Kristin Noblette: IFPA and NGA Figure Pro
I began competing 3 years ago as a goal on my 30 year old bucket list. I had spent all of my 20’s exploring different avenues of fitness and wanted to gain the knowledge of competing as well. It was one area of fitness that I had no prior experience in. I began working with a trainer who I thought was well versed in the industry. He began training me for my first show… NGA Natural Philadelphia, 2011. (For any of you first time competitors, you might relate in how vulnerable your first experience competing can be.) We trained for 3 months for my first show… one of the hardest few months of my life. (Ok… so on a side note, let me state that competing should not be a miserable experience… if it is, something is wrong!!!) At the time, I was teaching 21 classes a week, I was working for two separate fitness studios. My trainer never took my “lifestyle” into consideration. (Let me note: That is one of the most important factors to consider when you put together a client’s plan for a show). He stripped me of all my body fat. I was weak, tired, and unhealthy. Something in my gut told me that it just didn’t make sensee. I’m a research nut, and everything I read about Figure Competitors showed that “too low” of body fat was no longer considered feminine or of an ideal figure physique. BODYBUILDERS strive for that leanness, but not FIGURE competitors! I questioned my trainer, but instead of a “good explanation”, all I got was “trust me… I know what I’m doing”. So, the day of truth came… I was shredded!!! Granted, my level of leanness was impressive, but I was holding on by a thread. Pre-judging finished, and within 5 minutes, the judges approached me back stage. “We’ve actually never seen a women so lean. It’s impressive. If you were a Bodybuilder, you would have taken the whole show… but in Figure… we can’t place you. We just wanted to let you know. You can walk tonight (finals), and do your routine, but you won’t be placed.” I was devastated… not as a sore loser, but that my gut had been right all along. To make matters worse, my trainer left me there alone to walk that stage… HE HAD A DATE! Needless to say, I never trained with him again. But aside from that, I don’t go out like that!
What began as a one-time adventure became fuel to my fire. I ended up doing 11 shows that first year… as a Bodybuilder. I qualified for the NPC Nationals, became a Women’s Pro Bodybuilder in the IFPA, NGA, and USFB, got published in Fitness and Physique magazine 3 times, and even made it to the Yorton (the final show… the World Championships of IFPA). In the year to follow, I did another 7 shows and re-qualified for the Yorton a second year running. I had also began competing in Physique (a category meant to better favor smaller frames while having the leanness and muscular development of a Bodybuilder). However, in the last few years, there has been quite a switch in the industry. Women’s BB is dying. With the growth of Figure and Bikini competitors, women no longer strived for the extreme side of Bodybuilding. Although “Physique” was originally created to accommodate the “smaller” Bodybuilder, all of women’s BB’s where now switching over, changing the standards originally set once again. (Don’t get me wrong, my experiences have been successful… I just was so unsure of my place in the industry. Here I had made it to the Yorton for two consecutive years, but couldn’t really take it where I wanted due to my small stature.)
So there I was, out in Arizona, 2012, and the Yorton had just ended. Lost, I went to the after party and just sat at the bar talking to other competitors. It’s a very distinct memory… but one of the judges sat down next to me… I asked him what I should do? “How could I go any further with my passion?’ His advice… “Start over from scratch… you should be a figure competitor”. I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks. I had been told over and over I was too lean, too conditioned, and too muscular for Figure. Start over? Give up my Pro Status, give it all up and start from scratch?
Well, in 2013, that’s exactly what I did! I’ve now done 5 shows this year, placing in each. But my most prized moments lie in two separate days. I went back to that first show… and competed again in the NGA Natural Philadelphia, 2013. It was the same promoter, the same panel of judges… but the difference was… this time… I did win the whole show, winning my NGA Pro Card in Figure. It felt like the greatest reward from one of the most disappointing experiences of my life. Yet, I had one other goal to achieve. Since competing, I have found the IFPA to be my love, my home, my heart. It was my goal to get my Pro Card back in that organization, and I thought no show would be better than to compete in the same show that originally won me my Bodybuilding Pro Card. I’ve never wanted something more or been more nervous. “Would the same industry that had allowed me to compete in the World Championships twice, accept me in a new category?” That day… I looked at the 18 other girls competing, and I didn’t look a thing like them. “Was I still too lean, too conditioned? Then I remembered looking out at that panel of judges… and what did I see?… but that same judge that I saw at the bar in Arizona telling me to start over. I earned my IFPA Figure Pro Card that day at the OCB Battle for the Belt, 2013. I’ve never believed in perfect “poetry” until that day. So what now? Well, I never stop!!! I’m headed to Cape Cod on October 12th to try and secure my place back at the Yorton this year… Figure style! Look for updates on my website and Facebook. I love competing, and love the industry. One time thrill… no way! I’m so excited, and so thrilled that I finally “figured” it out!