They’re the fittest of the fit, and strongest of the strong.
And they all call Bunbury home.
Bunbury’s best bodybuilding babes took to the stage in Perth recently for the I Compete Natural (ICN) WA State Championships.
And brought home plenty of prized silverware to prove their place as serious competitors and successful place-winners.
Mother of two and local fitspo Natasha Lovell is one of the impressive athletes that cleaned up at the ICN Awards on May 13 in Perth.
Taking home first place for Ms Sports Model 30+ and second place for Ms Sports Model Momma, Lovell also won a third place for Ms Fitness Momma and a fifth place for Ms Fitness 30+.
It is only the second competition for the 37-year-old, who started bodybuilding last year.
“Last May was my first competition and I competed in INBA. But it’s definitely not something I ever thought I would be doing,” Lovell said.
“A friend introduced me to the gym but it’s not something I ever wanted to do because I was quite intimidated. I walked in and had no idea what I was doing and there was all these big beasty men.
“But I started to really enjoy the weight training and I was learning so much about diet and how they work together and how it changes your body and I just found it so interesting.”
Lovell said it wasn’t long before she bumped into International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) athlete and coach Zoltan Matrof, who introduced her to the sport.
“I quickly met so many like-minded people at the gym including a wonderful trainer who is now one of my closest friends,” she said.
“He’s a bodybuilder as well so he introduced me to that side of it, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
“I liked the challenge of training all the time and have a goal to work towards and to better myself – it was nice to have a purpose for all the training.”
Lovell is one of three female bodybuilding athletes Matrof now trains for state and national events.
Matrof’s other athletes, Jennifer McLeod and Sara Richards also took home a number of awards and first place prizes at the ICN Championships.
“Jennifer has absolutely stunning stage presentation and physique and this was her first time competing so she had a long 20 weeks diet,” Matrof said.
”She came first in the Bikini 30+, Bikini First Timers and Bikini Novice categories and second in Bikini Open.
“It was Sara’s first time competing as well and she has big future potential. She came first in Ms Sports Model First Timers and Overall Sports Model, second in Ms Fitness Model First Timer and Ms Fitness Model Novice and fifth in Ms Fitness Open.”
But it’s no easy feat being a bodybuilding babe like Lovell, Richards and McLeod.
“The whole preparation for a bodybuilding competition is really underestimated and people don’t understand the sacrifices we have to make, the training we have to put into it,” Lovell said.
“It’s a full-time job all the training and diet and preparation in itself and sometimes I wonder how I fit it all in being a working single Mum.
“There are a lot of sacrifices you need to make over a long time because it is a whole lifestyle, it does take over your life – the diet is quite hard especially and you have your days when you don’t think you can get through it but when you get to the end of the competition and you see how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved physically, mentally, emotionally, it’s all worth it.”
And Lovell encourages everyone to find something they love as much as she loves to train.
“We get stuck working and doing the same ol’ day to day stuff and you need to make time for the things that you love. You have to have that work-life-happy balance, especially when you’re a parent,” she said.
“You have to look after yourself to be able to look after others. You sacrifice a lot for your children so it’s important to have that time for yourself, it’s like my therapy.
“I’m a much happier person since I started the whole thing and the healthiest I’ve ever been. I feel the best I’ve ever felt, even before kids.”
Speaking of children, how does Lovell’s children feel about their mum’s rather unusual passion?
“My eldest daughter always says to me ‘Mummy, I’m so proud of you, keep going’ if I’m having a rough or tired day. She can sense it and encourages me, she’s beautiful and so sweet,” she said.
“They’re really good, they pay attention to my diet and they ask questions about food and make their own healthy choices which is good.
“I like to tell them that they have to work hard for their goals and the things that you love but you will have days when everything feels too hard but you’ve just got to keep going.”
Lovell said she’s now looking forward to her next competition, the Australasian Natural Bodybuilding (ANB) Ms Fitness Australia event on June 3, which she will compete in alongside Richards, but then might consider a break for a while.
“It’s the first time they’ve brought this competition to Perth to compete for the Miss Fitness Australia title,” she said.
“I’m thinking I might have a rest after June and try for season B next year so September 2018 but we’ll see because I always get the bug to do it again.
“Your body needs to have a break, it’s not something you can consistently do but it’s a full on thing for your body so you do need recovery time – still train but not so intensely.”