I grew up in Royal Oak Michigan, a small suburb on the outskirts of Detroit and attended Michigan State University where I received a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and a minor in Dance. It was while I was at MSU that I started to develop an interest in weight training. I have to say that before I started weight training I was your typical 5’ 5”. 120lb aerobics instructor/dancer. I mean, I had a decent shape, but would definitely have been classed as ‘skinny’. I guess the fact that I was teaching up to 20 aerobics classes a week at the time may have played a part in that….always the over achiever!

My real passion for weight training began when I was 19, a freshman at MSU, I walked through the doors of the Powerhouse Gym and was awestruck by a woman working at the front desk. She was the first female bodybuilder I had encountered (outside of the pages of a magazine) and I had never seen such muscles on a woman before.  I was totally intrigued by her appearance and inspired to see if I could transform my skinny body into a piece of muscular artwork. As chance would have it, I met a bodybuilder who began training me and helped me with my diet. He in turn introduced me to a female bodybuilder and suggested we start training five days a week, one bodypart a day. So I gave up my aerobics classes and started serious bodybuilding training. In my mind there was no weight too heavy, just a muscle waiting to grow. Yes, you got it…I was hooked…and by the time I had completed my undergraduate degree in nutrition I had gone from 120 to 155lbs!
After graduating from college I moved to New York City – a city that captured my heart as a child and that I have loved ever since. I finished my Masters Degree in Clinical Nutrition and became a registered dietician and, at the same time, became a Certified Diabetes Educator. I also passed a board certified exam to become a Sports Dietician. All these qualifications uniting to compliment my new passion for bodybuilding.

By this time I was hitting the scales at a mighty 165lbs (the skinny aerobics instructor had been replaced by the aspiring bodybuilder!) and it was suggested to me that I should consider entering bodybuilding competitions. So, after 6 years of consistent training, at the age of 24 I began competing in some local shows in order to gain confidence and stage experience. The fact that I actually won those shows proved to me that I was indeed born to be a bodybuilder and I threw myself totally into pursuing my dream. Travelling back to Detroit I competed in my first National NPC qualifier and, with my family there to support me, I won the Middleweight division. That was a moment I will always treasure….
Next on the agenda was Team Universe where I won my weight class but lost the overall and therefore the pro-card. However, a good fighter never remains on the canvas…I got right back up again and entered the North Americans in Cleveland. The outcome? I won the Light Heavyweight class and the Overall…I was actually shocked that I pulled it off!  I was now a Pro…I can’t even put into words how amazing that felt!

From there I went to the ‘World’s’ contest…and I won again! I have to say that winning the World’s was the most amazing experience of my life. I will never forget it. I felt so proud to be an American and was filled with so much joy for winning the gold medal for the USA. I don’t think there will ever be another moment like it, it was a once in a lifetime accomplishment…

Fast forward through many more competition successes and you find me today, in 2010 coming back into the game after shoulder surgery and ready to do battle again. My life has taken many twists and turns in between but the most important thing is that I am back in New York City and living my dream. The world I created in my head is now a part of my daily reality. My days are filled with helping other competitors with diet, training and posing. I choreograph routines, mix music and have even put my creative talents into the world of web design, designing and maintaining the sites of many athletes as well as corporations.

Oh, and did I mention the fact that I also have my own spray tanning business and do hair and make-up for many of the female bodybuilders you see up on the stage?
Add to this my own competitive goals and my work outside of the sport as a diabetes educator and, although I may have said it once, like the city that owns my heart (New York) it is worth saying it twice…I am indeed living my dream!
Colette Nelson



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