Inside Boca Raton fitness champion Susan Price’s inspiring self-actualization
In her own words, Boca Raton resident Susan Price spent the first 40-odd years of her life in the service of others. She had her first child at age 20, in her native Jamaica, and her second at 25. In between, she got married and started a business manufacturing signs for clients including major companies in Jamaica and the Caribbean, and it quickly became all-consuming.
It was around 2016, she recalls, that she “got up one day and I realized, I never really thought about myself in so many years running a business, raising children, just doing my wifely duties. I started to feel like I needed to do something for myself.”
As it happened, Price, who had been a casual gym-goer since 1997, accepted the invitation of her coach, James Taylor, to attend a performance of a local amateur bodybuilding show. Watching these talented, muscular women showcase their toned physiques inspired Price on the spot. “I had the chance to go backstage, and it looked like fun,” she recalls. “I saw women my age there, so I was like, this is something I could try. I think I can do that.”
Price entered the field three years ago, at 44, and her professional ascent has been stratospheric. Under the inspirational tutelage of Taylor, her coach, she placed second in her pro debut in March 2018. Five months later, working from self-choreographed routines, she swept all three professional Bikini Masters divisions at the IFBB’s North American Championships—for women 45 and over, 40 and over, and 35 and over. In 2019, she repeated this honor.
“No one’s ever done that,” says trainer Bill Neylon, who runs the Fitness Edge in West Palm Beach, and has mentored Price from the beginning. “She’s the best in the country in Bikini Masters. She’s the one to beat.”
Neylon has been judging fitness competitions in an official capacity for 25 years, and his expertise holds considerable weight. He attended Price’s formative routines, where he recognized that she had the confidence and stage presence to excel as a pro. “Most bikini competitors have almost a beach body look—tiny and slender—whereas she brings an athleticism and a degree of feminine muscle that most of them do not have,” he says. “She has an elegance onstage, and a quiet confidence when she competes. It’s a tough combination to defeat.”
Price’s transformation has been markedly fast, but it is not miraculous; it is the prosaic result of dedication and exercise, which she believes anyone can achieve. Self-fulfillment and personal renewal have been central to her journey, and she hopes to inspire others.
“I look forward to going backstage, to being judged,” says Price, who shed 30 pounds during her journey. “I do get a rush from the whole thing. My drive comes from looking in the mirror and thinking, wow, I look different this morning. That makes me want to push some more, and push some more. I’m self-motivated by the results I see.”
In preparation for competitions, Price works out six days a week in a tailored regimen of squats, pull-ups, planking, core work and weightlifting, and she requires cardio even on her one day off. Her diet has changed dramatically toward lean proteins; a common breakfast is six boiled eggs.
Her most intense training occurred in 2017, in her five-month prep to go pro. “That five months was almost to me like a blur. I was going through a lot with my daughter. There were days I’d go into the gym crying because of something that took place at home. But I’d tell myself, I refuse to let this kid, and what’s going on with her, interfere with the one thing that I get fulfillment from. That’s what made me push even harder.
“I’ve learned to shut certain things up, because it takes a lot of concentration,” she adds. “I never knew I could focus like that, to the point where I pick and choose what I really pay attention to in those times, and almost nothing else matters. You have to almost become a little bit selfish.”
Price, who moved to Boca Raton in 2012 to enhance the opportunities for her children, says her biggest challenge is dealing with crises in her Jamaica-based business when she’s training to compete; she still operates the company, full-time, from Boca. But the benefits of her second life as a different kind of bikini model far outweigh the stressors.
“It’s what I do for myself, and the only thing I’ve ever done for myself,” she says. “It’s my choice. I call my shots. Everything depends on me. And I do things the way I want to do things.
“It feels amazing to feel healthy,” she adds. “I like the way I look in my clothes. If I should never compete again, I shall stay fit and stay healthy, because it feels good internally. Going to the gym is like therapy for me.”