Sports

Langley competitor muscles her way to victory

Langley’s LeeAnn Harper captured top spot in both the junior and the open division at the Western Canadian bodybuilding championships in Kelowna. - David Aboody/twixpix.com
Langley’s LeeAnn Harper captured top spot in both the junior and the open division at the Western Canadian bodybuilding championships in Kelowna.
— image credit: David Aboody/twixpix.com

It started as a way to get into shape but blossomed into something much larger.

Taking part in her first bodybuilding competition earlier this month in Kelowna, Langley’s LeeAnn Harper captured top spot in both the junior (U21) bodybuilding division and in the open division at the B.C. Amateur Bodybuilding Association’s Western Canadian championships.

It was held on May 19 at the Kelowna Community Theatre.

“I love the adrenaline, it is the most amazing feeling,” Harper described of being on stage, flexing her muscles and holding her poses.

“It is very nerve-wracking and you do have a lot of fear.

“But you really enjoy that fearful part because you know that you are never going to feel that again, it is only in that moment.”

The competition judges contestants based on their physique, figure and fitness.

The 20-year-old Harper began taking her exercising and fitness seriously about three or four years ago.

She started with weights, doing power lifting and Olympic lifting, and eventually got into CrossFit training.

Harper trained at CrossFit Langley, which she now helps run, with Darren Clarke.

“I got into training here and really loved it,” she said, calling Clarke a great motivator.

Harper, who stands five-foot-two and weighs about 110 pounds, also described CrossFit — which is a series of varied movements — as very addictive.

With an eye on getting into bodybuilding competitions, Harper began working with Team Fit Body in Surrey, under trainer Dawn Alison and Alison’s husband Brandon Best, in December.

“I told her when I first met her, she could be a Canadian national junior women’s bodybuilding champion this year if she sets her mind to it,” Alison said.

“She can go as far as she wants to. She has already shown me that she has the drive, determination, work ethic and is willing to make the necessary sacrifices to excel in this sport, which will transcend to anything she wants to do in life.”

Harper said she was confident heading into the competition, mainly because of her experience as a weightlifter.

With Western Canadians out of the way, there has been little time to relax or rest on her laurels as Harper is busy preparing for the next challenge: the B.C. provincial championships, which will be held in New Westminster on June 30.

A strong showing at that event would help Harper qualify for this year’s national championships in Edmonton.

Alison, also a competitive bodybuilder and former powerlifting champion, sees a lot of herself in Harper.

“She reminds me a lot of myself at that age,” she said.

“She’s very tenacious, a great student.

“She’s like a sponge: you tell her what to do and she does it.”

Alison is impressed by her student’s make-up.

“One of the things that impresses me about LeeAnn that I have seen in very few women of her age, or any age for that matter, is most want to look good,” Alison said.

“But most are not willing to do what it takes to get it (done).

“With LeeAnn, you tell her what to do and it’s done.”

As for Harper’s long-term goals, she just wants to continue spreading the word about the importance of fitness.

Whether she has a competition or not, she works out a minimum of two hours a day with weights and cardio.

“It is just part of me,” she says about working out.

“My goal is to influence as many people to get into the best shape that the can and be the best that they can be with their health.”

She also has her own website, www.leeannharper.com where she offers fitness and coaching tips and the website for her work is www.crossfitlangley.com.

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