Sometimes you have to love the internet. Sure people can be wrapped up in pointless debates over which band is more metal on a Youtube clip, or your news feed can be littered with inaccurate news articles with old men bashing each others political stances. But here and there, we get to use it for what it was intended to be used for: to be informed and to connect. None more true on the latter is our relationship with one Canadian in particular. Canadian Bikini Champion Brandie Mabee and Metal Made Fitness crossed paths via social media early in our beginning stages and from there we’ve gained a valuable comrade across the border. The glory of networking is if you both have your palette smeared with goals, cross promotion can build friendships. With Brandie, it was pretty evident early on that we’d become pals as her mindset was one made of metal, no matter how much things like peanut butter brownie M&M milkshake sundaes get mentioned. But when it comes to show prep, her focus is that of a trained assassin. Through the scope, lock the target, aim and fire.
How can we attest to this? A look into this last calendar year of competition would be enough to fill many competitors shelves for a hopeful career. Grabbing first place last November at the BCABBA Fall Classic, a strong 3rd place finish at the BC Championships in May, then she joined up with Vancouver clothing juggernaut No Limit Muscle as a standout athlete. Round it up with two great finishes at her first NPC event in October (2nd Open, 1st Novice) and you have a shelf filling up with statues in a hurry. But beyond the stage, she uses the platform of social media to connect with others, drop inspiration whenever it strikes, and keep a sense of authenticity at all times. What you see is what you get with her. Through her Instagram you get to see her progress, her hilarious daily antics, her cats…the parts of her to remind people that personal growth means all areas on one’s life and to embrace one’s many layers. It’s the blueprint for being as badass as you can be.
MMF: When was the first time you realized you could be pretty good at this whole “fitness” thing?
Brandie Mabee : It was the night of my first show. I was backstage looking at the other 17 girls in my line-up, thinking to myself, “What am I doing here? That girl has a six-pack…that one has breast implants…that other one is practicing a fully choreographed posing routine..that one has her own assistant applying her glaze..”. I couldn’t believe it when I placed 4th, and beat all those girls who had things I didn’t have! Until that night, I thought I would only do one bikini competition, and cross it off the bucket list. Little did I know, that experience was a great big sparkly gift in personal development that would keep me coming back for more; from that day forward, I have never bothered to compare myself to other girls. It sounds cliche, but there’s something special and wonderful about each of us. Steven Furtick says it best: “We struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel”.
MMF: So the initial idea of going through a training program and jumping on the stage was more a personal challenge or more ‘ ill try it once…this could be fun’?…. Everyone has their own reasons for even attempting to compete in the first place….
Brandie Mabee : I always admired the sport, but truthfully, I didn’t believe I was ready to get involved. At the time, I had reached a weight-loss plateau and I knew it was because I was too “satisfied” with my progress. Another part of me has never been down with that kind of mediocrity, and I kinda got sick of my own shit one day about 7 weeks before the last competition of the year. I told my trainer, “I want to do that show, do you think we can do it?”. He was worried about my glutes (or lack thereof), but he was confident that we were going to pull it off. We stepped up the training and I reached the weight-loss goal I had originally set for myself. If I hadn’t introduced the bigger goal of competing in a show, I don’t think I would have stepped it up and dropped the last ten pounds. Back then it was the only way I knew how to motivate myself, and while I don’t think it’s psychologically healthy to use this sport as a tool to keep oneself “in line”, it can serve as a stepping stone for someone who is stuck in a rut like I was back then. My reasons for competing have evolved a lot since then!
MMF: As someone who knows why they do choose to compete and train for this do you see new girls show up exclaiming to do it for the quote/unquote ‘wrong reasons’? (The insecurity factor). And do you feel now being a veteran of this you can set a good example for the new girls?
