Strike a pose! West Lafayette woman wins body, figure competition

WEST LAFAYETTE -- A local woman who helps others reach their fitness goals is now one step closer to attaining her own.

Dianne Merrill, of West Lafayette, recently fared well in Chicago, Ill., at the OCB Mid West States Natural Body Building and Figure Competition on Nov. 22. The annual contest is an event of professional -- qualifying status.

Merrill won two divisions, by placing first in novice and masters, as well as finishing third place in the open division. The judges also crowned Merrill the Masters Figure Overall Champion.

"My goal is to get my pro card," said Merrill. "I was so happy to be in the top three in each of my classes. Winning two of them and as well as the overall has been my best show yet. It definitely made Kenny's eight-hour ride home with me much better."

The couple, Kenny Koch and Merrill, are co-founders of Epic Fitness in Newcomerstown where they encourage and train others to reach their fitness goals also.

Merrill is the mother of three boys and will soon turn 40. She first competed in body building competitions in 2000 but has since switched to vying for titles in the figure category over the past several years. In the figure division, a competitor must have an athletic and toned body but also possess a more refined, sleeker physique whereas bodybuilding focuses on muscularity and muscular definition.

Merrill said she fells a bit more confident now.

"I need to win the open to become a professional level competitor. Maybe then I'll stop competing, but I'll never stop whipping the girls into shape at the gym."

Merrill and the OCB contest will be featured in the next edition of Fitness and Physique magazine.