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DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

BURNET — Kristi Yarter, owner of Kristi’s Kountry Kuts, hopes with a bit more time in the gym and a few more tweaks to her diet she’ll earn her professional card in the world of bodybuilding and fitness.

“My plan is to get my pro card in August at the North American Championships in Pittsburgh,” she said while taking a break between appointments at her salon. “I just need to win it.”

Yarter, 41, took a big step toward realizing her dream earlier this month when she placed sixth out of 60 competitors in the women’s body fitness (figure) division of the Arnold (Schwarzenegger) Amateur IFBB International Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

“It’s an extremely important show,” Yarter said. “There were competitors from all over the world. I would try talking to one of the other women and she’d say something, but it was in a completely different language.”

The Burnet business owner isn’t a female bodybuilder but competes in a class that exemplifies women’s figures and fitness. Her path to Columbus probably started about a year ago when Yarter pushed her physical training up several notches.

“I’ve been going to the gym all my life,” she said. “I have always been in good shape. But getting ready for this, well, it’s been an entirely higher level.”

Last year, she dove into the world of competitive figure and fitness training under the International Federation of Bodybuilding.

Three days a week, she drives to Austin’s Metroflex Gym to work out with her trainer, David Schachterle, a bodybuilder himself.

Despite her years in the gym, the transition from working out to training for competition included major shifts in Yarter’s lifestyle.

Schachterle designed a diet for Yarter based on precise food measurements. Six times a day, Yarter dines on a meal of six ounces of protein, a quarter cup of carbohydrates and a quarter cup of vegetables. A month out from the Arnold Amateur, Schachterle yanked Yarter’s carbohydrate ration.

“The diet is definitely the toughest part,” Yarter said. “I haven’t had sugar in a year.”

Though her husband, Clancy Yarter, and two daughters, Darra and Danylle Morris, support her endeavor, the family hasn’t gone as far as giving up their ice cream and normal foods.

As for Yarter’s workout, it starts every morning at 5:30 a.m. with 30 minutes of cardio at Kingsland Health and Fitness. Then at midday, she hits a local gym or Metroflex for two hours of weights followed by another 30 minutes of cardio in the afternoon.

Getting out of bed and going to the gym before most people and even the sun are up doesn’t come without struggles. There are times when Yarter would rather roll over and go back to sleep or at least skip the morning workout.

But she doesn’t.

“There’s just something inside of me that gets me up and going,” Yarter said. “It’s just that competitiveness, I guess.”

Once a week, Yarter hits the stairs at Mustang Stadium in Marble Falls. Up and down she runs for 40 minutes.

Getting to the Arnold competition wasn’t a matter of registering online, paying a fee and showing up. She earned an invitation with top five finishes in the 2012 Branch Warren Classic (fifth place) and the 2012 Adela Garcia Classic (fourth place).

At 41, Yarter often shares the stage and preparation areas with women much younger than herself. When she mentions her daughter, one of whom is as old as some of the competitors, it draws questions from the other women.

“They’ll say, ‘You have a daughter?’ And I’ll tell them I have two,” Yarter said with a grin.

With the North American Championships six months away, Yarter isn’t taking any time to relax or revel in her Arnold Amateur success (yes, she did see Arnold). Instead, she pushes herself hard with an eye on earning her professional card.

The coveted pro card opens Yarter up to prize money at the competitions. A top contestant can earn six figures at the major shows.

Plus, the card gets the attention of major sponsors, something Yarter would definitely welcome.

But the big return doesn’t come with a check.

“I just love the way I look,” Yarter said with a smile.

daniel@thepicayune.com