THE year is less than five months old but Warrnambool aerobics exponents are already finalising state championships preparations.
Forty-three athletes from EKB Fitness and Aerobics, ranging from seven to 24 years old, will compete in two major competitions in the next fortnight.
The hectic schedule starts with School Aerobics preliminary state titles at The Arena in Geelong on Saturday and Sunday.
The squad returns to the venue a week later for the Federation of International Sports, Aerobics and Fitness (FISAF) state titles — the first step towards a potential berth on the world stage in October.
Coach Emma Bellman, who is among the 43 athletes competing, said the squad numbers reflected well on aerobics in Warrnambool.
“This squad is similar to last year but there are a couple of new ones that will be off to their first states as well,” she said.
“Our local squad has grown again this year as well. We’ve got lots of local teams and some local soloists and pairs and trios that are having a go.
“They’re working towards the concerts and South West Games and things like that. As a sport, it’s getting much bigger.
“Our competition squad has grown a little bit but our local squad has grown heaps.”
Bellman, 24, said she enjoyed seeing aerobics newcomers enjoy the sport, like she did more than a decade ago.
“It’s something that I started in grade four and I’ve done ever since. I haven’t been able to give up yet,” she said.
The demands of travelling to Geelong for training mean the renowned coach has parted ways with partners Kayla Bamford and Emma O’Keeffe.
The three athletes combined to win a national title in the senior female trios last year, backing up by placing fifth at worlds.
Bellman will instead team up with her sister Sophie Bellman, 18, and Aylish Auchettl, 16, in a senior female trio known as Audacity.
“This year, because coaching got even busier, I wouldn’t have been able to fit training in. The opportunity with Sophie and Aylish came up,” she said.
“Obviously we want to be competitive as well. We’re going to try and aim for worlds.
“Most of all, we’re enjoying it and challenging ourselves.”
Bellman said the busy fortnight kicked off a big few months for EKB Fitness and Aerobics.
The squad will also contest state hip hop titles in Melbourne on June 1 while School Aerobics state titles are back in Geelong on June 21 and 22.
Two lots of Australian titles follow — FISAF nationals are on July 18 to 20 while School Aerobics nationals are on August 8 to 10. Those lucky enough to qualify for FISAF world titles will head to Moscow, Russia, in late October.