This month’s KickAss Woman of the Month is a true inspiration. All of us have challenges in our lives but few have gone through a traumatic event like Erin Duggan. Read below and see how she used her injuries to change her life, and now inspires other people! – kaw
How did you get started competing? What do you compete in?
I currently compete in natural pro bodybuilding (IFPA, ANBF, DFAC federations) and NPC women’s physique divisions. I started competing in figure then transitioned to fit body and finally bodybuilding where I earned my WNBF pro card in 2011. I decided to pursue my dream of getting on stage in June 2010, six months after I started training at a local bootcamp whose owner, Tyler English, was himself a professional bodybuilder and introduced me to the sport. I joined his facility pretty much as soon as I could walk unassisted (after my car accident), replacing my physical therapy with a slightly more challenging yet more rewarding and productive workout.
Were you athletic as a child?
Yes! I was athletic as a child. My family was very involved in downhill skiing and I remember learning at a very young age (2 snowplowing between my parents’ legs) and tumbling down the face of a local mountain when I was 4. I competed in downhill slalom racing for several years in the winter and soccer in the spring and fall. Unfortunately I was born with shallow patellar grooves which allowed my knee caps to dislocate often and without much provocation. My parents opted not to proceed with surgery at the time (12 years old) but instead allowed me the opportunity to ride horses, eliminating the lateral movements which aggravated my knees. I rode my bike to the local show barn after school where I spent several hours a day training my “green” pony. I, of course, got hooked on competing in horse shows for the next several years. When I eventually outgrew my pony, my parents also divorced and I could no longer show horses or continue riding, but my competitive spirit and intense work ethic did not leave for too long as I still am highly motivated and driven today.
Let’s get right to the ‘bad times’ and how you overcame that. You were hit on a bicycle by a car. Tell us the story.
It was July 14, 2009, I decided to go for a quick 2 hour ride with my friend who had asked me to get her into road riding. I had been separated for a little over a year and stopped my professional mountain biking (cat2 road racing and elite cyclocross) and racing and was working 50 hours a week while raising my four children. I hit the road that day after work and was almost at the halfway point near a local tubing park. We were coasting past the entrance when a SUV decided to hit the gas and turn into the park. I was struck on my femur, knocked off the bike and crashed across the hood of the car, into the windshield, and tumbled off onto the side of the road. My friend was behind me and luckily ended up with only a smashed pinky and bad concussion. I had shattered my femur, in seven places (now have a titanium rod in leg), broke both fibulas, sprained my right ankle, shattered my left thumb and required over fifty stitches in my face. Luckily I had been wearing sunglasses and a helmet or my left eye would have been destroyed as well. But the best luck of all was that we had just passed another cyclist and his wife only minutes beforehand, a cyclist that turned out to be an ER doctor, who was on the scene immediately. Life star was called and the police arrested the driver who later was jailed for several offenses, after I testified against him. Not once did he ever apologize for almost killing two single mothers. I spent the next few weeks in the hospital – which later inspired me to leave my job, return to school full time, earn all of my undergrad credits and now am in nursing school full time. I returned home in a wheelchair, and then a walker then crutches and off to bootcamp. There were bad days for sure but instead of getting caught up in feeling sorry for myself, I decided to come back stronger than ever. I went after a dream I thought I never had the confidence to do, and embrace my muscles, not hide them… scars and all.
What was your recovery like?
I spent from July to December transitioning from wheelchair to walker and then crutches. I was extremely self conscious of my face as part of it was unable to be stitched and was left open to scar. Not being able to use my left hand was also quite difficult when coupled with my left leg and right sprained ankle, but those were not permanent and I viewed them as challenges to overcome. January 1st, I enrolled in the bootcamp which quickly distracted me and provided me with daily goals to reach and attain, and finally was able to incorporate weight bearing exercises and compete in my first show that June.
Do you have any lingering physical issues?
I still have a weak grip in my left hand when handling heavy dumbbells/barbells but since I use Versa Gripps, I can get a great workout regardless. I recently (last Labor Day 2012) dislocated my right knee so severely (completely ruptured) getting out of the shower, I had to manually reset it and then have donor replacement ligament surgery. This was painful and I still have quite a bit of discomfort in my knee if it is in flexion for more than 15 minutes at a time (driving, sitting, etc.) I was unable to do any cardio or weights with my legs so over the winter I went to the gym on crutches to work on my upper body. In January, it was back to the legs and have been trying to get them back ever since!
How do you train? What is your routine?
I just recently started to train with my coach John Yobst of Lean Physique LLC in CT and think I have found an excellent fit! I am eating quite a bit more than I ever have and am increasing my intake even more in my upcoming off season. I have been competing consistently this year so my training may be quite different than if I had a longer off season. My pre-competition routine right now is a combination of HIIT and steady state cardio (starting off in moderation and gradually increasing the closer I get to show time) 3-5 times a week and no more than 60-90 minutes of weight training 5 times a week. Now that I am in nursing school, I wake up at 5am to make sure I can still get to the gym, school, study and still take care of kids at home and dogs! My food prep is intense and pretty anal as I believe diet is crucial and the hardest part for me. I love cupcakes… and any baked goods for that matter. But I also have found a new love for organic sweet potatoes and fresh cooked, stir fried onions, mushrooms, peppers, asparagus, and bison combo topped with Cholula sauce!!
How do people respond to your ‘physique’?
I am not exactly sure… I know some people do not like it, many men are intimidated by me and on the other hand, I have had many people compliment me on my body. Unfortunately, many people assume that I expect them to workout at my intensity which is absolutely not true and start to get defensive. This drive and dedication is something I would never demand from anyone else. It is something I was born with and have been like all of my life.
Who do you look up to?
I look up to the everyday person that overcomes a struggle or handicap to reach their goals. I am fond of the underdog, the underprivileged, the underestimated, the hard worker. I have always held my mother in high esteem as she instilled my work ethic and high expectations of myself. She always believed in me and told me I could do anything I wanted to… and meant it. She was my biggest fan and I know she would be very proud of me for not giving up on myself and striving to make my dreams come true no matter what obstacle may be thrown my way.
What are your future fitness career plans?
I am not exactly sure. I know that I want to represent strong women and mothers and show young women that we can have muscles and not be ashamed of them or hide them to be accepted in society. That we can still be feminine and sexy and strong!! I do not want women’s bodybuilding to die out… and I am very happy that there are 16 women in my class at my next show!! I want people to know that hardwork, dedication, drive and perseverance can overcome anything… don’t give up on your dreams!!!
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