As Alana Kuhlman stood up on stage, she was relieved and happy she had made the right decision.
For some time, the Sun Prairie resident had thought about getting into bodybuilding competitions. When she finally got into the sport, she quickly showed she can succeed.
“I have always been into fitness,” Kuhlman said. “About the last 3 ½ years, I’ve personally trained myself both fitness and diet wise. I had people telling me left and right, ‘Why are you not doing this?’ Finally, I got enough push, and a month before the show I decided, OK, here is my time.”
Kuhlman, 23, signed up for the NGA Pro/Am P4P Undefeated event in Wisconsin Dells on Oct. 5. She competed in the bikini short and bikini novice categories.
Leading up to the event, Kuhlman knew her body was looking solid, but she thought she might have a few issues with her posing. She hired a posing coach for two one-hour sessions. Kuhlman wasn’t quite sure about how she was going to fare against the competition.
To her surprise, Kuhlman finished second out of seven women in bikini short and second out of 12 women in bikini novice.
“I knew for sure that I had the physique,” said Kuhlman, who grew up in Doylestown and is a 2014 graduate of Rio High School. “Just as a human, I am a very outgoing individual, so I knew my personality would rock the show. And now that my posing was coming into perfection, I kind of knew things would go very well.”
Kuhlman was on stage twice for about 15 minutes for the two categories, striking front and back poses. She caught the attention of the judges.
“One of the judges commented that I stuck out like a sore thumb for all the right reasons,” Kuhlman said.
More than anything, her first competition was a learning experience. Kuhlman picked up plenty of pointers on what she should and should not be doing outside of and during competitions.
“In all honesty, the one thing that shot me in the foot was my makeup,” Kuhlman said. “They really do go off of your appearance. My makeup was not quite matching with my tan. Beyond that, they wanted a little more muscle structure both bottom and top, and that’s what the next six months I’m going to be doing.”
To qualify for the competition, Kuhlman had to trim her 18% body fat down to between 8-13% to have full muscle showing in her bikini.
One month before the first show, Kuhlman kicked it into gear with double workouts per day — 52 total in the month. She logged about 120 miles walk and stuck to a strict diet of no sweets and low-carb food options.
Now that Kuhlman knows what it takes for competition, she’ll be more prepared for future events. The National Gym Association Inc. (NGA) season is now on a six-month hiatus until events start up next April.
“I’m going to go hard,” said Kuhlman, who is an optician/manager at Baldwin Eye Care in Sun Prairie. “I used to do a lot of 5Ks and stuff. I’m finishing out my last half marathon this year in November and when I’m done with that I’m strictly focusing on bodybuilding.”
Most of the competitions are held in California, Hawaii and Florida, but the Wisconsin Dells will host an event once again in 2020.
Kuhlman, who doesn’t have a trainer, works out six days a week, doing full-body workouts every day – 45 minutes both in the morning and night. On weekends, she gets to the gym once. She also walks about 25 miles per day.
Kuhlman is striving to obtain a pro card, which happens when a competitor wins an event. If Kuhlman gets a pro card, she is striving to advance to the Ms. Olympia, the top event in the sport.
After her success in her first bodybuilding competition, Kuhlman is excited to see what the future holds.
“Getting second added a little more drive to the fire,” Kuhlman said. “But there’s just something about the muscular body that I find appealing and it screams health, and health and fitness is so huge in my life and a lot of individuals. I feel like I’m a good role model to those who are looking to kind of have the same fire.”