Portlaoise couple Dermot and Karen Ging have taken their love of fitness a step further and muscled their way onto the national body building scene.
Last week the pair wowed judges at the Fitness Extravaganza Ireland competition, and they are already back in training for a national contest in Limerick next month.
Karen was awarded second place in the Toned Figure Class, while Dermot also took second place in the Bodybuilding Athletic Physique Class.
It was Karen’s first time to enter a body building contest, after spending the past six months in serious training guided by her husband, who was a competitive body builder ten years ago.
“Dermot decided it would be a great idea to do this together. I thought it would be a lot easier. We trained six days a week, spending two hours in the gym each day. It was basically bed, work, gym,” she said.
They followed a strict high protein diet, eating six to eight small meals a day, of white meat, green vegetables and whole grain rice, with supplements to keep healthy.
“It is a typical body building diet, it is not good long term. You do lose weight, in order for abs to be out, you should have 10 per cent and under body fat, no higher than 12 or 13 per cent. You have to be literally perfection on stage. Those who don’t reach it have cheated on their diet, they look pudgy, their face is puffy,” Karen said, commenting that on the positive side, her hair and nails flourished with the extra protein.
They cut out sugar, dairy, red meat, salt and alcohol too.
“That meant no socialising, because people try and sway you, you have to become a hermit. But it is so worth it, Dermot was absolutely one of the most ripped guys there. Coming home with trophies was the icing on the cake.” she said.
After a three day break, the pair have launched into another six weeks of gruelling training and diet, to prepare for the Republic of Ireland Bodybuilding Federation’s Championships in Limerick on October 28.
“It is addictive, I said I would only do one competition this year, but I really enjoyed it, it makes you really eager,” Karen said.
The couple are both keen gym fans, running fitness courses and instructor courses at the Maltings gym in Portlaoise.
“The next one is going to be tough. The standard is rising, it has gone way up in the last ten years,” said Karen.
She aims to go up a level and build up more muscle, but says it is more difficult for women.
“With our hormones, it is harder to drop the fat. We are also judged on our bikinis, our nails, make up and grooming. We have to work twice as hard as men do,” she said.
Applying a deep tan is a must.
“You can never be dark enough for the stage, the lights drain you. The better the tan, the more defined your muscles look,” Karen said.
Karen trained at Max Fitness gym on the Dublin road.
“Irene has been a super help. People are approaching her and asking if I can show them how we did it,” she said.
She also credits her husband with her success so far.
“I never pictured myself on stage, but Dermot encouraged me and kept me sane. You can become irritable ad frustrated,
The training is difficult, when you can’t eat potatoes or pasta, you feel tired in the gym, but in the last week I got a burst of energy with the excitement. Dermot was a rock for me, without him I couldn’t have done it,” said Karen.