2017 KELOWNA CLASSIC: BACKSTAGE PHOTOS & INTERVIEWS

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Kelowna, BC. May 6th, 2017. Over 200 BCABBA competitors stepped on Kelowna Community Theatre stage at the premiere traditional stream entry show - the Kelowna Classic. Congratulations to promoter Ian Tomlin for his constant support for the community, and to his outstanding team who made the show successful, and memorable. I would like to thank the BCABBA for their support and direction toward making our fitness and bodybuilding community stronger with every show. A special thanks to all the volunteers. Those are the champions behind the scene.


Congratulations to promoter Ian Tomlin for his constant support for the community, and to his outstanding team who made the show successful, and memorable. 


Backstage photography has become an unfolding journey for me. The more I do this, the more I feel responsible to contribute to the events. I get the chance to see both sides of the coin. One side is meeting the competitors who have worked hard to get where they are - while learning of their own journeys - and the other side is seeing those who work hard behind the scene to make things happen: promoters, volunteers, judges, tanning crew, and all manner of media related people. In the end I’m grateful to be able to introduce and showcase these amazing people and share a little about them.

ATHLETE PROFILE


ATHLETE NAME: Alexandra Sabo

Social media contact: instagram: @misssabo_ , and Facebook: Alexandra Nicole Sabo

How did you get started in Fitness Alex? It was 4 years ago when I had personally hit an all time low, both mentally and physically. I had been drinking daily and struggling with body dysmorphia, I was sitting at 195lbs. That is when I decided to implement a healthy/body positive lifestyle (eating clean & exercising regularly). Since then I have continued with living this healthy lifestyle, it has taught me a lot about my strength & weakness as well as anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

What’s the best part about being a fitness competitor? I believe the best part of being a fitness competitor is the 12/16 week prep we all undergo. You get to challenge yourself daily with staying motivated and dedicated to something you are passionate about. It tests your willpower and shows you that your mind is truly a powerful thing. You learn something new about yourself every prep and that itself is a privilege.

What was the reason(s) you decided to compete at The Kelowna Classic, and what category did you compete in? To be honest, I had originally decided to compete the year before in the fall. Though my coaches and I decided taking more time to work on my physique would benefit from the extra training. That is when I decided the Kelowna Classic would be the show I would enter. I competed in bikini class A.

What was the highlight from the entire show for you? The highlight of the show for me is when they called my name as the announced the first place winner of my class. I had been working for quite some time on my physique and putting everything I had both mentally and physically into my training. I never would've thought that I would've had the privilege to place first place in all of that for me was the highlight of the show. Sharing that excitement with my family and friends just had made it that much more amazing.  

Who did you train with? I had to train with my amazing coaches who took care of me: Whip It UpWest Coast style. I've been prepping with them and working with them now for close to a year and a half I have had nothing but good results and success.

How did you stay motivated during prep? I stayed motivated by reminding myself where I had started a few years ago to where I was now! I had a goal and I was determined to accomplish it no matter what I had to do.

Any advice for those who are going to compete for the first time? My advice for first time competitors, is to make sure you have fun with it, as well as keep a positive mindset throughout prep. It is an amazing process and enjoy every minute of it.

What are you most proud of in your journey? I am proud of the amount of work and time I was able to commit to during my off season and on season training. I put in countless hours of training and it truly paid off, I got to see myself grow so much throughout the process. I am proud of myself and learned to never underestimate my will power/dedication.

What are your short and long-term fitness goals? My short term is to work on my physique until I compete next. My long term goal is to continue to personally challenge myself, to inspire & motivate those around me - those who are first time competitors and those who are going through a weight loss transformation.

What is your favorite motivational quote? "Strength doesn't come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardship and decide not to surrender, that is strength." -Mahatma Gandhi

Who would you like to send your thank-you to? I would like to thank my coaches Jen Watts and Kara May. I would have never been the athlete I am today without them. I would like to thank my family for being there for me and supporting me no matter what. My dear friends Kate, Serena, Leigh Brandt and everyone who believed in me and supported me. To the Kelowna Classic volunteers/participants. To Popeye's North Van for supplying me with the best supplements for prep, my home gym Anytime Fitness Squamish for being there 24/7 for me.

ATHLETE NAME: Ali Yekta

Social media contact: Instagram: aliyekta3


 

How did you get started in Fitness Ali? I started weight lifting in high school after getting cut from the basketball and the soccer team for being too small.

What’s the best part about being a fitness competitor? Having the competition motivate you to becoming the best looking version of yourself.

