Auburn woman strikes a strong pose

Auburn's Nicole Kupfer is a source of strength – in more ways than one.

She helps kids every day as a therapeutic childcare worker for Childhaven in Auburn. In the weight room and on the stage, the blossoming bodybuilder demands and gets the most from her diminutive self.

"(You have) to have the will power and determination. ... When I make up my mind to do it, I do it," said Kupfer, 22, an Auburn High School and University of Washington Tacoma graduate, who competes as an amateur. "There is nothing that can make me stray from my diet or my training."

For Kupfer, the best is yet to come.

As a relative newcomer to the sport, Kupfer has shown lots of promise. She took sixth in her class – those standing 5 foot 4 or shorter – at the Washington State Open in Auburn last year. From there, the 106-pound Kupfer topped her division (5-2 and under) in Vancouver, Wash., in March, then capped off the season in May by placing third out of 16 contestants (5-2 and under) in the Emerald Cup at Bellingham.

Now she's determined to improve her physique – from muscle clarity to definition – and place higher for next season. She plans to gear up for next spring's Emerald Cup, then try her first national, perhaps the Junior USA competition in North Carolina.

If all goes well, she might decide to secure her card and debut professionally.

Preparing for meets is a long, challenging process.

"For my shows, we do a 12- or 16-week prep following a strict diet and training regiment," said Kupfer. Her own weight fluctuates from 115 pounds in the offseason to a well-tapered 106 pounds when she hits the stage for poses and quarter-turns.

Kupfer trains diligently under the guidance of her dad, Darren Kupfer. The senior Kupfer, a champion bodybuilder himself, works as a personal trainer. Father and daughter train daily in the early morning hours. She also makes time for cardio work.

She follows a healthy lifestyle and competes drug free, naturally.

"You have to be very disciplined," said the younger Kufper, who also works with an online trainer to monitor her diet and exercise. "You have to want to do this."

Kupfer knows she must gradually improve her body to get that "martini glass" symmetrical shape.

On stage, she has held up well under the bright lights of the stage and the scrutiny of the judges.

"I never really get too nervous when I'm on stage in front of the judges," she said. "By the time you get to the stage, there really is no point in being nervous because you've done all the work you possibly can. I just like to go out there and have fun. Being nervous can just totally change how your body looks."

Darren Kupfer is proud of what his prodigy has achieved in such a short time.

"I couldn't have asked for a better daughter," he said. "She's the perfect child ... into total fitness ... being persistent and consistent."

With great genetics and coaching, Kupfer has great potential.

"Anything is possible," dad said. "If she improves, it will happen."

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