Sara Wagner - HAMILTON, Ind. (WANE) - Often times in life, people aren't always who they appear to be. What you see is not always what you get. That's certainly the case with 27-year-old Katrina Freds of Butler, Indiana.
She started working in the DeKalb County Eastern Community School District after she graduated high school in 2007. First, she helped out in the elementary school cafeteria. She eventually moved into a full-time baker role there. Then, she transferred over the to Eastside High School about three years ago, working as a second shift custodian. From 4:00 p.m. to midnight, five nights a week, Freds makes the bathrooms and hallways look good as new.
"It's pretty similar every night. I come in. I start with the bathrooms, clean the toilets, wipe the toilets, clean the urinals, wipe the urinals, clean the sinks, wipe the mirrors, mop. I'll do that, then I'll switch on and off from doing bathrooms to running the floor machine and that's about it," Freds said. "It's not something that I dreamed about doing, but it's an awesome job."
The routine and responsibilities fill her resume, but it's where Freds spends her time before work that fuels her passion.
"Power cleans are kind of dangerous. I don't want to injure myself, so I don't do power cleans. But, yeah, I clean there and I clean here," Freds said.
Three years ago, around the same time she took the custodial job at the high school, Freds got inspired to jump start her fitness journey. She splits her time between the Anytime Fitness in Angola and a gym set up in her home.
"It's one of those things where it grew and the more I learned about, the more I loved it. But, no, if anybody would've asked me three years ago do you see yourself being active enough to go to the gym every day or any part of the fitness industry, I would've laughed in their face and said no," Freds said. "I love it, and I definitely think that I found my calling with this. Anybody who knows me knows I can't sit through a book, but I can spend hours upon hours researching nutrition, the way food is broken down within the body, how to train different parts of the body, different types of training."
The former high school sprinter said she was never overweight, but hadn't made fitness a priority.
"I was always unhappy with myself and I wasn't healthy. I wasn't in shape or doing anything that made me feel special or powerful," Freds said. "It was kind of one of those decisions where I had seen some people who had competed. I was like you know what, I want to push myself and see where I can go with this. So, I kind of decided do it now or you're not going to do it at all."
Freds is also blind in her right eye, which makes sports more difficult.
"I can't judge distance and I have a really hard time playing any other sport because they involve balls and hand eye coordination and I have none of that," Freds said. "Lifting, you don't need a whole lot of hand eye coordination for that. So, that was my next go to activity."
Now, she's a rising star in the bodybuilding world.
"I'm a very small town girl, and I clean toilets for a living, and I was just chosen as bodybuilding.com's spokesmodel and I'm an IFBB Bikini Pro. I never ever would've thought possible, but if you go out there and you absolutely give it your all and you truly believe in yourself, great things are possible," Freds said.
From medals to magazine covers, Freds is already making her mark, but she's not done.
"I lift heavy almost every day, and I'm still itsy bitsy. I want to grow in some certain areas, but it's tough," Freds said.
Tough, but no match for the dedication and drive displayed in the gym six to seven days a week
"Since my biggest problem area is my lower half and that's one of the biggest things they look for in bikini is symmetry and feminine curves, I hit legs three days a week. So, I'll start off normally on Sunday, I'll do a really heavy leg day and then I'll make that my treat day where I have all of my goodies. Then, usually shoulders and abs on Monday. Tuesday is glutes. Wednesday, back and abs. Thursday, legs. Friday is cardio, and then Saturday is an active rest day," Freds said. "The way I look at it, it can either make your life so much better or it can make your life so much worse. It's all about mindset."
She also hits the competition stage several times a year.
"Normally, I'm dressed in baggy sweatpants, baggy sweatshirts, and not glammed up at all except for Sundays when I go to church. Being up there in a very, very small bikini completely glammed up is so out of the norm, but the way I look at it is you're playing a part. You're performing, so I go up there and you play the part, you have fun, and you just live it up because you know when else are you going to be able to do that completely glammed with the bling and the hair and the tan, the ridiculous tan," Freds said.
Freds said fitness is now ingrained in every part of her life. She has to eat every three hours and packs food to bring to her custodian job. She said most people don't believe her when they find out about her main job.
"A lot of people are just too shocked to ask me any questions," Freds said. "To dig right in to the toilet, you know, it's two completely different lives. It really is, but it's the normal for me."
Besides a steady paycheck, the job comes with some other perks
"For all of the competitors that know about peak week and water loading, what other job can you go out and go to the bathroom every five minutes," Freds said. "Clean the bathroom, use the bathroom. Clean the bathroom, use the bathroom. Perfect for peak week."
Freds also uses the flexible schedule to learn more about her passion.
"A lot of times, I'll put on my headphones and do research. I'll listen to a lot of podcasts over nutrition or training or stuff like that. So, it gives me the freedom to do that, to work at my own pace and just relax and clean toilets," Freds said.
That positive perspective is the definition of Katrina's life.
"Nobody should look down on this job because there are so many people out there that need a job that really need that source of income. This is a great job and great source of income. I completely appreciate it," Freds said. "I think just being completely grateful for every aspect and every blessing of your life because so many people might look down at certain opportunities. But, doing this every day keeps you levelheaded. There's so much other things that could be going wrong with my life, but then I get to come to work every day. I get paid every day. I get all of these blessings that some people might look completely down upon."
Freds eventually wants to make fitness her full-time job. She's hoping to become a certified personal trainer and nutritionist. Since she's serving as the 2016 spokesmodel for bodybuilding.com, Freds will get to travel to Germany in April. She's also very passionate about the website's foundation, Lift Life. Click here to learn more about it.
"Whenever you go to check out and pay for your order online, you have the option to donate $2 towards this foundation. The foundation provides gym makeovers and weight room makeovers for underfunded schools. It's a really great foundation geared towards helping those less fortunate and those kids that really need it," Freds said.
Freds hopes she can be an example to others going after their dreams.
"The fear of failure kills more dreams than failure ever will. It's true because so many people out there have all of these dreams and all of these goals and they won't go for it because they don't think they can achieve them," Freds said. "You have to have the right state of mind. You have to believe in yourself, and then you have to just appreciate everything in life and always give it your absolute best because your dreams can be achieved if you put yourself out there and you work really hard."
Want to keep up with this rising star's fitness journey? Click below for links to her social media pages:FACEBOOKINSTAGRAM