NEW PALESTINE — When the alarm clock goes off at 3:45 a.m. Sydni Phelan gets herself out of bed and heads to the gym before 5 a.m.

Phelan, 24, a New Palestine resident, works out for an hour and a half before heading to work in Indianapolis, where she stays until 6 p.m. Then it’s back home for dinner and off to bed by 9:30 p.m. — just so she can get up and do it all over again.

The workouts, six days a week, and strict regimen are part of Phelan’s plan to build a sleeker body, sharper mind and a braver soul en route to becoming an amateur bodybuilder.

Phelan was a two-sport athlete at New Palestine High School, where she was a member of the 2008-09 state championship softball team and Dragons basketball squad until she graduated in 2010.

Story continues below gallery

Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

She’s always lifted weights but, looking back, Phelan said she knew she wasn’t in the best shape carrying too much weight on her 5-foot-9 frame.

She’s since transformed her look, loosing nearly 70 pounds. Phelan is now taut, even slim, weighing 128 pounds after spending the past couple of years getting in shape.

“I didn’t want to be seen as ‘the big girl’ like I had been in high school,” Phelan said.

The transformation started before her freshman year in college when Phelan stepped on the scale, looked down in shock and saw she weighed nearly 200 pounds.

After dropping weight through quick fix diets and poor eating habits, Phelan become healthier and made a commitment to building a better body through proper training.

Her youngest sister had been training for a bikini fitness competition, and Phelan thought it sounded fun. She ended up being the one who took to the amateur sport and competed in two fitness shows in 2015. She placed third and fourth, respectively, to become a two-time National Physique Committee Bikini National Qualifier.

After working on building her body for most of 2016, she competed in the National Physique Committee Infinity Fit Championships this past November and finished seventh overall.

It’s an unbelievable goal for a self-described shy and reserved woman, who didn’t always have the most confidence in her own physique.

“I would have never thought in a million years that I would be on stage in front of a huge crowd in a bikini, let alone have abs,” she said.

Phelan has been working with bodybuilding trainer, Laura Marenco for the past two years. She’s seen Phelan’s body change dramatically adding more strength and endurance.

Marenco is confident Phelan has what it takes to be a competitive bodybuilder, but noted it takes time, even years to build a body the right way.

Phelan’s mother, Bev, describes her daughter as a dedicated young woman who goes after everything she sets her mind to

“She’ll jump in feet first and stick with things,” her mother said. ” I wouldn’t say she’s obsessed, but she’s serious for sure.”

It’s been fascinating to see the transformation in her daughter including with her diet where she sticks to eating only healthy foods.

“If I smell asparagus one more time, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Bev Phelan said with a laugh. “It’s chicken and asparagus, chicken and asparagus. It’s all she eats.”

Bodybuilding has changed her life dramatically for the better, Phelan said, and she wants to inspire others to get out of their comfort zone and push themselves.

While she has a degree in kinesiology/exercise science from Indiana University in Bloomington, she’s also working toward certification to become a professional trainer.

“People call my crazy but it’s just what I do,” she said. “I will never go back to the way I was before because I have been taught the healthy way to do things, and I feel incredible.”

Author photo
Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or