Hannah Krystosek competed in her first muscle classic contest last year, and, contrary to every expectation she had as a first-time contestant, took third place in the bikini division of the competition.
Two things happened to the 24-year-old Rochester registered nurse then: The first was surprise — no, shock — that she had done so well. And the second was the realization she was unalterably hooked on such competitions.
“I was in shock,” Krystosek said. “I honestly didn’t expect to place at all. I just thought, ‘I’m just going to go up there and have fun.'”
Krystosek will be among about 60 people to compete in Saturday’s NPC MedCity Muscle Classic: Bodybuilding, Physique, Figure & Bikini Competition at Mayo Civic Center. It marks the return of National Physique Committee contests to Rochester after a hiatus of several years.
A 2009 Century High School graduate, Krystosek said she always had been a little wary of weightlifting and its potential to make her body bulky. But her attitude began to change when she took a beginner’s weight-lifting class at Luther College. Yet, even then, competing in bodybuilding contests was the farthest thing from her mind.
“It was just something to keep me active,” she said. “I joined the (Rochester Athletic Club) here in town to stay active.”
It was while Krystosek was working out at the RAC that she decided to take her bodybuilding to the next level. Part of the drive came from her surroundings. During her workouts at the RAC, she noticed how many people at the RAC were in “just fantastic shape.” It motivated her.
And then when she joined her weightlifting with a “clean, healthy diet,” the effect of her body-building efforts were almost immediate and transformative.
“I felt pretty instant results, and I just felt amazing,” she said. “The main thing really is the diet.”
Entering her first bodybuilding competition in Milwaukee last fall, Krystosek discovered that it wasn’t all that different from the dance recitals she did while growing up. Stage presence is critical to a dancer, and Krystosek found that the ability to project on the stage resurfaced in the bodybuilding contest.
“It was just brand new to me. I had no idea what to expect. But you can see pictures of girls up on stage,” Krystosek noted from leafing through magazines that featured bodybuilding contests. “They do the hair and make-up and things like that. I was used to that growing up doing dance recitals in middle school and high school. I know what it’s like to compete in front of an audience and being judged on something that your body is doing.”
Even though she was pleased by her third-place finish and totally hooked — “I had a blast,” she said — Krystosek took a reprieve from the intense workouts that had dominated her life.
In the weeks leading up to the Milwaukee competition, it had been bodybuilding all the time and a “lot of personal things” had been sacrificed in the pursuit. Her life now has a better balance between her workouts and her social life, and she doesn’t flagellate herself if she misses a workout now and then, she said.
Krystosek said her focus on clean, healthy living also makes her a better nurse by leading by example.
“I discovered I cannot provide the best care for others if I do not fully care for myself first,” she said. “With nursing, it’s just very important to advocate for health, and I definitely feel the healthiest now that I’ve incorporated such a good diet in my life.”