by JEFF CORDES
It's been eight years and two children since she'd been there.
Yet Ketchum's Emily Knowles was ready, willing and able to step to the top of podium Saturday at the 20th annual NGA Northwest Natural Pro-Atlas Bodybuilding and Figure Championships in Boise.
Knowles, 36, a personal trainer at Ketchum's Zenergy at Thunder Spring, had placed second in the same National Gym Association (NGA) drug-free contest eight years ago at the same location—Timberline High School in Boise. Then, it was her first fitness contest.
She went ahead and had her two children Ava, 7, and Asher, 5, with husband and chief moral supporter Tayt Knowles.
Just last November, Emily Knowles with the encouragement of Zenergy trainer Yvette Hubbard started training seriously with two eyes and flexed muscles looking directly at a return engagement to the Northwest Natural contest.
All the hard work paid off for Knowles Saturday with two first-place victories in a competition that featured over 110 entries—about 60 in bodybuilding and 50 more in the women's figure and bikini classes.
In the women's bodybuilding division, Knowles earned first in Middleweight (112.25 to 122.25 pounds) and also first place in Women's Masters 35-and-over. She was named the women's overall champion.
Knowles said, "I was having a blast up there, but was completely surprised when I won overall!" In the aftermath of her achievement, Knowles said, "I'm so happy to be eating like a normal human again."
Three other Zenergy athletes coached by Hubbard with the same goal of the two-day Pro-Atlas meet also competed on stage last weekend at Timberline High. The event included pre-judging followed by an evening show featuring the top five qualifiers in each class.
Women were divided into Bodybuilding (muscle size and shape, 60-second posing routines, bare feet, muscle definition and separation); Figure (muscle symmetry, lean and smooth, high heels, styled hair, model walk); and Bikini (lean, feminine, beach body, high heels, model walk).
Heather Miller, a versatile all-around endurance athlete in her first fitness competition, placed second in both the Figure Masters A (ages 35-40) category and the Figure C (5-7 and taller) division. She is girls' cross country coach at Hailey's Wood River High School.
Shannon Conklin, 36, the mother of two boys, was also in her first fitness competition. She placed third in the Bikini C (5-8 and taller) category.
Placing sixth in the Bikini B (5-4 to 5-7 tall) Division was Kerry Samudio, 43, the mother of three and Zenergy marketing director who was competing for the first time.
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