Finding inspiration and balance in bodybuilding
Sharon Lewis at an IFBB professional bodybuilding competition.
By Daniel Williams; photo courtesy of Sharon Lewis
In late 2012, Sharon Lewis found herself in a time of transition. She had quit a sales job to become a stay-at-home mom, and, along with her husband and two young sons, was planning a 2013 move from Chicago to the Buffalo Ridge area of the City of Castle Pines. To gain balance in her life, Lewis worked out a few days a week with a personal trainer. During one of their sessions, the trainer asked Sharon a question that would change her life.
“He asked me if I had ever considered getting into competitive bodybuilding,” Lewis said. “I was a stay-at-home mom who had never stepped inside a gym until I was 32, so of course I had never dreamed of training professionally.” But she said that little spark was all she needed to begin her new career. “It’s amazing how someone else can see the hidden potential within you, and I believe each of us has untapped potential to achieve amazing things. For some people it’s to run a marathon. For others it’s to climb a mountain or to start a business or to write a book. For me, it just happened to be competitive bodybuilding.”
The day she received her IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness) pro card, Lewis realized that anything is possible if you have a concrete plan of attack, the discipline to see it through and a great support group. Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the legendary superstars of the sport, owed much of his success to those around him, and Lewis does the same. “I rely on the expertise of my trainers at Team Body Visions in Thornton, Colorado, sports recovery experts, clinicians and the support of my family and friends to help me succeed.”
To achieve success in competitions, bodybuilders divide their training into seasons. “Bulking season” is a time to focus on gaining mass. Around 12 weeks out from a competition, bodybuilders shift to their “prep season” where diets and workouts hone in on shedding fat and maintaining muscle. “It’s like building up a block of clay,” said Lewis. “Then slowly chipping away at it to create a work of art that can be displayed on stage.”
But bodybuilding is not without its stigmas, particularly for women. Sharon said almost immediately after entering the sport she learned of the criticism and pressure from society of what “an ideal woman should look like. People are always asking me if I’m afraid of looking too manly by being muscular.”
Whenever she hears negativity like that, Lewis returns to a core principle that has helped her find success. “I can’t control other people, I can only control myself. And I believe this is true for anyone, no matter what your passion is or where your path takes you. The very understanding of knowing you can control how you react to what others say or do is where empowerment starts.”