Local victory lifts bodybuilder to nationals
Oct 31, 2016 11:56AM ● Published by Travis Barton
Sharon Davis-Halpin started competing in National Physique Competitions in 2014. (Rob Norbutt/Infinity Machine)
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By Travis Barton | firstname.lastname@example.org
Midvale, Utah - In August, Sharon Davis-Halpin competed in the bikini category at the 2016 National Physique Competition (NPC) Utah Cup Championship at Cottonwood High School. On Nov. 18, she’ll be doing the same thing in Miami, Fla., only this time at the National Bodybuilding Championships. Davis-Halpin qualified for the national competition in Miami after winning the 2016 NPC Utah Cup Championship.
“It’s a lot bigger show with a lot more competition, I’m excited for it to happen,” Davis-Halpin said in anticipation of the bodybuilding championship.
Davis-Halpin, 26, will be competing in the bikini category, where they look for a fitness model physique — the kind seen in a celebrity magazine.
“[Judges] are looking for a good tone with muscles, but not too bulky or muscular. It’s a softer physique in that category,” Davis-Halpin said. The competition is similar to a pageant. Besides looking at the body’s balance, symmetry, softness and athleticism, judges will also take hair, makeup, tan and swim suit color into consideration.
Davis-Halpin said the stage presence of perfecting the routine’s poses is a major factor.
“You work hard to bring the physique you have, but you also have to show that off in a way that’s pleasing to the judges,” Davis-Halpin said. “It can make or break the whole thing.”
Davis-Halpin prepared for the show by incorporating different types of workouts from CrossFit and bodybuilding to hypertrophy movements and Olympic lifting.
While the show in August was her second ever competition, it’s been a four-year process for Davis-Halpin to arrive at a point where she’s competing in national competitions and being approached on social media to advertise fitness items.
Davis-Halpin always participated in various sports and physical activities (she had a brief stint with her cheerleading team in high school), but it wasn’t until 2012 when she began to take fitness seriously.
“I did marathon training, ran a half-marathon and hated it. I hurt my leg, my knee, it was too hard on my joints,” Davis-Halpin said.
Joining a gym, Davis-Halpin spent months doing a different kind of fitness, strength training, when she decided to enter the bodybuilding world.
“I feel like having a goal within the fitness industry helps you stick with those goals, and body building holds you very accountable because it shows in your physique,” Davis-Halpin said.
Davis-Halpin competed in her first NPC show in 2014 finishing outside of the top places, but in an individual sport where most preparation is done alone, both in and out of the gym, Davis-Halpin decided she wanted more community in what she was doing. At the suggestion of a friend, Davis-Halpin joined Aether Barbell, a CrossFit gym in Midvale, where she joined a community of “encouraging friends.”
“It’s not an easy sport, it’s hard and it can get lonely so my Aether Barbell army are the world to me,” Davis-Halpin said.
After initially swearing off more competitions, Davis-Halpin chose to enter another with a healthier approach aided by her new coach, Aether Barbell owner Matt Van Dyke.
“My first competition was very damaging both mentally and physically, and Matt’s a nutrition guru. He competes as well so it’s nice knowing my coach follows the same plan I do,” Davis-Halpin said. She then spent more than eight months priming for her NPC victory in August. A competition which proved very nerve-racking for her husband, Jake Halpin.
“I had a hive of butterflies in my stomach, because I know how much effort and time she put into it,” Jake said.
Van Dyke has coached four previous girls to first or second place overall at these competitions. For him, seeing Davis-Halpin win, was a memorable culmination of the work they did together.
“It was amazing, it’s a victory for me just watching somebody be successful,” Van Dyke said.
Davis-Halpin said she knew she brought her best package but was still shocked to learn she won.
“It was overwhelming…you start this fitness thing and you have goals and want to the best you can, but then knowing it paid off, internally it was very satisfying,” Davis-Halpin said.
Davis-Halpin said Van Dyke has played a big role in her fitness development.
“He’s a very inspiring person to talk to, makes you feel like you can do anything. I couldn’t have asked to work with someone better,” she said.
Van Dyke said having no ego is the most important attribute his athletes can have, something Davis-Halpin carries in spades.
“She’s one of them most coachable people I’ve ever met,” he said. “Her motivation, her drive, her characteristics as a female and what she’s done in the last couple years is mind blowing.”
In a sport where “90 percent of it is spent outside of the gym,” diet and nutrition plans are essential. It has been the most challenging aspect for Davis-Halpin. She said she follows a flexible dieting plan, but she does occasionally skip social events with her husband to avoid the temptations of eating the food everyone else is.
“That’s usually the hardest and most unglamorous part of the sport, just being able to go enjoy a dessert with Jake or splurge on a pizza, mostly the pizza,” Davis-Halpin said.
Jake said he doesn’t think people realize how much will power goes into preparing for these competitions. He said Sharon even packed a whole week’s worth of personal meals for a vacation to Lake Powell in June.
“My food prep is throwing a burrito into the microwave. She preps everything that goes into a meal, it’s a higher level of self-discipline,” Jake said. It’s something that he’s strived to help her with.
“Jake does help me, I tell him to take [food] out of my hand, I generally don’t let him take it out of my hand. He knows my goals and helps me stick with them,” she said.
But that self-discipline has proven to embolden Davis-Halpin.
“You just really have to take responsibility for everything…being able to restrict yourself and still reach your goals is not only empowering, but everything else in your life kind of falls into place,” she said.
Now working as a nutrition and fitness coach, a commercial customer service representative and a hair stylist, Davis-Halpin has taken part in a personal evolution that is now stimulating others to embark on a similar journey.
She has a social media following on her Instagram that has grown from zero to 8,017 in the span of four months with companies regularly reaching out to her asking her to rep their product as well as inspiring others to live a healthier lifestyle.
“It’s inspiring to know that you can make a difference for someone giving them the motivation to change their health or their own relationship with themselves,” Davis-Halpin said.
Her personal relationship may have progressed the most.
“It’s definitely made her more confident. She would kill me in an arm or leg wrestling match,” said Michelle Mullen, one of her closest friends.
Her confidence goes beyond the physical. Van Dyke said the difference between Davis-Halpin now versus when he first met her is night and day.
“She’s developed a completely different aura about her…and is hands down one of the best people I’ve ever known,” Van Dyke said.
Jake and Sharon began dating in 2007 before eventually getting married in 2013. He has witnessed her evolution.
“Seeing 2007 Sharon versus 2016 Sharon is someone more confident in herself and doesn’t care as much what people think,” Jake said. “It’s cool to see her evolve not only physically, but mentally and emotionally through the past 10 years.”