Bodybuilding has been an important part of Estevan resident CeaAnna Kerr's life for more than 20 years.
In the last five years, she has been travelling the continent in professional competitions. Just recently, she posted one of her best results since turning pro.
Kerr finished second at the second annual Toronto Pro SuperShow, an event organized by the International Federation of BodyBuilders.
"You're going up against the top physiques in the world," said Kerr.
Women's bodybuilding, figure, fitness and bikini competitions were also contested in Toronto. There was also men's bodybuilding, with separate divisions for those who weigh above and below 212 pounds.
In the physique division, Kerr was judged on her body symmetry – the balance in her physique from head to toe. The judges evaluate whether a part of the contestant's body is larger than the rest.
"Symmetry's so important so that your body flows," said Kerr.
"You're judged on your conditioning, so you have to be conditioned with how you diet. You have to diet down to show the fine lines in your muscle."
As part of the physique competition, Kerr is also judged on her hair and make-up. She also gets to wear jewelry and fine suits. Judges want female competitors to look very feminine.
At the Toronto SuperShow, the judges felt her only drawback was that her conditioning could have been a little better. Kerr finished just one point out of top spot.
"The judges had a hard time picking (a winner)," said Kerr. "Half of the judges were for her (the first place finisher), and half of them were for me."
Twelve people were entered in physique at the SuperShow.
Toronto marked the latest professional competition in what has been a busy year for Kerr. She was the only Canadian entered at an event in California, and she finished eighth out of 16. Kerr was eighth out of 21 at a competition in Orlando.
Kerr has been a professional since 2007. She was the first Saskatchewan resident to turn professional. A couple of others have since become pros.
Initially she was entered in the figure division, but judges kept telling her that her body was too big to be in figure. Kerr tried to lose muscle, and she rarely worked out for a year.
"They brought in this physique division for us women that are kind of in between," said Kerr. "We have years of training, and are a little more built than what they're wanting in figure. And they're wanting more slender and slimmer women, with not so much muscle?
"So for those of us who have been training for 25 years, what do you do? Now they made this physique division, and it fits perfect."
This is the first year that physique has been offered for professional female bodybuilders.
Kerr has always been active in sports. Cycling actually served as her gateway to bodybuilding; she started cycling thanks to her brother, who was a member of the national team. Her brother brought her to a gym, and she started weight-training with him.
She was then introduced to the sport of women's bodybuilding. Kerr went to her first show in 1990, and was hooked.
"I was really fascinated by it," said Kerr. "From there I just started training more, and thought 'with my cycling, I'm going to do more weight training.' So I incorporated the two, but then weight training took off, and I thought 'I’m going to continue with this.'"
Her first competition at the amateur level was in 1993. She won a provincial bodybuilding championship in 1994. She shifted to fitness and sport aerobics, but those two weren't for her.
Kerr won provincial titles in 2006 and 2007 in the fitness division, and competed at nationals in 2007. That was the year she won her pro card.
"What I enjoy is watching your body transform," said Kerr. "You have your body fat in your off-season look, and then you diet, watch your body transform, actually see the cuts come out of your muscle, and see how hard the muscle gets, and see your body totally change shape. From the beginning of your diet to the end of your diet, you're a completely different person."
Her husband, Chad, is a bodybuilder as well, so he also understands the demands of the diet and the exercise required, she said. Kerr has an excellent support system with friends, family and co-workers. Many of those people understand what she needs to do to get ready for a show.
Discipline is the biggest challenge once the off-season is finished. The diet is very demanding. She works out about three hours a day, including weight training and cardio vascular exercise, to get ready for a show.
A lot of professionals have big contracts, so they don't have to worry about a job. Kerr works full-time, so she doesn't have much free time once she starts training, because she's in the gym, or preparing healthy foods.
Even during the off-season, she works out five days a week. She continues to eat healthy, but the diet isn't as strict.
Kerr is now in her off-season. Her next event will likely be in Florida in September, or in Los Angeles in October. She's leaning towards October, to give her a little more downtime, and to extend her off-season.