Published: Monday, May 7, 2007
By Matt Sutkoski
Free Press Staff Writer
A woman's best friend is a set of weights, says Tracy DeBrita Gamelin of Colchester.
She should know. At the 2007 NPC New England/Vermont Regional Bodybuilding Championship held April 28 in Burlington, Gamelin was the overall women's champion, took first place in the women's lightweight division, first in the women's master division, and was cited for best abs and best poser.
Not a bad day's work for a mother of three, including 2-year-old twins.
Working out with weights builds muscles, naturally, but also self-confidence, she said. And muscles help prevent obesity. "You need to lift weights to build muscles to burn calories," said Gamelin, 37.
Many women fear taking on a bulky, masculine form if they lift weights and increase their musculature, Gamelin said, but it can't happen. "Women do not and cannot naturally produce as much testosterone, one of the main hormones responsible for increasing muscle size, as males do. It is impossible for a woman to gain huge amounts of muscle mass by merely touching some weights," she said.
In other words, a woman who works out with weights ends up with curves, not bulk.
Gamelin said she's always been athletic, and working out is important to her. She got encouragement from Kelly Short, the owner of Athletic Club of Vermont in Essex Junction, where Gamelin works out. "She pulled me aside and said 'you ought to compete,'" Gamelin said.
Short began training Gamelin, who first participated in a bodybuilding competition in 2006. Gamelin said she plans to next compete in a figure competition in the fall. Fitness competitions put somewhat less emphasis on muscles.
Another Athletic Club of Vermont member, Mary Houle, took first place in the women's middleweight division at the April 28 competition.
Becoming a competitive bodybuilder or fitness contestant is difficult without support from family and friends, which Gamelin says she has. Her husband works out in the morning, five days a week, then goes to work. In the late afternoon, Gamelin has dinner ready. Her husband comes home and takes over the household while Gamelin hits the gym.
Training for a bodybuilding competition also entails a strict adherence to a diet, usually for about 11 weeks before a competition.
Gamelin said she wants to set an example for her children that exercise and fitness is important.
"You'll never achieve your dreams if they don't become goals," she said.