SCHERERVILLE | Life is what happens when you're planning something else.
Last year, Justyna Ksiazek was planning to compete with her kickboxing and fitness instructor, Brianne Corral, at the Ms. Bikini, Figure and Model Midwest Regional. But, to paraphrase a familiar phrase, "stuff" happens.
"I went on a trip ... I spent some time with my boyfriend ... I did a little partying," Ksiazek, 22, of Cedar Lake said. "I got off track with my training."
Corral has a word for such circumstances: "Excuses."
"You have to get past them," Corral said. "It takes a lot of guts to step in front of the audience while wearing a bikini, and it takes a lot of commitment to get yourself in shape to have that confidence."
Now more committed and confident, Ksiazek is due to make her belated debut at this year's regional to be held Sunday at the Beverly Performing Arts Center in Chicago.
She will join Corral, also of Cedar Lake, and Terra Afman, of Munster, as a three-person team representing Corral's Martial Arts.
Like Ksiazek, this will be Afman's first competition.
"I'm up for the challenge," said Afman, a 41-year-old nurse and mother of two -- her youngest son takes taekwondo classes at CMA in Schererville.
"I've been training hard and watching my diet," Afman said. "But I do treat myself to a small square of dark chocolate every day to keep me from going crazy."
As for Corral, who placed second in the "Tall Bikini" division in 2010 shortly after giving birth to her first child, Braulio Jr., and placed third in "Fitness" and fourth in "Model" at a subsequent regional, she treats herself to six meals a day.
"They're small meals, but I don't consider them snacks," Corral said. "It isn't like breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack.
"But a lot of people would consider all of them snacks."
Ksiazek and Afman both take BEfit fitness classes Corral designed at CMA. They also are enrolled in several of the school's martial arts classes including kickboxing and jiujitsu.
The two students arrived at CMA from opposite ends of as aspirations go. Afman originally joined the school for its BEfit program before adding martial arts to her regimen. For Ksiazek, it was martial arts first before gravitating to BEfit.
Whatever class they're doing at the time, they get down to business.
"You should see our (women's) kickboxing class," Ksiazek said. "We don't stop moving and we really work up a sweat.
"I don't think too many guys would be able to keep up with us."