Contributed Photo: Hilary Grant, center, was awarded Ms. Natural Olympia 2020 Master’s Physique Division.
By Jon Johnson
PIMA – Seventeen years in the making – carefully watching a diet, training three times per day, and dutifully taking proper nutritional supplements – paid off for local Pima woman Hilary Grant last November when she was crowned the Professional Natural Bodybuilders Association Ms. Natural Olympia 2020 in the Master’s Figure Division. The event is an international competition that draws participants from various countries throughout the world and was held at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas.
“I was definitely surprised,” Hilary said. “One gal who had won last year was there and she looked great . . . You work super, super hard for it, and so, when that moment is finally there it’s a little bit surreal. It was super exciting.”
The win was a culmination of several years of hard work by Hilary, who is also a three-time Ms. USA Pro-Am winner. It marked the fifth time she competed at the PNBA event, and the first time she was eligible to enter the Master’s Division, which is a 40-and-older category. She also took home fourth place in the Open Division, which is any age.
The event was captured and compiled into a video that Hilary later posted to her Instagram Page, Naturalfitsisters.
“It was a cool video to see because when you’re on stage you don’t get to see your family’s perspective,” Hilary said. “And, honestly, you forget so much about that moment. That moment was so special and exciting, and yet, when you’re on stage you have to remember your poses and to keep everything tight – you start from your heels all the way up to your shoulders – and you try to remember to smile. So, there’s a lot of it that you can’t really retain until you see a video like that. That was awesome.”
To keep in top competition form, Hilary’s day normally comprises 45 minutes of cardio in the morning and an hour of weightlifting at night, six days a week. When it comes time to prepare for a competition, for the 12 weeks prior to an event she gets even more strict about the type and quantity of food she eats and ups the cardio training to a 45-minute session in the morning and another 30-minute session in the evening as well as an hour to hour-and-a-half of weightlifting in between.
All of that work and her high-intensity interval training is in preparation for her ultimate goal of winning the Ms. Natural Olympia Figure Open Division.
Health and fitness is a family event for Hilary, who along with her husband, Doug Grant, and son, Braven Grant, run Optimal Health Systems (OHS) and Gains In Bulk in Pima. OHS makes and sells nutritional supplements for overall health, and Gains in Bulk makes and sells supplements for bodybuilders and athletes. Hilary uses all the normal bodybuilding supplements from Gains in Bulk for muscle building and takes nutrients based on her bloodwork for health from OHS.
“I truly don’t know how competitors are able to stick it out and consistently train and follow their nutrition without support,” she said. “I have such huge respect for people who don’t have a support system but are still able to compete because I always say far before I ever, ever believe in myself in anything, Doug and my kids, for some reason they believe anything is possible. They help push me and they help keep me accountable. Doug is my trainer, so Doug trains me every single day . . . I’m surrounded by my family who trains with me and keeps me accountable in the gym. I think it’s huge. For me and my success, the number one factor is the support I have.”
In the bodybuilding competition, there are three main divisions for each; Physique, Classic Physique, and Bodybuilding for men, and Bikini, Figure, and Bodybuilding for women. As stated in the name, the event is strictly performance-enhancing drug-free with stringent testing to make sure the athletes remain all-natural.
“That’s (Figure) our favorite division for women because it’s one that, we think, still shows women’s physique but they have to be perfectly proportioned,” Grant said. It’s judged off of symmetry. That’s the number one judging criteria. They can’t be too big and too shredded.”
“Hilary competes in Figure, which I think is the perfect thing for women to attain to whether they are going to get on stage or not because they’re trying to get their physique into the best symmetry possible. Which means it’s going to function its best.”
While she is thrilled with her Masters Figure Championship, Hilary says her goal is to win the Open Figure Championship and she will strive to attain that award at least for the next couple of years.
“I still feel like I haven’t hit our goal yet because our goal was the Open,” Hilary said. “I’ve got a lot, lot of work to do this year and probably next if I’m going to be able to do that one.”
Hilary will compete in several smaller competitions throughout the year in preparation for the big international Ms. Olympia competition scheduled for Nov. 11 in Las Vegas.