A young woman from Nanaimo entered her first bodybuilding competition and came away as a quadruple regional champion.
Leila Sadeghi, 19, won the teen, novice, open and overall categories in bikini division competition at Canadian Physique Alliance regionals at the Vancouver Pro-Am last month.
Her first bodybuilding event was a long time coming for Sadeghi, who has been building her body for years.
“I started going to the gym when I was 12. I had to use my sister’s ID,” Sadeghi said. “And by the time I was 15, I was lifting so much. I wasn’t in any competitions, but it was like I was training for a competition.”
She’s also learned to work out smarter along the way, without injuring herself, and about four months ago she “jumped into” preparing for the Vancouver Pro-Am. Sadeghi said the posing part of competitive bodybuilding was hard for her, but her diet and training coach was able to offer tips and help assess what was working and what wasn’t.
Sadeghi got some more good advice once she got to the competition, as event volunteers at the Massey Theatre suggested she enter multiple categories to get used to being on stage.
“They were so right…” Sadeghi said. “In the beginning I was really nervous, but by the time I got to the important [categories], my nerves were all gone.”
Judges – who specifically complimented her on her graceful posing – awarded her first place in every category she entered at regionals. Her results qualified her for the next day’s nationals, in which she didn’t place.
“When I got to nationals, I was a tiny girl,” Sadeghi said. “I’m pretty muscular if a normal person looks at me, but beside all of those girls I still wasn’t muscular enough.”
Still, the regional titles were “really cool” for Sadeghi, who will look forward to workouts at Nanaimo’s Fit 4 Less and will work with her coach with a focus on building muscle. She’s eyeing a show in Toronto that’s a year away and may or may not compete again before then.
“I’m just really excited to see how far I can push my body, to see how crazy we can get my body, see what it can do,” she said.