Debbie Keen, a 52-year-old personal trainer and mum-of-two has just returned triumphant from an ‘I Compete Natural (ICN)’ bodybuilding competition in Sydney, winning gold in her age group and category. While she is still considered an amateur natural bodybuilder (drug free), Debbie has had over 10 years’ experience and won a huge collection of trophies and titles.
Growing up in the New South Wales outback town of Broken Hill in the early 70s, Debbie had no idea that the world of female bodybuilding even existed. Back then it was all about eating meat-and-two-veg and playing team sport. Her first foray into the world of fitness began following the birth of her first child, Trent.
“I felt really uncomfortable with the extra baby weight I had gained, so with a few other mums, I joined a local gym in my then home of Dubbo,” she says.
“In 1993 it was all about aerobics, but not long after I joined up, the only female instructor left town. The gym owner introduced me to Phil, a muscly African American weight-lifting enthusiast. At first, I thought it was hilarious and slightly intimidating to be in the ‘proper gym’, but Phil was a fantastic trainer and as the weight fell off and my shape changed, I grew more confident in my ability.”