Although she’s a contestant in this weekend’s amateur bodybuilding competition at the Derby Festival, Nora Drayton doesn’t look like the typical bodybuilder.
The slender mother of two is a far cry from the oiled-up, very tan and buff women she’ll see at Saturday’s competition.
“I don’t want to look like that,” Drayton said, shaking her head. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but I prefer to stay more feminine.”
“… It’s funny because the trophy looks like the scary orange lady,” she added with a laugh.
Regardless of what the award looks like, Drayton wants that trophy when she competes in the bikini division in the National Physique Committee Kentucky Derby Festival Championship in Louisville Saturday.
NPC is the nation’s largest amateur bodybuilding organization. Saturday’s winners qualify for the 2012 NPC National Bodybuilding Championships in Atlanta in November.
Although Drayton, 33, has been building up her physique for nearly a decade, Saturday will be her first competition.
But it wasn’t the training or exercise holding her back – it was the skimpy two-piece bathing suit she’ll be required to wear for the competition.
Unlike some other divisions, there’s no heavy lifting on stage for the bikini category. Competitors model for the judges, who view their overall physique, including complexion, poise and how well they’re toned.
“I was always too chicken to compete,” Drayton said, dressed in workout gear and sipping from her gallon-sized water jug. “Those swimsuits? I was like, ‘Uh, I have underwear bigger than that,’” she said, laughing.
That all changed last winter when Drayton got together with a trainer in Cincinnati. The trainer worked with a group of women who strived to motivate each other to reach goals.
Some of those women will be competing against Drayton Saturday, but she said she doesn’t mind.
“It’ll be nice to have them up there (on stage) with me,” she said.
Getting in shape wasn’t hard for Drayton. She says it’s important to be physically fit.
About 10 years ago, Drayton saw a fitness magazine and says one of the models was inspirational.
“I said, ‘Oh, look at her little arms, I’ve always wanted those,’” she said with a laugh.
“So after that, I’ve always been really into it, just working out and eating better.”
As a mom of two and a nursing student at Kentucky State University, Drayton said she doesn’t have the time to spend hours at the gym. So four to five days a week, she tries to dedicate two hours each day to working out.
“And it doesn’t have to be a workout,” Drayton said. “You can go play basketball with your kids, you can go ride your bike … there are so many little things that you can do that when you add them up together, you can get benefits.”
But exercise isn’t everything – Drayton says more than 80 percent of her physique comes from diet.
She doesn’t classify herself as a “health nut,” but says she’s conscious of what she puts in her body. Drayton says she drinks a lot of water and eats protein-rich foods like chicken.
“It’s normal stuff that any normal person can eat,” she said.
“You don’t have to never have pizza or never have a cheeseburger – it just shouldn’t be every day. It should be a treat.”
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, Drayton plans to compete several more times this year, including in the Kentucky State Championship and Central Kentucky Bikini, Figure and BB Classic in Frankfort this August.
“For 10 years, I’ve been wanting to do these shows,” Drayton said. “Sometimes, as a parent, you don’t get to put what you want to do up front … so I’m excited to get one of my dreams accomplished before I’m 90.”