Sarah Shraiberg, from Otisfield, poses for photos in her competitive bodybuilder suit at the TruStrength Athletics gym in Norway on Thursday. Shraiberg is going to Barcelona to compete in the Arnold Classic. Europe Sept. 20-22. She lives in Otisfield. The event is hosted by the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness, and Sarah was chosen to represent the US in the event. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

OTISFIELD — No sleep until Barcelona. Not that Sarah Shraiberg, an Otisfield horse trainer and up-and-coming bodybuilder, gets much sleep anyway.

Sarah Shraiberg, from Otisfield, pumps iron at the TruStrength Athletics gym in Norway on Thursday. Shraiberg is going to Barcelona to compete in the Arnold Classic, representing the United States. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“My body wakes me up super-duper early,” Shraiberg said. “I’m usually at the gym by 5 or 5:30.”

She has two gyms; Mac Fitness in Windham, where she does her morning routine, and TruStrength in Norway. Shaun Mac, owner of the Mac Fitness, tweaks all of her workouts, nutrition and meals. 

After Mac Fitness, she comes home to her horse farm, Avalon Meadows in Otisfield. She then heads to TruStrength to work on posing and cardio. After that, she returns home, eats, sleeps and repeats.

The dedication has paid off.

In May,  Shraiberg competed at the the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness Physique America’s Mr. & Ms. Maine Championship and Northeast Open in Biddeford. She was selected to move on to the Arnold Classic, an international competition in Barcelona, Spain. She ships out to the competition Wednesday.

It is a big deal.

Sarah Shraiberg, from Otisfield, does pull ups at the TruStrength Athletics gym in Norway on Thursday. Shraiberg is going to Barcelona to compete in the Arnold Classic. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“I’m imagining myself on this stage with the best judges in the world, judges that have judged Arnold Schwarzenegger and all the big names,” Shraiberg said. “They’re all going to be looking at me.” 

Shraiberg has taken the fast track to the international competition. She started competing about 18 months ago, and since then has participated in seven competitions. One day, a friend approached Shraiberg and asked her if she’d ever considered competing in a figure competition.

Shraiberg said she has always been muscular — and was actually bullied for it.

But not one to be discouraged, she did some Google research and saw photographs from international figure competitions.

“The thought in my mind was, ‘That looks horrifying,'” she said. “I immediately said, ‘I need to do this.’”

So she did.

Sarah Shraiberg, from Otisfield, poses for photos in her competitive bodybuilder suit at the TruStrength Athletics gym in Norway on Thursday. Shraiberg is going to Barcelona to compete in the Arnold Classic. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“At the time, was 42, and at 42 I shouldn’t care what anyone thinks about how I look,” she said. “I shouldn’t care. I should be happy with myself, I decided, instead of worrying and complaining about parts of my body I didn’t like.”

So she started train. She got a nutrition coach, started to “prep” her body and learned how to pose. Added to the changes in her body, she said, her confidence and attitude began to shift. She started to be OK with the way she looked.

Shraiberg said she never wanted to be the center of attention, so she put herself in a situation where she had to be.

“You want them to look at you and see every detail about you,” Shraiberg said. “This is huge. This is not only breaking down all of those mental and emotional barriers. This is obliterating them.”

Shraiberg said some of those barriers were put in place by society.

“I didn’t like that I had muscles. I didn’t feel feminine,” she said. “Now our age is saying muscles are feminine. The whole idea of woman and how they look has changed recently. Before, skinny and lean was feminine. Now, we can be muscular and fit and strong and that’s OK.”

Sarah Shraiberg, from Otisfield, pumps iron at the TruStrength Athletics gym in Norway on Thursday. Shraiberg is going to Barcelona to compete in the Arnold Classic, representing the United States. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

And in a sport where every detail of competitors’ bodies are examined and judged, confidence is key. 

Shraiberg said that in Barcelona, in addition to competing, she will rub elbows with some of the most-buff competitors in bodybuilding, including Arnold Schwarzenegger. And when she returns to Maine, Shraiberg said she is not sure what she will do next.

She knows she will take a break from competing.

‘I don’t know how long of a break I’ll be taking,” she said. “I will be taking some time off to build and change my body a little bit more, but I’ll still be working towards a goal.

“I’ll see what the cards hold for me. Bodybuilding is one of those things I want to enjoy. If I’m enjoying it, I’ll keep doing it.”

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