Alone in the stage spotlight, Corinna Booth practically bares all.
Except her true personality.
“I’m kind of a tomboy,” the former Niagara Wheatfield High School track athlete and cheerleader said. “But on stage I’m supposed to be this stallion, a sexy stallion. And I laugh every time I turn it on, because that’s not me in real life. It’s like acting.”
That stage persona – along with good genes and an unwavering work ethic – have allowed Booth to become the area’s only active International Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation professional, less than two years after she began competing in the sport.
Booth, 25, earned her IBFF Pro card in November after winning the Figure E Class at the National Physique Committee Nationals in Atlanta. That followed her overall championship at the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Cup.
Two weekends ago, Booth made her professional debut at the NPC Pittsburgh Championships, placing seventh out of 28 competitors. The top six were all veterans in the sport who had competed in previous Ms. Olympia and Arnold Classic events, Booth said. Last weekend, Booth placed eighth at the Powerhouse Pro-Am Classic in Detroit.
“I brought a better body to the show, but I thought the competition was even harder,” she said. “I’m happy. I’m a newer pro, so top 10 is pretty good.”
Booth’s rapid rise in the sport is “relatively unheard of in figure competitions,” said her trainer, Ron Primerano, a former Mr. Buffalo champion who has trained more than 50 amateur bodybuilding title-winners at his Military Road facility.
“She is by far the most genetically blessed athlete I’ve ever trained,” Primerano said. “I’ve been around the sport 12 years competitively. You don’t see athletes come around like this, especially right in the backyard.
“She’s a total genetic freak. I think she can be Ms. Olympia one day. She has the potential to be the best figure competitor in the entire world.”
Growing up, Booth was overshadowed athletically by her younger brother, Darren Sneed, a standout wrestler for the Niagara Wheatfield Falcons.
“I was average at everything I did,” Booth said. “It was nice to find something I was finally good at.”
Booth began training with weights five years ago after failing a fitness test while serving in the Air Force. She also was looking for a way to deal with depression and restore confidence after going through a divorce.
“If I had a bad day, I would just go to the gym and I would leave all of my anger or stress there and go home and be fine and happy,” she said.
It wasn’t just the emotional boost that kept bringing Booth back to the gym. “The weights really attracted me,” she said. “I like doing what the guys do and competing with the guys.”
Booth entered a local competition on a lark in 2011. She placed last, but was undeterred. At the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio, the following spring, she linked up with Team Bombshell, a Daytona, Fla.-based coaching network. In July 2012, she placed fifth out of 37 competitors in her first national show.
“From there, it was serious,” she said. “No more just doing this for fun.”
Over the past year, Booth has had little time for fun. She was a full-time nursing student at D’Youville College, graduating on Saturday; a part-time Army Reservist; a regional coach for Team Bombshell; and a single mother to her 6-year-old daughter.
“I wake up at 4:30, go to the gym at 5, do an hour of cardio, come home, eat, get my daughter ready for school, go to school, get her off the bus and go back to the gym,” she said. She will compete in the New York Pro Bodybuilding Contest next weekend before entering her offseason.
“I have to get my studying in,” she continued. “On the drive to Pittsburgh, I was studying for my finals in the car. It was overwhelming; it was stressful and it was emotional. I want to be good at everything I do. I don’t want to just put all of my attention into competing. And I want to be there for my daughter. I feel like I can balance it out more. This graduation means so much to me because now I can have a normal life.”
A normal life that includes up to three workouts a day.
“She never misses a beat,” said Barbara Aceti, one of Booth’s coaching clients and training partners. “She is extremely hardworking and dedicated. The drive to make herself better is what keeps her going. Every time she comes to the gym, she wants to get better and better.”
Aceti, a Niagara Falls native, also supervised Booth during her clinical training at Women & Children’s Hospital, getting to know the softer side of the hard-bodied competitor. “She is the sweetest person I’ve ever met, always going out of her way to help others,” Aceti said.
Aceti won the Amateur Figure Short Class at the Powerhouse Pro-Am Classic and has seen both of Booth’s professional shows. “It’s an amazing experience to see her up on the stage,” Aceti said. “She has a different persona up there. She takes over the stage.”
“When you’re competing, you get to be someone else,” Booth said. “You get dressed up, wear makeup, get your hair done and all that fun stuff I don’t usually have time for. And you get to bring a different personality to the stage.”