(Photography by James Cook - Click on for larger view)
seeing these photos of Florida bodybuilder Kris Murrell for the first
time, you will be probably be wondering why you've never heard of her
before. At 5-foot-6 and 175 pounds in these photos, Kris's physique is
so impressive - and so complete - that you would have expected to have
seen her on the national stage. In fact, the 25 year-old has only done
a handful of local shows in Florida, and until moving there from her native
Georgia just over a year ago, she had no idea she even had the potential
to be a national-level bodybuilder.
set to change this year. Kris is planning to do four shows in Florida
over two months this summer ("it's a lot but I'm up for the challenge," she says), culminating in the NPC Southeastern USA in Orlando in August,
where she hopes to qualify for Nationals.
At nine weeks out from the first
of her four shows, she was at around 175 pounds and expected to come in
between 160-165 - easily enough size to hang with the 150-pound-plus national-level
heavyweight women she would be standing alongside at Nationals. With beautiful
shape and a tiny waist to boot, Kris could be one of the most exciting
prospects in women's bodybuilding."I'm
ready to take it to the next level," she says. "If I can achieve
that, I feel it will open a lot of doors for my future in bodybuilding."
Kristin Murrell grew up in St. Simons Island, off the Georgia coast. As
a child she danced (tap, jazz and ballet) and played soccer, and was later
offered college scholarships for both. Whether as a result of dancing
and soccer or just great genetics, Kris was muscular even as a child,
especially in the legs. "I always had huge legs," she laughs.
"I could leg press 500 at 13 years-old. They teased me about it all
through high school - they called me 'Hams.'"
was in her senior year of high school she started working part-time at
a Cory Everson gym in Brunswick, Ga., and that's when she started to hit
the weights seriously. She had seen female bodybuilders on TV as a kid
in 1980s and had always liked the way they looked. "I always thought
it was neat," she says. "I never thought it was ugly or unnatural,
even for a female."
As soon as Kris got herself a training partner,
things started to happen. "Training with a partner allowed me to
push weight that I never lifted before," she says. "My body
responded immediately and grew very fast." While
still living on St. Simons Island Kris did her first show, the 2002 Capital
City in Tallahassee, weighing 152 and placing second in the heavyweights.
But it was only when she moved to Jacksonville last year to take up a
job as personal training manager at another Cory Everson gym that she
came into contact with people who could spot her awesome potential as
a bodybuilder One of those people was John Mier of Premier Physiques,
Inc., who is now her trainer. With added size and some much-needed contest
prep help, Kris did the Capital City again last March and this time won
the heavyweight and overall.
Jacksonville is more exposed to bodybuilding than coastal Georgia (one
of the shows Kris plans to enter this summer, the All-Star Classic, is
held in Jacksonville), Kris still stands out as a female bodybuilder and
gets the usual stares. "It's a big city but a small town mentality,"
she says. She still works at the Cory Everson gym, and squeezes her own
training (at a nearby World Gym) into her 8-12 hour days. Since the 2003
Capital City Kris has put on more size and now that she is leaning out
for her string of shows this summer, she is thrilled at how she is looking. "I'm seeing muscles I didn't know I had and veins I didn't know I
had," she laughs. The biggest challenge, she says, will be to get
her legs separated enough: "My legs are water babies they like
to hold a lot of water."
impressive about Kris, as well as her size, is that she has no obvious
weaknesses - unusual for a bodybuilder at her level. In fact, Kris's physique
is so well-balanced that when I ask her which lagging bodyparts she would
like to improve, she has to think for a minute. "I'd like to bring
my hamstrings out more and get my calves a little bigger," she says.
"I'd also like bigger biceps, but who wouldn't?" One area where
size is definitely not a problem is her beautifully flaring 26-inch legs
the same legs she was teased about in high school. "I know
that for most bodybuilders leg thickness is hard to come by," she
says. "I've been blessed."
So how far
can Kris go? She gives a typically modest answer. "I try not to think
about that," she says. "I don't compare myself to the national
level women or the pro women by any means. I get positive feedback from
people as far as my potential but I try not to let that go to my head.
Someone told me once, 'Somewhere someone is training harder than you.'
Keeping that in mind, you can't be too confident. My goal right now is
to qualify [for Nationals]. I don't want to freak myself out and set my
goals too high."
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