How a one-time ‘frumpy mom’ from Saukville remade herself into a winning bodybuilder with a demanding workout and diet regimen and a competitive spirt
By all accounts, Jody Gregoire of Saukville is a shy, modest mother of two young children who doesn’t like being in the limelight.
But when she steps on stage to compete in the figure division of the International Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Association, she struts her stuff in a skimpy, glittery bikini, showing off the muscular body she works hard to achieve.
Last year, Gregoire, who is 5-feet, 7-1/2-inches and weighs 143 pounds, placed first in the women’s tall class at the Ford’s Gym competition in Madison in April and at Brenda Rahe’s May event in Kohler.
This year, Gregoire’s goal is to be the overall champion figure bodybuilder in her age category, take home a big trophy and earn her professional card to compete in the World Natural Bodybuilder Federation.
“I want to try competing at the pro level and see how I like it,” she said.
“This is totally out of my comfort zone — getting up on a stage in a bikini and getting my hair and makeup done. My family and friends said, ‘What? You’re going to get up on a stage?’
“It’s not about being sexual. It’s just showing what you’re worked hard for in the past three months.”
Figure competition is the softer, more feminine side of bodybuilding, Gregoire said. Competitors are judged from head to foot on beauty, presence, muscle tone, symmetry, and presentation, which includes a modeling walk in high heels. Her body is spray tanned a few days prior to the competition and oiled that day.
To accomplish that look, Gregoire goes on a three-month training program that includes a stringent low-fat, high protein and complex carbohydrate meal plan that burns body fat. Last year, her body fat was 11-1/2%. She wants to get down to 10% this year. She eats six small meals a day and must weigh everything.
She works out 1-1/2 to two hours a day, focusing on strengthening all muscle groups and doing cardio work.
“It’s amazing to see the body transform into being stage ready,” Gregoire said.
It all started three years ago when she and her husband Peter joined the Feith Family Ozaukee YMCA in Saukville as a family activity with their children Logan and Allyson, who are now 8 and 5 respectively.
“I was about 25 pounds heavier than I am now. I was the frumpy mom. That’s how I felt, and that’s how I dressed,” Gregoire said.
She and her husband joined a body pump class taught by Rhonda Holland, a retired figure bodybuilder who earned her pro card in 2011 and is now Gregoire’s coach and mentor.
“One day she came to the class and was orange (from the spray tan), and I asked her about it,” Gregoire said.
As Holland described her bodybuilding experience, Gregoire said, her husband surprised her by saying he would like her to do that. Peter said he was surprised that his wife was interested in it.
With her husband’s support and Holland’s tutoring, Gregoire trained for her first competition in 2011.
For three months, she followed the strict diet and worked out.
“The hard part is the eating, which is why I only do it three months out of the year,” Gregoire said. “It’s takes a mental toll on you eating like this. You’re not getting the fat, which brings the body fat down. Your body is burning calories more efficiently and you get hungry.”
At her first competition, she came in last out of five competitors. Some people would have called it quits, but not Gregoire.
“That was hard to swallow,” she said. “The competitive side of me asked, ‘What was wrong with me?’ I was a nervous wreak on the stage. I was shaking.”
Gregoire was determined to do better last year and worked even harder on her physique and stage presence. She traded her dark velvet bikini for a metallic magenta spandex suit that’s studded with crystals and sparkles under the lights.
It worked. She came home with two first-place trophies.
Her entire family was proud, especially Peter. He said his wife squats the same weight, 75 to 80 pounds, that he does and sometimes more.
“I know what kind of effort and work she puts into this,” he said. “She’s had a complete lifestyle change. Everybody is extremely proud of her. We’re all rooting for her.”
On Sunday, Gregoire began her three-month training regimen to prepare for competitions in April and May. She and two other women, who are also training for the competitions, met at Holland’s house, where they prepared a meal together and made extra portions for the week. They plan to do that every week to help each other stay on their meal plans.
Gregoire will wear the same bikini she wore last year and no doubt have the same attitude that propelled her from last to first place.
“I knew I looked better, and I had a lot more confidence. I knew what to expect because I had already done it before,” Gregoire said.
“So I went out there with a more sassy attitude and looked the judges in the eyes.”
Image Information: TWO FIRST PLACE TROPHIES were won last year by Jody Gregoire in the tall division of natural bodybuilding figure competition. She’s working hard to bring home the overall winner’s trophy this year and qualify for professional competition. Photo by Sam Arendt