After a 17 years hiatus from the sport she loved, Laura Carolan came back to the pro bodybuilding stage and felt completely at home, despite all the changes that female pro bodybuilding has gone thru with the IFBB.
Laura Carolan brought an amazing package at the Toronto pro show this year, and despite a pretty hectic prep, she won.
Like it often is the case, we should all learn to never judge a person by their appearance. If the female bodybuilding category seems to currently create less traction and appear less appealing to the general public, it is actually a huge category with many athletes and followers all over the world, that are respectful of what it represents. Not only an extreme level of physical and mental preparation, but also the destruction of stereotypes, and redefining of what beauty should be for women, in a world designed for men.
With her hard muscle and balanced physique, Laura always brings the sweetest, most kind and patience personality. She honestly is one of those women that you just would love to have as a close friend. If ever you meet her at an event, you will see what I mean.
The fans were hoping for Laura to come back to the stage for years now. Laura has turned pro at her very first show, the Canadian pro championship in 1992, then competed 3 times as a pro, at the Jan Tana pro women’s classic twice, in ’93 and ‘95, and the Arnold classic in 1994. Despite never leaving bodybuilding, she wasn’t seen until her competition at the Toronto pro show in 2012, where she placed 5th.
This time around, she had all in place for a win. At 5’’5 and weighing during competition 150 lbs, Laura has qualified for the Rising phoenix, which took place early September.
Laura Carolan kindly agreed to tell us more about her love for the game, and what’s coming up next for her.
The Rising Phoenix, that took place on the 9th and 10th September, in Arizona, really is the new Miss Olympia stage for female bodybuilders. Laura was just so happy to be part of it, considering the caliber of the athletes that were going to be present, but definitely aimed at the top ten and being the best she could be. This year also saw Iris Kyle back on stage as well at that competition.
One of the challenging aspects many pro bodybuilders face, is how to sustain their passion while having a job to fund all that a prep does require. Laura left the competition world for 17 years, went on to a career once again in a male dominated world, in a youthful correctional facility, where she worked for 13 years. A choice that she has found very rewarding: ̎First of all you are a women, and they are not used to see them there, and it’s scary at first, then they realise I am a softy and approachable, it’s fun and enjoyable to be around me. And they respect me, so when you work your shift, things go easy because the kids respect you.
Most of the time they don’t cross boundaries .̎ she explains.
She always kept up with lifting weights. Laura Carolan now plans to compete more and eventually become a prep coach, affiliated to Darren Mehling, her current competition coach.
The return to BB happened in 2012: ʺA friend of mine had competed and had me want to go back on stage, I didn’t even know who was big anymore. I missed the experience of being on stage, and had completely disconnected form the sport, and you go back, and it’s a challenge to put it all together again as you age.ʺ She admits.
One of Laura’s best qualities when it comes to BB is how great she is at being objective about herself. This really allows her to work what needs to be improved, and get ready with a better package for her following competition.
ʺIn 2012 at the Toronto pro show I placed 9th out of 12 girls, but I only had put 8 months into prep, with serious body building training towards it, to actually gain muscle. ʺ
Laura injured herself a couple of times in 2013-2014, then decided to go the Tampa pro in 2015. Most of her fans feel that she was robbed with the placing at that show.
ʺI ended up placing 8th, its sweet that people say that, but I wasn’t robbed, this is what happens with this sport, I came back after many years, only did the Toronto event, and then I went to compete to the Tampa pro, no one had heard of me, they didn’t even know who the hell I wasʺ. She tells me with a smile.
Her current prep coach. Darren Mehling, has become a major household name especially when it comes to figure and bodybuilding pros.
Darren also lives in Winnipeg, and their prep consists of Weekly check-ins with a list of what’s happening with diet and training, and any issues that might arise.
The relationship between a coach and her athletes is crucial to the success and Laura Carolan has found the perfect match: “Darren has this energy that you feed off. Before Tampa pro, I approached him ten weeks out, when my level of enthusiasm went to a very low level, so I knew I needed something, and I knew he always puts out great athletes with insane conditioning.
So when he took me on, I was so happy! But he only had 9 weeks to work with me and learn my body, he dialed me hard, got me really shredded, but I unfortunately had some cramping problems and couldn’t pose hard, so that issue wasn’t even a factor this time (NB at the Toronto Pro Supershow), you need to get to know your own body and so does your coach, so he was bang on, he is constantly educating himself, which is very important when you are coaching at a higher level. He is so knowledgeable, he has the answers to any question. It was a big eye opening for me, I used to critic the idea of hiring a coach, and in the 90s almost nobody used coaches.ʺ
So how did Laura start training for her first competition? She found her info’s on her own, a completely different approach to what happens nowadays, where actual teams are behind athletes.
ʺIt was largely from reading muscle mags and going to library for books on physiology, she explains, it didn’t come overnight but I always trained with knowledgeable partners I used to always hook up with at the gym. I was influenced by people at the gym, who used to compete way back then, the first woman that I remember, Heather, in Thunder Bay, where I was born and raised, she would train, I used to have to be prepared for the long distance thing with her, her veracity was crazy when it came to training, it inspired me, and I’d go watch her compete, and I knew I wasn’t muscular enough back then to go on stage, I had to catch up with my legs, and I still am playing catch up to this day, so, my legs are my strength, that’s what god gave me, so it’s the way it goes, I won’t complain.ʺ
Her favorite body part to train:
ʺMy fave thing to train right now is the back, sometimes it’s a shoulder work out, it shifts around, but it’s never legs, I hate legs! They take so much energy out of me.ʺ
Female bodybuilding category has been decomposed and broken apart once the IFBB decided to eliminate their category at the Olympia, by dropping the coveted Miss Olympia title in 2015. It left many of the athletes totally distraught. For everybody , to be able to go on the Olympia stage is the highest achievement and what most dream of, so it really came as a betrayal to many, who didn’t feel the reasons given for this decision were valid, since for the men’s categories , the heavy weights are still present.
Laura weighs in on the controversy: ʺFemale bodybuilding has always been a funny thing, lots of men really enjoy watching female body building and how it looks, but there is a lot of men who really don’t like it and don’t like how it looks, and like I said, I am older, and this category isn’t considered as pretty as the bikini category, and I also wasn’t born this way, I had to work for this body. I built this body on nothing, I had no upper body growing up so there is a lot of work in this category, you really earn your physique and the respect that goes with the men’s should go with the female bodybuilding too.ʺ
With now less competitors, it is becoming a smaller world, more tight knit, which is also a way to promote it.
As for female bodybuilding within the IFBB, Wings of Strength has gained the respect of the competitors and the fans, and only time will tell if female bodybuilding is making a come back, rising now even stronger, just as the phoenix did. As far as Laura goes, you can tell by how happy she looks on stage and how passionate she gets when she talks about the sport, that she is far from done in this game.
You can find out more about Laura on her fbook page here.