Howell’s Klein wins Fitness International title

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

Staff Writer

CHRIS KELLY staff Howell native Kim Klein, who recently won her first national championship, continues to work hard for another competition in September where she hopes to add a second title to her résumé.CHRIS KELLY staff Howell native Kim Klein, who recently won her first national championship, continues to work hard for another competition in September where she hopes to add a second title to her résumé. The bridesmaid finally made it to the altar.For Kim Klein, the altar was the top step of the podium at the Fitness International.

After a string of second places had the Howell High School graduate contemplating her future, her victory at the Fitness International at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, on March 2 has given her career new life. The International is one of the two biggest competitions for a fitness athlete, and with Arnold Schwarzenegger the namesake, this one has added significance.

“I was being called a bridesmaid because I had finished second so often,” said Klein. “This was a big step for me. It was always a dream of mine to have Arnold hand me the jacket.”

The trophy that went with the win was also nice, but the check, $25,000, was nicer.

Second at the International last year, Klein, who has been competing in fitness competitions since 1996, took a different approach to this year’s competition after consulting with the judges and others in the know.

“I did make a big change: I came in a little leaner,” she pointed out. “They [judges] said that I needed to be a little leaner and smaller physique-wise.”

So Klein went about dropping 10 pounds 2 1/2 weeks before the competition.

“I did a ton of cardio, three hours a day, and I changed my diet,” she said. “I eat a lot of fish.”

Klein altered her cardio between the treadmill, the bike, stepper and elliptic machine. She traded her cardio for calories (no carbohydrates) with her diet. Her only concern was her stamina after dropping so much weight.

“It was hard to get through the routine,” said Klein. “I didn’t have as much energy.”

But energy was never what was missing from her routine before.

“I knew I did everything I possibly could,” she pointed out. “I nailed my routine.”

Having been so close for so often, Klein waited until all the points had been tallied to judge her routine. When they were added, the routine was just perfect. She was the 2007 Fitness International champion.

Klein and her husband, Rob Klein, own Extreme Fitness Zone in Hazlet. They purchased the 6,000-square-foot gym last June.

“It’s something that we always wanted, a fitness center,” she said. “It took us a few years.”

Having her own gym to work out in helped, but it consumed a lot of time.

“It’s easier because you are here, but being in charge of everything, time just flies,” she said.

Klein credits her husband for keeping her motivated. When she found herself questioning why she was going through all the sacrifices and dieting it takes to keep on the elite fitness level, when the best she could get was second place, it was her husband who kept encouraging her.

“My husband helped me and told me to continue,” she remarked. “Rob just said ‘believe in yourself.’ He was behind me a lot.”

Klein, who starred in gymnastics at Howell High School, got started in the fitness game while rehabilitating from gymnastics injuries. The knee injuries eventually ended her gymnastics career, but by then she had picked up on weight training and in 1996 entered her first fitness competition.

Next up is the Fitness Olympia competition in Las Vegas on Sept. 28. It and the Arnold are the two biggest competitions for fitness athletes.

“My goal is to win them both [Olympia and Arnold],” said Klein.

Having gotten over the hump in Columbus, it would only be fitting if Klein were to add the Fitness Olympia title to her Arnold win.

One thing her win in Columbus has done is to keep her in the game for a few more years. There will definitely be a time to retire she said, but not just yet.