Heavy Medals

Karina and Troy Davis own and run Olde Iron Fitness, a gym in Angels Camp.

Local couple Troy and Karina Davis recently returned from a bodybuilding competition in Lake Tahoe with four shiny new medals.

The NPC National Qualifier Tahoe Show, which took place on Aug. 17 at the Montbleu Casino, Resort and Spa in Stateline, Nev., offered hundreds of competitors the chance to earn their pro cards and qualify for International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) competitions.

Karina took third place in Bikini Masters, ages 35 and up, and took fourth in the Bikini Novice category, which is open to novices of all ages.

Troy took second place in Men’s Physique, ages 45 and over, and took fifth in Men’s Physique Novice, which is also open to novices of all ages.

“I competed against guys that were literally half my age,” said Troy, who just turned 58. “It validated all the hard work.”

The Davises own and run Olde Iron Fitness, a gym in Angels Camp that they opened in September 2018. They put in serious time training at the facility over the past 10 months, and their work was well-rewarded.

Karina competed in the competition for the first time last year, and her husband served as her coach.

“I love to be on the stage,” she said. “It’s something that I grew up with. Since I was a little girl I was exposed to crowds; dancing, performing, acting … So getting on the stage, I feel like a fish in the water.”

Troy, who tends to avoid the spotlight, took some convincing to join the competition, which was his first.

“When you’re in the Montbleu Ballroom, and you’re behind the stage and you’re looking at that big, big ballroom that seats like 1,000 people, you’re thinking holy … ,” he said, laughing.

Training for the event was not an easy exercise.

“There’s no days off; there’s no family events; there’s no ‘I’ll get to it tomorrow’; there’s no cheesecake; there’s no beer; there’s no nothing,” Troy said. “You don’t eat out at restaurants; you prep all your meals at home two to three times a week; you package it all; you put in the refrigerator – hours and hours of food prep and everything else; on top of working 16 to 19 hours a day here every day (both running the gym and training).”

Much more than physical exercise went in to training for the competition.

“There’s a science behind it. And that to me is the fascinating part, learning so much about the mechanics behind all of this – not only workouts and body physique, but nutrition,” Karina said.

“It’s all about mathematics; how to effectively lose weight without losing lean muscle mass,” Troy said. “The competition really puts that under a spotlight. If you screw up the amount of protein you’re taking in by just a few grams here or a few grams there, that can make the show, because it’s chemistry, and it’s mathematics. Everything has to be as precise as possible.”

The couple enlisted trainers to help them prepare for the competition.

“Your coach can take (all of the relevant information), almost like a doctor, and break it all down, and then build your routine, and then as you go, when you see things that aren’t happening the way you want, you get a hold of your coach, and they tweak things ... Everyone has a coach. My coach has a coach,” Troy said.

Not only coaches, but their gym members played a huge role in the couples’ success.

“The members were really encouraging … They pump you up,” Troy said. “The customers we have here are just wonderful people. We owe them a lot for helping pull us through this whole thing. The result wouldn’t have been the same without them.”

The couple had some trying times, especially toward the end of training.

“There were times when I told him, ‘I’m done’ … but he told me, ‘You’re not a quitter,’” Karina said. “And I said, ‘That’s right, I’m not a quitter, and I’m gonna finish, and I’m gonna finish strong.’”

Much more than muscle mass was judged during the competition.

“Some competitors had these incredible bodies, but the posing was not so good,” Karina said. “You can get nervous – we get nervous – you just have to know how to hide it, and bring the big smile and just say ‘I got this.’”

The Davises not only did well, but really enjoyed the competition.

“It’s a long day. It’s fun; it’s a rush; it’s very intense. We started at 5 in the morning and finished at midnight,” Karina said.

“I ended up liking it. I loved it,” Troy said. “We’re a little Calaveras County gym, and we were up against UFC Gym Reno, that throws out 20 competitors and a bunch of pros; the Los Angeles Gold’s Gym; Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gym in Santa Monica. And Olde Iron Fitness stepped up and brought four medals.”

The couple said their experience training and competing will help them run the gym more effectively.

“You translate that to your customers as a trainer, and now I’m more educated,” Troy said. “Whoever wants to do it now, we can at least guide them, and hopefully be motivation. We can say, ‘Hey, these two old dudes did it; why not?’”

The Davises are also driven by a passion for helping the community.

Now, the couple plans on heading up to Idaho for a weeklong camping trip and some much-deserved rest.

“It’s important to have that balance and recharge,” Karina said. “We need to recharge the batteries so we can come back and rock it again.”

But don’t expect this to be the final hurrah for the couple; the Davises have plans to enter more competitions in the future.

“I want to get my pro card,” Karina said. “In order for that, I need to have a first place. And I’m going to do it until I get it.”



Noah Berner has lived in Calaveras County most of his life, and graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in history.

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