RALEIGH, N.C. — Starting a family tradition by carrying it to the second generation, an Allegany area native has followed in her mother’s footsteps to become a professional bodybuilder.
Allex Granger, an Allegany-Limestone Central School graduate, recently won her International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Professional Card in Charleston, S.C., to become a Pro Bikini Competitor.
After competing for the past two years as an amateur in the National Physique Committee, hoping to win a competition that would earn her professional status, Granger secured the spot she needed last month.
Now, she’s looking forward to going up against other professionals with the dream of making it to the international Olympia event and competing alongside the best bodybuilders in the world.
“The plan is to take the rest of this year off and most of next year and start prep late spring/early summer to be able to compete in October and November of next year when the points for the Olympia reset,” Granger said. “My goal is to make it to the Olympia in 2023.”
Graduating from Allegany-Limestone in 2011, Granger, 28, participated in cheerleading and played softball. Her mother, Nancy Havens, was also a professional bodybuilder, earning her pro card in the early 2000s while Granger was in elementary school.
“My mom is my inspiration for competing,” she said. “I grew up seeing her pose and prepping for her shows, and I remember my dad painting her with the tanner in our living with sheets laid down.”
After high school, Granger attended Edinboro (Pa.) University, graduating in 2015 with a nursing degree. Moving to Raleigh, she worked at Duke Hospital before going to graduate school and earning her master’s degree in nursing. She is now a family nurse practitioner.
“I was not exercising and consumed with grad school, and I was like, ‘I just don’t like how I feel and I need to get back into working out,’” she recalled. “I actually watched YouTube videos of other competitors and thought, ‘I’m going to get into this now.’”
Starting in 2018, Granger said she began working with her current coach and competed in her first season the following year at three regional shows and one national show in May 2019, finishing 13th.
“I took the entire rest of 2019 off and all of 2020 off to grow and put on more muscle and I ended up starting my prep for this season in November,” she said.
Granger said she finished first in a regional competition in Pittsburgh in April, followed by two second-place finishes in national competitions, one spot away each time from the first-place finish needed to earn her pro card. But that would all change at her latest show in Charleston.
“It was the first show since one in 2019 that my mom was able to come to, and the first national show,” she said. “It was always my goal to compete, so the fact that she was able to be there for it was really special.”
Although she placed second in her class again, Granger said the top two finishers earned their pro card, so she had finally made it to the next level.
When preparing for competitions, Granger said she follows a macronutrient diet and does a cardio workout for about an hour a day starting three days a week and building up to six days. She also has a coach for building muscles as well as a coach for posing, as an important aspect of competition is to have a good stage presence and nail certain poses.
“I was at the gym anywhere from two to three hours a day, depending on what I had to do,” she said.
Although both her medical career and bodybuilding career take a lot of dedication, Granger said she and her boyfriend enjoy outdoor activities together such as biking. Now that she’s in the off season and won’t compete for about a year, she has the leisure time for more fun.
In her first competition since going pro, Granger was up against women from all different classes — some of whom had been on the Olympia stage previously — but came away with a second-to-last callout, something she didn’t expect in her first pro show.
“From being a little fish in a big pond now in the pro league, the goal of that show was just to get feedback on what to work on,” she said.
When her mom started competing, Granger said she was 8 or younger. She said there is a picture of her flexing in a Winnie the Pooh outfit and remembers her mom practicing routines, but was never able to go to a show.
“I always looked up to her in the sense that if she can look like that after having four kids, I can do that, too. My mom is one of the strongest people I know,” she said. “Perseverance and dedication is something I’ve learned from her.”
For any young athletes in her hometown who enjoy competition and have considered going pro, Granger recommends doing the research and finding a great coach who can teach how to perform.
She also said to never give up.
“I was one spot away from going pro twice before, and that was not fun,” she said. “I could have given up, but I didn’t. Just keep going until you make it and always look for that silver lining.”