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Local pair capture Fitness America titles
By Fred Sherwin
Nov. 27, 2019

Sabrina Groleau (left) and Emily MacDougall (right) pose with their coach Vanda Hadarean after winning the Open Fitness and Pro Fitness titles at the Fitness America competition in Las Vegas on the weekend. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Orléans has two more young women to add to its list of golden girls. One week after speedskaters Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann both won gold at a World Cup event in Belarus, fitness athletes Emily MacDougall and Sabrina Groleau have captured a pair of titles at the prestigious Fitness America competition in Las Vegas.

MacDougall, 26, won the Pro Fitness title and Groleau, 19, placed first in the Open Fitness category which allows her to compete in the pro division next year. The two titles are remarkable considering it was Groleau's first time competing in an international competition and MacDougall placed fourth in the amateur Open Division in 2016 and fifth in 2017.

The titles are a culmination of years of hard work and dedication on the part of both young women. MacDougall and Groleau both train at the Fitness by Vanda studio in Orléans, run by former Olympian and four-time Ms. Fitness World titleholder Vanda Hadarean.

The two women started out as gymnasts at the Tumblers Gymnastics Centre in Orléans before crossing over to competitive fitness.

MacDougall has been training under Hadarean's guidance and mentorship for more than 10 years. She won her first title in 2008 when she captured the Miss Teen Fitness Canada crown as a 15-year-old.

After her gymnastics career ended in 2013, MacDougall stopped doing competitive fitness as well. It wasn�t until Hadarean asked her to do makeup for a local event that her competitive juices started flowing again. Three months later, MacDougall found herself in Las Vegas at the urging of her coach where she placed fourth in the Open Fitness division.

After placing fourth again in 2017, MacDougall suffered a torn miniscus in her knee which required surgery and kept her from competing for almost a year. Following her rehab she decided to take part in a fitness event organized by Vanda in October and then it was on.

"It was the best preparation for a competition I've ever had and it just got the ball rolling and Vanada then looked at me and just said 'Let's go to Vegas!' and that was it," recalls MacDougall.

Unlike MacDougall, Groleau only started competing in fitness events a year ago despite the fact that their relationship goes back more than 10 years when they were at Tumblers together under Hadarean�s tutelage. Groleau actually calls MacDougall her "big sister".

Besides their involvement in gymnastics and their love of competitive, the pair also share the same injury. Groleau has been competing with a partially torn miniscus all year, not to mention injuries to both wrists. In her only other competition this year, Groleau placed third in Miami.

After competing twice in the Open Amateur Division, MacDougall wanted to move up in class and compete in the Pro Division. To do so, she had to win the recent Fitness Canada competition in Montreal, which she did. The rest, as they say, is history.

MacDougall returned home on Monday and caught two hours sleep before going to the Inspired by Vanda gym where she hopes to inspire the young girls she coaches the same way Vanda inspired her. The large trophy and the massive medal were an immediate hit with her young charges, one of whom may one day be a Fitness America champion just like her.

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


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