What brought me to Debbie Portell?
Inspiration, Curiosity, and Determination.
In July of 2011 i sat in the audience of Keith Hunters St. Louis naturals bodybuilding, figure and bikini evening show watching each competitor walk out onto the stage displaying not only their physiques, but their confidence in the hard work that they put in to get there. Then, when I thought I couldn't possibly be any more impressed than I already was... the figure women walked onto stage. Jaw-dropping. Everything about them; their shoulders, back, legs, butts (glutes- sorry) then on top of that I see the glits & glam hair, makeup, suits and jewelry. All of it. Boom! I couldn't take my eyes off of them! Immediately I thought to myself "I can do that.", "I WILL do that!"
About two weeks later I got a gym membership, what was i going to do with that membership? I'm wasn't really sure. I just knew one day i was going to somehow compete and I needed to find out how to lift and become a figure athlete.
I started working out with a family friend and his dad, I knew that the exercises we were doing probably wouldn't get me to the physique i was striving for. So, i began looking online. I was googling 'figure workout' assuming that every result I found was what I should be doing, on YouTube constantly watching videos - oblivious to the facts that I was watching both men and women working out with body types of all different kinds as well as athletic backgrounds, after looking at these things I would take it upon myself to figure out how to do those exact movements on my own at the gym.
How did I know I was doing these things the right way? I didn't. Hunched back, locked knees, no breathing, teeth grinding exercises that I continued doing for months on my own without being corrected...
In February of 2012, my mom told me it was time to start going to the gym right up the street from our house, Rhino Fitness. I knew this was time to start finding out how to do things the right way. This is when I met Dan Hoormann. Doors started opening up for me immediately. I told him that I've been working out and was interested in doing a show, but I didn't know what to do & how to do it- muscle groups, exercises for those muscles, how much weight, cardio, how much cardio I should be doing, supplements, what kind, should I be taking preworkout, protein shakes, creatine, and of course- what FOOD should I be eating?!? The list goes on, I attacked this man without even knowing if he had the answers to my 8,000 questions.
Well, he had just the right answer; just seven words. One sentence.
"I have the PERFECT lady for you."
And she was exactly that. He told me I could even google her and see the transformations she had been such a large part of, and not only that but also see the great competitors she has brought from the ground on up. I got on google as soon as i got home! My mom and I were hooked, I knew right then that my life was about to change. Within a week I had my first session with Debbie, the assessment.
This to me was such an eye-opening meeting, you've got an outstanding trainer standing there in front of you watching and analyzing your every move when you squat, when you stand relaxed, and your flexibility- all with an elaborate plan to correct your imbalances. I had 50 minutes to hear about myself, and what I can do to improve all from a woman right there who would stay by my side and get me to where I need to go. After this, we spoke about where I was and where I wanted to go, what I was eating and what I was going to start eating not only for a show but for life. The climax of the conversation "July show or October?" My response, both.
March 2nd introduced 16 of the most amazing, adventurous weeks of my life. The road to my first show. Here. We. Go. Corrective exercises for my alignment twice a day, Training, posing, learning and being surrounded by the best of the best. I went from being in the gym a total of 3 days a week to now 7 days of cardio and 4 days of weight lifting, Saturdays posing practice at powerhouse gym with a team of ladies that acted as if we were a family and brought me from galloping like a baby horse in heels to walking as if I was born in those heels. While changing my ways along this journey and beginning to focus more on me taught me how much I could really handle and to really engage that inner strength. It was school, home, lift, cardio sleep and repeat no room and no desire for anything else, I found out who was real- and who was not when it came to friends. I'd walk by faith and not by sight. On summer break in 110° heat index I'd wake up early and go to the gym with my mom for round one of gym time; my lift and cardio hour 1, come home eat and nap until hour 2 of cardio, come back, eat, sleep and repeat the next day. Eyes on the prize. I was on an emotional roller-coaster hungry, tired, and what felt like constantly sweating. But I couldn't stop, I wouldn't stop.
