Beau­ti­ful, feminine and strong

The Invercargill Eye - - YOUR HEALTH - JOANNA GRIF­FITHS

For Maria Oliphant-O’Donnell, body­build­ing is more than just heavy lift­ing and big muscles.

The 51-year-old mother of two won the ti­tle of the New Zealand Na­tional Amateur Body Build­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’s Na­tional Open Fig­ure Tall cham­pion in Napier dur­ing Labour Week­end.

Oliphant-O’Donnell said the idea that female body­builders were not feminine was not true.

There were three cat­e­gories within body­build­ing for women: shape, fig­ure and physique.

Women com­pet­ing in both the shape and fig­ure cat­e­gories were re­quired to wear heels dur­ing their rou­tine and were judged on how feminine they looked and moved.

But women in the physique cat­e­gory had the large muscles.

The body­build­ing was healthy if done the right way, she said.

‘‘We go all out, but in a safe way.

‘‘Our ex­er­cise is al­ways in con­junc­tion with a good diet.’’

The big­gest mis­take peo­ple made when join­ing the sport was go­ing too hard too quickly, she said.

‘‘It’s not healthy. Muscles take time to develop.’’

The stereo­type of body­builders pump­ing weights for hours on end was com­pletely in­ac­cu­rate.

‘‘We do a com­bi­na­tion of strength and car­dio to main­tain a lean body shape.’’

Her rou­tine was not as ex­ten­sive as most peo­ple as­sumed, with a 40 minute walk at 5am, 1.5 hours at the gym af­ter drop­ping the kids off at school at 9am, and a 40 minute walk af­ter 4pm, she said.

‘‘That’s it, and ev­ery Sun­day is a rest day.’’

Orig­i­nally from South Africa, she first got into body­build­ing while study­ing at uni­ver­sity, but gave it up af­ter mov­ing to New Zealand and meet­ing her hus­band.

In 2013, with the sup­port of fam­ily she de­cided to get back into the sport and com­peted for the first time in 20 years.

‘‘I wanted to in­spire my chil­dren to get ac­tive, be healthy and do some­thing they are pas­sion­ate about.’’

It was a great sport moth­ers, she said.

‘‘It builds con­fi­dence, ev­ery­one is sup­port­ive, and it helps with fit­tness.’’

‘‘With the right diet and train­ing any­one can do it.’’ for


‘‘We go all out, but in a safe way. Our ex­er­cise is al­ways in con­junc­tion with a good diet.’’

Maria Oliphant-O'Donnell Maria Oliphant-O’Donnell was crowned the NZ Nabba Na­tional Open Fig­ure Cham­pion in Napier dur­ing Labour Week­end.

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