In May, at the age of 46, Metairie athlete Celeste Turner walked away from the World Tri-Fitness Challenge in Tampa, Fla., with nine medals and a personal best time, while still recuperating from a knee injury that kept her from training for nine months.
“It’s a passion, a desire, a drive, as well as therapy,” Turner said. “Tri-Fitness is pushing it to the max, pushing it to my potential.”
The World Tri-Fitness Challenge is a true test of endurance: six events over a two-day period.
The challenge kicks off with the bench press; each contestant is required to bench press 50 percent of his or her body weight. Weighing in at 141 pounds, Turner bench pressed 85 pounds for 50 repetitions.
Contestants are then judged on their physique, presentation, walk and appearance before jumping into a routine that allows for individual creativity.
“It is about two minutes at the most, and its sheer exhaustion, I’m doing gymnastics, one arm push-ups, flips; I’m kicking it out there as hard as I can to rock and roll music,” Turner said.
If all this wasn’t enough, the second day of the competition includes an obstacle course, box jumps and a shuttle run.
“Every year, it’s been a minute or over a minute, but this year I finally broke the minute at 58.41 seconds in the obstacle course,” Turner said.
Besides competing in national and world competitions, Turner works as a personal trainer. Although fitness has always been a part of Turner’s life, it was only 13 years ago that she started competing.
“Growing up, I was athletic, I played sports but I never played competitively,” Turner said. “I came from a large family, one of six, and they concentrated more on the boys, so as I got older ... it got shuffled to the side.”
Motivated by a divorce to pursue an untapped interest, Turner got involved in the national physique committee, which hosts fitness contests around the country.
“It was about four years into it that I was getting bored with it because it was just a fitness routine of grace and physique, and I wanted to do more on the athletic side,” she said.
Switching to Tri-Fitness in 2009, Turner won first place in the fitness routine at the National Tri-Fitness Challenge, far from bored Turner trains intensely to be more competitive every year.
After the 2012 World Tri-Fitness Challenge, Turner continued training until she suffered a possible meniscus tear and a bone growth on her right knee.
“I never had problems with it before and all of a sudden it became very unstable, very weak, probably because I depleted myself so much for the contest and didn’t take a break,” Turner said.
Turner become rigid about her rehab. She rode her bike and did strength exercise every day for nine months, hoping that her doctor would give her the all-clear to compete.
In January, Turner’s doctor gave her the news she wanted to hear. After another four weeks of nonimpact activity, Turner delved into full training mode, determined to be fit enough to compete in May.
“I started doing my gymnastics, my obstacle course. I just gradually took the box jump up to the highest it needed to be,” Turner said. “But because of the injury and my age, rest was so much more important than anything else. It wasn’t a struggle, but it was a true test.”
Diet also played a huge factor in her training. In order to be competitive, Turner had to lose weight while building strength.
“At the same time that you’re training, you are also cutting your calories down to try and lose weight, so it’s a Catch-22. Your strength suffers if you cut too fast, so you have to really monitor your calorie and carb intake.”
Now happily married to a former body builder, whom she describes as her biggest supporter, Turner has no plans to stop competing. She just wants to keep improving on her previous year’s results.
“People keep asking me why I keep competing, why I keep pushing myself so hard. It’s because I can,” she said.