What was the reason(s) you decided to compete at The Kelowna Classic, and what category did you compete in? After watching and supporting a friend at the Vancity Showdown in 2016, I wanted to try competing the following year.  However, after attending the BCABBA posing seminar in January 2017, I couldn’t wait long enough for the Vancity Showdown, so I decided to compete in the Kelowna Classic instead.

What was the highlight from the entire show for you? Meeting the other athletes and making new friends was the highlight of the show for me. Although I met them for the first time, the fact that we shared the same journey made it feel like we've been friends for a long time.

Who did you train with? My coach, Billy Danh 

How did you stay motivated during prep? My main source of motivation throughout the prep was my coach Billy Danh. However, on my own time, I also watched motivational gym videos, which helped me stay focused on my goal.

Any advice for those who are going to compete for the first time?  What separates the guy from 1st place, from 2nd, from 10th place is what you put into it. You get out what you put in. So make sure that there is no one out there that is working harder than you.

What are you most proud of in your journey? Winning the overall title in 2 categories. I didn't even know that this was possible. I always imagined that there would be 1 winner in each category. 

What are your short and long-term fitness goals? In the short term, I want to bring up my lagging body parts so I can be more proportional. In the long term, I want to win an IFBB pro card.

 What is your favorite motivational quote? "You can't climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets." - Arnold Schwarzenegger

Who would you like to send your thank-you to? Everyone with the BCABBA that helped put together this fantastic event. Also, my coach Billy Danh for taking me on as his client and guiding me the whole way.

ATHLETE NAME: Andrea Ellen Van Vliet

Social media contact:  INSTAGRAM@anny.vanbuuren , and Andrea Van Vliet on Facebook.

 
 

How did you get started in Fitness Andrea? My mom was a fitness instructor and I always enjoyed watching or participating in her group fitness classes.  My family was always very active and as a family activity we would go to the Canadian Games Pool together and either work out or swim. From there I started to weight lift and run.  I then discovered Pilates and after years of practice became an Instructor myself.

What’s the best part about being a fitness competitor? The challenge! It is amazing to see what you can do if you put your mind to it.  Watching your body transform and the ability to stay disciplined with so many temptations.

What was the reason(s) you decided to compete at The Kelowna Classic, and what category did you compete in? I chose Kelowna Classic because it was a tested show.  I competed in Bikini.

What was the highlight from the entire show for you? Spending time with the other athletes backstage. Not only did I run into people from my past who I re-connected with but also meeting new people who were like minded.  It was amazing to hear other people’s journeys and experiences that led them to the same show.

Who did you train with? Tamara Knight

How did you stay motivated during prep?  I had my eye on the prize! My coach Tamara really kept me motivated.  She was there every step of the way – the highs and lows. She knew exactly what to say to keep me on track.

Any advice for those who are going to compete for the first time? Get a reputable coach. You need the support.

What are you most proud of in your journey? That I stuck to my plan 100% and didn’t give up even when I really wanted to.

What are your short and long-term fitness goals?  My short term goal is to bulk for an upcoming show & to compete again in the same category in another tested show.  My long term fitness goals would be to have balance, to continue my education in Pilates, and start to do more release work and rehabilitation work with clients.

What is your favorite motivational quote? “When I felt my feet slipping, you came with your love and kept me steady.”

Who would you like to send your thank-you to?  A big thank you to Tamara Knight!  She has changed my life and has become a huge part of my life not only as a coach but as a friend.  Another huge thank you to my partner Dave Stevens who put up with my crankiness near the end, and of course my best friend Candace who was super supportive of my goals.

ATHLETE NAME: Mike and Cathy Waterman

Social media contact: @water_melaun68, @i.am.catt.s

How did you get started in Fitness Cathy and Mike? Cathy got started a year and a half before I did, having set a goal to get healthy. She was tired of being “skinny fat”. After meeting me, she stopped all forms of fitness.  She decided that a bikini competition was a great goal to get her on a journey to better health and actually mean it.  Because of her own fitness journey Cathy inspired me to get healthy. It wasn’t overnight. It took years and it wasn’t until last year I started to really understand health and fitness. So, this year, I decided to compete!

What’s the best part about being a fitness competitor? The knowledge we gained about our bodies, as well as nutrition and how food effects us. And the people. Everyone is so nice.

What was the reason(s) you decided to compete at The Kelowna Classic, and what category did you compete in? We were drawn to the show because it was tested. We are clean athletes, and wanted to compete with like minded people.

