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Franklin Square native enters muscle magazine cover contest

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Christa Wilhoit-Churco has long maintained an active lifestyle, and even played competitive tennis up until two days before giving birth to both of her children. But it wasn’t until a doctor told her that she needed to strengthen her legs and core in 2007 that she became a self-proclaimed “beast” in the gym.

“I didn’t realize how hard I was working out, and it paid off,” Wilhoit-Churco, a Franklin Square native who now lives in Georgia, recounted. She said she slowly learned how her body worked, began eating in moderation and more often throughout the day, and built up muscle strength along the way.

She recently entered a competition to be featured on the cover of Muscle & Fitness Hers magazine, after she saw a post about it on Facebook. “Once I saw the $20,000 prize, I thought, ‘That’d be nice to win,’” Wilhoit-Churco, 42, said, though she noted that she isn’t normally the type of person to put herself out there, “so it was very out of my comfort zone.”

The process of applying was easier than she expected, though. All she had to do, she said, was fill out some personal information and upload photos she wanted to display on her profile. Magazine employees then selected entrants to participate in the competition and divided them into groups.

People could vote for a competitor once a day, or could donate money to Jared Allen’s Home for Wounded Warriors — an organization founded by former Carolina Panthers defensive end Jared Allen that builds and remodels handicapped-accessible homes for injured veterans — for additional votes to move their favorite entrant to the next round, until one person is crowned the 2020 Miss Health and Fitness.

On her profile, Wilhoit-Churco wrote that fitness “is a lifestyle for me, so I make it a priority in my daily life to exercise and eat well,” and noted that her healthy lifestyle has inspired her to become a health and phys. ed. teacher.

“I really want to instill my passion in others, so it becomes a lifestyle for them as well,” her profile reads. “Without fitness, life wouldn’t be the same.”

She starts exercising at her house every morning at 3:50 a.m. for half an hour, then goes to a local gym around 4:30, and stays there until she must leave for work at around 6:45 a.m., according to her husband, Todd Churco. “I don’t think she really takes a day off,” he said, adding that he is proud of what Christa has accomplished.

Two years ago, she decided to participate in a bikini competition, and started training for it five and a half weeks before the show. She won three out of the four categories she competed in.

In the Muscle & Fitness Hers contest, however, she placed sixth in her group on Aug. 21, preventing her from moving onto the Top Five competition.

“I didn’t expect to win,” she said, “because it was based on votes, and out of my control.”

But, Wilhoit-Churco said, if she could have done more to ensure she stayed in the competition, “I would have worked 100 percent towards winning like I do in everything else I do.

“Either way,” she said, “I’m glad I went for it.”