Via Jerry West & The Record
By Trish Weatherall
What started as a way to get back into pre-baby shape has grown into a passion, a way to help others, and a new business for 24-year-old Gold River resident Marlee Koob.
“After having my son, I was motivated to get in the best shape of my life,” said Koob. “I knew I wanted to grow my career in fitness and motivate others by proving that if I could do it, they could too!”
In July 2015 she set a goal to compete at the Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic bodybuilding competition n the bikini division in March 2016.
Her past fitness experience helped: she has worked as a lifeguard, taught fitness classes, was a regular runner, and did some moderate weightlifting. But she had never put in the kind of grueling work required to compete with bodybuilders.
For 9 months leading up to the March 19th competition at Massey Theatre in New Westminster, Koob did 6 days of lifting, 5 days of cardio, and 20 minutes of daily posing practice – dedicating about three hours total throughout the day.
“Some days I only slept about 3-4 hours,” she said. “I would work teaching fitness classes, swimming lessons, and lifeguarding until 9 pm every night, go home and prep my fitness classes for the next day, go to bed, and wake up at 4 am to do cardio and weight training before my son woke up.”
She also spent a day or two meal planning, food prepping, portioning, and labelling a strict diet of lean protein, complex carbs (like rice), and fibrous carbs (vegetables). No dairy, sugar or processed food.
She admits it has been tough at times.
“I’ve had countless barriers thrown in my path, including a broken foot, a kidney infection, and a husband who works away for four weeks at a time. Honestly, there are days where I just felt there was no way I could continue,” she said. “But I started this journey with a goal in mind and I won’t stop until I reach it. Knowing that there was a reason for this madness and being grateful for my opportunities, job, health and family is what drove me to continue.”
She works with coach Tamara Knight, one of Canada’s top bodybuilders and owner of TZone Fitness in Vancouver. They communicate by phone and text, and Koob sends daily photos in specific poses so that Knight can evaluate her progress and fine tune her workouts.
“A good coach is really important,” says Koob, “Tamara is sincere, genuine, and a bit scary. She’s one of the best in North America.”
Koob competed in March’s Muscle Classic, and after a few weeks break from her competitive diet and exercise program, she is back in training for the October Iron Ore competition in Prince George.
Right now Koob is also busy renovating the space for her new fitness studio in Gold River, opening in May. Previously, as Beastmode Fitness, she contracted her bootcamp classes out to other locations. Now her own location, Muscle Warfare Studio on Nimpkish Drive, will offer personal training in small groups by appointment. Classes will be mainly military-style, and she hopes to incorporate yoga in the future. She already has 30 women and 25 teens enthusiastic to join her.
“The average person doesn’t have to work out as much as I did in training for competition,” she said. “I’ve seen girls lose up to 40 pounds coming to my bootcamp class.”
She says her classes and the studio will have “young vibes”, and working with youth is another passion. She has volunteered as assistant coach for the Gold River girls’ soccer team, and though she admits she has never played soccer herself, she is happy to help with the fitness side of training. She is also partnering with a youth drug and alcohol counsellor to work with teens on fitness and lifestyle choices.
“The biggest benefit of living a healthy lifestyle is having an outlet for stress,” she says, “feeling great mentally, emotionally, and physically, and learning so much about myself along the way.”
Beyond the personal benefits, Koob hopes to inspire others to work for their goals.
“Competing has given me a platform to share my experiences and views, and help empower people to excel in all facets of life, whether they lift or not,” she says. “And in the long haul with enough effort, many goals can be achieved and obstacles overcome.”