It's 6:30am and I'm standing in an empty carpark on what feels like Galway's first attempt at an Autumn/Winter morning. Cold-air condensation shrouds the window panes of a darkened Galway City Gym, the interior barely lit by a sun that's not quite yet willing to rise. With 2 hours sleep to my name, I know how it feels.
Marguerite just competed in the FitEx Fitness Extravaganza Nationals. An RIBBF event that caters for a variety of different classes and also awards cash prizes and modelling contracts to it's top performers. From what I could gather through our conversations while booking the shoot, she had never done any modelling before and this was her very first competition. This, coupled with the fact that she has not yet racked up one full year of weight training had sparked my interest and made me wonder why someone would compete so soon, and what must have motivated her to go straight for the deep end. The limelight on a bodybuilding stage encompasses a narrative that most would describe as their worst nightmare; you're standing almost completely naked on a stage all by yourself, friends, family and an army of strangers stare in expectation of a show worth the ticket price. This really isn't an arena for the meek. So I caught up with Mags to get some back story and shed some light on her fitness journey and how it's impacted her over the past year.
Paul Wilson: So Marguerite, your physique says so much about what kind of life you lead, but this is a new build for you too! Tell us, how did this all begin?
Marguerite Masterson: Well, it all started at the RIBBF Nationals in October last year. I went along to support friends and family who were competing that day, both my son Wayne and also Phoebe McVey were on stage. Watching my son up there made me so proud, he worked incredibly hard, and although he didn't place in his class he was very motivated and happy with the experience when it was over. I saw a lot of ladies there too and they looked amazing, I said it in passing to my friends that I'd love a 6-pack too but felt it would never happen and thought no more of it.
Paul: I know that feeling, bodybuilding shows never usually make me feel good about that last pizza either. You certainly found your fire from it though, what happened next?
Mags: Well it was a few weeks later in November when my sons girlfriend Ciara was around at our house for the evening. She was telling me about how sore her legs were. I didn't know why until she told me she had been at the gym. Ciara was going again the coming Monday so I used that as my opportunity to tag along. I started into training 3 days a week and my son helped me go through all the basics and show me what was what. I took a short hiatus coming up to Christmas but started again with my 3 day weeks at the start of the New Year!
PW: Ah yes, the busy period for every gym and fitness club! Did you come back in with the same program and focus?
MM: Well this time I had been in touch with my cousin Gerard Masterson, he had put together a training program but more importantly a diet plan. I stuck to training 3 days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday right up until May when I went on a holiday to Turkey. I went for three weeks but I stayed training just like when I was at home. There was so much walking being done everyday and my diet held together, well around 70% of it. I was on holidays after all so treats had to be had!
PW: Well you earned it and the fact that you maintained training is the most important factor for holding your progress! So, arriving home from your break must have been a shock again, when did the idea to compete take hold?
MM: Well when I got back I felt like I needed a new focus to give me something to aim off for. I discussed it with Ciara and she suggested that I should go ahead and compete. I thought that was a crazy idea at the time, but she said that I should consider going on the diet and the special training program as if I was going to compete and just see how I felt about it as the time was drawing in. With that in mind I got in touch with Gerard again and asked for his opinion and advice. He prepared my diet plan for me and I stuck to it 110% this time, I also had to increase my training to 5 and even 6 days a week!
PW: That's a really significant increase in commitment, how did you feel with the new approach?
MM: Well as the weeks went by I started to feel better and more confident. I was seeing changes from the work I was putting in and it was motivating me to keep moving forward. I made the decision closer to the event that I was going to enter and that was that. I didn't tell many people, just some close family and a few friends, I didn't want everyone's eyes on me as it would have been too much pressure.
PW: That's a great way to go about it, I feel like sometimes if there's too much expectation from having told too many people that you intend to compete, often people feel like they absolutely have to compete even if they're not ready in time for the show. How was it on the day itself?
MM: Well I was incredibly nervous on the day itself. I watched a lot of the show and was able to get an idea of the format but by the time it came around to my turn I was motivated and really excited to get up there and give it my all! I mean I turned 42 a month ago, and here I am on stage at a fitness competition,and so seeing my Mum and Dad and all of my family and friends, including the family I've made at Galway City Gym, down there in the crowd supporting me through it all, well it was absolutely amazing. It was their presence that kept me calm onstage and gave me confidence to see it through. I placed 2nd in the Masters class and just couldn't believe it , I was so incredibly happy and the feeling was magic!
PW: That's amazing Mags, but not all too surprising, you turned up ready to compete, looked incredible and your passion and attitude are 100% in the right place. You worked hard and you got the recognition you deserve so congratulations! How's the future looking for you now?
MM: Well after the show I decided to take a week off training. I've had a few treats for myself here and there but I really missed going training to be honest. I started back again on Monday and I'm more excited than ever to get training and planning my next adventure!
PW: The very best of luck with the future Mags, I hope and believe we'll be seeing you grace stages for years to come!