My wife Nikki competed last Saturday, June 25th, 2011, in the NPC Philadelphia Bodybuilding and Figure Championship. Many have asked how she did, how the contest went, how she felt, how she looked, and a slew of other niceties that make for boring social etiquette. I’m pretty sure the stock and standard responses that I am supposed to give are: “She did great… the contest went great… she felt great… she looked great”… blah blah bladdidy blah.
Not my style. Rewind…
I sat in the audience with a fussing little 2-year-old on my lap, sweating like a heat bomb, crying out for her mommy. Poor Raven simply did not understand why Daddy was here but Mommy was not. “Mommy is going to come out on the stage”.
And Raven, in her broken 2-year-old sentence lingo, blurted out, “Mommy’s stage”.
“Yes, Boops, that’s Mommy’s stage”.
About thirty minutes into the contest, it became obvious to myself—and many others within the building—that it was, in fact, Mommy’s Stage.
Nikki strode out, wide shoulders, flared lats, tiny waist with abs popping out, a thick vein coursing down either arm. But most stunning was her smile. The lighting in the high school auditorium was atrocious, and the organizers ended up putting construction flood lights on the edge of the stage in order to provide some much-needed brightness. Luckily, with Nikki’s smile shining away, the flood lights were redundant.
In the width of her shoulders I saw the countless hours of lateral raises, drop sets, burning and sweating in the gym; in her flared lats I saw 100lbs dumbbell rows, cable rows and pulldowns; in her tiny waist I saw bland egg white after egg white after chicken breast, and the suffering of skimping on the fun foods; in her abs I saw the nights when the hunger overwhelmed her to the point of simply wanting to hide on the couch, waiting for it to be over; in the thick vein coursing down either arm, I saw a woman—no, a goddess—unafraid to push herself, to push the envelope, to be different, someone who was not only not scared of being strong, but a woman who wanted to be strong, who prided herself on being strong, stronger, better, best.
But in her smile, I saw joy. I saw happiness to be in the moment, with her husband, daughter, and friends in the audience. I saw the excitement of knowing that a celebratory meal was right around the corner—a truly-earned “cheat meal”, one that capped months of working to the brink of exhaustion. I saw a smile not meant to please anybody else in attendance, but merely worn as a badge, like patting herself on the back—“You did it; you struggled, you suffered, you slipped on occasion, but you did it; you met your husband in 2007, while attempting to prep for your first show, and never made it to the stage because you weren’t ready to tackle that challenge; but you persisted, you practiced, you ground it out and smashed it down, and here you are now—you did it. Mommy’s Stage”.
I saw the smile that told the world: this is Mommy’s Stage.
Nikki competed in the Figure C, or tall class, with a total of five competitors. She ended up taking a very close second place, and the one girl who beat her went on to win the overall for the whole show. Nikki was a mere point or two from taking home her first overall title, an accomplishment I have still not achieved in over four years of competing. One of the judges pulled her aside after the show and personally invited her to compete in another show in three weeks, simply because she felt Nikki “had the overall package”—the beauty, grace, and physique of a champion.
I am proud to call that champion my wife, and to have the honor of being married to the Goddess of the Stage—Mommy’s Stage—Nikki’s Stage.
-David A. Johnston
David Johnston is the founder and lead trainer of TEAM Warrior Within. You can also listen to him weekely on the GEARD Up podcast. ( GEARDUp.com ) David works with clients ranging from the everyday person just trying to lose weight and get healthy, local and national bodybuilding and physique competitors, to IFBB professional athletes.
David lives and breathes all things related to physique transformation, and has devoted nearly half of his life to passionately studying and educating himself to be the absolute best at what he does. His intensity in the gym is matched only by the passion he gives to his clients.