Tuesday, 10 July 2012 02:30
By Eef Armstrong
Antigua St. John’s - “I couldn’t wait to start competing again when I got myself in shape after the baby”, says Beverly Percival-Tonge.
The bodybuilder recently returned from the third Inter Island Bodybuilding Fitness Championship in St. Maarten, where she won first place in the women’s open. For many years she has been dominating the Antiguan bodybuilding circuit and even though she no longer competes locally, she still represents the country overseas.
Many athletes have long retired by the age of 47, but it seems like Percival-Tonge has just started. “I want to get my pro card and that’s what I am working towards”, she states. To her, age is just a number and it’s all about how you feel inside.
“Bodybuilding teaches you discipline and to respect your body, inside and out. I love taking my physique and sculpt it into what I want it to be. I see improvement every year and it makes me feel good. In the last competition in St. Maarten, the judges were happy with my physique but they also told me to improve my legs and glutes, which are my weak points,” she says.
The bodybuilder also had a lot of positive feedback in the NPC Bev Francis Atlantic States Bodybuilding championships in New York, last month, where she came in first in heavyweight and fourth in Masters Women over 35 years old. “It tells me I am on the right track.”
Sitting across from Percival-Tonge at her office at AOB Ltd, where she works as an Executive Assistant you wouldn’t suspect that a sculpted body was hiding beneath her business suit.
Leaning back into her chair she describes herself as subdued at times, crazy, friendly, kindhearted and ready to help others any time, any place. But when it’s show time, she puts on what she calls her game face.
“It’s just me and the stage. I perform for the judges, the audience, and I represent Antigua. In those two split seconds it’s my time to shine.” As long as she is in shape, she’s not nervous’, she says.
The bodybuilder admits that she has always been competitive. She’s been lifting weights since she was 18 years old and practiced Judo since an even earlier age. Wesley Barrow and Errol Williams were the main reasons she got into bodybuilding.
“I remember my very first national show in 2002. I came in last. If you beat me I will come back. That was the first and last time I lost in a national championship.”
Bodybuilding is her passion and she loves that she can transfer her knowledge to others. Percival-Tonge especially likes to target obese people. “You can enjoy food in moderation but you can’t stuff bad food into your mouth, go to the gym and expect good results.” She believes that “a healthy you is a better you.”
Next to her regular job, she works as a personal trainer at Barrow’s gym. A normal day for her starts at 4:30 am. Around 6:15 am, she is back home preparing for work and getting her three-year-old son, Isaiah, ready for school. Then she goes to the office and is back at the gym, teaching, at 4:30 pm. When she gets home at 6:30 pm, it’s what she calls “family time”. Sunday morning is for teaching boot camp.
“I couldn’t do all of this without the support of my husband Floyd. He is a former bodybuilding competitor and understands my passion. We are a great team.”
It seems that the couple is passing on their interest in bodybuilding to their son. Percival-Tonge says that he already has the traits of a bodybuilder and shows a keen interest in it. He also loves soccer. “I can already see that he will be a professional sportsman.”
The bodybuilder hopes to be competing for as long as she can but, financially, she doesn’t know if it is possible. Except for private donations, there is no money available to represent our country overseas.
For the last competition in St. Maarten, Ollyn Martin, Delamine Andrew and Percival-Tonge had to pay their own way and, according to Percival-Tonge, it came up to about EC $2,000 per person. “If it wasn’t for Mr. Barrow, DK Racing, Antigua Streetz, Urvin Edwards and Mc. Alister Abbott, I wouldn’t have been competing,” she adds.
Once a year, the athlete participates in a different competition - The Antigua Fishing Tournament. “I have been fishing with Dr. Fuller and his crew for many years now and this past tournament I caught some nice dolphins.” In 2010, she caught the largest wahoo for a female angler.
Winning sure seems to be in her blood.