"She's so hot!" gushes one photographer.
"I'm having trouble getting her whole back in!"
jokes another, as she hits an impressive lat spread. Colette often has
this effect on people. At 5-foot-5 and 160 pounds, her physique is
unmistakably hardcore, with huge shoulders and arms, sculpted pecs, and an
incredibly thick, v-shaped back that would make most men envious. But
Colette, a bubbly 27 year-old with steel-blue eyes, dirty blonde hair and
a cheeky smile, also exudes an effortless, all-American beauty that almost
makes you forget she is a national-level bodybuilder - until she hits
Of course, that
combination of muscle and femininity is exactly what bodybuilding judges
are looking for, so Colette's future in the sport looks bright. She placed
sixth in the middleweights at the Nationals last November, her first
national-level show, and later this summer she will compete in the
For Colette, who alongside competing works as a nutritionist and personal trainer, this year has been all about adding serious mass as she goes all out to gain her pro card. At the Nationals last year she competed as a middleweight, but had to diet down severely to make her contest weight of 132 pounds. "I think I ended up sacrificing too much size last year to make it to middleweight," she says. Still, as Colette's placing suggests, the judges were impressed. Sandy Ranalli, the head judge at the show, told Colette she looked incredible. She needed more size in her quads, but everything else, she said, was there.
Since then Colette has been lifting heavy and piling
on size, bulking up to 175 pounds at one point in the off-season. She is
now leaning out and plans to compete as a heavyweight at around 142
pounds, a full ten pounds heavier than last year. Colette says she will
look bigger and fuller but still "ripped and shredded." She has added an
inch to her legs, creating a more dramatic thigh sweep and enhancing her
overall symmetry. "I'm gonna make sure the judges notice me," she says.
It has been a tough
day for Colette. 10 days earlier she had injured her back while doing hack
squats, which has made heavy leg training difficult in a crucial phase of
her contest prep. Today she squatted for the first time since the injury,
and unsurprisingly she is exhausted. "I'm going to feel it tomorrow," she
laughs. In addition to her own training, she also had a hectic schedule of
personal training, beginning at
- all on a
pre-contest diet of 2000 calories a day.
But despite her tiredness, Colette seems to come alive as soon as she starts talking about bodybuilding. Her steel-blue eyes light up, oozing enthusiasm, as she describes the thrill of being onstage in contest shape, posing for an audience. "I love getting up there and performing," she says. "It's just you, in a tiny bathing suit, and your body." Colette has been performing in one way or another since she was a child, and she says it has all been the perfect preparation for bodybuilding. "I feel like I've been working for this since I was six years-old," she says.
As a child, growing
After high school,
Colette went off to
Inspired by Judy's hyper-muscular appearance,
Colette dropped the aerobics and began lifting weights. She found a
training partner, and was soon pumping iron five days a week. Lifting made
her stronger, which made her a better dancer, which in turn motivated her
to train harder and get bigger. When she arrived at college she had
weighed 120 pounds; she left weighing 140. "My parents thought I was
crazy," she laughs.
Of course, being a bodybuilder ruled out the typical student social life. Although she was in a sorority known for partying, Colette never drank - except once. "At my 21st birthday my friends were buying me shots, and I wouldn't drink them. They were like, 'You have to do one shot,' and I was gagging, thinking, 'Oh no! My muscles are deteriorating!'" But although it set her apart, her friends soon got used to her lifestyle. "I got shit for a while but then people pretty much accepted me with my Evian bottle."
After graduating from
Michigan State Colette moved to
Colette's goal now is to turn pro within the next
three years. Bodybuilding is her top priority right now, around which she
juggles her other commitments - personal training, nutritional work, and
working part-time in a diabetics clinic. In the few spare moments she has,
she somehow also manages to maintain a website, which is updated almost
New Yorkers are not
known for being easily-shocked, but Colette says she still gets her fair
share of stares and the occasional comment in her neighborhood. "When I
walk around it's non-stop," she says. "You know I'm going to get somebody
saying something. It's usually along the lines of, 'You look fabulous!' or
'Your arms are bigger than mine!' Every once in a while people are taken
aback, and they just don't think it's right, and this is
Colette's parents have also gradually got used to
the idea of their daughter as a female bodybuilder, particularly after
coming to watch her qualify for the Nationals in Michigan - the first show
they had seen. "They know it's part of me now," she says. "They didn't
really think it was going to be a reality, and now they just know it is
and they have to deal with it." These days, when Colette goes to visit
them, her mom even stocks up on chicken breasts, egg whites and protein
Colette's goal now is turn pro within three years. She says that if she succeeds she wants to use her muscular yet feminine look to challenge stereotypes about female bodybuilders and to help bring the sport more into the mainstream. But as badly as Colette wants a pro card, it's obvious that what keeps her going, in spite of all the sacrifices that come with life as a competitor, is her sheer love of bodybuilding. "Life is what makes you happy," she says. "And for some reason this makes me really happy.