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Kara Fike
Shawna Rabello and Kara Nunnenkamp-Fike - by genex by gene x hwang - May 2001

Shawna Rabello
Being sent to the principal was never something to look forward to but for students at Hellyer Elementary, their former principal was Shawna Rabello, an up-and-coming fitness athlete who is definitely someone you wouldn't mind being sent to see.

However, Rabello has moved from the education system to the high tech industry landing at networking giant Cisco. But her path there has been a winding one, although her interest in fitness has almost been lifelong.

"I have always been involved in athletics, mostly team sports like volleyball and basketball. I started lifting weights in high school, but I really didn't know what I was doing. It wasn't until college that I learned proper technique. As far as nutrition, I am still learning!"

And learning is an important thing as Rabello is preparing for her first show, the NPC California Collegiate (June 24, 2001 in Pasadena, CA). "Since this is my first show, it is really hard to know what to expect as far as the show itself - what my physique will look like, how I will feel, etc. This is the hardest thing I have ever done. It's a lifestyle change. I really enjoy how I feel, and how I look. I just want to get this show under my belt and assess from there," adds Rabello.

Of course the path can be quite long from the first show to pro status, but Rabello is inspired by pro fitness competitors like Kelly Ryan and Timea Majorova.

"They are at the top of the sport and yet they keep improving. I got involved in fitness because I needed a challenging physical goal. Fitness is the most difficult, demanding sport in which I've ever competed - mentally as well. You have to be 100% committed, every day. Getting enough sleep, getting to the gym, eating right, each day, after day, after day. Everything you do is centered around improving your physique. I love how all the hard work pays off."

And the hard work is a big change from everyday life. Dieting is also one of the hardest things for new competitors.

"Since this is my first competition, I've never really had an off-season. I am looking forward to eating fruit and cutting back on my cardio! There is another show in San Jose in August that I am thinking about competing in, but, like I said, I'm going to play it by how I feel!

"But I think I have the bug to continue already," adds Rabello with a smile.

That bug means a lot of time in the gym, and countless hours doing cardio as well as managing and planning a diet. Something that can easily become overwhelming for someone to do alone.

"I'm newly married, (October 2000) and my husband has been incredibly supportive of my fitness endeavors. Training for a show means a lot of hours in the gym, and he has been amazing - making sure I'm eating right, getting my workouts in, and getting enough sleep. He has also never complained about not having any tempting snack food in the house."

And friends are always important too. Rabello has been training with her friend Kara Nunnenkamp-Fike, who also wlil be doing the California Collegiates. "My friends say they are inspired! They are so supportive of what I am doing. A couple of my friends have started their own get in shape program and sometimes seek my advice on training and nutrition. I love being able to help others get into better shape and help them to feel better about their own improvement and goals!"

While she's in the gym, Rabello is fortunate that her genetics are good, as it compliments her hard training.

"I tend to put on muscle fairly easily, so I try not to go too heavy and I do a lot of reps, especially for my legs, which would be huge if I did heavy squats! I usually do 50 reps on my lower body," adds Rabello.

Rabello also enjoys sports outside of the gym including golf, mountain biking, and scuba diving - and in her own words, "pretty much anything that is active and gets me outside is fine with me!"

Of course living in Northern California, she also enjoys trips up to Napa to enjoy the fantastic wines and cuisine, which temp her away from Silicon Valley. Overall, though, Rabello has made a commitment to a fitness lifestyle and its associated benefits.

"I love feeling strong and being in good physical shape. It makes you feel powerful. If you can make the commitment to get your body in the best shape you can, you get the feeling that you can achieve anything!"

With the introduction of the Figure competition to the NPC's stable of competitions, a lot of people have been attracted to the sport, since the high-flying gymnastics element of fitness competitions was quite daunting for many newcomers.

One such athlete is Kara Nunnenkamp-Fike, who began lifting weights and working out about 2½ years ago.

"I had reached 185 pounds and was not happy about it! I ended up working in a fitness center so I put it to use and started using all the cardio and weight equipment. I slowly started losing weight and enjoying the feeling of accomplishment when I was done with a workout," says Fike.

Of course getting her into the gym in the first place was influenced by her brother.

"Growing up, he was always into bodybuilding and would drag me to competitions. He even ended up competing in some local shows. I was very inspired by the looks of the muscular women. I was always very muscular since I was a gymnast and it was refreshing to see women who were celebrated for having meat on them!"

And that meaty, non-waif-like look is what Fike is working towards, as well as helping to change how women are portrayed in the media, and as role models.

"I love feeling strong! I have never wanted to be skinny like the models we see in magazines. I've always thought a toned, muscular physique is more attractive," adds Fike.

Of course getting into the Figure competition is one thing, but Fike wants to take it further.

"Right now, I'm just focused on getting through June 23rd (date of the NPC California Collegiate)! I'm hoping to do another show in about 6six months or so. I want to take a little break and get a fitness routine together (I'm just doing Physique this time) for the next show.

"My family and friends have been amazing, especially my husband! They have been supportive and taken a genuine interest in my goals. I couldn't have come this far without them."

Although she's been surrounded by support, Fike also has had to put other things on the backburner.

"I don't really have a social life at the moment, but normally I spend lots of time with my dogs and husband. We like to hike and go waterskiiing. I also spend time with my family since they live close by. I like to take weekend trips to visit friends and often we out dancing or to play pool!"

But for now, that will have to wait as she prepares for her first show. However, from the looks of things, Fike should have a promising future, and is already a good role model.

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Text & photography © 2001 gene x hwang - All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

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female muscle, shawna walker, larissa reis, michelle jin, wrestling, tracey toth, kira neuman, female bodybuilding, cindy phillips, britt miller, casey daugherty, lyris capelle, jill brooks, olga guryev, olga guryeva, kristy hawkins, cheryl faust, lindsey cope, lindsay cope, veronica miller