Partners in marriage, Kip and Donna Divis are also partnered in their commitment to the sport of bodybuilding.
Participating in just their second competitive show, the couple scored impressive results in the bodybuilding division of the 2011 National Physique Committee Rocky Mountain Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure and Bikini, and Physique Championships in Denver on Nov. 12. Donna finished second in the women’s open heavyweight, while Kip earned fifth in the men’s open light heavyweight.
Though both Donna, 40, and Kip, 38, had been lifting weights separately in their 10-year marriage, the decision to combine their efforts toward bodybuilding was motivated more by situation than strategic planning.
“When we moved to Rapid City from Sioux City (Iowa) five years ago, we didn’t know anybody, so we became lifting partners,” said Donna, a respiratory therapist. “We started lifting real seriously together every day. He was the first one to start talking about it, and we talked it out and both decided to try a competition. Now, it’s addictive — you want to try again.”
Fully committed to their decision, the pair is pleased by their results, despite the difficult regimen necessary to advance to competitive levels.
“We do it because we enjoy it together,” said Kip, an on-site forklift technician. “As of the night of the show, we were done doing them, but (the day after) we decided we’d do it again next year.”
“I’m glad we did it, because we push each other and support each other,” Donna added. “It starts even at home because when you leave the gym, you still have to follow the nutrition and live the life.”
As evidenced by the cumbersome title of what the participants call “The Rocky,” competitive shows are divided into categories based upon the level of muscular development, with the bodybuilding division being the most highly developed.
“We are about how it looks, instead of how much we can lift”, Donna summarized. “Bodybuilders get up and go through mandatory poses; basically, everyone has to do the same ones. They judge you on symmetry, size and muscularity.”
Though the couple self-trains in deference to their “personal choice” approach to developing and defining muscle, their 1-1/2- to 2-hour daily training program is largely based on tried-and-true methodology.
“A bodybuilder trains for anywhere between six to 12 reps, changing every week, looking for more definition — grainier, leaner muscles,” Kip detailed. “Usually, we do five exercises per body part, and we do five sets. For me, Monday is chest day, Tuesday is legs, Wednesday is arms, Thursday is off, Friday is shoulders, Saturday is back, and Sunday is off. We try to split up the upper body from the lower body. That way, the muscle gets time to recover.”
Scheduled workouts at The Weight Room are only a portion of the disciplined lifestyle the couple has chosen.
“You would love to go home after work every night and just relax,” Donna said. “You can’t just do it half-hearted. You have to come here, give it your all, push to lift, and then when you go home, you can’t go live on junk food. You have to get your nutrition — that is a big part of building your muscle — have plenty of protein, eat right, live a healthy lifestyle.”
“Some people think you are dieting just for the show eight weeks out,” Kip said. “And that is the case, but the whole year you are on a different diet than most people. Eating every two to three hours. Eating mostly protein — chicken, fish, eggs, potatoes, rice and oatmeal. As far as carbs and stuff like that, we’ve got to keep it within limits to where we don’t get too far out so we can cut it back (prior to a show).”
With sons Cody, 18, and Dylan, 13, at home, balancing the choice of lifestyle with family commitments raises its own set of challenges.
“When you go to these competitions, they’ll tell you it’s not easy,” Donna said. “It’s a lot of lifting and running and sweating your butt off to lose that fat — to cut down to see what’s left underneath the fat — to get up there so the judges can judge every inch of you as you stand there in the spotlight. Still, you are trying to do your day-to-day, your job, your activities, your kids — you still have to live that life.”
“When you are (preparing for shows) with such low carbs, you get moody,” Kip observed. “When you start to get that body fat down to 4 or 5 percent, your brain doesn’t even function right.”
Despite the challenges, plans are to continue training for another competitive run at “The Rocky” next year.
“It is hard and takes a lot of dedication, but it is so worth it. It is so rewarding,” Donna said. “How you feel and just living that healthy lifestyle, it reflects on your family, your kids and everything around you.”
“To see where we can improve on ourselves,” Kip added. “All we are doing it for is that.”