Competitive body building leads to muscles, strength, self-confidence

Standing on a stage in a room full of strangers to be judged on your appearance might sound like a nightmare to some, but to Danielle Burress, 88th Force Support Squadron Community Services flight chief, and 2nd Lt. Wendy Price, 88th Mission Support Group executive officer, it’s a rush like no other.

“The term (body building) can be deceiving. It encompasses more than just men with lots of muscle,” said Burress, who is also a captain in the Air Force Reserve.


Bodybuilding is a multi-faceted sport for both men and women and has various competitive divisions, including bikini, figure and physique.

Both Burress and Price have competed in multiple categories, each judged based on its own set of unique criteria.

Bikini is judged based on balance and shape; physique is judged on symmetry, shape, proportion and muscle tone; and figure is all about leanness.

Bodybuilding involves a lot of discipline, both with training in the gym and following a strict diet plan. While the training in the gym is important, both women agree that the diet is the biggest challenge.

“You can be in the gym all day long and that does not matter if your diet is not under control,” said Burress.

She said that bodybuilding has improved more than just her physical strength, giving her the self-confidence she lacked as a child.

“Physical fitness is critical for a healthy body and mind,” said Burress. “I had a few bad experiences growing up as a child. I was determined to lose weight and began to develop healthier habits [then] – I even became a vegetarian for about eight years. It was through that transformation that I just fell in love with fitness.”

In the five years since Buress started competing, that love has garnered her 19 trophies, ranging from first place to fourth place.

Burress has since taken her passion for fitness to the next level and become a certified personal trainer so that she can help others in reaching their goals.

Price has been lifting weights for five years but just started competing this year. She has already won four trophies, ranging from first place to fifth place.

Participating in the sport accomplishes more than just attaining physical fitness goals, according to Price.

“This sport contributes to my mental fitness by improving my concentration, focus, motivation, relieves stress, anxiety and depression” she said.

Burress credits weightlifting with helping her overcome challenges in her work life.

“I oversee over 200 people and without the gym I would not be where I am today,” said Burress. “I may not be able to control what goes on at work on a day-to-day basis; however, one thing I can control is what happens the moment I step into the gym.”

Price and Burress share more than a common interest – they’ve both competed in the National Physique Committee Ohio State Championship, coming out with some hardware. Burress took home second place in Figure Class A and fourth place in Women’s Physique, while Price walked away with fifth place in Open Figure.

Both Burress and Price would recommend the sport to anyone looking for a way to challenge both their mind and body. Their advice? Do your research, find a good mentor, and be ready to give it your all.

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