What was the highlight from the entire show for you? For me (Mike) it was working as a team, and supporting each other. Because it was my (Cathy) 3rd competition, I wouldn’t say the highlight was the stage or being my best. It was definitely doing it with Mike. The level of love and support we had for each other was so on point, every second, every minute for the entire weekend. It has only brought us closer together.

Who did you train with? We trained with 13 time competitor, and BC champ Jennifer Weintz.  What a kind and generous soul.

How did you stay motivated during prep? We kept each other honest. We constantly communicated with each other about difficulties, hurdles, and our feelings about our progress and the process.

Any advice for those who are going to compete for the first time? Don’t listen to the voices in your head. Trust the process, and trust your trainer. 

What are you most proud of in your journey? For Mike it is that he attained a goal that required such a large commitment and dedication, and pushed through the pain each and every day.  For Cathy, watching Mike on tv screen that he placed 3rd.

What are your short and long-term fitness goals? We are both looking to increase our lean mass over the next year, and compete in the BCs in 2018 in our best form yet.

What is your favorite motivational quote? Trust the process.

Who would you like to send your thank-you to? Thanks to our trainer Jennifer, and to my wife, Cathy.  I (Cathy) want to thank Jennifer. I also want to thank Jeff Cathrea, my Kinesiologist who supported me while I conditioned my core to good health and strength before training in 2015. And, I am forever grateful for Mike.

ATHLETE NAME: Oxana Bogdan

Social Media contact:  Facebook: Oxana Bogdan, and Instagram: @oxana_fitness. You can also find me at Team Fitness in North Vancouver.


 

How did you get started in fitness Oxana? I set out on my fitness journey because of, perhaps, the single most important reason why many moms do – I wanted to get in shape after pregnancy. And once you start and see results, there is no need to push yourself further – the vision will pull you.  Setting a goal or wanting change is powerful enough to change your lifestyle.

What’s the best part about being a fitness competitor? There are many physical and psychological positives to taking part in competitions, but the undeniable bonus is that you will always be fit. Even on your off season, even on your vacation, even on days when you’re feeling down. You know you can confidently flaunt that bikini or that dress, you know that you’ve worked hard for what you have and you can confidently show the world. You are satisfied when you look at that mirror, because you realize that you’ve personally done everything to lead you to this moment of satisfaction.

What was the reason you decided to compete at The Kelowna Classic, and what category did you compete in? I competed in the Master’s Bikini category. I work as a Personal Trainer with Team Fitness in North Vancouver. Many of our clients compete in these events and progress admirably fast. Since The Kelowna Classic is my first drug-tested competition, it is very appealing to me as you are competing in “barebone” bodyfitness: only pure determination and hard work without any supplements or enhancers.

What was the highlight from the entire show for you? I was definitely very moved and flattered by the unconditional support of all the competitors. Bodybuilding and bodyfitness are very individual sports – you train with yourself, against yourself; so when the product of your hard work can be appreciated by other hard workers and you can give off that appreciation too, that’s when its all worth it.

Who did you train with? My trainer is Yelena Yermolenko. She is the owner of the Team Fitness private studio in North Vancouver. Yelena is a very knowledgeable and passionate professional, as well as a great friend and colleague.

How did you stay motivated during prep? 2 of my coworkers were also contestants in The Kelowna Classic. This gave me invaluable support and gave me something to aspire to, as we were all encouraging and helping each other. Also, a huge helping hand was given by my trainer, Yelena. My advice to anyone starting out or taking their fitness to new heights, is to find a workout partner or a like-minded friend to hold you accountable for your fitness progress.

Any advice for those who are going to compete for the first time? Skipping the common sense advice about hard work and due diligence in your routine, I would like to underline the importance of your movements on stage. Record your posing; look at yourself from a different angle so you can clearly see what your pitfalls and areas of improvements are. Because once you hit that stage, your nervousness and low carb diet are guaranteed to catch up to you, so the only thing that will remain are the movements hardwired into your brain.

What are you most proud of in your journey? I’m most proud of the fact that I have prepared, competed and entered into the top 5 categories all within a couple months after having severely broken my leg in 2 places. Competing at The Kelowna Classic was an inexplicable experience because I was able to prove to myself that if we only we put our minds to it, we can truly do anything.

What are your short-term and long-term fitness goals? Regarding my short-term goals, I really aim at getting a good placement in my provincial ProArm competition on July 9th, 2017. With a relatively brief recovery period between this competition and the Kelowna Classic, I am ready as never before to tackle the provincials. For my long-term goals, I’m of course striving to compete on a national level.

What is your favorite motivational quote? “When we’re old, we’ll regret the things we didn’t do rather than the things we did”.

