Last weekend I headed to the Granite State to support my friend Tammy Thomas’ first NPC (National Physique Committee) figure competition. I had no idea what to expect. Hell, I didn't even know what it was beyond a class of female bodybuilding. It’s kind of like when you attend a ceremony in a religious setting very different from your own: it’s a foray into a completely different world.
Not going was never an option. Tammy is one of the reasons I've come so far in my weight loss/fitness quest this year. I was hobbling along on the circuit machines at Snap Fitness three times a week, unsure of what I was doing but determined to do something. I had known Tammy peripherally for many years and had been following her own quest for weight loss and fitness on Facebook. In the pictures she was getting thinner, there was no doubt about that, but one day there was a shot of her at Snap flexing a quite impressive set of biceps. I've always wanted biceps. I've lost weight before, but have never built up my upper body, and with age my arms are only getting weaker and floppier. Though I never tried it, at that time, if I had shaken my arms fast enough, I’m certain I would have taken flight.
One morning she walked by as I was struggling on the lateral raise machine and I congratulated her on her transformation and told her she inspired me. What followed was pure Tammy: a barrage of support, passing on of Oxygen Magazines, loaning of books, and an introduction to her trainer. Honestly, Tammy could power a small town with the amount of energy she produces, but our friendship? It was off and running. From that point on, she would check in on me, and invite me to train with her and join boot camp. I found myself caught up in her wake, and I had never felt better.
Her friend Leslie Dzindzalet Jones is an established fitness competitor, and one weekend Tammy went with her to The Arnold (I didn't know what it was either…it’s a big-ass sports fest named for Arnold Schwarzenegger…who knew?). Tammy came back determined to compete in her first fitness competition a year later. I supported her – hell, she supported me unfailingly – but the idea of parading across the stage in a tiny, sparkly bikini and five-inch Lucite heels was bizarre to me. Over the next few months, I watched Tammy’s body and her diet get leaner and stronger. She was taking posing lessons (I know, the joke possibilities are endless), and to me it was all like a foreign language, fascinating but incomprehensible.