A year ago, Melissa Pearo didn't even know what a figure model competition was. Recently, she turned pro.
"It's never happened. I've been doing it for 25 years and I've turned seven of them pro, but I've never seen it in 10 months," said her trainer, Howard Huddleston. "That's nuts."
Ironically, all Pearo wanted to do was lose five pounds. At a 2006 "Phat Camp" in Phoenix, she first learned about the sport of figure modeling, in which women are judged on symmetry and muscle tone, but not muscle size or fitness routine. Other women there thought she was in it already.
"I didn't know what they were talking about," said Pearo, 34, who works as a software engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration. "I really didn't have any desire to compete."
But that July, after seeing photos of Tulsa competitors and thinking she looked "as good as them," she thought she'd give it a try and planned to make her debut at an Edmond show.
To get a feel for it, however, she went to one in Dallas three weeks beforehand "¦ and somehow ended up onstage. She placed second.
"Then I was hooked," Pearo said.
She won top honors in the Edmond show. And then in Norman. And then in Houston. She also emerged victorious from her first national show, and finishing in the top four at Junior Nationals allowed her to turn pro.
"I'm not making any money at it," she said. "It's just an expensive hobby." "Rod Lott
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