Making a change back to where she began has paid off for veteran Sarnia bodybuilder Maria Mikola.
On May 28, she completed at the Toronto Pro Super Show and placed second, and then June 10 she won at a pro event in Omaha, after switching categories at the advice of her trainer.
Mikola, 49, has been competing in bodybuilding since 1997 and in 2013 she moved to the physique category and won her pro card at the North American championships.
After that, she hired a trainer based in Western Canada, Darren Mehling, and completed last year at three pro shows in the physique category.
“I didn’t even crack top 10,” she said.
“This year, he decided that maybe I should go back into bodybuilding.”
It turned out to a good decision, with Mikola earning top-two success at both shows she has completed at so far this year.
“It was very exciting.”
Mikola said she initially thought she might be too small for bodybuilding, but found that “the look” of female bodybuilding has been changing.
“They want the girls to come in a little bit smaller,” she said.
“They still want nice muscle fullness, very good symmetry, balance, of course femininity.”
After 20 years of completing, the recent pro success feels good, she said.
“Basically, I’ve got the complete package, with presentation and all that.”
Winning the show in Omaha qualified Mikola for the International Federation of Body Building world championships, Sept. 9 in Phoenix, Arizona.
“What makes this really cool is this is going to be my 50th show,” she said.
“It’s amazing. The biggest stage I could possibly go on, and it’s my 50th show.”
Mikola, who started out as a gymnast, said she discovered early on she enjoyed the performance side of bodybuilding.
“The very first time I stepped on stage people were cheering for me, and they didn’t even know who I was,” she said.
“I just kept going and got hooked.”
Born in Hamilton, Mikola moved to Sarnia while…