Bodybuilder shines in Wellington contest

Cassie Chow. Photo by Muscleimaging.comCassie Chow's dream of representing New Zealand internationally in bodybuilding came closer in Wellington on Saturday, when the 36-year-old Queenstown bodybuilder won her first regional title.

Ms Chow, a group instructor and personal trainer at Alpine Health and Fitness, won the National Amateur Body Building Association (Nabba) Wellington Championships Open Figure - Short category, qualifying her to compete at the 2013 Nabba New Zealand National Championships in Auckland next month.

It is her first win in New Zealand having moved here from Australia two years ago.

''I'm so thrilled. It's nice when the work pays off and I got some great feedback from the judges.''

Judges were looking for muscle symmetry and proportion between different muscle groups, both left to right and upper body and lower body, as well as muscularity.

The latter required competitors to have definition ''but not to the point there's so much bulk the fibres meld together'', she said.

For the past nine months, she had been working towards the competitions, fitting in between 12 and 15 hours' training a week along with her work as a class instructor and as a personal trainer.

Although sleep was at premium, she thrived on the personal challenge bodybuilding presented.

''It's the discipline and it really is a big mental challenge as well.

''I find that through the challenging times you need to stay positive ... you just have to stay strong mentally to get through the tough times, knowing in the end it's worth it when you achieve the goal and all the hard work pays off.

''When you put in 100% effort and love what you do, it pays off.''

Saturday night's win was even more meaningful as Ms Chow had been entered in the Nabba South Island Championships held in Dunedin earlier this month, but had to withdraw on the day of the competition due to illness.

However, there was no rest following the weekend's success, with Ms Chow preparing for the inaugural International Natural Bodybuilding Association (Inba) Southern Lakes Classic in Queenstown this weekend.

''I got off the plane [yesterday] and went straight to the gym for training and then grocery shopping, washed my costume and [started] preparing for this weekend.

''I'm already in ... competition condition [but] I don't want to drop too much muscle or too much more body fat.''

Despite hailing from Australia, Ms Chow said she was hopeful of being selected to represent New Zealand internationally with either or both Nabba or Inba at upcoming competitions.