What was once a bucket list item for Lila Tighe-Phillips has become a full-blown passion consuming a large part of her life.
The Sylvan Lake resident, who teaches Grade 4 at St. Matthew Catholic School in Rocky Mountain House, is a competitive bodybuilder currently preparing for provincial and national tournaments in Edmonton over the next couple of weeks.
Last June, she fulfilled one of her bucket list goals by entering her first competition.
Although she’s still relatively new to the sport, she’s quickly falling in love with it.
“I love the energy that it gives you,” she said. “It’s really, really motivating and exciting.”
Tighe-Phillips began training for competition following the birth of her child, when she started going to the gym with the aim of getting into better shape.
At Southern Alberta Body Building Association Bikini Competition last June, she placed first in the masters category, and third in the open class.
It was a major turnaround for her — before she began training for competition, she’d never been inside a gym.
“When I first started to go to the gym, I actually cried because I was so intimidated,” she said.
Now, at Best Body Fitness, where she trains, she feels she’s among family.
“They are just unbelievable,” she said. “The people at that gym — it’s like a family there. They have a full child care service and everything.”
Although it eventually made its way onto her bucket list, training as a competitive bodybuilder was something Tighe-Phillips had never done before.
She credits her trainer, Eddy McLean, as playing a major role in her development.
“He’s like my brother,” she said. “I’ve grown up with him my whole life.
Now competing together, Tighe-Phillips and McLean have a Facebook page, entitled Eddy N Lila. Pictures, videos and recipes are included among the content posted by the pair, and commented on by page visitors.
“We get emails constantly telling us how motivating we are, and that we make people want to get up off of their couch and exercise,” said Tighe-Phillips. “It’s fun, and so motivating and uplifting.”
Tighe-Phillips currently trains six days a week, both before and after school.
Although it’s a style of life that’s extremely demanding, right now, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Once you get in shape, you don’t want to go back.”