Who would you like to send your thank you to? I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my family, my trainer and all my friends for their patience, support and understanding. Thank you!

ATHLETE NAME: Petrina Jennifer Koltun

Social media contact:  Facebook: Petrina Koltun, and Instagram: petrinasunshine

How did you get started in Fitness Petrina? I have loved fitness ever since I was a young girl.  I remember first falling in love with weight training when I was 12 and I won a weight lifting scholarship to go to Peace Gardens Athletic Camp in North Dakota.  I was the only girl and I loved it!  One of my best memories was pushing our coach’s car around the track and beating all the boys in leg press.

What’s the best part about being a fitness competitor? The best part of being a fitness competitor is performing the routine. I remember doing one particular balancing/flexibility pose in the Kelowna Classic and feeling so strong when everyone was cheering!  I had the biggest smile on my face.

What was the reason(s) you decided to compete at The Kelowna Classic, and what category did you compete in? I decided to compete in the Kelowna Classic because it was my 45th birthday present to myself!  I competed in Fitness Open and Grand Masters and Open in Figure and qualified to go to provincials for both.   Two of the greatest experiences of my life!  I now have qualified for Nationals and I can’t wait!

What was the highlight from the entire show for you?  The biggest highlight for me was hugging my boys after the show.  I also remember distinctly near the end of my fitness routine how much fun I was having and growing the biggest smile!!!!  The 3rd highlight was being on stage with my competitor Marina and we truly adored each other backstage and had the biggest smiles while we were doing our poses and flipping our hair lol.  We also had lots of hugs backstage!

Who did you train with? I trained with my very dear friend and trainer Sarah Fraser.  She was so supportive and always believed in me!

How did you stay motivated during prep? I stayed motivated by doing fun training with my two sons.  We did lots of sprinting up hills in our neighborhood and hikes with our two Labrador retrievers.  We also set up bands on their monkey bars and they set up training sessions in our backyard for me.  Fresh air, nature, my boys and my fur-babies were all big motivation for me!

Any advice for those who are going to compete for the first time? My advice for those competing for their first time would be to have a big “why”!  Having purpose behind your journey will definitely help you through the tough times.

What are you most proud of in your journey?  I’m really proud that I lost 30 pounds.  I am also proud of those days that I woke up at 3am, did cardio for an hour, did one hour of yoga, and worked out for an hour all before by boys got up at 6.  Then we all got ready for work and school!

What are your short and long-term fitness goals? My long term fitness goals are the same as my short term fitness goals.  I am currently training for Nationals taking place in May 2018!  My goals are to have crazy strength poses for my routine and beautiful flexibility!  I can’t wait to represent British Columbia in Fitness for Nationals!

What is your favorite motivational quote? “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana

Who would you like to send your thank-you to? I would like to thank my boys for being my biggest cheerleaders. They moved with me every single day.  They did cardio with me, set up circuits for me, hiked mountains with me and sent me to bed before I screwed up my healthy eating plan lol. Oh, and always saying to me “Mom you got this” with a great big smile.

ATHLETE NAME: Sarah Watts

How did you get started in Fitness Sarah? I've been active for many years but I used to spend most of my time running with only a little bit of weight training. About 5 years ago I started lifting more consistently and fell in love with the activity.

What’s the best part about being a fitness competitor? I actually really enjoy pushing the edges of my comfort zone. I also love having new goals and working towards them - it gives me focus in the gym and allows me to do something for myself.

What was the reason(s) you decided to compete at The Kelowna Classic, and what category did you compete in? I competed in Masters and Open Figure. This was the third time I've competed in this show. I am a natural competitor therefore this show is a good fit for me and at the right time of year for my busy schedule. It's also a really good excuse to travel to Kelowna in the spring!

What was the highlight from the entire show for you? This year was the first time I competed as part of a team. It was so much fun being with my teammates back stage and at the hotel.

Who did you train with? I've been coached by Allison Dawson of Encore Fitness and Sport for almost the last two years.

How did you stay motivated during prep? I just kept reminding myself that competing is my choice. Seeing the physical changes from week to week and from my previous competitions really helped as well. 

Any advice for those who are going to compete for the first time? Take prep one day at a time, do everything you can to keep yourself organized, trust the process and your coach!

What are you most proud of in your journey? I am proud of the fact that I have the discipline and organization to make it to the stage. I work full time and am a single mom to a busy nine year old so getting everything done is challenging at times.

What are your short and long-term fitness goals? I am currently training with the intention of competing at BC Cup next year. As for long term goals, I just hope to keep learning and to get better every year.

