A year ago Megan Jojo weighed more than 200 pounds and wasn’t happy with how she looked.
The East Union High graduate and former athlete didn’t like what she saw staring back at her when she looked in the mirror, and didn’t feel like her normal, energetic self.
So she did something about it – signing up for fitness classes at Manteca’s Dirty Fitness and committing herself to a fitness and nutrition routine that paid off last month when she placed in the bikini division at the Nevada State Bodybuilding Competition at the Silver Legacy Casino and Resort in Reno.
While she missed some of her favorite foods preparing for her first ever fitness show, Jojo said that it was all worth it to go home with that trophy and know that she accomplished something.
“It’s a lot of work and a lot of dedication to keep at something like that,” she said. “But there’s nothing better than seeing progress in your body – it’s addicting and you start to feel better and it’s a lot of fun realizing the progress that you’ve made. “
But Jojo wasn’t the only Manteca resident who did well at the show.
Dentist Sean Sangalang not only won the Middleweight division for the second straight year, but also took the Masters Over 40 Division to bring home a pair of bodybuilding trophies that he’ll put on display in his Manteca office.
His workout partner, Gene Quitasol, finished first in the Lightweight division, and narrowly lost to Sangalang to earn a second place in the Master’s division.
“It takes a lot of work to get ready for a competition like this, and I’m lucky that I have a supportive wife and family because those last few weeks when you’re cutting down fat can make it difficult,” Sangalang said. “I know that I end up being like a robot and just moving through the day so slowly but I have to put on the personality for the patients even though it makes you really grumpy.
“But when you’re up there on stage and you walk away with a title and a trophy, all of that work becomes worth it because you achieved the goal that you set for yourself.”
While it was Jojo’s first show, Sangalang has been into bodybuilding now for more than a decade and has been training with Quitasol for years.
For Quitasol it was his first bodybuilding show in more than two decades – participating in one when he was only 19 years old and while the mortgage broker has remained dedicated to his fitness, had life get in the way of being able to fully apply himself to the rigors of training that goes along with appearing on stage with people who live this as a lifestyle and not necessarily as an activity.
It’s something, he said, that takes a lot of focus and determination and a sense of discipline that can make it overwhelming at times.
“You get to a point in there where you’re a little bit down and you have to turn to people like Sean to motivate you a little bit and keep you going,” Quitasol said. “It’s not as easy as just going to the gym twice a day – you have to plan what you eat and when you eat it and that can be the most time consuming and taxing part of the entire experience.
“But when you’re up there and you walk away with that trophy – it’s validation. You know that everything you worked for went towards something. And that’s a great feeling.”
All three of them work out at CalFit in Manteca in addition to other places in town.