For outsiders looking in, the life of a bodybuilder seems glamorous … taut, bronzed muscles, glowing smiles, seemingly uber self-confidence.
But for Caroline Springs senior property manager Tessa Densley, sculpting a body to borderline-perfection can make for a lonely life, with endless hours spent in gyms at a time when most people are still in bed.
She calls it an artform, a lifestyle choice that demands dedication to every inch of her body, the stage presence of a rock star and an unyielding commitment to a sport of sacrifice and social isolation, especially when a big tournament is just around the corner.
Densley’s relatively new to the flexing game but, after a second place in her championship debut in Queensland this month, she’s in for the long, and often lonely, haul.
“I have sacrificed everything to succeed in these comps – even the most simple of things like sharing a meal with family or friends can’t be done; dining out can’t happen,” she says.
“My training schedule is so intense that I don’t have time to attend social functions and, if there is time, I’m often too tired.
“I have been so lucky to have such supportive friends, family and partner because I have not seen any of them for months.”
Exhaustion is now second nature for the 30-year-old, who comes from a strong athletics background. She held various state and national titles before travelling through Europe and Asia.
“I started to train weights with a friend and was welcomed into the day-to-day fitness scene with open arms; this is where I was introduced to sculpting your body into an artform. I mulled over the idea for some time.”
After following several athletes on Facebook, she was lucky enough to connect with her now Gold Coast-based coach, international figure champion Hayley Bertram.
She remembers being “absolutely awe- struck” by how some women had sculpted their bodies.
“I wanted to see what art I could create with mine.”
Before competing in the INBA All Female Classic at Mooney Valley at the weekend, Densley said she hoped to bring a “more refined package” to the stage … a leaner physique and a better stage presence.
Rookie nerves may have cost her victory on the Gold Coast where she was runner-up by a solitary point.
“When you have literally nothing left to give you have to dig deep and find something to hold onto,” Densley says.
“You have to push through the tears and keep going.”