Marla Duncan - The World's First Fitness Babe
By Rob Wilkins
Professional Member of the National Strength
and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
If it were possible to clone the perfect example of a fitness champion, Marla Duncan would be that example. At 5'6 and 130 pounds, Duncan has been an outstanding role model and inspiration for many of the current fitness women to include former Ms. Olympia Fitness, Monica Brant. "In 1991 I started lifting weights with a friend and saw a photo of Marla Duncan winning a national competition. Her beauty and physique impressed me enough that I wanted to try what she was doing--fitness competitions," said Brant.
In 1983 Duncan began swimsuit modeling and participated in calendar girl pageants, beauty pageants and bikini competitions. "Most of the time I did very well and smoked the bikini contests because women did not lift weights back then and the crowds and judges loved the look. Unfortunately, I was always labeled the muscular one and did not fit in," stated Duncan.
It was about this time a new and exciting opportunity was developing for women and it was just what Duncan was looking for-it was the dawn of a new athlete the world had never seen before-the fitness competitor.
Duncan, who first began lifting weights at the age of 16 in high school gym class, was quickly attracted to this new forum. She heard about a fitness competition taking place soon and with only 2 weeks to prepare, she competed in the 1989 Ms. Fitness USA competition. Duncan landed in the 15th position-not bad considering there were 60 competitors. For many, placing this well in their first competition would have been quite satisfying however, this placing only inspired Duncan to take her body to the next level and in 1990 she came back to win the Ms. Fitness USA title and began one of the most successful fitness careers to date.
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