At 5 feet, 2 inches tall and 118 pounds, some people might think Wendy Bray looks more like a ballerina than a bodybuilder. But watch what you say, or the West Virginia University senior from Bluefield might challenge you to a weightlifting competition.

Bray, who started serious weight training three years ago, is a confident blonde who blends beauty and brawn in figure competitions, a new division of fitness for those who want to build muscle, but not to the extreme of a bodybuilder.

In the specialStudent Bodiessection of the April issue of Muscle&Fitness magazine that just hit newsstands this week, the WVU exercise physiology major said she first started lifting to fight thefreshman 15.

Then a friend invited me to a bodybuilding show, and I saw the new figure division,she said.I got really excited, and I loved that lookfeminine yet strong. I love muscle. I just think its attractive. In the gym, all these girls are afraid to lift weights because they dont want to get bulky, and Im likebring it on.

Bray entered her first figure competition scene last July in Pittsburgh, where she placed fifth in the collegiate division at the Teen National Fitness Championships.

It can be a little intimidating when most of the competitors are in their 30s. Youre not allowed to have anyone with you backstage, not your trainer or boyfriend, and the others are older and theyve done more shows. I was very nervousand hungry,she said, laughing.

Being hungry goes with the territory. Leading up to competitions, she sheds about 20 pounds by maintaining a low-carb, high-protein diet of lean beef, chicken, fish and vegetables.

To juggle a busy class schedule and a strict diet, Bray admitted she enlists some unusual tactics, including carting around five meals to make sure she gets them all in and eating as many as 30 sweetener packets a day to curb her sweet tooth.

Brays training regimen is just as grueling. It consists of one or two cardiovascular workouts a day, six days a week, at WVU s state-of-the-art Student Recreation Center.

I try to make my workouts short and sweet, 45 minutes to an hour. It might be the readmill or elliptical trainer, or sometimes Ill sprint a minute, walk a minute for interval training,she said.

This mass-building stage is critical because during figure competitions, athletes are judged on muscle tone, body symmetry and poise.

Theres also an element of glamour. Competitors frequentlyfake bakefor the perfect tan, buy special bikinis with sequins and other embellishments (Brays two contest swimsuits cost nearly $300), get manicures and consult hairstylists.

A newcomer to the sport, Bray said she is eager to spread the word about figure competitions, and she was thrilled when a freelance photographer approached her about doing a photo shoot for Muscle&Fitness magazine.

They met with me for two hours at Ballys gym in Pittsburgh. They had me sign a contract. It said they could use my image, and they asked me about my exercise regimen and how I got started,she said.

Bray hopes the media exposurealong with a new club at WVU will draw more people to bodybuilding. A member of WVU s Bodybuilding, Figure&Fitness Team, she said the organization is holding a show Saturday, Feb. 28, at 11 a.m. in the Mountainlair Ballroom.

The cost is $7 for WVU students with ID cards and $10 for non-students. Participants should contact Josh Aultman, club president, at 304-598-2424 or for more information.