The Bodybuilding Journey: Session 1

Updated: Sep 12

By Sara E Walker


It is no secret that I love being in the gym. It is my true passion. I bring the intensity. Well, my intensity is nothing compared to what I experienced with Justine Albert, IFBB Pro, at her gym, Club NBT. There is something to be said about working out with a partner, but working out with an IFBB Pro brings a whole other level to the gym floor.


I had five consecutive coaching days with Justine with 8 a.m. call times. Each day started at 5:30 a.m. in my hotel with a shake, drinking water, a shower and then hitting the road. To start getting pumped, my 7:30 a.m. road jams consisted of Five Finger Death Punch, Godsmack and Drowning Pool, thanks to my SXM app.

The week’s combo of workouts: Day 1 – Back/Triceps/Abs

Day 2 – Legs – Quads/Calves

Day 3 – Shoulders/Abs

Day 4 – Chest/Biceps

Day 5 - Legs – Hamstrings/ Glutes/Abs

I walked in day one and was still in shock that this was actually a reality. Justine and I had a few minutes of pleasantries and then it was down to business. As she coached me each day, she not only pushed me to go further, but she pushed me to believe in myself and the strength I had built thus far.


On chest day, Justine had me doing flat bench dumbbell presses. After my first couple of sets, she told me to grab dumbbells that were 15lbs heavier. I was skeptical, but I was there to do what she asked of me. I didn’t believe in myself that I could push that much weight. But she did, and she fostered that belief within me. I pushed them up for another set. There is nothing like having a coach to help you believe in yourself when you need it and push you, safely, past your own preconceived boundaries.

I had aspirations of getting out to see Pittsburgh, as my only familiarity with it was a quick roller derby trip with the DC Rollergirls several years ago. My aspirations were a pipe dream most days. I was pretty beat after the workouts. I am sure having only one meal in me at workout time and the time change didn’t help, but either way, it was nice to have the ability to rest for the next day. Day Two leg day beat me up pretty good. So the rest of the week, it was a little hairy walking. The need to stretch after getting up from a seated position just to walk was part of my routine that week after leg day. It may sound rough – it was – but it was also utterly fantastic!

Day two I was given my nutrition plan. It is just the beginning for Justine to benchmark how my body reacts with a baseline. From there, after her careful monitoring, she will adjust the plan to get my body to react as needed. I did my best to follow it right away. Egg whites and frozen veggies in a hotel microwave using the paper coffee cup is now my new norm. I had my scale and a measuring cup with me too. Both made it so much easier to go ahead and start the plan as best I could.


I am now back home and continuing my progress at my home gym. I have check-ins once per week – weight and pictures. I will be back with Justine in mid-October for round two of in-person coaching.

My experience last week was something that I almost cannot put into words. It was more intense than I imagined but also so much more rewarding than I envisioned. Between the workouts and my new coach, I couldn't be more pleased with my decision. Justine is hardcore, but she is also consistently empowering and motivating. This first coaching session was just a drop in the bucket for what is to come in terms of how hard I will have to work and the discipline I will have to embrace to achieve my goals. My emotions are overflowing. From being full of excitement to feeling scared of the unknown, regardless of where this takes me, the process and the journey have been a dream for so long. The more my muscles scream for me to stop, and the more my body shakes from exhaustion, the more I am relentlessly driving forward.


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