Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Competition Addition At 41!

Karen's intense ballet training as a young girl carried over to weightlifting and made her a strong woman. See what drives her passion for competition!


How did your fitness journey begin?

I started dancing at age 4 and focused on classical ballet from age 15-24. I was very passionate about it but had to walk away from dance due to a knee injury in 1996. At this point, I wanted to explore other talents and experience life outside ballet.

After ballet, my exercise was mostly comprised of walking, biking, hiking, ballroom dance, and yoga. My years of dance training warped my mind into thinking I always needed to be really small and I gradually fell into the trap of not eating. This lasted until 2004 when I realized that I had to do something about my anorexia. My habits didn't match my beliefs because I was practicing reflexology at the time to be healthy and help others.

It was a big wake-up call when my teeth started to become weak. My friend was into bodybuilding, invited me to her gym, and helped me find a trainer who I could relate to. Initially, I only wanted to train to increase my bone density, but she inspired me to look like her—a bodybuilder.

"In the year I turned 40, I fulfilled my dream to compete and be a healthy role model for my daughter."

Bodybuilding really caught my interest when I went to see a friend compete in a show. I loved the energy, stage, lighting, audience, and that there was no age limit. At that point, I knew I could do it, so I kept going to the gym and learned to love training. I got healthier and married my supportive husband Dave in 2007. Two years later, my daughter Georgina was born.

In 2011, I decided to focus on the goal I had back in 2004: to compete and take my body to the next level. I came upon a photo of a stunning lady doing a yoga pose whose name was Michelle MacDonald. She became my inspiration. In November 2012, I started training with her as a part of an online body transformation program and never looked back.

Part way through the initial six-month program, Michelle asked if I had thought of doing a competition and I said yes. She encouraged me to prepare for a WBFF show in Montreal, Canada, in April 2013. In the year I turned 40, I fulfilled my dream to compete and be a healthy role model for my daughter.

What workout regimen delivered best results?

I gained confidence in the gym. I like to work out in the morning and never train longer than an hour. I focus on full range of motion, perfect form, and use supersets to keep my rest time short. Dropsets are also part of my training to gain strength and size.

What nutrition plan fuels your body?

I eat whole foods and stay away from gluten. Michelle taught me to balance my food and make it delicious. I focus on making my meal plan complement my workout for the day. This is my high-carb plan on leg days.

"Learning how to balance family, work, and training is a challenge but it pays off."

When did your passion come about?

When I went to a bodybuilding show in 2004, I noticed there was no age limit. It reminded me of how I felt in ballet after hours of practicing and sweating it out for that final moment on stage.

What and who motivated you?

I've always had a drive to compete but didn't know where to begin. Finding Michelle MacDonald was a turning point for me. She taught me to be fearless, strong, and present. This is a lifestyle that combines an amazing mesh of art and science.

Where do you go for inspiration?

My daughter Georgina is full of energy and my husband Dave is very creative. They inspire me to be the same way. I go to YouTube and search for motivational videos or music and Skype with Michelle. Quiet meditation or walks at night help to clear my mind. Posing workshops are a great space to learn and watch other athletes.

What are your future fitness plans?

My future plans are to continue training with Michelle, add muscle to my frame, compete more, and get professional photographs taken of me. Learning how to balance family, work, and training is a challenge but it pays off.

What is the most important training tip?

There are no shortcuts. Don't try to be perfect. Just do the best you can in the moment and push for one more rep. Keep moving forward with a positive mind.

Who is your favorite bodybuilder/fitness athlete?

Michelle MacDonald, Lynn Howland, Belinda Benn, and Erin Stern are inspirational because they're natural, consistent, smart, and balanced.

How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?

I use Bodybuilding.com for information on products. The site has a fantastic range of training videos and educational articles that I trust. BodySpace is a great place to talk to like-minded people, share thoughts, ask questions, and record progress.

Karen's Top 5 Gym Tracks

  1. "Bodies" by Drowning Pool
  2. "It's A Fight" by Three 6 Mafia
  3. "Bawitdaba" by Kid Rock
  4. "In Da Club" by 50 Cent
  5. "Problem" by Natalia Kills
Competition History
  • 2013 WBFF Montreal, Quebec - DNP Diva Fitness Model 35+
  • To Dave, Georgina, Aurora, and the rest of my family.
  • To Michelle MacDonald for being an amazing coach.
  • To my YHH sisters and AP Team for the support and inspiration.
  • To Constantina, Karen, and Samara for the hometown support.
  • To Marybeth for helping me in 2004.
  • To David Ford for the great WBFF stage photographs.