Her journey through fitness led her to two first-place finishes at the Nov. 7 Jay Cutler A Cut Above the Rest competition for the mother of three.

For Ali Fraticelli the sky really is the limit.

Fitness isn’t something Fraticelli, a single mom raising three kids who is enrolled in school to become a massage therapist while working as a personal trainer, does in her spare time. It simply is her lifestyle.

From the time she was a small child, she has been surrounded by weight lifters as she watched her father and brothers work out on a regular basis.

“All growing up, I just watched them weight lift,” Fraticelli, a diminutive blonde, said during a break in her workout at Brownwood Fitness on Saturday morning. “I remember telling my dad one day I am going to be a bodybuilder. I was probably six or seven. He looked at me and said, ‘No, women don’t do that.’ ”

Fast-forward a few years and after giving birth to her second child, Fraticelli caught the weight lifting bug and wound up proving her father wrong. She turned to clean eating and weight lifting to lose the extra weight she gained from carrying her child.

“I had some extra weight to get off, so I started training at home,” she said. “I found out that eating clean and strength training is how you could totally transform your body. So that is how I started weight lifting.”

Little did she know working out would become a life-changing event, and on Nov. 7 at Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas in the Jay Cutler A Cut Above the Rest competition all of her clean eating and working out six-days-a-week paid off handsomely with the culmination of her earning first place in the novice division in her first figure pageant.

But the real surprise came later in the day when she secured the top spot in the Open Division, which pit her against every woman entered in every category that day.

“I went up against two other women, and won,” Fraticelli said. “It seemed surreal – like is this really happening?”

ENCOURAGING WORDS

Fraticelli credits Sean Ludlow, a fellow bodybuilder, for urging her to get into competitions.

“I never really thought about it, especially after having children,” Fraticelli said. “Several people approached me about being a competitor, telling me I would do well. They told me I had so much potential wasted if it don’t do it.”

It was those special people who gave Fraticelli the courage and confidence to get up on stage and show off all of her hard work.

“It sparked that interest in me again,” she said. “I started training heavy the past year and a half, trying to put on size, a lot of muscle. This past summer I was really trying to bulk up.”

COMPETITION DAY

When it came time for Fraticelli to seek guidance on competing, she turned to Richard McCarter, who later would introduce her to Jeff Dwelle, her posing coach.

“Richard McCarter – a good friend of mine – trained a guy here for the Ronnie Coleman,” Fraticelli said. “That guy did well and took second in his first show.

“I pretty much approached him and asked if he would help me. He said he would help me, but I had to be committed. I said I would do whatever it takes. He started working with me, and became my prep coach. He did my diet for me and we worked together in the weight room a lot until this last show.”

On Nov. 7, Fraticelli found herself in Irving at the Jay Cutler A Cut Above the Rest competition, entering in figure as a novice.

Figure, according to Fraticelli, “is pretty muscular.”

“They look at how capped off your shoulders are, your lat spread, just how conditioned and proportioned you are,” Fraticelli said.

While starting out as a novice, she would leave the convention center that day as an accomplished bodybuilder with the help of Jeff Dwelle, her posing coach.

“I had no idea how to pose,” Fraticelli said. “Jeff started working with me on my poses and stage presence. He told me you can be totally in shape and the total package, but if you get up on stage and look like a deer in headlights, you are done. It doesn’t matter.”

It was McCarter who encouraged her to get up on stage in the Open Division.

“Richard suggested I do the open,” Fraticelli said. “He said if I was going to spend all that money and time for training – you might as well get up on that stage as much as possible.”

So, Fraticelli entered the Open Division and all of her working out, clean eating and posing practice provided her the opportunity to strut off with the first-place trophy.

LIFTING IS LIFE

Fraticelli joined Brownwood Fitness two years ago, working out in group fitness classes.

“I took Body Combat and Body Pump, and one of the instructors approached me and asked me if I was interested getting my certification for Body Pump,” she said. “So I did that and did my Body Pump certification while I was pregnant with my third child and I was actually in the middle of a divorce.”

