The SuperBody Natural Championships isn’t exactly the kind of event that one just shows up to.
Hosted by Fitness Universe, the competition featured a collection of some of the world’s fittest men and women in a variety of categories. In short, it’s the kind of thing most competitors have been involved in for life.
That makes Gloucester’s Sandra Gendreau’s performance at the Aug. 25 event all the more impressive.
In the 51-year-old’s first ever competition, Gendreau placed second in the Ms. Bikini SuperBody Tall division against competition as young as 18 years of age.
“What I want is, at my age, for women to be inspired,” Gendreau said. “I’ve had no surgery, no injections, nothing, and I just want fellow women to see that you can do this. 51 isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning.”
Held in Atlantic City, N.J., the SuperBody Natural Championships featured competitions in five categories: Musclemania, Model, Figure, Ms. Bikini and Fitness. Within each of these categories were separate competitions, generally separated by age, height or experience.
When Gendreau arrived in Atlantic City, her plan was to compete in both the Tall and Classic (35 and older) Ms. Bikini competitions, only to find out she could only compete in one.
With the advice of her coach, Janelle Nicolo, Gendreau chose to go up against younger competition in the Tall division. That decision paid off.
Gendreau’s second place performance was the culmination of a year-long journey. The thought of entering a competition had long been in the back of Gendreau’s mind, and last August, she decided to begin training.
That training was cut short, though, when a serious jet-ski accident in Ipswich Bay late last summer left Gendreau with a slew of facial injuries, including a broken orbital bone, and torn ligaments in her ankle.
It was the kind of injury that could have easily derailed Gendreau on her path to competition. But after a lengthy rehabilitation, Gendreau began her training with Nicolo at Bodyco in Middleton with her team, Body Ambition, in May.
The 14-week training program was grueling. Nicolo’s regimen featured a strict diet and an intense weightlifting program, most of which Gendreau did on her own in Gloucester. Every Saturday, she would meet with Nicolo and her Body Ambition teammates for posing and a training checkup, where Nicolo used video to enhance and tweak Gendreau’s training.
“I sacrificed my whole summer,” Gendreau said. “The training is tough. It’s intense. It changed every four weeks, along with the diet.”
In the end, though, Gendreau’s commitment paid off. It was a long road for Gendreau, who said people had asked her throughout her life if she’d ever competed in such events. Though the thought always persisted, she never had.
What, then, finally landed her in Atlantic City last weekend?
“It’s always been my love of lifting,” Gendreau said. “I didn’t want to have any regrets.”