some helpful motivation from the judges after the show who told her they saw a lot of potential for her to go far in the sport.

Seeing her transformation into a bodybuilder was impressive for Area 56 owner Sarah Connors-Petro.

She described the reveal as a “wow” moment.

“Just to see your hometown girl really go to that level was pretty cool,” Connors-Petro said.

She’s known Bara for a few years and encouraged her to pursue bodybuilding after discussing the matter with her.

Connors-Petro said overall Bara is “a very, very hardworking person” and complimented her dedication to this endeavor.

“Only time will tell how far she’ll go,” she said.

What’s kept Bara interested in bodybuilding throughout the past year has been the people she’s inspired.

She’s tracked her progress on Instagram, under the handle oddee3, and received numerous messages from individuals telling her how fascinated they were and how her work encouraged them.

Bara said she received “daily messages about how awesome this was” and had people tell her “they loved following me and my story.”

“Those messages are what further inspired me,” she said.

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