MERRILLIVILLE | For some at body builders at Universal Fitness, working out is a way of life for those dedicated to health and fitness, for others it was a way to stay off the streets.
Universal Fitness Owner Alex Mossbarger and Abiu Feliz’s bodybuilding stories are quite extraordinary and quite different.
Mossbarger began her journey about seven years ago when she was adamant on living a healthy lifestyle.
Last year, Mossbarger competed in the National Physique Competition (NPC) Junior USA Championship in Charleston, S.C. and fell short of her pro card. This weekend, she took her physique to Chicago to compete in 2014 Optimum Nutrition NPC Jr. National Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure, Bikini & Physique Championships, held June 13-14 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont, Ill.
"I have been working hard to get into competition shape and am excited the time is finally here,” said Mossbarger. “All the hard work is over. This week is just keeping lean and staying focused."
Mossbarger has been training twice a day for two and a half hours, seven days a week for months and the competition enables her to compete for a pro card, which can potentially mean modeling contracts, cash prizes, endorsements and sponsorships.
“We are shooting for great results but regardless she’s already a winner," said Denny Finnearty, Universal Fitness co-owner and fiancé. "I am proud of her and my boys in competition mode for their determination and perseverance.”
Finnearty' "boys" are bodybuilders DeWayne Triplett, who will be competing with Mossbarger in Chicago, Alberto Acosta will be competing in July in South Bend and Abiu Feliz will be competing in July at the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Wings of Strength Show in Chicago Pro in Tinley Park.
Feliz is the only current IFBB pro at Universal Fitness and one of the four in the state. In July’s competition, Feliz will be competing for a spot in the national Mr. Olympia competition.
“I grew up in East Chicago and belonged to the Body Building Crew (BBC),” said Feliz. “It was either join a gang or be part of something positive. My buddies formed our own gang but for the positive and we worked out with Coach [Richard] Peterson at Central High School.”
Finnearty knows the stereotypes of most body builders as “muscle heads” but feels times are changing boasts that his fiancé is pursuing a degree to be a Physician's Assistant at Indiana University Northwest and graduates next semester. Mossbarger continues to balance studying, training and family as skillfully as she handles her workout repetitions.
“Body builders have been promoting the importance of fitness and diet since the beginning,” said Finnearty. “People are beginning to be health conscience in the past decade or so. Some thing we took very seriously all along.”
Mossbarger feels her dedication and self-motivation is the key to her success as well as her food plan that includes a lot of fish and vegetables.
"I enjoy the discipline," said Mossbarger. “Body building is a lifestyle that is not for everyone."
Finnearty states that body building is not always accepted at some gyms and some feel their clients feel intimidated by their strength conditioning and lifestyle, however, is quick to mention his gym turns nobody away.
“We all get great satisfaction from helping people with various needs,” said Finnearty. “I’m just as proud of a client trying to get their diabetes under control just as much as I am of my competitors seeking their pro card. We are a family here and we take great pride in helping people achieve their goals."