Cloquet woman takes on fitness challengeSixteen weeks ago, Cloquet’s Rachel Johnson made a significant lifestyle choice. The fitness buff decided to take on perhaps her ultimate physical challenge, preparing herself for a “Fitness Universe” competition in Miami June 16-18.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
Sixteen weeks ago, Cloquet’s Rachel Johnson made a significant lifestyle choice.
The fitness buff decided to take on perhaps her ultimate physical challenge, preparing herself for a “Fitness Universe” competition in Miami June 16-18.
Fitness Universe is an organization that hosts fitness, modeling and bodybuilding competitions around the world.
Johnson, 34, decided to take up the challenge earlier this year after a meeting with a friend in Duluth who explained the concept. The Miami event was her first competition.
“It was brought to my attention that way,” Johnson said. “My husband and I have always been into fitness and working out and
watching our health.”
After a 16-week preparation program, Johnson headed off to Miami, where she entered in the Fitness Universe “open” category. This category is for women in the 18-34 age bracket and is further subdivided by a competitor’s height. Those 5-feet-4 and taller are in their own group.
“They have several different categories,” Johnson said. “There is an overall fitness category and what they call ‘musclemania’ for bodybuilders. Then there were my categories.”
Johnson finished ninth in the organization’s figure competition and 19th in the bikini
In the figure competition, competitors are judged by a bodybuilding panel and receive grades on muscle shape and body symmetry, body condition and overall appearance.
The bikini competition is divided into two rounds, one in swimsuit and another in themed sportswear. The former category is judged on body condition, facial beauty and appearance, while the sportswear category is judged by poise and presence, selection of apparel and
Johnson took part against international competition from Russia, Sweden, Argentina and Mexico, among others.
“They were from all over the world,” she said. “I guess I jumped in with both feet!”
Fitness Universe is the brainchild of Louis Zwick, who produced ESPN’s American Muscle show in the mid-1980s. The Fitness Universe event was streamed live on the website espn3.com.
Fitness America events are held all over the nation with regional competitions held at various sites. Top competitors in those events qualify for the ESPN National Championship event each year. Johnson plans to compete in an October event in Elk River.
Johnson, who is originally from Wrenshall, is trained by her husband, Jeff, and works out at Anytime Fitness in Cloquet.
It’s a lot of work. Johnson began her training for Miami in February.
“I went on a strict diet with lots of exercise and natural proteins –” she said, “lots of greens and the right kind of carbs.”
The Johnsons have two children, who are both supportive of their mother.
“The kids think it’s very cool that Mom is doing this,” Johnson said. “My son sees a strong woman and that’s good, and my daughter is a junior black belt in taekwondo. I think personally it’s good to see – to prove you can do anything you want at any age. A woman can be strong and do this stuff.”