Sculpting the perfect body

Sean Ammerman

Bodybuilders push themselves to the extremes

Mike Kunar, senior marketing major and personal trainer at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, won his junior men’s weight class in a body building competition.

Credit: Jason Hall

Enjoying the delights of beer and pizza is no longer an option for Mike Kunar. As an amateur bodybuilder, it is just one sacrifice he has made in order to prepare his body for his next competition.

Over the past two years, Kunar, senior marketing major and fitness consultant and personal trainer at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, has grown to love what he calls “a sport of extremes.”

He submersed himself in a training plan with one goal in mind: to compete in his first show at the NPC Natural Northern USA Drug Tested Bodybuilding and Figure Championships in Cleveland. This included weight and cardio training six days a week with a strict dieting plan for the last five months before the show.

“You can’t go out to the bars with your friends every weekend,” Kunar said. “I felt like a hermit the month before my show because all I did was cardio, lift and eat.”

But this love for the extreme was one of the reasons why Kunar said he was lured to the sport in the first place by fellow trainer and rec center employee Ben Hartman. It is a sport where competitors must focus year round in order to push their bodies to the limit, he said.

“The key to be the best is that you have to do things in extremes,” Kunar said. “You need to do what others won’t, to achieve what others don’t.”

The hard work paid off for him. At the show on Oct. 1, he took first place in the junior men’s class.

“It was awesome,” Kunar said, “a conclusion to a lot of hard work.”

With Hartman winning last year, and fitness consultant Kemp Nolan winning the year before, this makes Kunar the third straight rec center employee to win at the NPC Natural Northern.

But Kunar was not the only student and employee who participated in the event this year.

Lauren Krysa, junior special education major and a personal trainer and Spinning instructor at the rec center, competed in the women’s figure show, which is similar to body building but with a more feminine edge to it.

“With figure, you want to see nice feminine curves,” She said. “They want to see each muscle group but they don’t want to see veins; whereas bodybuilding, your goal is to see every striation.”

Self-described as a goal-oriented person, Krysa said she was drawn to the sport because she wanted to challenge herself. Her workout schedule is as demanding as Kunar’s – lifting five days a week with an hour of cardio six days a week. The result, she said, is a stronger body and emotional health.

“It’s so fun to me, and I feel so much healthier,” she said. “I am so confident now – I carry myself very well.”

This was Krysa’s second figure show competition. Placing fourth was a huge improvement from her first time out, she said.

“The very first show I did, my legs were shaking so badly, I couldn’t hit any of my poses,” she said. “It’s a mental thing. (Judges) want to see that you’re confident.”

Another benefit the sport has given her is relief from the chronic arthritis that troubled her since childhood. She said since she started lifting and monitoring her food, she got off her medication.

Diet is just as important as working out when training for a show, Krysa said. Both Kunar and Krysa have eating plans designed with specific amount of calories, carbohydrates and nutrients.

“Every single piece of food that we put in our body,” Krysa said, “there’s a reason we put it in our body.”

With the competition over, they were both able to cheat off their diets for a few days. Krysa got a bacon cheeseburger at Wendy’s, while Kunar was finally able to eat his favorite food: ice cream.

“I went five months without having a bowl of ice cream,” Kunar said. “When I was done, I ate a half-gallon.”

Both Kunar and Krysa are managing school work with their time consuming training schedules.

“It’s definitely a game of time management,” Kunar said. “I had a breakdown of 15 minutes of everything I had to do all day long.”

They each plan to continue competing in the future. And because bodybuilding is a sport of longevity, Krysa said age is a benefit, not a hindrance.

Kunar hopes to gain 10 pounds and compete in the men’s light-heavyweight class next year in Cleveland.

Krysa would like to gain five pounds of muscle before her next show in the spring.

Contact Student Recreation and Wellness Center reporter Sean Ammerman at [email protected].