A desire to feel better about her own body prompted former Hawke's Bay sprinter Rachael Palmer to take up bodybuilding.
That was three years ago and on Sunday Palmer, 37, will travel to Spain to prepare for the May 27 world championships in Castellon.
"I've been doing weights since I was 14 but I still wanted to feel better and stronger," Palmer said as she recalled her journey to Castellon.
A novice figure class competitor, Palmer, will be the only Hawke's Bay competitor in the six-strong Kiwi team which will be in action at the worlds. She qualified with her second placing in a six-strong field at the Asia Pacific Pro-Am Championships in Auckland last month.
Last year Palmer, a personal trainer at Flex Fitness, Napier, won her class at the Taradale High School-hosted Hawke's Bay championships in August and the October nationals which were staged in Napier's Municipal Theatre. Both events had six-strong fields in her class and in Castellon she is likely to be up against 30 other starters.
"I'm aiming for a top six finish in Spain. While I'm a first timer at that level and it's something I wanted to tick off my bucket list it's a long way to go without having a decent goal. I would be pretty stoked if I could achieve it and I've been training accordingly."
A mother of two children aged eight and five, Palmer, has been training up to two hours each day six days a week. She pointed out the positive feedback she got from judges in Auckland has proved to be ideal motivational fuel.
"They said I've got good symmetry, balance, posture and stage presence. While I don't know any names of some of my rivals I expect some quality entrants from Russia and the Ukraine as well as other European countries because they are so close to Spain," Palmer said.
Although she has to make a few sacrifices during the final week leading up to a show on the nutrition front she said it isn't a big issue for her as healthy eating suits her lifestyle.
"It's good for the children to see me eating healthy to achieve my goals."
A former sprinter, gymnast and badminton player during her days at Havelock North High School, Palmer, said if she can crack the top six in Spain it will motivate her to chase more international shows.
"But I may move up to the Miss Fitness class. This is the year for me to go for everything and next year I might ease back a bit and help other people who want to get into bodybuilding."
"I want to teach other people how to feel better about themselves and about the choreography associated with shows."
Upon her return from Spain Palmer's attention will turn to training for an August show in Taupo.