Here’s an interesting fact…
Sarah started her body building ‘late’ at age 33, competing for the first time in 2011.
Sarah’s Natural Bodz Profile spread from 2012 gives the details…
South Australian born Sarah* began her journey into health and fitness at an early age. She was house captain through high school and played a number of sports including basketball, netball, athletics, swimming and beach volley ball. After high school she moved to the Gold Coast and earned her Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science.
In August 2010, Sarah set herself the goal of becoming a Pro Figure Athlete. In 2011, she entered 7 sports/fitness model competitions placing in all 7 and finishing the year by winning the 2011 International Body Building Association (INBA) Natural Universe Tall Class Sports Model and overall Ms Sport Model Titles.
In November 2012, Sarah travelled to Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA, to compete in the International Natural Body Building Federation (INBF) world titles and returned home to Australia with the Overall Figure Amateur World Title. Sarah plans her first WNBF Pro Figure Competition in the USA in 2013.
The success Sarah has achieved in both Fitness Modelling and figure events is no doubt attributed to her years in the industry. She has launched her own website offering personal training plans to help others reach their personal health and fitness goals.
I grew up in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. I was sports house captain through high school and played a number of sports including basketball, netball, athletics, swimming and beach volley ball. After high school, I moved to the Gold Coast and gained my Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science. Over the years I have worked as a personal trainer, exercise physiologist, flight attendant and Medical Sales Rep.
I decided to turn my passion into what I do all the time. I launched my website offering clients around the world online personal training and nutrition plans, 12 week challenges and accountability programs for all fitness levels. I have a real passion to help as many people I can achieve their health, fitness and wellbeing goals.
When did your journey into health and fitness begin and was there anyone who inspired you to get involved in the industry?
I was at a sales conference for work in Port Douglas where Trevor Hendy was the guest speaker. He told us to write down one thing that we always wanted to achieve in life. I wrote down that I would like to compete in a fitness competition. That marked the start of my competing career.
You have won a number of Sports Model and Fitness Model titles across various organisations. Can you list some of your achievements and any of the highlights of your competition career to date?
In 2010, I set myself the goal of becoming a Pro Figure Athlete. In 2011, I entered 7 Sports/Fitness Model competitions, placing in all 7 and finishing the year by winning the 2011 International Natural Body Building Association (INBA) Natural Universe Tall Class Sports Model and Overall Ms Sports Model Titles.
INBA – Sport Model SA – 1st Place
INBA – Sport Model QLD – 3rd Place
ANB – Asia Pacific Fitness Model over 30s – 2nd Place
INBA – All Female Classic Sports Model Tall Class – 2nd Place
Natural Universe Titles – Brisbane, QLD Australia
INBA – 1st Place Tall Class Sports Model Champion and overall Ms Sports Model Champion
ANB – Asia Pacific Fitness Model over 30s – 2nd Place
ANB – SA Over 30s Fitness Model – 1st Place
WNBF – SA USA Figure 1st Place and Best Female Poser
WNBF Asia Pacific USA Figure 1st Place and Best Female Poser
FitBody Novice 1st Place, FitBody Open 3rd Place
INBF – Amateur World Champion
Awarded WNBF Pro Card
Do you feel that Fitness Modelling Events have opened the door to more competitors who otherwise would not or could not compete as a Figure competitor?
Yes, definitely. I think the Fitness Model division is a lot more ‘achievable’ for people starting out and also provides a great foundation for those with a future goal of becoming a figure competitor.
With the introduction of Fitness Models rounds at the Qld ANB Asia Pacific, do you think that this has provided additional opportunities otherwise not available in the past?
Yes, the new fitness model category is a great division. It provides a division for athletes who like to lean down further than what is required for sports model or bikini but do not want to be as muscular as a figure competitor or body builder. I especially liked this division as it suited my body type. It also provided a great stepping stone to advance into future. I also think the fitness model round is great from the spectators’ point of view as it generally showcases the athletic and healthy look to which they aspire.
What’s the Fitness Scene like in your home town of Adelaide? There always seems to be a good number of competitors from SA…
Adelaide is starting to embrace the fitness lifestyle and is producing some fantastic athletes. The Adelaide people really get behind the federations with the numbers of competitors growing every year.
There is a fine line between conditioning of a Figure athlete and a Fitness Model. Do you think this is controlled more through dietary means or training?
Although weight lifting is imperative for building your underlying muscle and symmetry, the conditioning required for competing as a Figure athlete is largely based on your eating plan. I do not believe in crash dieting. My advice is to make it a priority to find an experienced nutritionist to tailor the right eating plan for you and your body type. What works for me may not work for you.
Let’s talk about your exercise program. How many days a week do you workout with weights and how much cardio work?
During competition season, I train one muscle group per day five days a week with an occasional full body circuit on the six day. I have one complete day of rest per week and complete high intensity interval sprints 4-5 days per week leading up to a competition.
It takes a strong mind-set to hit the gym and stick to a clean diet plan. How do you keep on track week after week leading up to a comp?
First of all I lock in my competitions for the year and set myself monthly and weekly targets. I keep myself on target with visualisation. To give you an example, last year I found a photo of the athlete who won the world title which I had set my sights on. I put a picture of her standing on stage on my laptop screensaver. Each and every morning I opened my laptop and visualised myself standing on that stage with that trophy and imagined the feeling of achieving my goal.
I am a big believer that…
Goals are DREAMS with a ‘due by’ date.
What this means is dream big, set your ‘due by’ date. However, make sure you set weekly targets to keep you on track to your end goal and, finally, visualise yourself daily achieving your dream.
Motivation or lack thereof, is often a stumbling block for most people… What is your biggest motivator, and what advice can you offer to others?
From a young age I have a really deep need to be the best I can be at everything I do. This keeps me motivated every day. My advice is to focus on yourself. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Just put everything into doing your best.
At what point does exercising go from a positive lifestyle to an obsession and how can we prevent this?
I think that when you are finding that your rest days are the hardest days of the week, you are could be flirting with obsession and over training. Rest and recovery is just as important as diet and training. To help prevent an exercising obsession, I make sure rest days are scheduled into every weekly training plan I write.
If you could only do three exercises, what would they be in order of importance?
Legs, back and interval sprints.
Do you prefer to split your routine and, if so, what is your current split?
My weight training split is shoulders, back, legs, chest and abs, biceps and triceps.
What sort of cardio and how long would you spend per session on average?
I find high intensity interval sprints are the most effective way to lean down. I generally do 20-15mins.
Natural Bodz Vol 5 Issue 4
* Sarah is now known by her maiden name, Sarah O’Connor
You are currently visiting Sarah’s website, wellnes.life
Interested in competing? Contact SarahContact
All magazine feature pics of Sarah are by Photography by Steven Jones.
Poster pic by Charlie Suriano