Mary Rainey and Sam Southerland may be new to bodybuilding but the two are certainly making names for themselves in the sport. Rainey finished the Natural Physique Committee (NPC) bikini competition in the runner up position and Southerland claimed titles in the NPC novice heavyweight division, novice overall, open men's super heavyweight division, and open super heavyweight overall at the Southern Indiana Muscle event held last month in Evansville.
The road to success has not happened overnight for the two. Southerland said he's been lifting weights for about eight years and finally decided he was ready for a competition.
"I'd wanted to do a competition for along time," said Southerland. "I'd been lifting since I was about 12 and decided I was finally ready."
But not long ago, he was unsure if he would be able to compete after all.
"Sam tore his chest last year and the doctors just weren't sure if he would be healed in time," Rainey said. "He was very lucky he had time to heal and prepare."
Rainey also mentioned that Southerland's wins are somewhat unusual for someone so young. "Sam winning shows is a pretty big thing. This was his first show and he's just 21 and young for a body builder."
For Rainey, bodybuilding was not necessarily her goal in the beginning. "I started lifting at the YMCA about two years ago with my dad, Brian. I really wanted to do obstacle runs in the beginning," Rainey said.
But after going to her first show bodybuilding show last year with Southerland, her goals changed. "The sport is usually misunderstood especially for women. It's not about being really big anymore on the women's side. It's about looking more natural."
More popular in larger cities, Rainey and Southerland hope that bodybuilding will become more popular locally.