What is your favorite motivational quote? What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

Who would you like to send your thank-you to? I'd like to thank my coach, Allison Dawson, for her careful guidance, patience and knowledge of the sport. My friends, family and co-workers for their ongoing support. Finally, I need to acknowledge my daughter, my biggest supporter. She has been living my crazy lifestyle for a number of years now and despite being dragged to the gym more often than she likes at times or dealing with a house that smells like fish on food prep days, she always encourages me and wants me to be my best.

ATHLETE NAME: Sharon Audrey Kiener

Your social media contact: Sharon_Kiener@hotmail.com

How did you get started in Fitness Sharon? All my life I have been into some kind of fitness but last year I broke my elbow and I was down for a while and I was unable to do any fitness at all.  Then I was invited to the Lee Brandt show last March to see my son’s girlfriend Carly Pinchin compete.  I loved watching the show and decided that when I was able to start working out again that I was going to look into training for a show.

What’s the best part about being a fitness competitor? Well, there can be many great things about being a competitor, but I like the fact that the day of the show I’m in the best shape I can be. Also, everyone looks amazing.

What was the reason(s) you decided to compete at The Kelowna Classic, and what category did you compete in? I decided on the Kelowna show because my trainer felt it would be a great starting point and a really good experience.  The category I did was Grand Masters bikini.

What was the highlight from the entire show for you? The highlight for me was that I met some awesome people back stage and we talked a lot about our personal journeys. Also another highlight was that my son, Daniel competed that day and won 3rd place in his category.

Who did you train with? My trainer was Emilija Martic who won her procard first time out.

How did you stay motivated during prep? Staying motivated during prep can be challenging at the best of times but I’m the type of person that when I set a goal I can stay very focused. I can be very stubborn and when I decide to do something I DO IT!

Any advice for those who are going to compete for the first time? My advice to anyone thinking about competing is that the journey is very goal driven.  Listen to your trainer.  I myself got in trouble a couple of times, but they know the work and commitment that is needed to be a good competitor.

What are you most proud of in your journey? I DID IT! Not only did I do the training but I discovered a lot about myself.  My strengths and what I need to improve on for my future goals.

What are your short and long-term fitness goals? I would like to do another show, perhaps more than one category, and my long term goal is to continue my hard work and stay in great shape.

What is your favorite motivational quote? IF IT DOESN’T CHALLENGE YOU IT WON’T CHANGE YOU!

Who would you like to send a Thank You to? The first person I will thank is my husband Roy.  He was very supportive to the point that he even did the same meal plan as me so that I stayed on track and helped me through some of my moments when I didn’t feel that strong.  Thank you.  Also to Karen for making cardio go faster and more fun, and to my friends and family that encouraged me.  To all of you THANK YOU.

ATHLETE NAME: Wendy Brown

Social media contact: facebook.com/wendybr

 

How did you get started in Fitness Wendy? I, like most people struggled with following a regular fitness routine until I was 39 years old and I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  As a single mom with two kids at home, cancer changed my perspective on everything and six months out of treatment I ran my first half marathon.  That was six years ago. 

What’s the best part about being a fitness competitor? The best part is the benefit of good health and good habits. If I can inspire just one person to make a positive change in their life it is worth it.

What was the reason(s) you decided to compete at The Kelowna Classic, and what category did you compete in?  I competed in the Figure Grand Master 45+ category.  I chose the Kelowna classic because it is a drug tested show and close to home. 

What was the highlight from the entire show for you? Cheering on my team mates. 

Who did you train with? Angelique Pires

How did you stay motivated during prep? I invited all my friends and family to the show.

Any advice for those who are going to compete for the first time? Enjoy the journey and listen to your trainer you hired them for a reason.

What are you most proud of in your journey? Following through.

What are your short and long-term fitness goals? For the short-term I am focused on bringing the best package I can to BC Cup 2018 and long term I hope to be competing at the age of 80.

What is your favorite motivational quote? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Who would you like to send your thank-you to? To my family and friends for supporting my goals and my trainer Angelique for guiding me through the process.

 

About Ali Sohrab

Holding a Masters degree in Lighting from University of British Columbia, with years of directing performances, the Vancouver based fitness photographer, Ali Sohrab brings his broad artistic expertise into the fitness world.

Ali has captured the beauty and the true personality of hundreds of athletes with his creative touch. In his world, every model possesses a unique gift and it’s the job of the photographer to discover that gift and manifest it through professional imagery. He believes that the work  of the artist should speak for itself.

Ali’s passion for lighting, story telling, body language, mood creating, and forms manifest though all his work, and has put him under many spotlights.