Fitness champ

National figure winner drives strict diet, exercise regimen


"It was such a great feeling,” Katerina Tarbox, 46, said of her first place victory as a Pro Figure Champion at this year’s Masters Nationals, the industry’s premier amateur body building competition. In the event held July 19 in Pittsburgh, Tarbox competed against 684 other women. “I was amazed. I still cannot believe it.”

Not only did the win give her the national amateur title, she also earned professional status with the International Federation of Body Building (IFBB). In other words, she now has a “pro card” that will give her the opportunity to compete for a place in the world-renowned Olympia championships in 2013, a personal goal she is thrilled to have achieved.

Further, the win qualifies her to take part in the Europa Super Pro Show, a competition scheduled for Aug. 17 and 18 in Dallas.

During the competition in July, Tarbox was judged on her overall physical condition.

“You’ve got to bring the whole package on the stage, from your hair and your makeup to the suit that you wear, the way you walk and how comfortable you are with yourself,” she said.

Originally from Greece, Tarbox, a self-described competitive person and a former gymnastics enthusiast, as well as a member of the most recognized national federation in the industry, the National Physique Committee (NPC), has lived in Warwick for nearly a decade. She moved to North Kingstown with her family when she was 14 and started competing when she was 36, after her husband of 23 years, Ed Tarbox, a successful local car dealer, suggested she join Gold’s Gym at 200 Bald Hill Road.

There, she realized she was interested in competing.

At first, she participated in fitness competitions, which require individuals to perform a 90-minute routine that involves gymnastics, dance and strength training. Shortly after, she began entering figure competitions.

To stay in tip top shape, Tarbox, who weighs 122 pounds and is 5”5’ tall, lifts weights four to five days a week and does at least 30 minutes of cardio six days a week.

She also maintains a strict diet and eats six small meals a day every two and a half hours, beginning each day with four egg whites, a half-cup of plain oatmeal, as well as a cup of black coffee. For an “a.m.” snack, she has four ounces of grilled chicken breast, four ounces of yams and 15 almonds. And yes, she counts each of them.

“Don’t laugh,” she said with a smile.

After her “a.m.” snack, she does weight training for an hour and a half. Her goal each day is to work two body parts, so for example on Mondays she typically works her shoulders and arms.

She then eats another four ounces of chicken breast, three quarters of a cup of brown rice, and a cup of vegetables. Her next meal is a “p.m.” snack, which consists of four ounces of lean meat, usually chicken or turkey, and four ounces of yams, as well as 15 almonds. The rest of her meals are similar.

While she has cravings at times, she happily resists, allowing her dedication to win.

“When you’re in competition season and you have a goal, nothing disturbs you because you are so focused,” she said. “The most important part is your diet. Diet is 80 percent of it and 20 percent of it is what you’re doing in the gym. If I don’t reach my goal, in my heart I know I’m a winner either way.”

Gold’s Gym owner David Walker, who has been in the industry for more than 30 years, certainly considers Tarbox a winner. He feels honored that she works out at his facility.

“She is by far the most advanced competitor that we’ve ever had in our health club and having her here is great,” he said during a phone interview last week. “She’s so nice and approachable and she usually wins the shows she goes in.”

Walker is correct, as Tarbox has won first place in a number of local competitions, including two other shows held earlier this summer, and has placed in several others. Also, she won first place at the New England competition in 2008, as well as first place at the Greater Gulf States in 2011.

Tarbox said she’s grateful to her husband, their two children, Nickiforos, 27, and Eddie-Paul Jr., 17, as well as her coach, Kim Oddo, a highly regarded nutritionist, for their support. She’s looking forward to the qualifying competitions and is hopeful she’ll earn a spot in next year’s Olympia event.

“I really enjoy it,” she said of the competitions. “You challenge yourself, keep your body in shape and keep yourself healthy.”


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