By NOELLE SHORT, Enterprise Sports Writer
Posted on: Friday, June 15, 2007SARANAC LAKE — Michelle Hunt loves working out in the gym, and it shows.
For the past two years, Hunt, 28, of Vermontville, has trained as a competitive bodybuilder with the United States Bodybuilding Federation, and she is already finishing at the top.
On March 31, in her third career competition, she earned a second-place overall finish in the Plattsburgh Pro/Am held at the Plattsburgh High School, and on May 5, she took first in the heavyweight division and earned the top poser award in another natural competition held in Plattsburgh.
Hunt, who grew up in Lake Clear and was a three-sport athlete while she attended Saranac Lake High School, said bodybuilding has been a new challenge for her and it came at a good time.
According to Hunt, she suffered several severe injuries while playing rugby for the women’s Mountaineer team from 1999 to 2003, including hip and rib injuries. Although she was a standout player for the Mountaineers, making the New England Select Side U-23 Team in 2003, and helping her team finish second in Division II at nationals held in Minnesota, she said she had no other choice but to take time off to rehabilitate.
“Once rugby is in your blood it’s really hard to not play. It’s a great sport” Hunt said. “Right now I am not playing because of injuries. I am not hurt right now, but I also don’t want to be. It took a long time to rehab those injuries.”
But, in 2005, Hunt was ready to begin training again. She said she became “fairly overweight” during her time off, and once she started hitting the gym she decided to focus her training toward bodybuilding.
“I’ve always enjoyed being in the gym. Even when I was playing rugby, I would go to the gym to step up and to be a little stronger. I’m always looking to take it to the next level,” she said. “I went back to the gym to lose weight to get healthy, and I found I was having remarkable results with my body, so I decided to pursue it. I am a very competitive person, and since I was not playing rugby, bodybuilding gave me an outlet and something to focus on. I like that edge.”
Hunt, who is a massage therapist and recently received her personal training certification, said aerobic exercise and lifting weights are something she has done for many years, but maintaining a bodybuilder’s diet has been a rewarding challenge.
“Diet is 90 percent of bodybuilding. It is huge,” she said. “There are very small things that really change the balance of your body. It is such a science in terms of how tight things are. It takes a lot of commitment and dedication, and you really have to be driven to do it. The diet is what makes or breaks it.”
Hunt said that in order to stay on track she always has food with her, whether she is at work, on the road or traveling with her family, she has a cooler full of things such as egg whites, chicken, rice, potatoes and vegetables.
“Everywhere I go, my cooler and food goes with me,” she said. “I have Tupperware containers everywhere. I always bring my own food with me, because I don’t know what will be available.”
Although Hunt said that she is committed to her diet, she does have special occasions when she splurges, including celebrating her six-year-old daughter Makayla’s birthday and a post-competition dinner.
“Balancing everything is very important,” she said. “My family is most important to me even though I am extremely passionate about bodybudiling.
“It is a very fun atmosphere, because everyone who is there has all gone through the same thing,” Hunt added of the competitions. “One of the biggest things for all of us is where we are going to eat after the shows. We all go out for big meal and get back on our diets the next day. It’s a lot of fun camaraderie.”
From here on out, Hunt said that she is sticking to her training at the Salon Mirage Fitness Center and Day Spa in Saranac Lake, and will soon be switching from the USBF to the National Physique Committee, which will allow her to pursue her goal of eventually becoming a professional.
Hunt noted her gratitude for the help that Tammy Patnode, of Lake Placid, who is also a bodybuilder, has provided her along the way.
“A phenomenal person who has helped me out is Tammy Patnode,” she said. “I can e-mail her, call her, and she’s right back to me with an answer. She has been a phenomenal help with the diet and the little tricks as I was getting closer and closer to competitions and needed to make those necessary improvements in my routine.”