Australian bodybuilder muscles up
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Moss Vale bodybuilder Cheryl Thomas has sacrificed a lot in recent months to compete in her chosen sport.
She has spent hours training at the gym and has stuck to strict diets, but her toughest test is yet to come.
Thomas has qualified to compete in the Australasian Natural Bodybuilding National Titles in Sydney in October, where she will come up against some of the best bodybuilders in NSW and Australia.
The 32-year-old has only competed in one competition in the sport and has been training seriously since December.
As a result she isn't expecting much from the national titles and is just looking for an improvement in her technique.
"The nationals will see a higher standard of women competing, but I'm just hoping to do better for myself in the next one," she said.
"As long as I do better than my first show that's what I'm aiming for."
Her first competition was a regional tournament in late May at Castle Hill, the same venue where the nationals will be held at later in the year.
She finished third in the figure over 165cm category, allowing her to compete in the big event in October.
The competition is made up of three separate disciplines – mandatory poses, symmetry and freestyle – and despite never doing it in front of a crowd before Thomas said she wasn't too nervous on the day.
"I wasn't that nervous. One of the reasons I wanted to do it was because I'm quite a shy person so to get up on stage and do that sort of thing is a challenge," she said.
Thomas has been a regular at Bodyguard Fitness Centre in Moss Vale for a number of years and decided to get into the demanding sport of natural bodybuilding after encouragement from friends.
"People had always said to me, you've got the right body shape for bodybuilding and I've always pretty much lived at the gym, so I started training for it," she said.
"It's hard because it's not a recognised sport. A lot people look at you and say 'why are you doing that for', they don't understand it."
Thomas trains five days a week, twice a day, with the average session lasting more than two hours.