Then came that final week of changes, i was so excited to reveal this body I had been working so hard for and so ready to reach my destination of the stage. The countdown of 16 weeks, then in the blink of an eye it was the morning of show day, I was now pulling into the venue with my dehydrated body, dry mouth, bronze skin, perfectly manicured nails, hair as hard as a rock due to hair spray, makeup disguise, baggy sweat pants and jacket to protect my painted skin, and of course that gaudy bling. I look to my mom and she says "I'm proud of you, you've made it." Tears began streaming down my face with the biggest smile, forgetting that i had my makeup done and bronze skin that began fading into brown tears of pride and excitement. Needless to say my makeup got fixed. Then came the competitors meeting where I followed my teammates into a large room of competitors where we were instructed and informed on what would happen throughout this whirlwind day with our back stage helpers, pump up, prejudging, during the night show, tan touch ups throughout the day, times, places, you name it and it was covered.
Backstage was a whole different world, I was about to compete in 3 different categories; figure teen, figure beginner, and figure novice short. First up- teen and beginner, i was labeled #62, pump up was finished, my legs were quivering and I was about to lead a line up of ladies onto the stage. I looked to my helper and we began to pray, as we said "amen." I looked up and the backstage director looked at me mouthing one word- "Go." I didn't think twice, looked to my right, put on a smile, faced my shoulders to the judges and lead the line up to mid stage. Front pose, quarter turn, quarter turn, quarter turn, relax. These words were repeated for what felt like days, but I didn't worry about it. I held each pose with confidence in my conditioning and confidence that I had been prepared by the best- Team Powerhouse.
Not knowing what my placing would be, I walked off that stage waving and smiling at the crowd and at the judges. Minutes later Novice figure short was called to stage, I walked out onto this stage with women who have most likely competed before, and have by far been training longer than i have. Was i nervous? Not one bit. I was there for me and for my team, not to worry about who was standing next to me and if they were better than me or not. I did the work and it got me there. Prejudging was done in minutes for me, now it was time to wait patiently and relax until the evening show.
Hair was touched up, makeup touched up, tan touched up, my skin was in layers. Oddly enough, I loved it. The evening show was here and whatever my placing was decided was waiting on me. I got to perform my t-walk and enjoy it in front of the crowd that had grown since prejudging which included my mom, family, some friends, and of course my coach and the backstage helpers. During my performance of poses, the audience and the women backstage that I had been competing against was informed of my age, 15. I was awarded 1st place teen figure, 4th place beginner figure, and 5th place figure novice short. It was an honor to be there, let alone get 3 trophies. I was ecstatic, I was happy about my placings but I was ready to begin improving right then, ready to be leaner and ready to have higher placing.
This began the road to show #2 in October, John and Becky Arnolds Gateway Naturals show in Arnold Missouri. This road introduced new events and new obstacles, I began a new school in a new school district for my sophomore year of high school, I turned 16 three weeks before show time- this was my first birthday without cake (pretty awesome), but about 8 weeks out I had been involved in what was thought to be a minor car accident. During the car accident it was found that I had damaged ligaments in my neck, I began going to a cranial massage therapist, a physical therapist and sports medicine doctor who worked together to heal me as best as they could. Doing this show seemed to be the impossible, but I wouldn't settle for that. I was determined to get there and to improve from my last. I began doing an hour of cardio before school with my team mate Erin Dixon at 3:40 in the morning in order to get that full hour in so that we could race me back home to get ready for school and get on the bus at 6 am. After school I'd come home, do homework, go to the gym for lifts that I used low weight and substituted exercises in order to maintain the muscle that I had without further injuring myself and then I would do my second hour of cardio then depending on the day of the week my mom and i would take me to physical therapy or the cranial massage therapist directly after. So you may hear all of this and ask yourself if I improved in this next show or not... well, i did. I was awarded 1st place in teen figure, and 2nd place in figure novice short. It was unbelievable and STILL is.
2012 was by far the best, most challenging, and accomplished year of my life (SO FAR). I found myself, began a clean eating- clean living lifestyle, I not only made a goal to compete in one figure competition and surpassed that, but TWO. These are just a few of many great moments from this past year. Biggest of all I have become closer to the most highest, GOD. I give all my glory to the lord. But, I could not have done any of these things without the love and constant support from the ones around me.
THANK YOU AND THERE WILL BE MORE TO COME IN 2013!!!!!