Muscle Beach - without the water

Loustaunau, Preston and Pallett are making their mark on the ‘figure’ side of the cousin sports

When thoughts turn to bodybuilding, it wouldn't be a leap to focus on Muscle Beach in Venice, Calif. However, three local residents with the help of their trainers have begun to make Kingman a place of significance in the three "cousin" sports of bodybuilding, fitness and figure.

Dino and Ronne Pierce train and coach Sunshine Loustaunau, Melissa Preston and Krista Pallett. Preston and Pallett recently participated in the NPC Junior California Bodybuilding and Figure championships in Pasadena, Calif., on June 21. Loustaunau is headed to the USA Championships on July 25-26 in Las Vegas. All three compete in the figure side of the cousin sports.

Dino Pierce, a registered dietician and personal trainer among many other things, said that he has been working with Loustaunau for 18 months, Pallett for 30 weeks and Preston for 20 weeks.

"They came to me as athletes," he said. "They didn't have any idea what was involved as far as the commitment and mental capacities."

Pierce said that some of the first things that need to be assessed are the competitors' physiques and how they look in the suits that they are required to wear. He looks at the development of muscle mass, addresses those issues, and then begins to coach posing and the presentation to judges. "They really don't always look like the photos," Pierce said. "They know how to stretch the skin."

Loustaunau is a year ahead of Preston and Pallett, already having competed in the Pasadena championships in June of 2007. Loustaunau placed second in Class D and followed that up with Los Angeles Figure, which was a national qualifier.

Making pro

Loustaunau placed third in Los Angeles, good enough to qualify for the USA Championships. She has the opportunity to earn a coveted pro card in the sport, meaning she won't have to compete at the lower level competitions any longer. "It's not common for someone to get pro at their first national show, but it could happen, and it has happened," Loustaunau said.

Loustaunau has been working since the Los Angeles show to prepare for her upcoming trip to Las Vegas. "I got to put my winter coat on to gain some size and hopefully that will work out."

It was her father who put the thought of bodybuilding into Loustaunau's mind when she was younger. Now the mother of two has Ray Catano as her inspiration.

"I lost my dad to cancer in March," she said. "It has given me more strength and motivation. I feel like I'm bringing him along."

School first

Pallett, a June graduate of Kingman High, captured first place in Pasadena in the collegiate class, second in the teen class and third in the open division. Though Pasadena could be the stepping stone needed to meet her long-term goal of becoming a pro in figure, Pallett does have another priority. "I'll be going to Rocky Mountain College in Montana in the fall," she said.

Pallett said that she became interested in the sport because she wanted a new goal in her life. "Someone suggested it, and I gave it a try."

Staying focused for the Pasadena championships wasn't an easy task for Pallett. She just graduated from high school, went to prom and her senior trip, as well as having to start planning for her move to Montana. "It didn't help with all that going on," she said. "I just had to stay focused the whole time.

Nonstop training

Preston, like Loustaunau, is a mother of two and had to do a lot of time-juggling to stay on track. Preston was quick to point out the huge support system that she has behind her as she tries to reach her goal of going pro.

"It's a tight schedule," she said. "There's no extra time except for family. It's a really disciplined sport."

Preston took second in Class C. Competitors in this class were 5 feet 5 inches to 5-6 tall. A strong finish like Preston's would entice most people to move forward, but Preston is realistic about her process as she moves toward becoming a pro.

"I will compete again next year," she said. "I need to put on more muscle on my shoulders and back area."

Preston said she plans on taking a break before she takes up training again.

"I want to qualify a little better so that I can compete in nationals and get my pro card."

Eating right

Though the physical training aspect of figure seems grueling, all three of the women seemed to think that nutrition was the key to being successful. Dino Pierce plays a large role in this area as well. "We take a good look at nutrition details," he said. "We try to keep it similar to what they are already doing, but we add in recommendations. They were already doing pretty good."

Preston said that finding the right dietician makes a world of difference. That was the most important reason for her success. "It's amazing what you can do when you make sure you have the right nutrition," she said. "That includes the recovery drinks. Then just have fun. You have to have fun."

Pallett said she hoped that by her example, people would learn to eat right. "A lot of my friends don't think they can eat healthy," Pallett said. "But I'm proof that it can be done."