A year ago, 32-year-old Jenn McRann could never have imagined she’d be where she is today, competing against 20-year-old girls in bikini fitness competitions – and beating them.
Five months back the 5-foot-6, tattooed brunette decided to start getting in shape again after being a medic for a year and a half. She wanted to work out correctly, so she approached Versatile Fitness trainer Bonnie Burrows.
“I wanted a trainer so I could learn how to train and not hurt myself,” McRann said. “I wanted to learn the right way, but then Bonnie just pushed me right into competing.”
“She told me right off the bat, ‘We’re going to do this and you’re going to place.’ The whole time I was thinking, ‘I’m going to Vancouver, I know what the women are like there, they’re beautiful. Like yeah right, little old me?’”
After five months of working out three to four days a week at Energetics Family Fitness Centre and doing a blood-type specific diet, McRann and Burrows travelled to Vancouver to compete in the 2012 Sandra Wickham Fall Classic with 300 other competitors.
At 5-foot-6, McRann was put in the Bikini D division (divisions go by height) with 20 other girls. As the girls all got ready in their bikinis, McRann noticed right away how she stood out from the rest of the blonde, “ribby” girls around her.
“I was definitely the older girl up there,” she said. “They’re all so beautiful, they really are. I didn’t think I had a shot at all. I’ll be 33 at the end of this month and all these girls are like 20.”
“I was worried about [my tattoos], especially with the judges. Is it dainty enough for bikini? But I also think it made me stand out in a good way. I met the judges the night before and made a point of saying hi.”
Despite what she called the “cattiness” of the competition, McRann stayed positive, met some friends and kept confident.
“The judges watched me come out and they didn’t even watch the other girls, the just watched me,” she said. “I stood out like a sore thumb.”
“When the judges asked me to step into the second place position, I heard Bonnie yell, ‘Boom!’ from the balcony. It was great. I had the biggest smile of my life.”
Compared to others who compete in similar events, McRann’s journey might’ve been a bit shorter to get there (five months), but the overall results meant far more to her than just a second place finish and qualifying for provincials.
It was a life changer.
“It’s changed who I am inside as a positive person. I was kind of going the other way; we have our moments, we get down,” McRann said.
“I’ll never go back to an unhealthy diet again. I feel that good about myself. I haven’t looked this good since I was 20 years old. That was 13 years ago and I actually got on stage with all those young’ens.”
As she started to train with Burrows, McRann had to cut out caffeine and chocolate from her life (two of her favourite things), get up early to do cardio and lift weights, something she’d never done before and sometimes dreaded, but the trade off was worth it, she said.
She made two great friends in Burrows and fitness competitor Angela Fowler (who inspired to her to train), got a new positive outlook on life, found new goals and even found romance, something she never thought she’d do.
“Bonnie was determined I’d find someone,” McRann laughed. “She got me on this website called Fitness Singles, and the first guy I met was pretty much perfect.”
“She’s a miracle in my life, that’s exactly what she is.”
McRann also found something else she didn’t think she would – pride.
“My mother is so proud of me,” she said, “And that makes me so happy because her opinion means so much. She’s everything.”
“A year ago, I could never imagine I’d be doing this, feeling this good. I’ll never go back.”
Because McRann placed second at the Sandra Wickham Classic, she gets a bye to the provincial championships next summer. Of course she said she’s “going for first” and in two years’ time she’ll be able to compete in the Masters division.
She’s more determined than ever, she said, and there’s no looking back.
When asked why she’s where she is now in her life, McRann’s answer was simple: Bonnie Burrows.
“I needed her, she was my everything,” she said. “What can I say, the woman is incredible, as a trainer, friend and family, that’s how I view her now. You don’t come across people with a heart of gold like that everyday.”
“I could make it all about me but that’s not what I want. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the two of them. Bonnie saw potential in Angie and now Angie’s going to Nationals. She saw potential in me and she pushed me.”
“I’m here because of them and if I didn’t have them I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have done it without them.”
McRann would like to thank her sponsors, Team Versatile and her friends for all of their support.
“I feel the best I’ve ever felt.”