Barbera focuses on fitness, competition
Beneath Collette Barbera’s trim, tanned, perfectly toned muscles beats the heart of a fierce competitor.
“It’s who I am,” says Barbera, 35, who lately has been focusing on bikini competitions, after also competing in bodybuilding and figure events, and winning the crowns of both Ms. Baton Rouge and Ms. Boucherie four years ago.
She is a personal trainer and runs Blue EyesBikini, which helps young women who want to enter fitness competitions.
And, as much as she likes to compete, helping others achieve their own fitness goals is a close rival.
Even before she started her own personal training firm, Barbera says people were always asking her for advice. So now she helps clients both old and young meet their fitness goals.
“Right now I’m working with three teenagers,” says Barbera. “And I’m super excited about it.”
People are sometimes intimidated by her model looks, so Barbera says she does all she can to help people feel comfortable about working out, whether it’s at their homes or in the gym.
“I want people to focus on being the best they can be, and not worry about somebody else,” she says.
For Barbera, the road to fitness started at a young age. Growing up in New Orleans and later moving with her family to Germany and then Virginia before returning to Louisiana, Barbera says she was involved in all sorts of sports, “but gymnastics was my first love.”
As she left team sports behind, Barbera says she started working out on her own at the gym.
“For me,” she says, “I needed some way to stay active and involved.”
So when it came time to focus on college and career, Barbera first went to the University of Alabama before finishing her degree in exercise physiology with a concentration in fitness studies at LSU.
“The fitness part was always really important to me,” she says.
Unfortunately, when she got out of college, personal trainer jobs were few and far between. Barbera says she worked in sales at a health club and, at one time, as an industrial radiologist X-raying welds.
In the early 2000s, Barbera started entering bodybuilding competitions sponsored by the National Physique Committee, an amateur bodybuilding and fitness organization. Then she took on “Figure,” an NPC division, which calls for a “toned, muscular physique,” she says.
But the year-round training is wearing, and Barbera stopped competing for a few years.
When she decided to make fitness her full-time job, Barbera worked for others before starting her own companies.
And, last year, she decided to get back into competition.
“The Bikini class is less muscle and a little more Hawaiian Tropic,” she says with a laugh. “You have to be fit and toned. And it’s about the hair and makeup … There’s lots of bling.”
She’s won in her height category in local, state and regional competitions, and took third in the 2011 NPC Nationals.
Being judged on your body can be tough, she admits. “You’ve got to have a thick skin, and know that you’re not going to win them all … But you can’t worry about somebody else. You have to be your authentic self or you will hold yourself back.”
- Write down your goals.
- Seek out people who will support you.
- Start small, such as working out three days a week, then gradually
build up to more days.
- Don’t beat yourself up. When you make a mistake, don’t give up.
- Believe in yourself. “That’s huge. You have got to believe you can
do it,” Barbera says.