Bodybuilding all in a day's work for Illawarra exec

Sharon Wingate took up bodybuilding in her 40s and tasted immediate success. Picture: GARY PHILLIPS

Sharon Wingate took up bodybuilding in her 40s and tasted immediate success. Picture: GARY PHILLIPS

By day she is a mild-mannered executive but each morning and on weekends she can be found at a competition or gym.

With a diploma in management from the Australian Institute of Management and a former personal assistant to then BlueScope chief Noel Cornish, Sharon Wingate is equally at home in a boardroom as the gym at Aventus Health and Fitness Warrawong.

Mrs Wingate has also worked at the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach but is now executive officer at The Illawarra Connection (TIC).

She reports and answers directly to the board of the region's peak networking body after replacing Barry Wood when he retired.

But her chosen sport is also serious business for the Welsh-born executive, who moved to Australia in 1972 when her father Geoff Evans came to work for John Lysaghts as a superintendent.

She is a former Figtree High School student who became a world champion in 2009 when she won the International Natural Bodybuilding Federation (INBF) World Amateur Championships in the Open Ms Fit Body division.

She recently competed in a series of competitions in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne managed by the International Federation of Body Building (IFBB).

Leading into the competitions she trained twice a day starting at 5.30am but tailors her schedule around the times she has the most energy.

"Every day I do cardio ... and an hour and a half heavy weight training," she said.

Mrs Wingate did not take up the sport until her early 40s and often competes against women much younger and taller, yet still regularly places in national events - even when there are not enough entrants to split the competition into short and tall classes.

Mrs Wingate also coaches three other Illawarra women and one man in the sport.

She said there was an element of personal satisfaction in winning but for her it was also about the health benefits.

"You want to improve with each competition you do but bodybuilding is such a slow process it can take years to achieve what you want," she said.

"This is my eighth year of competition. If I look back at my photos from eight years ago compared to now I think wow I have changed a lot. But I know there is so much more that I can do. It is one of those sports that you just keep progressing in and getting better at."

She was a wife and mother when she started at a gym in Shellharbour but was looking for something that was completely self-absorbing.

Initially she did not feel comfortable entering competitions in a bikini and high heels.

Once she made the commitment she said she had to see it through just as she did as a PA to a senior executive.

"There are all sorts of benefits you get from doing bodybuilding. The sport really is quite healthy. I think it keeps you young," she said.

Husband David Wingate is the NSW manager of Qube Ports and is a member of TIC and that was how his wife became aware of the important work it does in bringing the business community together.

Both love staying connected with business and industry and Mrs Wingate said she loved having this latest opportunity to work with business and industry leaders at the executive level through her role at TIC.

She believes everyone should do what they are passionate about and looks forward to continuing personal challenges.

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