Liberty County resident Renee Hofkin placed second in the medium class and third in the masters category at her first bodybuilding competition June 25-26 at the 2011 Southern Isles Bodybuilding, Figure and Wheelchair Championships held in Savannah.
Hofkin, who manages a family-run business, Goodyear Tire at Rogers Auto Care Inc., in Hinesville, said the entire experience was overwhelming.
“It was nerve-wracking because for those locals who know me, I was very much out of my box, very much out of my comfort zone to be up there basically half-dressed and exposed to the world in front of so many people,” she said. “But at the same time, to work that hard for something, there was a proud moment…I worked out hard to be here and I’m here and I can hang with the big dogs. I say big dogs, it’s a lower level class show, but the point is I can hang with them. It was as much a proud moment as it was a nervous out of the comfort zone moment.”
Hofkin, 40, is normally seen on the softball field. She started lifting weights when the bug first bit her husband Kevin.
“My husband had a friend that competed in November of last year and he actually placed with four first-place trophies at the age of 50,” she said. “The bug kind of bit my husband Kevin and he started training pretty hard and one thing led to another and I started training with him. Then I crossed paths with a dear friend of mine (Julie Brown of Statesboro) and her ambition and goal was to walk across a figure competition stage and get her body in the condition where she deserved to be there. It was a sequence of events and I joined with her at the hip and we were doing this together, and we both competed in the same competition in Savannah.”
Hofkin’s friend placed second in the Masters’ over-35 category.
Hofkin said her husband became her trainer and the duo then linked up with Tony O’Connor, a nutritionist out of Savannah.
“He is 67 years old, from Dublin, Ireland, and is an avid bodybuilder and has won numerous awards and still competes to this day,” she said. “He was the guest poser that night. He did an excellent job with my diet; he was right on the money. I watched a pound of body fat get exchanged to a pound of lean mass and it was a phenomenal 15-week process.”
Hofkin explained that 80 percent of the bodybuilding process is diet. She said they started working with O’Connor 15 weeks prior to the meet and he promptly placed them on a specialized eating regime.
“It was a variety of food on the menu but very strict portions down to the tenth of an ounce of how many green beans I can have or how many ounces of chicken,” Hofkin said. “And then when we were six weeks out he put us on a turkey and rice diet at that point. We did protein shakes a couple of times a day, turkey and rice the other couple of times a day.”
Hofkin said she trained six days out of the week for about two hours a day.
She said the Savannah meet was the first of what she hopes to be many more shows.
“I took two days off to splurge and eat a few things I haven’t eaten in 20-plus weeks and went right back on the turkey and rice diet to hopefully compete in Atlanta on July 16,” she said.
She said local figure competitor Tiffany Morgan has offered advice and encouragement.
“I am hopping on her coat-tails,” she joked. “It is a new passion. I enjoy the fact that I’ve disciplined myself enough to put my body in a condition that I would like to stay at. And you really get the attention of people from the perspective of inspiration. If I’ve been told once, I’ve been told a hundred times, ‘Renee, you inspire me’ and that is an awesome thing for somebody to say.”