COLUMBUS, Ohio — What do a girl from Mason County and the Terminator have in common? Both are going to The Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio next week.
Payton Whitt of Point Pleasant, will travel to what is affectionately known as “The Arnold” to compete in the fitness competition. The event, founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger, attracts people from around the world to Columbus. To be more specific, the event annually hosts 18,000 athletes competing in 50 sports and events, including 14 Olympic sports.
This year, Whitt won’t be a visitor but a competitor. The 2011 Point Pleasant High School graduate and student of nursing at Marshall University, will be competing in something most women avoid like the plague - the bikini competition.
This competition isn’t just about a bikini but about being healthy and having the diet and training to get there. Whitt, who is also Miss Parkserburg Homecoming 2013, said she started thinking about competing in “The Arnold” in the fall of 2012. Then, in February 2013 she took that daydream and got serious about it. She started training which has included running over 850 miles, losing 34 pounds and completely changing her diet.
Whitt, along with her family and friends, will arrive on Thursday in Columbus - the sports festival is Feb. 27-March 2.
“It’s just going to be a life changing experience competing with girls from all over the world,” Whitt said. “That is an accomplishment all its own.”
In addition to training for months for next week, Whitt participated in a smaller but similar fitness competition in Cleveland, Ohio and had to have her application accepted before she could attend “The Arnold.” She credits friends with helping her prepare, including Darin Smith at the Pleasant Valley Wellness Center and her work colleagues at GNC in Gallipolis, Ohio.
Whitt is aware she comes from an area where exercise and physical fitness can sometimes fall by the wayside. She said obviously with the poverty in the area, that is a hindrance which makes it especially hard on some who want to be healthy. She said in her training, she did it the natural, healthy way which also required a lot of research, exercise and vitamins.
Whitt, who attends college and has two jobs said she hopes she can be an example that: “If I can do it, you can do it. It’s all about priority and time management…you have to be dedicated.”
On Thursday, Whitt will be going through “pre judging” and then Saturday is the main event with more judging and awards.
The Terminator himself will be at the event and though Whitt said it would be nice to meet him, she’s just happy to be there competing with 30 other girls from around the world in her category.
Whitt’s ultimate goal is to get a sponsorship from a company which promotes healthy projects and to become a pro in the fitness community.