Despite going through the emotional circumstances associated with her divorce, it didn’t slow Fraticelli down.

“I was going through a divorce, got my certification and was pregnant – that is where it started at Brownwood Fitness,” she said. “I taught Group Fitness throughout most of my pregnancy, and then took off for awhile, of course, after I had the baby.”

After going to her six-week check-up, Fraticelli found herself back in a familiar place – Brownwood Fitness.

“Then I got my personal training certification shortly after that,” Fraticelli said. “I started training here, working at Brownwood Fitness as a personal trainer and Body Pump instructor. Then just getting out in the weight room with other people I have people approach me about doing competitions.”

SUNDAY IS REST DAY

If you are looking for Fraticelli, you can usually find her in Brownwood Fitness as her routine is working out six days per week.

“I’m in the gym six days a week, and I am also in school for massage therapy,” Fraticelli said. “The first six weeks of my prep I was in clinical down at Texas Massage Academy. That is a full day on Saturday and Sunday you are in school. Then five days a week training at Brownwood Fitness.”

Fraticelli found herself rushing to the gym after class to ensure she got her workout in, stayed disciplined and kept up with her regimen.

“It is an every day thing, an all day thing,” Fraticelli said. “When you get out of bed and eat your first meal, you have to be consistent on your timing. Your meals are set 2 ½ to 3 hours apart. Training six days a week, a couple hours every day in the gym with your cardio and strength training and your diet is an every day thing.”

Fraticelli, in order to stay fit, carries a cooler with her that contains all her meals.

“It is a lifestyle,” she said.

NOT DONE YET

For some, winning first place at the Jay Cutler A Cut Above the Rest would be a nice pinnacle.

Not for Fraticelli. Her goal is to become a pro.

“That show – the Jay Cutler A Cut Above the Rest – was a national qualifier,” Fraticelli said. “That enables me to do a national show, and I believe I have up to a year to do a national show. If you win a national show, you become an IFPB Pro.

“That is my goal – to prep for a national show. I am going to take a good off-season and put on 10 to 15 more pounds of muscle for size and get ready to compete at a national level to get my pro card.”

Success is Fraticelli’s driving point, while she finds the fun in working out along the way.

“Anyone that does NPC, I feel like that is their ultimate dream to become a pro bodybuilder,” Fraticelli said. “Unless you are just doing it for the fun. It is fun, but you want to be successful in it. Who doesn’t want to be a pro, if they are in this sport?”

TIME FOR REFLECTION

When asked if the Nov. 7 accomplishments were the top of her time in competition, Fraticelli paused before waxing philosophically.

“To me … it is like ‘wow I really did this’ and you look back and you think anything is possible now,” Fraticelli said. “I feel like we limit ourselves as humans. We doubt ourselves mentally. I did (doubt myself). I am a mom; I have three kids there’s no way I can do this. Just surround yourself with positive people who see your potential – it is very encouraging. It pushes you to that next level. I think it is important to not doubt yourself and be surrounded by positive and encouraging people who are supportive of your goals and dreams.

“The sky is the limit. We only live once. I don’t want to have any regrets. If you have a dream and a goal you really want to do – then why not do it? I would rather fail trying than never try. I don’t want to be 60, 70 years old and looking back and thinking ‘why didn’t I try that?’ I wonder what would have happened if I would have? Just do it.

“You are stronger than you think you are – mentally, physically, disciplined. You have to be very disciplined with your dieting and training. You can do whatever you put your mind to. I am a single mom raising three kids, I work here as a trainer and I am in school for massage therapy and I prep for a show all at the same time. I have support from friends and my dad lives here and he helps me a lot with my children. If you want something bad enough you just do it.”

Not a bad start for a mom who was looking to get back into shape after giving birth – the first step on a long path Fraticelli has chosen, one she is dedicated to and one she is determined to get to the top of the mountain.

Brent Addleman is managing editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. He can be reached by calling 325-641-3110, or email baddleman@brownwoodbulletin.com. Twitter: @BWD_Editor.