It took Lynette Burgess 50 years before she took up a sport, but now she is off to the Philippines next month to represent New Zealand.
The 53-year-old bodybuilder took up bodybuilding three years ago, the first time she had been involved in a sport, but will be strutting her stuff on stage at the Phil-Asia International Bodybuilding Championships this weekend.
"It's quite funny because in all my years I've never particularly been into any sport whatsoever," Burgess said. "I was not a sporty girl until I hit 50."
She said she had put on weight and under encouragement from her husband, she started going to the gym and hadn't looked back.
She will be competing on the world stage in Cebu in the Philippines.
"I got my uniform with a silver fern on it, in the New Zealand team. I can't believe it at my age, I've got the opportunity to represent New Zealand. Feels like I'm going to the Olympics."
She is part of a three-person team with Janine Haywood from Auckland and Andrew Murray from Hawke's Bay.
Burgess was second at the nationals last year in the senior figure 50-plus category, has won events in Manawatu, Taranaki, Wellington and Christchurch as well as winning the open figure event at the Asia-Pacific championships in May.
But at the event in the Philippines there will be a lot more competitors than the three are used to, with about five competitors to a class in New Zealand events.
"Some of their classes could be 20 or 30 a class," she said. "To get in the top 10 you're doing pretty good."
Burgess has been training for the event for the past nine months and said it was hard for her with all her training, running her Palmerston North business Cottage Curtains and staying on top of her diet.
"The discipline is really, really hard," she said.
"Bodybuilders live in the gym training, the diet is also hard. Actually the diet is harder than the training. You've got to be so strict with what you're eating it's unbelievable.
She trains six days a week, then is doing posing practice on the seventh day and it is hard to keep in shape.
As part of her diet she eats eight eggs for breakfast, then two hours later she has half a chicken breasts and two cups of mixed vegetables, then repeats it throughout the day.
"I'm only a little person, only 150cm and I'm weighing in at 44.5 [kg] at the moment. I have to eat every two hours. People look at me and say ‘you're so little'. I say ‘you wouldn't believe what I eat'."
It will also be hard on the 11-hour flight to the Philippines where she will have to water-load, drinking six litres a day, but it will come down to one litre a day during competition on Friday and Saturday.
Bodybuilding was one of the hardest sports to do and people could not cheat because it showed in the body and on stage if you did.
* An earlier version of this story had an incorrect photo of Burgess. This has since been removed.
- © Fairfax NZ News