A new woman

Andrea Gunn
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Local school teacher wins provincial bodybuilding competition

Paulette Grimes, a local schoolteacher and mother of two, decided in April she would enter a bodybuilding and figure competition after a little encouragement from her friend. The seven months of hard work and dedication paid off; she netted top honours in two categories at a provincial competition in November.

Paulette Grimes, a 45-year-old mother of two and language arts teacher from Grand Falls-Windsor, never dreamed when she started working out that just a few months later she would be a provincial bodybuilding champion.

Grimes, always someone who tried to keet fit, decided to return to her routine of daily workout routing this past year.

“After my kids were born I found I took a little break, I wasn’t as active as I should have been, I stopped going to the gym. Then I just decided it was that time in my life, I needed a little stress release,” she said. “I started going to the gym, just to be fit and healthy and get that hour away for myself.”

Grimes decided she wanted to push herself a little harder, and stated to try some bodybuilding techniques after doing some research online.

It was in the Spring that her friend Glenn Casey, an avid bodybuilder who worked out at the same gym, noticed Grimes’ progress.

He suggested she enter the Newfoundland and Labrador Armature Body Building Associations’ Bodybuilding, Physique, Figure and Bikini Championships in November.

At first, Grimes said she was hesitant.

“I said ‘Glenn that’s just way past my time, I just can’t do that’,” Grimes said. “I was thinking about my age; this was something I wanted to do 20 years ago. He just told me to think about it and said ‘I think you’ll be good for this sport and I think you can do it.’ I gave it some thought, and by the next time I saw him I said ‘You know what? What do I have to lose?’ ’”



The decision to enter the Physique, Figure and Bikini Championships proved to be a life-altering one for Grimes.

She said the first step in her journey was to look at herself and see what she needed to change. Though she didn’t have to lose any weight, she said did have her work cut out for her.

“In the bikini competition part there’s a certain look; it’s not all muscle, but it’s not about being skinny, it has to be a good combination of everything. I asked myself, what areas do I need to improve? And then I just kind of based it on muscle groups, I used to focus on two muscle groups per night,” Grimes said.

Starting in April, Grimes said she spent two hours every evening of the week at the YMCA exercising, and rarely missed a work out.

Food preparation and diet changes were also a big part of Grimes’ transformation.

“I wasn’t dieting, people think it’s all about starving yourself to death but it isn’t. I ate more than I have in my entire life but I was just eating cleaner,” Grimes explained.

She said she ate about six meals a day that consisted mostly of turkey, fish, chicken, green vegetables, and good carbs like sweet potatoes and brown rice.

“Once I got into the habit of the food prep it was easy; I’d just take a weekend, do all my food and I’d be good to go for a week,” she said.

It was in the summer Grimes said she started seeing real changes in her body.

“They say it takes about eight weeks for someone else to see a change in you and for yourself it’s 12 weeks,” Grimes said. “I would say that s probably right on.”



I feel like a new woman, I feel liberated. Paulette Grimes

Grimes continued her regimen without any guidance from a personal trainer, learning everything through the Internet, videos, and friends. She was also given one hour-long pose coaching session before the big day.

Before she knew it, it was almost competition time. The event took place Nov. 16 at the Holy Heart Theatre in St. John’s. Grimes competed in the Masters (over 35) category, as well as the Binikini Short category for women with a height less than five feet, three inches.

“I was extremely nervous. When I got on that stage I knew what to expect but I didn’t know how it would feel being there; it was nerve-wracking,” she said.

Grimes had to go on stage and do a number of poses for a panel of five judges in each category. She said nobody had any idea about their scores until the winners were announced

She competed against 12 other women in the Masters category, and 16 others in the Bikini Short category.

“When I was on stage with the Masters there was a lot of younger women there, because it started at 35. And when we did Bikini Short, of course you have girls who are 18 or 19, pretty girls, and they’re all lined up on stage and are just gorgeous. I just remember thinking to myself ‘you know what, you’re pretty lucky to be here, so whatever happens who cares, it doesn’t really matter’.”

When the winners were announced, Grimes said she could barely believe what she heard. She was named the winner of the Masters category, and was awarded second place in Bikini Short.

“I was shocked and humbled and surprised and happy, and it felt good.”



Though Grimes has the opportunity to compete at the national level now, she said she’s not sure if she’s going to continue competing.

“I have two years to decide, so I can compete in 2014 or 2015,” she said “There’s a little seed that’s planted there, so who knows, it might grow or it might not. I’m going to talk to more people who know more about it than I do, get their opinion and see what they think.”

Grimes said though she’s extremely proud of herself for her success at the competition, the most rewarding part of her journey is having the dedication to make it to the stage in the first place.

“I’m just so proud of the fact that it’s something I did for myself and I did it pretty much by myself. It also feels good that at my age I accomplished it, not that 45 is old,” Grimes said with a laugh.

When asked if she had any advice for people wanting to embark on a fitness journey like her own, Grimes said it’s not for the faint of heart.

“They need to make sure it’s something they really, really want to do because it’s not just a hobby; it takes a lot of dedication and a lot of discipline.

“It’s also important to have a good support system. I have my husband and my children, and I have amazing friends,” Grimes said.

“Glenn Casey was the start, he encouraged me. I guess he saw something in me he thought would work and I’m glad he did. I feel like a new woman, I feel liberated.”

Organizations: YMCA, Holy Heart Theatre

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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