WENDELL — National Physique Committee figure competitor Courtney Ritch of Wendell is among America’s most physically fit women.
Ritch made her NPC figure debut just over a year ago, but she has already attained an impressive collection of accolades, including three first-place finishes in regional competitions and a seventh-place finish last month in a national competition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“With (the figure division), basically what you’re doing is you’re training to get the optimum physique of what a figure competitor would have,” Ritch said, comparing her area of expertise to other divisions, such as bikini and fitness competition. “They like you to have nice, rounded deltoids, very much a V-frame with a toned core, and toned legs and glutes.”
At the NPC National in Fort Lauderdale, Ritch was shocked to learn how successful she had become with only 15 months worth of competition experience.
“It was a little unbelievable at first,” she said. “That was definitely my goal. It was to go in there and do the best that I could do, obviously. But I really wanted to be first call-out.”
She knew her hard work had paid off when she had accomplished that goal.
“When I heard my number called to go out there and be one of the top 10, it was definitely gratifying for all the training and nutrition that I put in,” Ritch said.
Ritch first gained interest in figure competitions when she and her husband Josh opened Ritch’s PT, a personal training gym on Main Street in Wendell. That’s when Ritch became a “Mommy with Muscles,” as described on her Facebook fan page, in addition to her full-time occupation as a dental hygienist.
“When we opened our gym, I was using myself as a guinea pig to kind of help promote fitness for my husband,” Ritch said. “All the clients who came into the gym knew I was training for my first show. In the process, I got addicted to it.”
An accomplished bodybuilder himself, Josh says he provided some of Courtney’s inspiration to transform her figure into one of the country’s elite. Back in 2002, Josh was named Open Middleweight Champion for Metrolina’s NPC Bodybuilding Competition.
“I told her she had the physique and figure to compete at a high level,” said Josh, who is also a one-stripe blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and was once distinguished as the No. 1 male gymnast in the southeastern United States. “She got interested through me encouraging her and also the looks of the girls that are competing. She really liked that look, physically speaking.”
Courtney Ritch’s fitness is more than an average hobby. The dedication required to compete at her level makes it more of a lifestyle. She handles it well, though, finding time to eat six nutritionally optimized meals a day.
“My husband and I joke that Sunday night is our prep night,” Ritch said. “My entire kitchen counter is covered in containers because I actually prep all of my meals for about four days out. So on Sunday night, I prep all my food for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.”
She finds time to squeeze in a workout whenever possible. Because of the hours of her full-time job, however, many of Ritch’s workouts don’t actually occur at her own gym.
“I’m lucky enough to work right next to a Planet Fitness,” Ritch said. “So, if I get a long lunch, I’m able to hop over there and get a workout in during lunchtime.”
Owning a gym does possess its special benefits, though.
“Being a mom, I can take my little one with me to the gym,” Ritch said. “Since it’s our fitness facility, if I’m not dealing with clients our classes, it’s great because I can hang out with him between sets.
“It really is a family affair.”
Ritch sees room for improvement in her young career as a figure competitor. She has pinpointed weaknesses in her stage presence and plans on turning them into strengths in the future.
“I just need to compete more and get more comfortable on stage,” Ritch said. “I’m definitely looking forward to doing my first show in the spring of next year.”