The first time was nerve-racking.

It also was fun, which is why Monica Gondim and Jesse White will be on stage competing for the second time in Saturday’s NPC Body Be 1 Classic at the Dothan Civic Center.

Both made their debut at last year’s bodybuilding show in Dothan.

“It was awesome. I was so nervous,” said Gondim, who is a personal trainer. “If it wasn’t for (show promoter) Roland (Huff) and (show coordinator) Jim (McCraney), who got me into this and helped me along the way, I would have never done as good. I caught the bug and I did really well. I won Miss Dothan Figure class.

“Naturally, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I want to do it again.' When I found out they were going to bring the show back, I wanted to start training for it immediately.”

White said last year’s experience was almost surreal because she never imagined herself competing on stage.

“Before last year I never thought I’d get on stage because I was always shy and I had stage fright,” the 20-year-old said. “I basically got talked into it. I didn’t go on stage looking that great, but this year it’s a whole lot better. I know what to expect.”

She discovered a lot about herself and called her routine not as much a workout schedule as a lifestyle change.

“It is that for me,” White said. “I really enjoyed competing and I didn’t think I would because of how shy I was. But when I got into it, that’s gotten a lot better.”

Both Gondim and White are the kind of competitors the classic is aiming for. Huff, the founder of Body Be 1, said the show is not about the oiled-up “behemoths.”

“Bodybuilding encompasses a lot of different physiques – men and women,” Huff said. “The NPC is the governing body of this whole fitness thing. It stands for National Physique Committee and it is world wide.

“At this level, we’re NPC. This is where we take a person that’s never done this before and get them on stage.This weekend is an NPC show.”

The competition includes different body types of men and women. There is a traditional men’s Bodybuilding division, a men’s Physique class and a Classic Physique. There are even more body types and categories for the women’s division – Bikini, Figure, Fitness, Women’s Physique and Bodybuilding.

“There are combinations of all different body types, on stage, each one is wearing a different attire,” Huff said. “They’re in the best shape that you’ve ever seen. … It’s good, family-oriented fun. People are there to have fun and cheer on their significan others.

“People on that stage have gone through a six month or four month or two month transformation – whatever it took to get there. Which means their family had to be involved. There was some doing without.”

White said her boyfriend, Zach, has been supportive. She can look at photos from a year ago and see the results.

“All the definition I have now, the muscles,” said White, who is competing in the Figure category for the second year in a row. “I’m a lot leaner this year than I was last year. This year I understand what you go through before a show. I didn’t have much time to prepare last year.”

Gondim has been preparing all year for this competition. She is competing in both Women’s Physique and Bodybuilding.

“The posing is a lot harder. The diet is totally different,” Gondim said. “Last year I would have been so much more tired, so much more without energy. I’m still eating a lot, but my carbs are down – lot of eggs, 16 ounces of chicken, 12 ounces of fish, but only 50 grams of carbs a day.”

To compete in the Bodybuilding category, she knew she had to “grow,” as she put it. She launched herself into powerlifting and went on a “bulk” late in 2018.

“Since I was a crossfit athlete before I really like to lift, do squats, chest presses, dead lifts,” Gondim said. “I like heavy lifting and I thought powerlifting would be the perfect way to grow and I love to eat. So winter time was the perfect time to do a bulk. It was fun. I got to eat some foods I haven’t eaten in a long time. Did some heavy weights.”

Still, she limited herself to no more than a 20-pound weight gain. Then she cut that extra weight in the past seven months.

“January 7 is when I started that first cut,” she said. “I did a few cuts. Cut and maintain, cut and maintain. My real prep started 12 weeks ago for this show.”

She said her fiancé, Isaiah Everheart, has been her “rock” with his support.

“He’s been amazing – cooking my food, dealing with the mood swings,” Gondim said. “It’s so much extra food. He was like, ‘OK. I believe in you, babe. I got this.’ But even towards the end I could tell it was getting to him.”

The results will be evident on stage this Saturday. Gondim is proud of the effort and discipline she put into her preparation.

But she also is looking forward to Sunday.

“My favorite thing in the whole wide world is dark chocolate and peanut butter together – Godiva dark chocolate with peanut butter,” she said. “I haven’t had it since that first cut. I took that out and went to powdered peanut butter. I haven’t had dark chocolate in forever.”

Follow Ken Rogers on Twitter @debamabeat.

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