On June 15, more than 1,000 people gathered at the Edmonton Shaw Conference Centre for the Alberta Body Building Provincials.
Of the 240 competitors in various classes of body building—figure, form and fitness — four of the women were also members of the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation.
Roxanne Mosionier, age 47, June Mitchell, age 41, Alison Wale, age 29, and Malorie Trottier, age 25, were just part of the seven-member Team Dragon Fit who travelled from Valleyview, Alta. for their first ever competition in the Fitness Class.
It was just August of last year when Alison Wale and Roxanne Mosionier first joined the local fitness and nutrition class with a simple goal of getting healthy and being fit.
Alison, who had recently lost more than 50 lbs., wanted to maintain this loss, as well as become more active with a structured exercise program. Her co-worker Mosionier joined in with the same objective of weight loss and exercise.
Trottier joined next, having just had her second child; was eager to lose the weight she had gained before and during her pregnancies.
Another co-worker, Mitchell, had struggled with chronic back problems since the birth of her twin daughters, 18 years ago. At one point she was bed-ridden for eight weeks. Mitchell was elated to find that the weight lifting and exercise routines alleviated her back pain to almost nil.
But it was her commitment and eagerness for more that inspired their trainer, Debbie Bernard, to first encourage them to consider competition in Fitness and Form at the Alberta provincials.
By this time Wale had lost an additional 20 lbs., Mosionier had now lost 32 lbs. and Trottier a total of 76 lbs. They were each filled with a renewed sense of vigour and energy!
That was just six months ago.
With a training plan designed by Bernard and Jeni Briscoean (International Federation of Body Builders), they began for this challenge by preparing these athletes with a regime that included twice weekly and then daily gym and exercise classes, preparation and practise of the fitness routine and a cardio program. A specialized diet was designed for each athlete to best utilise their own body type and needs, closely monitored and adjusted as required.
A strict diet for competition means preparing your own meals and bringing these meals to all family and community events. As First Nations it was sometimes difficult to show appreciation for the cooks while bringing one’s own Tupperware.
And now here they were. The 2013 Alberta Body Building Provincials.
Pre-judging was to begin at 9 a.m, with finals at 5 p.m. Weigh-in had been completed the night before.
Despite the traditional natural tan of Indigenous ladies, spray tanning was one of the must haves to compete, as well as make-up, hair and nails. It was an opportunity to feel glamorous as well as fit and firm.
Food and drink was prepared for the day, along with a distribution of six chocolate covered almonds to be eaten just before entering the stage; for a final energy boost.
All competitors gathered together in the hall next to a staging area. It was easy to be spectators as they were surrounded by the unfamiliar and strange world of competitive body physique and fitness at every age, shape and size, both male and female. The hard-fought ambitions that brought them and others this far was clearly respected and admired.
Just as sudden, the Fitness Class was being called forward. Walking across the stage in the required two piece suit and standard heels, they completed the four poses as instructed for form standing strong with smiles for the judges and the audience.
After a quick change they concluded with the fitness workout routine made up of a minimum six moves to showcase their strength, flexibility and endurance.
The crowd showed its appreciation with cheers; none more cherished then those from family and friends.
This was escalated as Mitchell took 4th place and Moisner placed 5th providing these athletes with the opportunity to compete in the nationals being held in the next year.
It was a proud moment. Through discipline, self-control, and self-constraint, sharing of knowledge, sharing a goal and sharing success, all members of Team Dragon Fit, including their coach and mentor Bernard honored the spirit of a team at every ebb and peak of this unique journey.
It was time to celebrate! But just a small bag of potato chips to be shared and savored.