Volume 6 Week 27

Wednesday, April 18


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Updated April 13

Updated April 13

Updated Aug. 2

Phil McNeely
Posted Feb. 12

Marc Godbout
Posted Nov. 22





(Posted 5:30 a.m., Oct. 17)
Gloucester Tumblers coach leads by example
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Gloucester Tumblers coach Vanda Hadarean recently finished fourth at the Ms. World Fitness competition in Las Vegas. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Gloucester Tumblers coach Vanda Hadarean likes to lead by example.

In August she won the Ms. Fitness Canada competition in Toronto and then followed that up with a fourth place finish at the Ms. Fitness World event in Las Vegas last month. Not bad considering this is her first year in competitive fitness.

Then again, Hadarean has an impressive résumé. As a member of Romania's national gymnastics team from 1988 to 1994 she won the individual all around gold medal at the 1991 European Junior Championships and played a key role in her team picking up a silver medal at the 1991 World Championships in Indianapolis.

The next year she won a bronze medal in the all around competition at the European Senior Championships and was a member of the national team that captured bronze at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

After retiring from competitive gymnastics in 1994, she earned her coaching license and moved to Canada where she landed a job coaching in Hamilton. During the next three years she had coaching stints in Peterborough, Houston and South Carolina before returning to Romania in 1998.

In 2000 she returned to Canada to teach at the Gloucester Tumblers Gymnastics Club in Orléans where she has remained ever since.

It was in 2000 that she first heard about fitness competitions. She wasn't all that impressed with the genre at the time.

"I was not very eager about it at first. I was still into having my own time and just working out three or four times a week," recalls Hadarean.

It wasn't until last winter that Hadarean's competitive juices started flowing again and fitness competitions seemed like a natural outlet for her talents.

Vanda Hadarean as she appeared during the recent Ms. World Fitness competition and as she looked as a teenager competing for the Romanian national team (inset). File photo

Instead of working our three or four days a week, Hadarean began hitting the gym every day. She also started surfing the Internet to size up her potential competition and to get an idea of what body types were more successful than others.

In May, she went to the Ms. Fitness North Eastern Canada competition at Carleton University as a spectator and decided then and there that she would enter the Ms. Fitness Canada competition in August.

During the early part of the summer, Hadarean fine tuned both her body and her routine. She went to the competition a relative unknown and emerged as Ms. Fitness Canada 2005.

Hadarean credits her success to the years she spent in the Romanian gymnastics program.

"It was very tough sometimes, but it also made me who I am today both as a competitor and a person," says Hadarean "Everything I learned in gymnastics helps me today, from the strict training program to the choreography and even my diet."

One of the most important techniques Hadarean uses from her days competing against the best gymnasts in the world is visualization. Before she steps on stage, Hadarean visualizes her entire routine, including the reaction of the judges and the crowd.

"I visualize everything. I see myself competing. I see the judges looking at me and the audience and I even visualize coming off the stage," says Hadarean who had less than two weeks to prepare for the Ms. Fitness World event.

Before she left for the city of lights, her goal was to finish in the top five. By the time her plane landed in Vegas, her goal was to finish in the top three.

When she arrived at her hotel and saw some of her fellow competitors for the first time, her goal changed once again.

"Before my wish was to finish in the top five, then on the plane I thought, 'Why top five, why not finish in the top three?'," says Hadarean. "Then when I saw the other girls I said I'm going for first place."

At five-foot-three, Hadarean was one of the smallest women in the competition which among others included Ms. Fitness USA, Sarah Harding Traverso, and Anastasiya Kozlovskaya of the Ukraine, who finished in fourth place last year.

When the dust had settled and the final marks were posted, Hadarean finished in fourth place behind both Traverso and Kozlovskaya, who was declared the winner.

Hadarean is already thinking about changing her look and her routine for next year. You could say Hadarean has caught the competitive fitness bug.

"I really love it. I love being on stage and competing in front of an audience. At the same time as a coach I think it sets a good example for the gymnasts," says Hadarean.

Being a success in the competitive fitness industry also comes with its fringe benefits. The top competitors are in high demand as fitness models for everything from fitness products to magazine covers. In fact, Hadarean was supposed to jet off to San Diego for a photo shoot the day after our interview.

Hadarean loves the limelight and the limelight seems to love Hadarean. How long she basks in the glow will depend on how long she's willing to put in the work. Although Kozlovskaya is only 19, Traverso is 28 and Tina Thompson-Pope, who finished third in Las Vegas, is 31.

Hadarean is in the prime of her career and things can only get better from here.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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