FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - The 2010 Crystal Cup Fitness Expo, a National Physique Committee sanctioned competition, is scheduled for Nov. 20 at the Egan Center in Anchorage. The event will showcase men's and women's fitness, a women's figure and bikini category as well as men's and women's bodybuilding.

It seems only natural that a Soldier thoroughly invested in physical training and fitness may consider raising the bar and accepting a new challenge. Such is the case for Staff Sgt. Emily Beers, U.S. Army garrison Replacement Detachment noncommissioned officer.

The 24-year-old Beers started bodybuilding when she entered the Army in 2004. "When I came in the military I wasn't the best at PT," she said, "but through the inspiration of my senior NCO at Fort Bragg I worked hard to achieve my goals."

Beers, from Emmaus, Pa., whose only family in Alaska is her 8-month-old English bulldog Nellie, was athletic growing up as a gymnast and competitive diver. She also played field hockey and softball and became a member of the Marine Corps fitness team.

"I remember as a little girl always watching fitness and figure competitions on television. It has been something I have always wanted to do but did not commit myself until recently," Beers said. After returning from a deployment to Iraq in 2009 fitness became a stress reliever providing something positive for her to focus on. She was then inspired by a friend who competed in a show earlier this year, winning first place in his weight division. "Seeing him compete and succeed really pushed me toward my goals," she said.

Besides working out six days a week and attending college online, Beers loves being a Soldier. "I'm proud to serve my country. You get a special feeling when people thank you and recognize your sacrifices as a Soldier," Beers said, "I have grown so much and would not have the same opportunities without the Army. She plans to make it a career and wants to pursue the Army Green to Gold program, which offers enlisted Soldiers an opportunity to earn commissions as Army officers.

"My older brother is my hero, he always has been," said Beers. He was the first of the family to join the military. He joined the Marine Corps shortly before 9/11 and was one of the first groups sent to Iraq. "He has always maintained positive energy in everything he does. I am proud to be his sister," she said. He left the Marines as a sergeant after four years to pursue a college degree. Beers said it's now a running joke in her family, "Even though he will always be two years older, I finally outrank him."

Beers will be competing in the 5'4" and under figure and bikini division this time around. She feels that she just isn't where she wants to be for the fitness portion of the event just yet. She plans to compete this spring in the figure and fitness division, after she works on her routine. "My ultimate goal is to compete in figure and fitness competitions every year," she said. Beers hopes to place well, advance and then compete in events outside of Alaska. The fitness portion of a competition requires a routine demonstrating strength, conditioning, symmetry, poise and overall appearance.

Beers has worked hard to get where she's at and credits her friends and co-workers for their support. She only wishes her family could be here for first competition. With six weeks to go, her regimen includes a routine of cardiovascular conditioning, weightlifting and various abdominal exercises. "During the week I do 40 minutes of cardio that consists of running, sprints and uphill walking. On the weekends I do an hour of cardio since my competition is coming near," she said. Beers also lifts weights, focusing a different body part each day, but works on the core or abdominals every day.

Although she has always been a clean eater, she said, "At this point, my diet has totally changed. I eat about 5 times a day. I eat a lot of plain cooked chicken, vegetables, cottage cheese, fruit, small amounts of peanut butter, eggs and plenty of protein shakes." If she adds any carbohydrates it is usually brown rice or quinoa.

Beers would like to become a certified personal trainer and eventually earn a doctorate in physical therapy. "I think it's important to get the word out about fitness to the Soldiers," she said, "we know about commitment and we know what it's like to train hard for combat."

In six weeks Beers will carry her contagious energy and determination to center stage. She said, "I feel my best attributes are my abdominals, biceps, back and my smile." If they judge on attitude many would agree that she is already a winner.