I’m Karen Chapman, and this is my intro into fitness. I never had the opportunity to get involved with sports, due to the fact that I was a teenage mom. Once I completed high school, I fell right into my trade of being a hairstylist/cosmetologist. I was fortunate to have my dad’s build — being long and lean. I could eat whatever I wanted, but was “skinny fat.” I remember people telling me, “You wait, when you get older you can’t eat like that!” Huh, they must be jealous?? Well truth be told, years later..they were right!
One of my loyal clients, who was avid in fitness and working out, came in and told me she was entering a fitness competition. I said, “A what?” After she explained to me the vigorous commitment and work that she would be dedicating herself to in the next 12 weeks, I was left curious. During that time, she would come in with a gallon of water and continuously got thinner each time I saw her. On the day of her show, I took off work to support her.
At age 51, she won first place in the figure category for her age group. Donning a sparkling suit with her finished nails and hair complementing her over-tanned, muscular body — I knew while I was watching her that I wanted to be part of it. I joined the gym in October 2009 and entered my first competition in April 2010. I won 1st place in figure for my height class. I had officially caught the “bug.”
From that point on, the gym became a part of my daily lifestyle. It was challenging for me to give myself a rest day. At one point through the past few years, I did develop adrenal failure. I have had several coaches throughout the past few years too. For each and every one of them, I had implemented different training styles and nutritional training methods.
Throughout it all, I discovered that being fit and feeding my body wholesome, non-processed foods helped me perform better in my career, being a mother, and in my overall life. It also lead me to my other passion, which is modeling.
I did my very first shoot at the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. I was only attending as a “spectator” and saw all the great fitness photographers present there. Might as well, right? Since then, I have done countless shoots with highly reputable photographers in the industry. I traveled to cities that I may had never been to. I now am starting to work with more photographers that aren’t necessarily in the fitness scene. Fashion, beauty, and fitness are a huge part to who I am. Therefore, I will NEVER categorize myself as just one and not another.
I also recently just got signed as a sponsored athlete with one of the top supplement companies in the country. It’s probably the biggest accomplishment of my life thus far. To be a girl that never had the chance to be an “athlete” when I was younger. To stop at nothing, fueled by persistence, dedication, and passion, to be recognized as an “athlete” today.
My life may seem odd or a bit confusing to most. The adrenaline that I feel when I am getting to the gym twice in one day. Arriving at family and friends for gatherings with my gallon of water, where it’s understood that I will never accept a drink of alcohol. All of these facets that make up who I am, are just a piece of it all. Amongst it all, I will be the only girl usually rocking false lashes on the leg press. Most girls in fitness do not usually rock a Mohawk or think about their ankle socks matching their sneakers. Sure, I am guilty of wearing fire engine red lips while shoulder pressing the 35’s.
I am as girly as they come and I want to look and feel my best everyday. I am Karen Chapman, I am a girl that at the end of the day. I will always say I tried my best.