Natural Iowa competitor spotlight: Emma Zahn
Often we hear how athletes find bodybuilding as their new sport to not just quench their competitive fire, but a way to channel their hard work in the gym to a focused goal. Below is Emma’s journey to the NANBF Natural Iowa stage and how she not only found success as a new bikini pro in this new competitive outlet but also overcame the many obstacles training for it in a pandemic year. Read below to hear her story!
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO COMPETE?
I have been an athlete my whole life, so naturally I was drawn to finding a sport for my adult life. After college, it was hard to find a competitive sport for adults because I’ve always relied on school to help me with my desire. After working out in the gym aimlessly on my own after college, I had met several bodybuilders and thought to myself, “I could do that.” I am competitive and I thought it would be a great challenge because I knew my potential and I like being challenged.
WHAT OBSTACLES DID YOU OVERCOME?
Anyone who competes in bodybuilding knows it is super challenging. That won’t ever change if you want to be competitive and be the best version of yourself. You’re going to go through hard challenges and sacrifices. But trying to train in a world pandemic, gym closures, and lockdowns, made it the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Bodybuilding will always be super hard physically and mentally, but the year 2020 was the most mentally challenging time of my life. At the same time, it was the most rewarding.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART OF THE PREP?
The hardest part of prep by far was the not knowing. There was so much unknown this season then ever before. Normally when you train you have a date in mind, you’re counting down the months and weeks you have left, and everybody knows that bodybuilding has so much to do with how much time you have left in terms of training, in terms of macros, etc. So I constantly had to switch up my routine, my workouts, my macros. So that part was really hard and frustrating because I never knew when I was going to compete. Or if I should keep training because there might not be any shows at all, glad I pushed through it.
HOW DID YOU PREP WITH THE PANDEMIC?
I was blessed enough by God for my perseverance. I was also blessed with my extremely supportive boyfriend. What ran through my head almost every day was the quote, “the easiest thing in the whole world to do is quit.” I did not want to quit on myself. I was lucky enough too to have a great spring too. Since the gyms were closed and I had absolutely no cardio equipment in my apartment, I ran outside. I live in Minnesota, so you never know what type of spring you’re going to get, you could get a spring winter storm. But I was blessed enough to have perfect weather and that was where I did my cardio.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT COMPETING?
For me the best part of competing is show day. All the weeks and months and hard training sessions, etc. you go through just all comes together and is all worth it on show day. You get kind of like a runners high but like a competitors high on show day. I also love competing against myself. I don’t ever look at the competitors as a threat or someone I have to beat. I’m always looking at myself and trying to beat myself and be the best version of myself.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN IPE DRUG-FREE PRO?
Competing as an IPE drug-free professional athlete means everything. I want to be able to see what I can do naturally, but I also want to be able to inspire and encourage others to see what their bodies can do naturally as well.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE OTHERS CAN TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR STORY?
The moment you decide to compete is going to be a super exciting time. But that won’t last your entire prep. You’re not always going to feel encouraged, excited, or pumped up to work out or even follow your diet. But I think the most rewarding part of an athlete is to go as hard as you possibly can every single day whether you feel like it or not. The greatest athletes are not motivated every day. But they are consistent every day, and that’s what I would hope others take away is that in order to accomplish your goals, you need to be consistent.
For information on next year’s NANBF Natural Iowa and how you can maybe find yourself in 2021 like the Natural Iowa Competitor Spotlight: Emma Zahn check out the 2021 information page here.