0720 Tammy Chitwood photo

JAY HARE/DOTHAN EAGLE Tammy Chitwood prepares for the NPC Body Be 1 Classic as her husband and trainer, Skip, looks on at Dothan Athletic Club Wednesday.

That voice inside Tammy Chitwood, the one that convinced her three years ago to start taking care of herself, is still there, challenging her to go outside of her comfort zone.

The voice Chitwood speaks with, however, doesn’t sound as confident.

“I am really outside my comfort zone this time,” Chitwood said Wednesday as she prepared for her first bodybuilding competition, the NPC Body Be 1 Classic on Saturday at the Dothan Civic Center.

“I’m almost 48 years old and this is my first time,” she said.

Chitwood only shook her head when asked why she is going on stage and competing. “I am not one to be the center of attention. I don’t like it. So, why am I doing this? I have no idea.”

She said show coordinator Jim McCraney – a longtime fixture in Dothan bodybuilding as a competitor, trainer, promoter and this event’s coordinator – “planted the seed” in her mind to compete. Her husband, Skip Chitwood, himself a former competitor and a trainer, helped take it from there.

“I got up three years ago and knew I needed to lose weight,” Chitwood said. “I started. It just started falling into place.”

Skip Chitwood filled in some blanks. He said his wife really doesn’t like the spotlight and is reluctant to talk about her story.

“The work that she’s done has just been amazing,” Skip said. “She’s completely transformed herself over the past year and a half to two years. She got real sick a few years ago. She almost died and was in the hospital for a week. She stayed sick for almost a year. She put on a lot of weight, got out of shape and just felt terrible.

“She woke up one day and said, ‘I don’t like this. I’m fixing it.’ She started working out – twice a week, then three times a week and then went to five days a week, then twice a day five times a week. Now here you are – and that’s someone who hated to work out.”

Tammy is competing in the Figure class.

“For figure, they like big shoulders, tiny waist, then like an X-frame,” she said. “Luckily I have big shoulders – I don’t know where they came from. I needed to work on the back of the legs.”

She said her back workouts are her favorite. Having her husband as her trainer – and a former competitor – has been helpful, she said.

“He’s done it for a long time and luckily he understands. If I get a little short-tempered he understands. He turns around and walks off, nods his head,” Tammy said. “My daughter is home for the summer. She plays softball at Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale, so she understands that preparation as a competitor. So it’s worked out pretty good.”

Skip Chitwood said he has enjoyed working with his wife.

“This is something I’ve done my whole life,” he said. “It’s difficult for me to do it now, but it’s awesome to see what she’s done. I’m very proud of her.”

McCraney said the NPC Body Be 1 Classic, which is in its second year, has an eye on become a national qualifier competition, but doesn’t have that status yet. He added that the venue at the Dothan Civic Center is one of the best – if not the best – he’s seen in his years in the sport.

“I want to see this program go to a national qualifier status very soon,” said McCraney, who is coordinating the event for promoter Roland Huff. “At the same time, we provide a good home-base platform for those that have never competed before and they can feel comfortable that the behemoths are not coming and that they have a chance. That’s what I love about it. It’s people dedicating themselves to something and sticking with it.”

McCraney, who is assistant manager at Dothan Athletic Club, said he hopes many area clubs will get involved.

“Years ago, when DAC was probably the only place you could lift, almost all the competitors were from here,” McCraney said. “There’s now 10 times the gyms that there were back then.

“I want to see competitors from all of those gyms. I want to see those trainers rise up and produce good people. I want the sport to flourish. It starts with a good promoter, good coordinator, good sponsors and a good support group.”

NPC Body Be 1 Classic

When: Saturday

Where: Dothan Civic Center

Times: Prejudging at 9 a.m., Finals at 6 p.m.

Tickets: Prejudging $20 plus tax; Finals, $30 plus tax; Reserve VIP $35 plus tax; VIP $40 plus tax

Follow Ken Rogers on Twitter @debamabeat.

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