NPC Athlete Spotlight: NPC Figure Competitor Holland Canter

Today’s NPC Athlete Spotlight is NPC Figure Competitor Holland Canter. 

Click Here For Holland Canter Contest Photos And Placings

Holland Canter  – People always ask me, “When did you start working out?”

This question is always hard for me to answer because I’ve been an athlete all my
life. My first love was gymnastics. My parents enrolled me at the
local Rec Center gymnastics program when I was only five years old. When I was eight watching the Magnificent Seven win Gold in Atlanta, I knew I wanted to take the sport as far as I could go. Growing up, I attended Alabama Gymnastics Camp every single year, and I dreamed of becoming a star. As I grew older, I knew the Olympics was out of the picture, so competing in college became my ultimate goal. In my junior year of high school, I began looking at colleges where I could compete gymnastics.



The United States Air Force Academy gymnastics coach asked me to visit the team for a recruiting trip in Colorado Springs, CO. I had never considered the Air Force as a career, and I had definitely never heard of the Air Force Academy. While the gymnastics  team at the Academy was not of the same caliber as the University of Alabama’s team, my gymnastics coach really encouraged me to give the Academy a look. The Academy was still a Division-1 School, and I would have a really good shot of making the line-up soon in my college career. If I got in the Academy, I would also have a full scholarship. After my recruiting trip, I committed to the Academy. The Academy offered me a world class education with a full Academic scholarship, and I would be on the D-1 gymnastics team. I was also guaranteed a job in the Air Force upon graduation as a 2nd Lieutenant. Before graduation of high school, I tore my ACL at a gymnastics competition. To attend the Academy, you must pass Basic Cadet Training the summer before school starts. Because my ACL did not have| time to heal before Basic Training, the Academy gave me a medical turn back. The school would not let me try to make it through Basic Training with my knee injury. High school graduation was upon me, and I had no Plan B. I wound up applying to Auburn University of Montgomery where I spend the next year improving my math and science skills, rehabilitating my knee, and coaching at the local gymnastics gym. I reapplied to the Air Force Academy the next Spring and was accepted again. I graduated from Basic Cadet Training the summer of 2007, and the next four years were the most challenging and rewarding years of my life. Balancing military duties, my academic workload, and gymnastics was no easy task. I made the gymnastics line-up by the Junior Year. I was the lead-off competitor for the Uneven Bars and Vault for the final years of my gymnastics career. The lead-off spot is important because it means that you may not be the best, but you are a consistent and reliable competitor. It was a dream come true for me, and I loved every minute of it.In 2011, I graduated from the Academy, and began my commission as an Officer in the United States Air Force. I also married my college sweetheart Garrett who was also a gymnast at the Academy with me.


As 2nd Lieutenants, we began our life together at Holloman AFB, NM. In
New Mexico, Garrett and I started lifting weights together and really
took on outdoor adventure. We would lift during the week, and rock
climb, mountain bike, or snow ski on the weekends. However, after
competing gymnastics for 18 years, I still was in search of a
competitive outlet. In December 2011, I started training for my first
competition! I trained with my husband, but I used the guidance and
nutrition of my first online coach, Rick Dobbins. I competed in the
Ironman Naturally at the LA Fit Expo in February 2012 and won my first
show in the NPC Physique Division! I was immediately hooked and signed
up for my next NPC show in Atlanta, which was a few short months
later. I won my second show too! That year I went on to compete at
two NPC National shows in Physique. I placed 13th at USAs and 6th at
Nationals in 2012. For Nationals, I used a new coach IFBB Pro Andrea
Holliday. Andrea really helped me to hone in my nutrition and
training to improve in my national placing. My first year of
competing in the NPC was challenging, but so rewarding. In 2013, I
competed in one show in Physique, but the Division started to favor
girls with a little more muscle, so I didn’t place too well.



After that show, I decided to take some time away from competing to focus on
my marriage, career, and outdoor adventure.While I love competing and lifting weights, my love for the outdoors can’t be matched. Garrett and I have traveled all around the country
and world rock climbing. In the past few years, we climbed in Spain
twice, Thailand, and Greece! Climbing is a super cheap activity that
will keep you strong and can take you all around the world! It is
something we will do together until we are old and gray. While we
lived in New Mexico, we also snow skied often in Colorado and northern
New Mexico. We also climbed many epic mountains in the Rockies.
Since we now live in the South and there aren’t any mountains near us
for epic hiking or snow skiing, we have taken up Mountain Biking.
There are so many great single trails around northern Georgia,
Alabama, and Tennessee. We have also found some cool craigs around
the South especially the Red River Gorge in Kentucky!Last winter, my husband deployed to the Middle East for seven month.


