Bellingham woman embraces bodybuilding lifestyle

Danielle Schemm heading to national championships July 4

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 19, 2014 

Danielle Schemm started training to be a bodybuilder just a year and a half ago, but she's already making waves in the sport.

Schemm entered her first contest, the 2014 National Physique Committee Vancouver USA Naturals, in February. To her surprise, she won the Fitness Overall category, feeding her inner competitive fire.

The 26-year-old entered the 2014 Emerald Cup held on April 26, in Bellevue, just two weeks after the first contest of her amateur career. She achieved an unprecedented result, winning both the Fitness and Figure Overall categories for the first time in the event's history.

In the Fitness competition, bodybuilders perform a two-minute dance, gymnastic or aerobic routine. In Figure they are judged solely on their physique.

"(Most bodybuilders) split their training time between routine and body," Schemm said in a phone interview. "I don't let one take priority over the other."

Schemm, an administrative assistant in Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville's office, was a competitive gymnast until she went to college. After a few years of just working out to stay in shape, her boyfriend and training partner, Kyle Osborne, suggested they start a more serious weightlifting and dietary regimen. They started to follow the bodybuilding competition circuit online and in February Schemm decided to try doing a contest.

"As soon as I started in the gym, I loved it," Schemm said. "Weight training is so much better than home workouts and classes for me. I love lifting weights for an hour until I can't lift anymore."

The transition to competitive bodybuilding brought Schemm back to her roots as a gymnast when she had to design a routine for the Fitness category. It took her just four hours to design a routine, and her coach Viko Newman helped her fill the gaps to perfect it.

"Gymnastics is a lot more serious and there isn't a lot of engagement with the crowd," Schemm said. "That's the thing I need to work on most. It was one of my biggest critiques."

Schemm is part of the Save Fitness team ran by Tanji Johnson. Johnson is a nine-time champion in the professional bodybuilding organization, the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB). Gaining membership to the IFBB is Schemm's next goal.

To go pro in the IFBB, Schemm has to win her category at the 2014 NPC Team Universe Bodybuilding Championships on July 4 in Teaneck, New Jersey. After winning both Fitness and Figure so far, Schemm has to decide if she wants the pressure of competing in both at the national competition.

She'd like to compete in both categories at the professional level, but she can choose just one category per show. Schemm doesn't mind because once she is considered pro and accepted into the IFBB, she can compete in either category, she said.

Though competitions usually run between March and November, Schemm trains year-round at Bellingham Fitness and keeps her meals very disciplined to avoid falling into the pitfall of "cheat days."

If Schemm gets accepted to the IFBB, she can start competing for cash prizes and add sponsors, she said. In amateur competition, prizes are only redeemable to cover expenses of the competition or to get to the national competition.

Schemm has some sponsorship money from winning the Vancouver USA Naturals and Emerald City Cup, but needs more to afford the trip to Team Universe. For more information, visit gofundme.com/roadtofitnesspro or facebook.com/danicolefit.

Reach Alex Peterson at 360-715-2285 or alex.peterson@bellinghamherald.com.

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