Jackie Byer, formerly of Cimarron, competed in the National Physique Championship in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 31.

Residing in Lawrence, the 22-year-old is the daughter of Jason Byer, Cimarron, Amy and Mike Johnson, Olathe.

She is the granddaughter of Connie Orrison, Dodge City, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Byer, Cimarron.

There were more than 500 contestants in the largest show held in the midwest.

"Going into the show, I did not know that. The judges have been at the Olympics. If I had known this, I might have chosen a different competition," Byer said. "I wanted to do this for a few years. I am into fitness and a personal trainer, so I decided to try it.

"It is expensive. You have to purchase a $125 yearly membership; then you have an entry fee of $40 to $80 (depending on the event). If a woman decides to do other classes, there is an entry fee for each class."

To prepare for her first competition, Byer completed the 3-4 month course in seven weeks.

"I would not recommend this to anyone. I had time to do it and it kept me busy. During this time I had no life at all," Byer quipped.

Working out a couple times a day, she did strength training, cardiovascular exercises, watching what she eats, controlling her heart rate to burn calories and get body fat down.

"I was working out at the gym where I work, at the Recreation Center on the KU campus," Byer said.

It was a long day for the NPC championship.

At 1 a.m. prejudging was taking place.

The girls, who made it through the other rounds, went onto stage doing a pose routine – basically three different poses to show their physique. After the judges do the call outs, the women go back to the stage in order of placing to do group poses of the front and back. The finals were then held after one more pose, and winner’s names were announced and awards given.

"I did not place, but I was happy with getting to compete," Byer said.

Byer felt more at ease when back stage meeting the other competitors. "It is kind of a lonely life. No one understands your struggles to prepare for a competition. For example, when your friends call, and ask you to go out to eat, and you have to decline, because you are prepping for the competition. Back stage you were surrounded by those who knew what you went through in the last five months. They know the life and struggles, dedication to get to that point, and everybody was respectful of each other," she said.

What did she learn from her first competition?

"For myself personally, I learned my limitations during the prep process, and when you have an end goal in mind, it does not happen overnight. You have to make sacrifices to reach your goal," Byer said.

Now that her first physique competition is past, she is working on getting her body back to normal.

How did she become a personal trainer?

"I had to become certified and pass an exam, learning about anatomy and many other subjects. I am also a group fitness instructor. I teach cycling and general strength classes," she pointed out.

Byer will graduate in May 2019 from Kansas University.

"I am learning to set my priorities. After I graduate, I may not be in that point in my life to continue the competitions, so I am competing now. I am making plans to compete in two more shows - Omaha, Nebraska and Kansas City, Kansas.

"My goal is to place in one of these shows," Byer concluded.