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Bodybuilding to success — Prince Rupert woman wins 3 silvers in first competition

Mariena Johansen qualified for nationals after wins at Vancouver Fall classic
Mariena Johansen celebrates silver medal wins in her first contest at Vancouver’s Fall Classic bodybuilding competition on Nov. 12. She is seen with her friends and supports Lindsay Krouse and Tiffany Ponzini. (Photo: supplied)

Prince Rupert’s Mariena Johansen returned from the Vancouver Fall Classic bodybuilding competition, where she received three second-place medals and qualified to compete at a national event.

The New Westminster tournament on Nov. 12 was Johansen’s first. She entered the bikini competition for open class C (a category based on her height), novice (for competitors who have never placed) and true novice (for competitors who have never competed).

It has been just less than two years since Johansen started training as a bodybuilder. However, the 13 weeks leading up to the event required specific preparation. During this time, she was in a calorie deficit and spent two to three hours at the gym five days a week, she said.

“I think it’s really cool that you can push your body to the limit and it’s a mental game more than anything,” Johansen said. “Your mind gives up before your body gives up and that’s a big thing, pushing yourself and just keep doing it. I set a goal for myself and I’m going to achieve it no matter what.”

Family and friends joined her at the competition to offer their support.

She signed up for a competition last year but ended up getting sick and was unable to go. She said this year has been difficult too. She got COVID-19, was in a car accident and her ex-boyfriend died.

“It’s been hard but I still kept pushing through. It’s just rewarding. It’s rewarding to be able to take back control over your mind and just keep pushing yourself.”

Three years ago, Johansen could not have imagined she would be competing as a bodybuilder, let alone winning a medal.

“Honestly, I used to do drugs all the time and I got sober a couple of years ago,” Johansen said.

“My dad used to bodybuild with weights when I was younger and I just needed to do something. I was going to the gym and I just needed something else to just push myself to the limit. I have an addictive personality so I needed to fuel it with something better.”

Johansen wants people to know they can do anything if they put their minds to it.

“You just have to do it and you have to stop feeling sorry for yourself and keep going. I love bodybuilding. It is the coolest thing and it’s so rewarding.”

Competitors have one year to enter a national competition after qualifying. There are no more national events in Canada this year, so Johansen plans to do one in 2023. It is at nationals where she will have a shot to get a pro card.

Johansen said she would like to one day go to Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness and Performance Weekend tournament, which requires a pro card.

“You know you’ve made it when you’re on the Olympia stage and then that’s like the best in the world. So everyone wants to be in the Olympia.”