Brandie Mabee : Totally! The sport is exploding in popularity- the relatively recent introduction of the bikini and men’s physique divisions has made it more attractive and reachable for the general population. I think most first-timers do it because they see the physical transformations their peers achieve, and if hitting the stage is the only thing that will motivate you to adhere to a strict diet and training schedule the first time, so be it- but if you use the experience of a contest prep to really observe your thoughts and emotions, I guarantee that you’ll walk away with a LOT more than the best physique of your life. The journeys have taught me self-control, and the results have infused me with self-belief. I try to be very conscious that there are people who are new to the sport, who come across my social media posts- and so I like to share about the mental journeys this sport takes me on, hoping that my statements spark their own introspective observations. I just hate that some people go through the whole process without employing it as a powerful tool of personal development- I want everybody within my reach to see what a positive thing the contest prep experience can be. If I can grab their attention through social media, I hope that will be enough for them to hear my message that there is a goldmine of personal growth at their fingertips.
MMF: Maybe give the readers a run down of what one of your training blocks is like, how to get the ball rolling, what do you leading up to a show training wise?
Brandie Mabee : I usually run a 2-days-on, 1-day-off weight training schedule year-round, with each session focusing on one major muscle group and one or two accessory muscle groups. Lots of supersets and drop sets, with short rest periods. Starting at 16 weeks out, “contest prep” officially begins, which involves cardio. The cardio regimen changes every prep, depending on where I’m at and how fast my body wants to let go of the fat. I’ve had preps where I don’t even start cardio until 6 weeks out, and I’ve had preps where I start at 12 weeks out. We start with as little as possible- maybe 20 minutes a few times a week- and ramp it up accordingly. My longest workouts are leg/glute days- my coach has me hit my legs and glutes from lots of different angles and he switches up my exercises and rep ranges every 4 weeks or so.
MMF: So what is your favorite part of the whole process prepping for a show?
Brandie Mabee : There are LOTS of great parts but my FAVORITE is the mental journey. A few areas that come to mind are positive visualization, impulse control, and productivity skills.
Preparation is king when you’re getting stage ready, and I’ve had to kick my own ass many times- sleeping in, running late, lazing around instead of cooking and weighing meals. Every prep, I get exponentially better at beating my own bad habits. And it spills over into every corner of my life. I’ve said this before on one of my YouTube videos- with every 16-week prep I grow 10 years mentally. I guess that makes me, like, almost 100. I hope that means someone’s gonna start coming over to do all my laundry and cook for me soon!
MMF: (Laughs) Great end to that….at some point you won’t be able to compete, unfortunately…I mean you could at 79 years old…but you’ve already begun to set yourself up with various interests and talents you do away from the stage. How important is that in your prep…to have those outside interests and projects?
Brandie Mabee : It`s pretty necessary for survival, actually! There`s not much time left for me to engage in other activities- I work 50+ hours a week as a pharmacist and go to the gym before and after work- I pick a once-weekly activity each prep that takes my mind away from it all. One prep, one of my patients had me over once a week to learn clay sculpting. Another time I took guitar lessons. I recognize the role the pre-frontal cortex in building willpower and discipline, and learning new activities is a great way to exercise that part of the brain. It is said that the body is capable of almost anything, but it is the mind that limits its potential- so that`s why I exercise my brain as much as my body!
MMF: Love it. Last question….if you could rework the whole competition or judging process for a day how do you think it could be improved, what changes would you like to see?
Brandie Mabee : The bikini and men`s physique divisions are still very young, so they have the most variation in the “winning look“, and I think that`s just par for the course. I`m no expert in this department, but I think the current judging process is fine as is- I am in awe of the panel`s ability to analyze 200+ physiques in one sitting and make decisions based on such a short fragment of time. I agree with their decisions nearly all of the time, and I notice that the local and provincial rankings here in BC tend to be repeated at the national level (for example, if two girls from BC placed 1st and 2nd at Provincials, and both competed at Nationals, the 1st place girl would likely still place higher at Nationals than the 2nd place girl) so that tells me there is consistency in the judging.
Follow her journey and cat pictures at: