It didn’t take very long for Ryall Graber-Vasani to fall in love with the sport of fitness competition.
“My first competition . . . I got hooked,” says Graber-Vasani, who is training in Kamloops while visiting her parents, Linda and Dennis Graber. “I loved the adrenaline and the rush. . . . I’ve been hooked ever since.”
This love affair with the sport has paid off for Graber-Vasani, who lives in Barbados. She is working to get ready for the Olympia Fitness and Performance Weekend, which is scheduled for Sept. 27-30 in Las Vegas.
The Olympia is the grand-daddy of fitness and body-building competitions. And it was the Olympia that Graber-Vasani had on her mind when she started to compete as a professional.
“(Making the Olympia) was my five-year goal when I did my first professional show in 2009,” says the 33-year-old fitness and nutrition consultant. “I achieved it earlier than I had hoped.”
Graber-Vasani actually came very close to qualifying for last year’s Olympia — she was fourth in the 2010 Fort Lauderdale Cup in Florida, missing out on the Olympia by only a few points.
Last fall, she was at the Fort Lauderdale Cup again, and finished third.
“I still don’t have the words,” she says. “I’m so excited to have the opportunity.”
What Graber-Vasani does, fitness competition, is different from body building, where size and looks are everything.
In fitness, competitors are judged on two things — 75 per cent is based on a routine, with 25 per cent judged on physique while wearing a two-piece swimsuit and heels.
Each athlete gets five minutes to perform her choreographed routine, which must include five compulsory skills during a two-minute performance.
Graber-Vasani works with choreographer Renzo Coste, and has a very unique theme to her routines.
She dresses as Wonder Woman.
“I just it’s a powerful image,” Graber-Vasani says. “It was something I hadn’t seen on the pro circuit — you tend to see a lot of repeat stuff, so I thought this would be unique and powerful.”
The routines take a lot of work. While in Kamloops, Graber-Vasani is making a home at the Tournament Capital Centre — which she calls “absolutely awesome” — where she is working on everything from weight training to cardio to interval training.
The interval training has the biggest payoff.
“It basically mimics your routine,” she says. “I’ll sprint 30 seconds, then perform a skill during my rest time, when I’m fatigued.”
After competing at the Olympia, Graber-Vasani will head back to Barbados for a few days before going to Madrid, where she will compete at the Arnold Classic, to which Arnold Schwarzenegger plays host from Oct. 12-14.
After that, it likely will be more time at home, where Graber-Vasani’s consulting company has a client base of around 80. She helps them with their fitness and nutrition, and finds that work as rewarding as her fitness competitions.
“I’m so passionate about both,” she says. “I love to help people achieve whatever goals they have, especially if my work in the sport can help.
“The sport is very self-focused . . . but when I put that into helping someone else, it’s just so rewarding.”