Melissa Pearo - genex magazine - female muscle, women's bodybuilding
Melissa Pearo - in her own words...
My name is Melissa Pearo. I’m 33 years old and live in Newcastle, OK. In the past few months I’ve started competing in the NPC figure competitions and would like to share my experiences of 2006.
I was not even aware of the existence of the sport until January of this year. That is when I attended Jen Hendershott’s Phat Camp in Phoenix, AZ. When I signed up for the camp, I was not really aware of who Jen Hendershott was or what Ms. Fitness Olympia or Ms. International was. All I knew was that Jen had won a couple of fitness contests, she looked really good, and I wanted to learn more about working out, getting fit, and being healthier.
Just arriving at camp was a real eye opener. Several girls in attendance were amateur competitors and arrived with their ice chest in tow full of nutritional food. I thought to myself, “These girls are really serious about this stuff”. I was thinking more along the lines that we’d do a little exercise, talk about eating better, and then maybe grab a sandwich or slice of pizza. I was really in for an awakening!!!!
When Jen introduced herself to the group, I remember her asking if anyone was star struck when meeting her in person. My first thought was, “This woman is really full of herself, who would be star struck meeting her? She’s just a fitness woman who’s won a couple of contests”. Then I looked around and over half the women had raised their hands. I was obviously not up to date with the fitness world and had no idea the degree of influence Jen has had on fitness.
The second day of camp was more than I expected. Lots of cardio, lots of weight training, and some really good nutritional and motivating information was given. That afternoon, I was on the phone with my husband telling him how awesome the camp and Jen were. I had already made up my mind I would definitely be attending another one that year.
I had Jen develop a meal plan for me. My diet was lacking nutritionally in some (or maybe all) areas to say the least. My normal diet consisted of Mt. Dew for breakfast, pizza and Arby’s at least twice a week. Ranch dressing was a staple at almost every meal, and what isn’t better with cheese on it? After receiving Jen’s email detailing the meal plan, I laughed and responded by asking when she’d be sending me something with some variety. She convinced me to give it a try and see what happened. She obviously knew what she was talking about because it took just three weeks to notice a major difference. By that time, I’d signed up for my second Phat Camp in San Francisco, just 8 weeks after the first.
After returning home from the San Francisco camp, I was more motivated than ever and ready to really start working hard in the gym and make some changes to my body. I started following Jen’s meal plan and was determined to see what I could accomplish. I had never considered competing before, but as I was visibly noticing the changes in my body, I began to consider giving it a try.
I was told about Darrell Terrell’s Total Package competition in Edmond, OK, which would be held Sept. 16, 2006. It would be a local NPC show and be good for a first time competitor. Then I searched online for some inexpensive competition suits, as I did not want to spend a lot of money on something I may never do again. So, I ordered the least expensive suits I could find, which were very plain, but would be adequate enough for my local show.
While looking online, I noticed the Europa Super Show in Dallas. Since it was only a 2 hour drive away, I thought it would be a good idea to attend a show before attempting to compete in one. After contacting the event coordinator, and getting tickets, I noticed Designer Supplements was hosting a swim suit model contest as one of the Europa events. I decided to give it a try, just to get my first stage experience out of the way before competing in my first figure event.
While waiting for the swim suit competitor meeting, one of the event promoters approached me and seemed to think I should be competing in the Europa figure competition. I explained how I’d never been to a show, much less competed in one. I was doing the swim suit contest solely for the purpose of getting some stage experience. He asked if I had my competition suits with me. Strangely enough, my suits had just come Fed-Ex the day before, and for some unknown reason, while packing for the weekend, I put the suits in my bag. I had only tried them on once and they really didn’t fit properly and could have used some alterations.
Somehow, the promoter convinced me to register for the Figure competition to be held the next day. So there I was, set to compete for the first time; 3 weeks out from my intended initial competition, having no posing or stage experience, and having plain competition suits that didn’t even fit appropriately.
The swim suit competition went really well. I was extremely nervous, but managed to place 3rd. I thought that was exceptional for never having done anything like it before. The figure competition was a littler more nerve racking. I was able to place an amazing 2nd, and couldn’t have been more pleased. For me, the Europa Super Show was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. For having entered the competition the day before, being so ill prepared, making due with the suits I had, and ended by qualifying for Nationals. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. What an amazing first competition experience!
Three weeks later, it was time for the Total Package competition. I was extremely nervous, but felt more prepared than I was at the Europa. The show went unbelievably well. I ended up not only placing 1st in the Figure Tall, but also winning the Figure Overall. I decided to enter the final Oklahoma competition for the year, the Red River Classic, in Norman. I knew it would be tougher, but I was determined to give it my best.
By this time, I was really starting to enjoy the whole competing experience and decided to go to Las Vegas to cheer for Jen in the Olympia. I had never been to such an event. It was amazing to see all the pro women. I was now able to recognize some faces from the fitness magazines and place names with them. I must say, I was star struck. There was one amazing figure after another. The fitness finals were amazing. I was able to cheer for Jen and was excited to see her place 3rd.
After getting home from Vegas, I was hooked. I had set my sights on the Olympia stage. I searched the NPC schedule again and saw another competition relatively close, the John Sherman Classic in Houston, TX. Even with the Red River competition less than two weeks away, I entered the John Sherman, which would be two weeks after the Red River. That would mean four competitions within 10 weeks.
The Wednesday before the Red River, I woke up with the worst sore throat ever. I was terrified. What if I started having a runny nose and coughing? I had to put all my workouts on hold and just try to rest and get better. While I did somewhat recover before the competition, I was still not at my best. Even so, I was able to take home 1st place in the Figure Tall Class as well as another Overall title. What an accomplishment!
I was beginning to have doubts about signing up for the John Sherman. I thought maybe it was too much to try in such a short period. Maintaining such a low body fat percentage and sticking to my diet was really starting to get tough. However, I stuck it out, and was even more amazed when I again took top honors and placed 1st in the Figure Class C and also won the Figure Overall. What an amazing 10 weeks! Three Overall wins!!! All because I wanted to get a little more motivated with my work out and signed up for Jen’s Phat Camp.
I’ve now been accepted to compete in the first Amateur Arnold Classic and will be competing in at least two of the national shows in 2007. I’m going to take a little time to relax, enjoy Thanksgiving, and then start preparing for next year. I hope I find it just as exciting and amazing as 2006.
Special thanks to photographer Danny Corn for all of the photos on this page!