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Sports column: Local women prepare for city's first bodybuilding show

Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes about sports for the Budgeteer.

The bodybuilding world brought Duluthian Shannon Gardner and Hermantown native Sherri Irving together.

Gardner and Irving met in the gym, began training and competing together and it was then when their idea for putting together Duluth's first bodybuilding show was formed.

"We were training for the Gopher State Classic and we were sitting at this little hole in the wall place having a cup of coffee and the idea was born," Gardner said. "We said, Duluth needs to have one of these shows."

Thus the idea of the Iron Viking of the North was born. This was nearly two years ago.

"First we had to get the show approved, it took a few months," Irving said. "We didn't put any information out until May of last year. So we've really had a year to get the word out."

In the last year, Gardner and Irving have worked to not only get competitors for their show, but sponsorships as well.

"It's been really well received in the community," Irving said of finding sponsorships.

But it's also been well received in the bodybuilding community as well.

"We're going to top out at around 100 competitors," Gardner said. "That's huge for a first show."

The Iron Viking of the North will follow the same format of most other bodybuilding shows.

The show, which takes place on May 11, in the DECC Auditorium will begin with pre-judging in the morning and conclude with the evening show where routines are performed by the competitors and awards are given to the best of the best.

The bodybuilding community in the state of Minnesota is very close-knit and has been a huge supporter of Gardner and Irving and the Iron Viking of the North.

"There's a really big buildup for this show," Gardner said. "We have to really prove ourselves with this show."

While planning the show, Gardner and Irving took a break from training themselves and competing, but they do plan to compete again in other shows around the area.

Although they are not competing, they have been a part of Team Training, which is prepping a number of bodybuilders and bikini competitors not only for the Iron Viking, but other shows this spring.

"Right now our focus is not on our competitions," Irving said. "We're really into training and preparing for the show."

With this being Gardner and Irving's first show as non-competitors, they are both looking forward to being on the other side.

"I'm really looking forward to being able to give out the trophies," Irving said.

While Gardner too is looking forward to crowning champions, she's excited to have a great overall show.

"I'm looking forward to being able to provide an event that caters to the competition," she said. "I'm looking forward to having a show that makes them feel like they had the whole bodybuilding and competition experience. There's a lot of competition in the area and we want everyone to feel that competition and feel like a part of our community."

In putting together this show, Gardner and Irving hope to also dispel any myths that there may be about the sport of bodybuilding. Although the sport is physically demanding, just like most others, the athletes do take extremely good care of themselves and plan to put on a show that will be remembered for years to come.

Tickets are available at the door the night of the show.

Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes about sports for the Budgeteer.

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