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Carol A. Salazar — Sculpting the human body

An avid strength trainer, Carol A. Salazar of the Financial Compliance group (FA-FC) has recently started competitive bodybuilding. Carol performed so well at her debut competition that she turned professional and plans to participate in the national bodybuilding championships in the near future.
August 7, 2019
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“You’ll see me at Wellness Center every day after work. At first, all these young people wondered what I was doing there. But today, these same young people, they say, ‘Carol, you’re a beast!’”

Sculpting the human body 

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Carol A. Salazar poses for the judges at the 2018 OCB Albuquerque Natural competition.

Floodlights cover the stage as several muscular female competitors step onto the stage. Among these tanned and sculpted athletes is 53-year-old Carol A. Salazar of the Financial Compliance group (FA-FC). Carol is understandably nervous, as this is her first bodybuilding competition. However, Carol’s confidence blossoms as she goes through a posing routine designed for the judges and the audience to compare her physique to that of her competitors.

“I’ve been interested in fitness going all the way back to high school, when I would work out using old Jack LaLanne fitness routines,” says Carol. “While in college, I got interested in bodybuilding and started to follow bodybuilders like Cory Everson (Ms. Olympia from 1984 to 1989)—I really admired her hard work and how she sculpted her body. I wanted to do the same thing to mine.”

Female bodybuilding today consists of four divisions: bikini, figure, physique and bodybuilding. Overall size and symmetry are the principal guidelines that divide the divisions, with bikini athletes often described as “tight and toned,” figure athletes as “hard and lean” and physique and bodybuilding athletes as “jacked and lean.” Competitors are also divided by age.

On March 11, 2018, Carol made her amateur bodybuilding debut at the Albuquerque Natural competition sponsored by the OCB, the Organization of Competition Bodies. Her results were impressive, with first-place wins in Figure Age 40+ and 50+ and fourth place in Figure Novice against all ages.

A Fixture at the Wellness Center

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Carol A. Salazar works her shoulders at the Los Alamos Wellness Center.

When Carol first hired on to the Laboratory, she quickly learned about the Wellness Center and soon became a fixture there.

“I’ve been working out at the Wellness Center for at least 20 years,” Carol remembers. “I started off with strength training, which I really enjoyed. As I aged past 50, however, I felt I was growing around my middle, so I hired a nutritional coach who helped me learn how to eat ‘clean.’ It turns out my coach had been a bodybuilding competitor, and he encouraged me to give bodybuilding a try.” 

Carol took a month to think about this new challenge. It was Christmas of 2017, so she took the time to enjoy the holidays. “Yeah,” she says, “I had one last round of tamales, biscochitos and other goodies during Christmas and New Year’s Day. Then I came back to the Wellness Center, ready to train.” 

The key difference between strength training and bodybuilding is that the former consists of heavy weights with fewer lifts and the latter consists of lighter weights with more and more lifts.

“It’s a careful balance, bodybuilding,” Carol notes. “There are days when you go heavy, so that you can build and bulk up the muscle groups. Then there are days when you ‘shred,’ where you focus on sculpting the muscles so that they stand out, giving you a chiseled or ‘cut’ look.”

Carol participates in an ever-growing movement known as natural bodybuilding. Natural bodybuilding follows all the exercise routines and nutritional disciplines of traditional bodybuilding, but athletes abstain from using performance-enhancing drugs.

“For me, this lifestyle and exercise regime has kept me healthy and feeling young” explains Carol. “When I was younger my doctors told me to be prepared for a kidney transplant in my 40s—my lifestyle has enabled me to avoid that. I am also hoping that healthy living will prevent me from getting Alzheimer’s. My dad has it, and the illness can be inherited.”

Donning the armor of God

“During my debut competition, I was really afraid,” relates Carol. “I’m like, ‘what have I got myself into?’ When I first came out, I was so sheepish. So, I took a deep breath and put it in God’s hands. I kept thinking about the armor of God, and it gave me the strength to perform my best. And you know what? I wound up doing really good.” 

Carol performed so well at the 2018 Albuquerque Natural that she received her pro-card, which means she can now compete as a professional at national competitions. “My next goal is to win the all-ages Open Figure competition in New Mexico and then compete at the National Pro Figure in the Masters Class (over 40 years of age) Championships in the near future.”

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Carol’s trophies from the 2018 OCB Albuquerque Natural competition.

Carol A. Salazar works for the Financial Compliance group (FA-FC).


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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the Employee Spotlight articles are solely those of the featured employees and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Los Alamos National Laboratory.