Unable to play netball or run or engage in her usual fitness pursuits, the Shepparton PE teacher decided to return to the gym, a place she’d previously turned her back on in frustration.

“I’d left the gym years ago and was so sick of going in there and going nowhere,” she says.

Wood joined the 16-week Isa Body Challenge and decided to go for it – if, for nothing else, to see how strong she could get.

“At the end of the 16 weeks I looked at myself and I thought ‘wow, that’s amazing!’ (laughs)

“I’d never been able to change my body the way I did then.”

Her strength and conditioning coach at the time said ‘what if we look at competing?’

“So, I thought, I might as well give it a go..."

Two months after the Isa challenge finished, Wood competed at the Victorian state championships.

“As a first-timer I placed first and second in the two categories I entered,” the Guthrie Street Primary School part-time teacher says.

From there, Wood placed second and fourth at nationals and qualified to compete at Natural Olympia in Las Vegas.

“I figured that when you’ve got these opportunities and you’re looking in great condition, you might as well just keep going, so I kept going.

"So I placed fifth over in America. There probably would have been about 20 entrants in my category. That was [in] novice sports model [section], for people who had been competing for 12 months or less – and I’d only been competing for three!

It has only got better from there for Wood.

In late October representing Australia at the Bali Paradise Pro-am International, she won the open sports model and open fitness categories, then finished third and fourth in the 30-and-over competitions.

Moving forward, for the driven Shepparton girl it’s all about building more muscle, unfortunately something that takes more than a few weeks.

“The next competition within reason that we’re setting our sights on is May this year and that will once again be a pro competition in Melbourne.

“For me it’s about developing more shape through the legs and a bit more definition.”

Following that Wood would really like to compete again in America in October.

In terms of motivation, money isn’t something that comes into it.

No, I just do it because I love it,” Wood says.

“I’ve met some amazing people and made some really good friends from all around the place.

“I just enjoy keeping healthy and keeping fit – for me it’s been all about just improving my strength, and as a phys ed teacher it just makes my day – when I’m stronger it makes it easier to manage my workload as well, so it’s a double whammy like that.” 

Meanwhile, her part time role at Guthrie Street and her own health and wellness business keeps Wood more than busy between gym sessions.

She says helping kids achieve things that they didn’t think they could achieve, and just seeing their faces light up when they succeed – just bringing the confidence out in them is something she loves about her role as an educator.

The kids also get a kick out of their teacher’s interesting hobby.

“When you rock up with a really dark tan, they want to know what’s been happening,” she says.

“They’ve been great. A couple of the older girls have said how amazing it’s been and that it’s inspired them to keep being active.

“We tend to have more of a joke about it, that’s more my character...

“So, for example, I’ll make an arm movement and it’ll end up looking like I’m flexing my muscle and I’ll just pause, and they’ll see it and laugh and shake their heads and say ,’ah, yeah, good one Miss Woods’ and shake their heads’.