Strong Arm Routines: Helena bodybuilder Geier still going strong
When Bonnie Jo “B.J.” Geier was 11 years old, she wanted to become a weight lifter. But back in the late 1970s, girls weren’t supposed to lift weights.
So the feisty Geier stuffed a bunch of books inside a couple of suitcases, which she used for makeshift dumbells, in addition to doing pushups, pullups and situps every spare minute she had.
“My parents finally realized that it was hopeless trying to stop me, so they gave in and bought me a three-month membership to Broadwater Athletic Club,” grinned Geier, 43, with a sparkle in her eye.
Ten years later, she became a state record-holder in power lifting. Last month, after a 19-year layoff from bodybuilding, Geier used that same indomitable spirit she had at 11, to place runner-up in mixed pairs at the 2010 NPC Emerald Cup Championships, in Snoqualmie, Wash.
“Drew Cloud, an old power lifting buddy of min e, came up from Colorado, and we entered the mixed pairs at the Emerald Cup,” Geier recounted. “We only did our routine together three times — one practice here, another practice on stage in the auditorium before the event, and then to music for the first time during the competition.”
She also placed sixth in the Fitness and 16th in the Bikini categories.
Geier, a single mother of two (Catie Carson and C.J. Geier) and a successful businesswoman, is as popular as she is competitve, having earned several Miss Congeniality awards in different venues.
“I really believe in having fun and helping others no matter what you do. My priorities are my children first and work second. Training is down the list a ways,” she explained.
After setting the C.R. Anderson Middle School record for bardips, Geier continued to pump iron throughout high school at Capital. At Montana State, she was a cheerleader and a member of the Bobcats powerlifting team.
She either won or placed in every competition she entered. A few of her biggest victories were the Montana lightweight junior championship, the Wyoming teenage title and the Flathead Valley Invitational crown.
Her best lift in the 115-pound class was a 265-pound deadlift.
“B.J. was very strong, she set several state records for her weight class,” said Al Roy, the longtime director of the former state powerlifting championships. “She was a spirited, intense competitor. A real fighter.
“B.J. never held anything back, and was not afraid to attack the weights, which is what you have to do in powerlifting,” Roy said.
Some of her training partners back then were George Schneider, Pat Hurley and Chance Ferlicka.
She also entered several bodybuilding contests, with her last competition being the 1991 Rocky Mountain Championships, with Ferlicka in mixed pairs.
During the ’90s, Geier won the Miss Montana for the Ultimate Cowgirl. She traveled to Nashville, Tenn., competing in Shelley Mangrum’s national Club Dance contest, and was awarded Miss Congeniality.
Another of Geier’s many passions are horses. She has competed in team penning and sorting, and enjoys riding and roping (she owns six head of horses) on her property near Head Lane.
For the past 13 years, the enthusiastic cowgirl has been a board member of the Last Chance Stampede committee. Her main volunteer efforts with the Stampede consist of helping to organize the grand entry of the rodeo queens. She also wrangles in the arena during the timed events, “cleaning out the dirties.”
In 2007, the versatile 5-foot-3 athlete “triple crowned” in Tae Kwon Do, garnering state titles for her age-group in the Purple Belt, claiming the weapons, form and sparring categories.
Geier — who never stopped lifting weights — re-entered the world of competitve bodybuilding in March. She traveled with trainer and friend Mary (Simmons) Nettleton’s “Physique Factory” team to Missoula for the State and Big Sky Championships.
Teammate Sara Theilen won both shows, while Geier placed second in several categories. Two weeks ago, another local member, Jennifer Tamol, captured her age-group crown in Spokane.
Geier lifts weights five or six days a week, either in her home gym or at Fuel Fitness. For a bench press workout, she lifts 115 pounds for five sets of multiple reps. One of her favorite exercises consists of doing 20 to 30 pullups.
Her training varies between a half-hour and two hours, depending on how much time she has, and she usually does cardio twice a day.
“My office is right across the street from Fuel Fitness, so a lot of times I just run over during lunch hour for a treadmill workout,” Geier said.
She described how the most important ingredients to her bodybuiding – besides a positive attitude – are diet and cardio.
“I graze like a horse,” she laughed, referring to how she eats a “clean” meal every two to three hours, consuming about 1,300 calories a day. “Mary (Nettleton) set me up with a food bible, and it really makes a difference.”
Among her many hobbies are co-training the Capital weight team, of which daughter Catie is a member, and instructing dance at the school.
Geier said her next goals are competing at nationals and earning her Pro Card, and she’s hoping to attract some sponsors to help with the financial aspect of the venture.
“B.J. made her mark in power lifting at the highest level, and I’m confident she’ll do the same in bodybuilding,” Al Roy said.
And to think it all started out years ago as a little girl training with suitcases full of books.