By Len Butler, USARECApril 24, 2014
HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas (April 24, 2014) -- Having won the 2014 National Physique Committee Phil Heath Classic bodybuilding competition in Houston March 15 as well as the Central Texas Showdown in Waco last August, Harker Heights, Texas Center recruiter Staff Sgt. Michelle Larrieux set her sights on an even larger stage the NPC Junior Nationals in Chicago in June.
Larrieux, 33, recently accepted a promotion and was tapped to report from her current duty in Harker Heights to the Arlington Center in the Dallas Metroplex later this year, where she will become the assistant center commander. In addition to the move, she will also change bodybuilding coaches, a transition she expects to go smoothly.
"Terrence Williams was my very first trainer and I'm going back because I've had great results with him," said Larrieux. "Terrance [is very knowledgeable about building muscle definition] and he has an attention to detail on everything, from muscle detail to posing routine."
In addition, Larrieux will be consulting with International Federation of Bodybuilding professional Dre Dillard, who's invited her to be a guest poser at the NPC Northcoast Championship May 24 in Ohio. This invitation she said, is a milestone in her bodybuilding career.
"This is a huge step on the industry and I am extremely honored for [the opportunity]." she said.
Larrieux's day typically starts at 3:45 a.m., when she rolls out of bed for abdominal exercises at home before waking her sons, Sean, 5 and Luis, 9 and getting them ready for and taking them to school. She then heads to her day job at the Harker Heights Center.
Her trophies and awards for bodybuilding are prominently displayed on her desk. She said the interest from prospective Soldiers in her training and bodybuilder accolades have actually assisted her recruiting efforts.
"A lot of applicants that I see are interested in what I do and it motivates them," she said. "They see my awards and say, 'Wow, maybe I can do this too.'"
When the recruiting day is complete, Larrieux drives to the gym in to meet her current personal trainer and mentor, Kelvin Robinson. Robinson, a competitive body builder himself, described Larrieux as the perfect body building student.
"She is the type of person you enjoy training with. She's motivated and hungry and that makes my job easier," Robinson said. "I've worked with and trained athletes from high school to the professional level and she is one of the best athletes I've ever trained."
Larrieux has always been athletic. During high in Puerto Rico she ran track and played volleyball. After graduating from college, she ran road races competitively, garnering top awards for her age group. Larrieux said that combination of physicality and competiveness always motivated her as a Soldier.
"I love the Army because everything involves physical activity, and [the environment] has always been really competitive. I won the [Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year] competition in Iraq in 2009. I've been a master fitness trainer in all my assigned units and right now I run the station fitness program as well as Future Soldier leader program."
Competitive bodybuilding may have been an unexpected transition from running races, but it was a natural one. She entered a fitness bikini competition last year, where she placed 13th out of a field of 200 competitors. The reason she didn't place higher, she said, is because the judges noted that she was more muscular than what they were looking for in a bikini competitor.
"It was a natural progression for me," said Larrieux. "From there, I knew what I wanted to do and started training as a bodybuilder."
Success came rather quickly for her. Only three weeks after the bikini competition, with limited experience and training, Larrieux competed in the NPC Phantom Warrior Classic and claimed first overall.
Now with her eye on a much bigger prize, Larrieux said the training is even more intense, with more weight to lift, higher cardio training and keen emphasis on a very strict diet. Her motivation and desire is apparent, although she admitted to encountering difficult moments.
"The diet can make you crazy when you don't have the normal amount of carbohydrates and every three hours I have to eat fish, which is not something the body wants all the time. But I want to be the best and I want to be better than the person who is standing next to me on stage."
Balancing the intense bodybuilding training with the demands of being an Army recruiter can be even more challenging, but Larrieux said she approaches her recruiting duties as if it's just another part of her bodybuilding training. When she runs the station fitness program with the Future Soldiers, she jumps right into the exercises that she leads.
"Pushups, the cardio, everything the Future Soldiers do, I do it with them and I look at every form of an exercise to be an opportunity for myself to train," she said. "I do get good training out of it and it helps to increase the camaraderie."
With her ultra-fit lifestyle and being a Soldier, Larrieux said she has the best of both worlds. The strict discipline from bodybuilding and the tenacity from the rigors of recruiting compliment each other.
"Everything that you want to do in life, you have to remain consistent - not just in bodybuilding but in recruiting, you have to be consistent as well," she said. "I'm lucky. I'm blessed that I can do what I do and have the willpower to do it."