Sports

Chilliwack woman probably Canada's fittest

Caitlin Bailie performs a “flag” at the outdoor gym near Twin Rinks Ice Arena, Friday. - Greg Laychak
Caitlin Bailie performs a “flag” at the outdoor gym near Twin Rinks Ice Arena, Friday.
— image credit: Greg Laychak

If you’ve ever met Caitlin Bailie, it’s possible you wouldn’t recognize her when she’s not upside-down.

“I walk on my hands more than on my feet,” says the 23-year-old bodybuilding competitor. “I’ve done a handstand every day of my life since I was six years old.”

The self-described “mover, shaker and muscle-maker” has put her lifetime of accumulated strength and resulting physique to good use in recent months.

She recently returned from Edmonton where she won first place at the 2014 Canadian Bodybuilding Federation (CBBF) championships in the Fitness A division.

“I didn’t recognize myself,” she says when she looked in the mirror on July 5, the day of the tournament. “It was cool to see myself in the best shape of my life.”

On that day of self-wonder, Bailie became Ms. Fitness Canada, proving she’s more than a street performer, as many people know her.

And while she loves walking on her hands and performing other gymnastic feats for entertainment, Bailie’s world of possibilities have opened up since she achieved her new status in the bodybuilding ranks.

Having qualified for the North Americans, the Arnold Amateur and a few other championship competitions, the Chilliwack athlete now has more options than she can afford.

Competing on the circuit isn’t cheap. Her high-protein diet alone is pricey, but factoring in supplements, a trainer, plane tickets, heels, competition bikinis, gym memberships—Caitlin pauses and laughs. “It will never fund itself.”

But if she can win at the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) international events qualifier in Winnipeg on Aug. 9, she’ll get her pro-card and be eligible for the World Fitness Championships. And this, according to Bailie, will at least open the doors to prize money that can help fund her training.

“Because I’m now entering a higher level of competition, I’m seeking sponsorship and support from the community,” she says.

Bailie thinks grocery stores, gyms and supplement stores would be a good fit to subsidize her competitions.

In the meantime, she’s starting a crowdfunding campaign online to attract financial support.

 

These hands were made for walking

The journey to Bailie’s present-day opportunities started when she was 10.

Her mother saw the young girl watching a bodybuilding competition on TV and told her daughter she could one day be on that stage. Bailie wrote on her child’s version of a bucket list that she would someday compete alongside those flexed specimens posed on-screen.

Nine years later, when she was living in Australia, Bailie met the woman who would be the catalyst of her fitness career.

She started a job as a live-in nanny for two-time world champion of the bikini division, Amber Walker.

Walker was a big influence on the 19-year-old, and within two months of training had transformed Bailie’s body, reigniting the spark she felt when she was a child watching pros on the catwalk.

Though her mentor competed in the bikini division, Bailie recognized that with her natural gymnastic abilities, she was better suited for the fitness category.

“Fitness is kind of in between [bikini and physique],” she says. “Feminine looking, but with the eight-pack, big shoulders, and big muscles.”

It’s a category where athletes are judged on a fitness routine in addition to physical appearance. Comprised of a strenuous ninety seconds of strength, flexibility, and endurance moves, the routine often includes physical feats like splits and one handed pushups.

While those moves are impossible for the average person, Bailie incorporates many of them into her daily lifestyle. She is a registered street performer, often walking up and down stairs near the Vancouver Art Gallery.

She’s been on TV, hand-walking on the Price is Right game show. And one day, says Bailie, she’ll walk on her hands across Ellen Degeneres’ stage.

Not one to set easily achieved goals, Bailie is also looking to break the world record for hand walking down stairs.

Her last attempt after the Edmonton competition was 30 stairs, easily executed.

Between bodybuilding contests, she’ll be targeting recent record-breaker Mark Kenny’s 77-step achievement.

Watching the ease with which she moves while inverted, and hearing the determination when she talks about realizing her fitness goals, it’s hard to imagine anything but success in Bailie’s future.

On the way there, the Chilliwack athlete will just keep moving, shaking, and muscle-making.

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