Celine Masson-Cameron - OPA Bee-kini Bound
The Ontario Physique Association (OPA) has evolved over the past two decades from a few hundred members in the 1980s to a current population well into the thousands. While cultural norms embrace an increasingly fit lifestyle, the sport, under the auspices of the IFBB, has veritably exploded with the inception of new categories and classes, along with a swelling tide of female competitors.
One of the primary responsibilities of an OPA Regional Director is to promote and encourage all aspects of the sport—including bodybuilding, fitness, figure, physique, and bikini. And on occasion, in the gym or at sporting events, the opportunity arises to persuade prospective OPA athletes to consider competing.
Not long ago, I encountered a young woman at a local fitness club whose lines and symmetry embodied the look of a Bikini competitor. Admittedly, it was the tattoos that I first noticed—beautiful swirls of ink that included birds, trees, angels, and waterfalls. She reminded me of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and so I silently dubbed her “Wasp,” after Salander’s computer hacker pseudonym, which would later prove to be synchronistic.
Wasp, known in reality as Celine Masson-Cameron, was the mother of two adorable little girls whom she and her spouse, Dave, toted to the gym daily. Dave was a formidable bodybuilding contender who could easily take the stage, although Celine herself had never considered competition. Instead, she immersed herself in weight training, in-line skating, and tae kwon do, in addition to her parental responsibilities and assisting her family members in their business ventures. Naturally, I took the opportunity to suggest that the OPA would be a new and exciting endeavor for her to undertake in her “spare” time.
Celine was intrigued, but entirely undecided. She had overcome many obstacles in attaining her current fitness level. She shared that her early years included a less-than-healthy lifestyle. “As I reached my 20s, I was drinking and partying, which left me feeling lost and depressed. I was working at a bar and within a year, I had gained 20 pounds. After having my first daughter, I became very sick. I could barely keep any food down, due in part, I was told, to acid reflux. I went from being a healthy 125 pounds to 105 pounds. I had no energy to look after my baby. I felt nauseous and dizzy much of the time.”
Celine’s older sister, Mel, was a former trainer and (among many other things) a local beekeeper who farmed natural honey in the Ottawa area. Celine found that raw honey was a wonderful antidote for her stomach problems and provided much-needed post-pregnancy nutritional benefits. The healing qualities of honey have been documented for thousands of years as a medicinal compound. Pure, raw honey reportedly has antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties and contains vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. The only caution is that honey should never be given to infants.
Over the following months, Celine found that her sister’s nature-made honey seemed to help her gastrointestinal issues. According to research, this is entirely possible as honey has also been linked to the regulation of blood sugars; it can increase athletic performance, prevent some chronic diseases and even heal wounds. Indeed, “Wasp” could attribute her miraculous health improvements to … bees.
As an aside, this was not the first time that the OPA had encountered tales of bees and babies. Western Regional Director Paul Lauzon and his family once endured a swarm that had invaded the exterior walls of their baby daughter’s room. Exterminators were called in without delay, although it’s likely that the bees left of their own volition—once they observed the enormous size and parental wrath of their host.
“It took a while,” said Celine, “but I started feeling a little bit like myself again. We decided to have our second baby, and after that it was time to try going to the gym. I lacked confidence at first, although the more I went, the more I liked it and eventually started feeling more comfortable. A year later, I was approached about doing a fitness competition. I thought to myself, ‘Onstage in a bathing suit? I don't think so!’
“I started out on my fitness journey with the intent to be healthier, but the idea of competing had never entered my mind, primarily because I had always feared being in front of an audience. Nonetheless, I began preparing for the possibility. And when I realized it was just days from the show, I suddenly became absolutely terrified. What was I thinking? I was almost a decade older than many of the competitors, had two children, and was mortified about the idea of getting on a stage wearing a bikini.”
It was amazing, she later noted, how strong family support, a community of like-minded pals, and sheer determination can overcome trepidation.
“And on July 4, 2015, I competed in the OPA GNC Ottawa Championships and placed second in my category—Bikini medium/tall. I was thrilled! I remember I couldn't stop smiling—not so much about the placement, but more for what I had achieved. I knew I wanted to do another show and decided to hire a coach. My husband was already training with Sherrie Aguis, and she was recommended by many people. Dave surprised me one day with some coaching sessions with Sherrie. I placed top three in my second show as well!
“I’ve learned so much and reached goals that I never expected I could accomplish. I have had great support from my family, friends, my coach, and of course, the OPA. Now I want to help others. I believe that I can mentor, motivate, and inspire other women who want to fulfill their desire to be the best they can be.”
Celine summarized her story with a befitting motto, borrowed from her sister. “This is a journey. The destination is yet to be discovered. You just have to …” she paused with a grin, “… Bee Strong.”
Great advice, coming from a Wasp.
Eastern Regional Director
Ontario Physique Association