Saturday, January 22, 2011

Figure Champion Looks To Educate Others

The look of a champion. (HT

For those of you who've dedicated themselves to better fitness, this story should inspire you. From

"Kristen Wong-Denman, 28, exudes good health and optimism. A cascade of dark brown hair frames her face with its fresh, flawless complexion, her features a happy blend of her Chinese and Native-American heritage. She's exuberant about her recent victory in a figure competition at her first attempt and she's anxious to educate others and help them achieve better health.

In just under a year, Wong-Denman went from having "a generally athletic build" to winning — not just in her height class, but as overall champion — at the December 2010 National Physique Association Tri-Cities Regional Figure Championship. Figure contests are a more feminine version of bodybuilding. "It's like runway modeling. It's not the hard look of body building," says her trainer, Kevin Parrott, owner of Xtreme Muscle Gym in Hampton, who has trained numerous champions.

For Wong-Denman, the win was affirmation for a dramatically changed lifestyle and a long battle against weight gain.

Just a few years ago, the 5 foot 4 inch Williamsburg resident weighed 198 pounds. "I had let myself go," she says, describing her 20-year-old self. She started the turnaround when she took a job at a GNC store in 2003. "People would ask for diet advice and how to get healthy," she says. She put herself on the low-carb Atkins diet and lost 65 pounds in seven months, but then she struggled to maintain it and her weight continued to yo-yo by 20 pounds.

The fine-tuning began in late January last year, when her fiancé, Ryan Moore, fulfilled her birthday request for personal training sessions. She started meeting with Parrott once or twice a week, with the specific goal of entering a figure contest, an event she'd read about in magazines.

At the outset she was 150 pounds, but she weighed in at 125 pounds for the contest 10 months later. "It's a very clean way of eating. It's not drastic," she says, adding that she lost body fat and put on muscle and paid more attention to inches than to the scales. "I achieved my goal to be in good enough shape to be up there with those girls. It was a very nice Christmas present."

A Tae Kwon Do aficionado with a third-degree Black Belt, who took state championships in 2002 and 2008, Wong-Denman was no stranger to the gym or workouts. The difference, she says, was Parrott's organization and attention to detail: "He just structured me. He put everything on a schedule."

Bottom Line: You can take back control of your body. It takes dedication, a willingness to change, and time.

Background Intel: Williamsburg woman wins figure contest after rigorous regimen

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