Katrina Freds never thought she'd find herself on stage.
"I was always outside, playing in the woods or pond and getting yelled at for being muddy," she says, laughing.
Katrina was a sprinter in high school, but tore one hamstring her sophomore year and the other one during her senior year. Sixteen weeks later, she found herself on stage at her first show where she won bikini overall. From there, things just progressed.
Eventually, her tenacious spirit not only earned her a spot on stage at the Arnold, but got her a second-place win.
Competitions helped Katrina gain back a sense of control. "After I injured my legs, I watched myself become more and more unhealthy," she says. "I remembered how active I was and how good that felt, so I started following people in the fitness industry. Competitions became a way to get more fit, look good for my husband, and challenge myself."
It wasn't always an easy path, and ample support wasn't readily available. "I had people telling me I was setting myself up for failure," Katrina says. "It's hard to hear people say you're not going to amount to anything. It makes you feel awful, but I had to remember that I wasn't doing this for them—I was doing this for me."
The glamour of the stage was a far cry from her day-to-day life. "When I first graduated high school, I went straight into working three jobs," she says. "I had a crazy schedule until I landed my job as a high school custodian. I cleaned all the bathrooms and hallways.
"I didn't have any gym equipment at my house and couldn't afford a gym membership, but the high school had a gym. I worked out after second shift, so I'd be doing like midnight to 3 a.m. just to get my gym session in. I had to eat my meals in between cleaning bathrooms."
Katrina's humble roots make her relatable, approachable, and an inspiration to "regular" girls everywhere.
"When I first started in the industry, I was self-conscious about even saying that I was a custodian," she says. "I had stuff splashed on me daily, and I wore dirty bleach-stained sweats and no makeup to work. But then I started to see that knowing I was a custodian influenced people and gave them hope. I became more OK with being who I was by knowing that I could influence people. I wasn't raised in the fitness industry. I just stayed committed to my goals, and that's inspired people both in and out of the gym."
A bow hunter by hobby, Katrina's down-to-earth spirit is also reflected in her love of nature and appreciation for all it has to offer. It's a sport that has intertwined with her fitness, too.
"Whenever I train, I train to control my heart rate, and a lot of the times, when I get outside, I will do some HIIT training," she says. "I throw a few round of shots in between that. That's a workout, too. Whenever you draw a bow back, you need to be able to control your arms, set your sights on the target, and make an accurate shot every time. So many people will take four wheelers or the easy route because they're just out for the kill. This is a gift from God—that you go out and spend time being one with nature, and then, at the end of the day, you get to take [food] home to feed your family."
Her advice for others is simple and straightforward: Perseverance is key.
"It doesn't matter how many times you fall; it only matters how many times you get up," she says. "You must do it for yourself. You can't look to anyone else to motivate you. They can help you, give you small tips and advice, but that choice to commit to yourself truly comes from within."