Fitness competitions are judged based on your physique, the fashion, the glamour and the dedication. When Anna McManamey steps out onto the stage, you can immediately see why she has been crowned a World Beauty, Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) professional for 2017.
Anna has been in the health and fitness industry for just over 13 years. After completing her certificates in personal training, she became a group fitness instructor, which has now transformed into her own personal training business.
With an extensive list of qualifications, including being a Metabolic Precision Certified Nutritionist and a Metabolic Precision Supplementation Specialist, she is also a graduate from a Bachelor of Media Communications, majoring in journalism.
“I come from a family of athletes, my mum ran in the 1974 Commonwealth Games, and my dad still plays competitive field hockey at age 61. I don’t recall a time in my life where I wasn’t involved in some kind of sport.” She said.
Growing up, Anna was a competitive dancer and rhythmic gymnast. In 2012, her focus shifted and she started competing in figure and fitness modeling competitions. She also competed in Physical Culture, also known as, ‘Physie’, for years and holds two Australian titles.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to place highly throughout my competitive career. I currently hold several Australian titles, a World runners-up, and recently received my pro card with WBFF,” she said.
Receiving her pro card with the WBFF means that Anna can now compete on the International Pro Circuit. The professional status is awarded to the most elite athletes.
“It is a very prestigious title to receive,” she said.
Anna believes she would be close to competing in 35 fitness and figure competitions, but has lost count.
Currently taking a season off competition, Anna is gearing up for the WBFF World Championships in Las Vegas in 2018. She is trying to build as much muscle as possible, and make some improvements to her physique, before making her debut on the WBFF pro stage.
“I’d like to do another Pro show before then as a warm up, so to speak, but I’m still weighing up my options,” she said.
For the competitions, Anna has been able to travel interstate, and has seen most parts of Australia. She has competed in Las Vegas, in 2013, but now that she is a WBFF pro, she can only compete in the professional shows, which are currently only overseas.
“There are plans to hold the first WBFF Pro Show here in Australia late next year. Keeping my fingers crossed for that!” she said.
Over the years, Anna has struggled with body image issues. She also lived with a serious eating disorder for seven years.
“While I have always lived a very active lifestyle and eaten nutritious foods, I most definitely was not the healthy person I am today,” she said.
As an athletic child, always participating in sports, Anna built muscle very easily, which left her feeling bulky compared to her “waif-like” friends. After taking up rhythmic gymnastics when she was 15, Anna’s insecurities worsened. She would constantly compare herself to other athletes.
“Training alongside them made me feel enormous. But it was one cruel comment by one of the coaches that eventually tipped me over the edge. ‘You’re too big to ever be an elite gymnast’,” she said.
After the nasty comment from someone she looked up to, Anna gave up eating, she skipped meals and threw her school lunches out. In one month, she lost 10kg. With people complimenting her weight loss, Anna finally felt like the ‘skinny’ one.
“But I wanted to lose more. I cut out entire food groups and lowered my daily calorie target to just 400 a day. I stopped going out with friends, as I hated the constant interrogation about why I wasn’t eating. My parents didn’t know what to do with me. They tried to take me to see a counselor but I kicked up such a tantrum they eventually gave up,” she said.
By the time it came to graduating from year 12, she weighed a mere 39kgs.
Throughout university, Anna’s weight fluctuated. She suffered from bulimia and anorexia. Then one day Anna decided to join a gym.
“I was sick of being sick, but simply didn’t know how to eat or live like a normal person,” she said.
With her newly found passion of exercise, Anna decided to hire a personal trainer, who ended up encouraging Anna to take on a healthier lifestyle.
“He introduced me to weight training and healthy, regular eating and was instrumental in helping me rediscover balance … I was lifting heavy weights, eating six meals a day, even enjoying a dessert every now and then, and couldn’t believe the changes I was making – not just physically, but emotionally,” she said.
Anna now has faced many rigorous months of training and preparation for the physique and bodybuilding competitions she competes in, which include incredibly strict dieting plans and exercise regimen.
“It takes consistency, determination and the right education to create the body you want, and you should never have to sacrifice your health. It is never too late to change your life. Everybody deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin,” she said.
Anna believes that the mindset is the hardest part of the competition preparation, even harder than dieting.
“It’s very easy to become consumed in worrying about what your rival competitors are doing and how they’re looking, and stressing about what the results may be come show day,” she said.
Anna believes that training hard, eating well and getting enough sleep is vital for achieving the desired results.
“Show day is always a lot of fun. After the months of rigorous training, dieting and posing practice, it’s your chance to showcase all your hard work. I’m far from perfect, but I have come a long way from where I once was, and it has made me a better athlete for it,” she said.