Grayling graduate earns early success in the sport of bodybuilding
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Makayla Cragg, a 2014 Grayling High School graduate who now lives in Gaylord, is new to the art of bodybuilding, but she is already having success in the sport with several first place finishes during a competition held in Traverse City in April.
Cragg played team sports during her time at Grayling High School – volleyball, basketball, softball – but one of the things she enjoys about bodybuilding is the individual aspect of it.
“I love how I can be in control 100 percent of the time. I’m in control of the foods I eat, along with being in control of how hard I train. I view my body as a piece of art. How hard I work for the results I want is completely up to me,” Cragg said. “That is why I love this lifestyle.”
How did she get started?
“Bodybuilding caught my attention right after my first year of college. I have a few uncles and cousins that have competed in competitions and I remember as a little girl always wanting to see pictures, videos, documentaries and even educating myself by looking up information,” Cragg said. “I have always been physically active in sports and running, so I asked myself, ‘why not take it to the next level and challenge myself further?’”
She contacted her uncle.
“He and his brother had done numerous bodybuilding competitions back in their day and is well educated in how all the proper knowledge of dieting and training goes. So, we met up, sat down to talk about what all is expected, and what it will take. I wanted to get started right away,” Cragg said.
“I started training for my competition, originally last year, around July to compete in August. Due to work at the time, I was unable to be fully committed to my diet and the gym,” Cragg said.
She kept at it. Cragg said she “started training on the first of December and did an 18-week prep to lose the desired weight and body fat” for the April show in Traverse City.
“I was not letting anything get in my way this time,” she said.
Cragg competed in her first show – the Grand Traverse 38th Annual Fit For You Health Club Body Building and Figure Championship – on April 14. She took first place in Novice Figure, first in Open Figure, and first Overall. Cragg said it felt great to finish first in three categories.
“All the time and hard work I had put into this prep had finally paid off and it still keeps a smile on my face thinking about the moment. I poured 100 percent of my heart and dedication into my prep. I had a mix of emotions. Excitement, thrill, achievement. A never ending list of positive feelings,” Cragg said.
So what goes into the prep? Gym work, special diets. Cardio.
“I follow an intensely strict meal plan followed by eating at specific times. My diet consists of a lot of chicken/ground turkey, eggs, veggies, leafy greens, and vitamins to help support my health and recovery. As far as my drink beverage goes, it’s pretty boring. Water. Lots and lots of it. I’m allowed sparkling flavored water and energy drinks too as long as it’s calorie and sugar free. Following such a strict diet, it is definitely a challenge. When I first started I found it to be a struggle, but as weeks went by, my stomach shrunk and then it became a little easier. Odd cravings would come and go once in awhile, but with cutting all sugars out, I found myself not craving sweets anymore,” Cragg said.
“A successful bodybuilder has to be determined. Have will power and self discipline. Without these, you’re going to have a hard time finding the results you work for. A lot of people don’t realize how much time you have to put into yourself as well. Bodybuilding is a very selfish sport. To all the time put into the gym, shopping, making meals, posing practice, getting enough sleep, always traveling with food, taking meals with you everywhere you go, and even the people you surround yourself with. Positivity plays a significant factor as well. Along with a strict diet, I continue that mindset into my workouts. I typically train anywhere from two to three hours a day, seven days a week. I incorporate 40 minutes of cardio every day, along with a few minutes of stretching before and after training,” Cragg said.
What was the actual competition like? Cragg described it as “surreal.”
“On show day, I was at a loss of words and filled with mixed emotions. The day seems like it drags out too. Having no water, food, and lots of waiting around, it can feel anxious at times. Seeing all my family, the fans, and judges, it can bring a decent amount of pressure. I was nervous, yet confident. Excited and happy, yet sad knowing it will come to an end for this prep. After months of mood swings, being ‘hangry,’ feeling sleepless most days, and busting my butt, it all had led up to just a few short minutes on stage,” Cragg said.
Cragg moved from Grayling to Gaylord about a year ago because of work opportunities and the availability of the Powerhouse Gym, which is one of her sponsors for bodybuilding. Alpine Tavern is also a sponsor for Cragg. Rich Ferrigan is her coach.
In the future, Cragg hopes to earn a master’s degree in sports/nutrition.
For now, she’s preparing for another competition. Cragg will compete in a show in Grand Rapids on May 26.