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World champion at 52

The woman voted as having the best body in the world for her age group lives in Boksburg and is already working on her next challenge.

We talk to Penny Wilbers, from Sunward Park, who was crowned world champion after winning in the over-50 category at the IBFF World Championships in Italy recently.

To be crowned as the best in the world is a dream come true.

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“I’m excited, I’m thrilled and I’m proud of myself for my achievement, especially at my age. The fact that I could represent South Africa on the world stage was an honour and a privilege – a highlight in my life,” she says with a huge smile.

Her next goal is to reach pro status next year in order to keep on representing South Africa in competitions overseas. She will be flying to Europe in October to take part in the WBFF World Championships in Slovenia on the 14th.

Penny is a fitness model who has been chasing this dream since the age of 40. She achieved second and third places in M iss Universe Miss Fitness and Miss Europe Miss Fitness competitions in age groups over -35 and over-40.

She has been a resident of Boksburg for the past 40 years.

She is divorced and has two sons, Dean, 35, and Wesley, 30. She recently became the proud granny of a four-month-old baby girl, Duranté.

“She is my little princess,” says the proud granny.

Penny realised in Grade 10 that she likes to challenge herself and her body to see how hard she can push it. She became a professional dancer and model and danced for the SABC for a number of years. Years ago she also owned a modelling school, Cosmic Modelling , in
Parkrand, Boksburg.

How did your fitness journey unfold?

I was always relatively body conscious and even suffered from anorexia for a period of time. So, after I decided to change careers from modelling and dancing, bodybuilding
was a natural progression.

When did you join Virgin Active as a fitness trainer?

In 2009 after doing many personal training and fitness courses as well as delving deeply into sports nutrition.

What was the most difficult challenge to get your body into tiptop condition for the IBFF World Championships?

The long periods of strict dieting, as I compete from March right through until the end of November.

How do you stay focused?

One has to have a passion for this sport, otherwise it would be really tough.

What is the key to your success?

Dedication, dedication, dedication.

At what age would you like to stop competing?

Never! I want to live my passion until I die!

How long before a competition do you need to go on a diet?

At least 12 to 16 weeks.

What are you allowed to eat?

Skinless fish, chicken and broccoli, broccoli and then more broccoli. Basmati rice is a treat on the odd occasion, and loads of water.

What is your favourite dish to indulge in after a competition?

Peanut butter sandwich with coffee … it sounds simple but bread is a huge no-no, so it’s a bite of heaven.

What do you do to relax if you are not in the gym?

Spending quality time with my circle of close friends, enjoying a glass of wine. And visiting my boyfriend, Roberto Frassica, in Italy during off times is extremely relaxing and important to me.

What are your guilty pleasures?

Chocolate, for sure, and condensed milk coffee.

What are the values you live by?

Honesty, hard work and not being afraid to follow my dreams.

Photo: Ryno Fourie

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