As my best friend, adventure buddy, and workout partner, I found
myself depressed during the holidays last year without him. Although
I had all the love and support of my family and friends, things just
weren’t the same without him. This was our first time a part for an
extended period, and I had no idea it would affect me this way. While
deployments are apart of the military life, this first one was hard on
me especially during Christmas. I started working out too much and
restricting my food. I would also binge eat from time to time. I was
slipping into a downward spiral, and I knew something had to change
for my health. I decided to call my old coach Andrea to see if she
would take my on again as a client. I thought competing would keep me
busy with a very strict schedule of nutrition and working out. I
wasn’t sure if she would take me on again because of my unhealthy
habits and current mind state. She said yes and immediately sent me
my nutrition and workout plans. This prep would take me through the
next twelve weeks (4 months), which was right when my husband was to
return home from his deployment. Andrea work diligently with me for
the next 12 weeks.



After taking so much time away from competing, I
wanted to quit several times. Andrea supported every decision I made
and stuck with me making constant adjustments to my nutrition or
workouts as needed. Over the years, she has become much more than a
coach to me. She was a blessing during this hard time in my life as a
mentor and friend. My husband return home in late April, and I was in
the best shape of my life both mentally and physically. In May, I
competed at the NPC Orlando Europa where I won both my classes in
Figure! Right after the show, Garrett and I slipped away for an
adventurous vacation in Costa Rica to unwind and reconnect.After Costa Rica in May, I pinned on Captain in the Air Force, and I was selected to perform in a study to assess women in Combat roles at Lackland AFB in Texas for two weeks. I was 1 of 70 women chosen to
test. We were also joined by other male Air Force Special Operations
airmen. The first week we did 39 fitness tests to assess agility,
power, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and anaerobic and
aerobic capacities. The second week, we performed 15 different task
simulations mirroring what we could encounter on the battlefield
including swimming, wall climbing, and dragging dummies to simulate
casualties. For example, Lackland built a structure to the exact
specifications for a C-17 ramp and we had to carry a simulated litter
to the top of the ramp, raise it, hold it, and then mount it in the
simulated aircraft with a 95b ruck on our backs. The Air Force used
the data to correlate and analyze the results of both the physical
fitness tests and the battlefield simulations to see where they line
up. For example, if some airmen do well on pushups and also do well on
the litter carry, and other airmen don’t do well on either, that could
be a sign that they go together. I did very well on the athletic
testing events, however I wasn’t able to pass all aspects of the field
exercises. Some of these exercises required more technical training
that I and other females could dominate with more training. For
example, we had to cross a rope bridge with 55lbs on our back. We only
got one change to make it across. With another chance and a little
technique, I know I could have accomplished this task. Another
example was the rock climbing wall. I easily accomplished this task,
but some of the other females had never climbed before so they weren’t
able to make reach the top in the amount of time given to us.

Congress recently opened all Combat roles to females and used this
study in their decision. It was an honor to participate and be a part
of this advance for women in the military!After the Air Force testing event, I decided to train for one more show for the year. For the next four months, I trained for NPC
Nationals in Miami! In November, I competed at Nationals! While I
looked better than Orlando where I won, I did not place well at
Nationals. But you know what, that’s ok! You can’t win them all. The
judges were looking for a different physique than what I offered.
Don’t get me wrong I love winning, and I am a super competitive
person, but I’m also realistic. You can’t please everyone especially
with such a subjective sport. That’s why I always tell people “JUST
DO YOU!” Don’t change just because someone doesn’t like your look.
As long as you are happy and do your very best, you can’t ask for any
more. Although I didn’t place, I still had a great time! I got to
reconnect with my old photographer friends and meet new ones like Joe
from HDphysiques! The shoots were so much fun! I absolutely love
modeling. I also got the opportunity to do a video interview the NPC
about my journey back to the stage this year!
What’s next for me? Well, it’s not the stage for a while. Right now,
I’m training for a huge outdoors trip to the West this Winter!
Garrett and I will be ice climbing, mountain climbing, rock climbing,
and hitting the powder at Telluride and Breckenridge in Colorado. I
cannot wait! We will also be moving early Summer 2016. I was
recently chosen by the Air Force to attend the Naval Post Graduate
School to obtain my MBA! Next year, I will be going back to school
full-time for free, which is a dream come true! While I won’t be
competing anytime soon, I’m still training hard everyday and eating
healthy because I love living a fit and active lifestyle. I love
being strong, athletic, and healthy. My goal is to be a good role
model to young athletes, my family, coworkers, and friends. I’d like
to thank my husband for always supporting me, my coach Andrea, my
family and friends, and Joe for allowing me to share my store with
you. Train Hard Y’all! Make yourself epic!