Dr. Lisa Auckland, a 14-year veteran of the Maryland Poison Center, spends her workdays helping save lives and avert disaster. But the most remarkable aspect of Aukland's life isn't her day job, her doctorate, or her Ph.D. It's that the 49-year-old is the world's fourth-best female bodybuilder.
"I'm a walking billboard for working out," says the boulder-shouldered Aukland. "People stop me for workout advice in the grocery store, on the street, everywhere."
She is one of a growing group of respected professionals and bodybuilding hobbyists who—in response to the scandals like those that ensnared Barry Bonds, Floyd Landis, and Marion Jones, and despite the fact that pro bodybuilding still accepts the use of substances long banned by the NFL, MLB, and Olympics—are raising the sport's profile by staying all-natural and drug-free. Which can be hard to believe when you meet the 5'4" Aukland, who can bench press 275 pounds and squat 400.
"People can believe what they want to believe," Aukland says. "What these people don't see is the six-meals-a-day diet, doing cardio twice a day, doing leg exercises until you want to throw up."
Kina Elyassi, owner of Omni Construction, a high-end interior construction firm in Bethesda, has been competing in amateur bodybuilding events for the past year (Aukland is her trainer). "Most people see bodybuilders and assume they're on drugs," says the 33-year-old Elyassi. "Especially with women. Our main hormone is estrogen, so we're supposed to be soft and cuddly."
"There's no question that, at the highest levels, the competitors are juicing," says Dr. John Emmett of Baltimore. "I'm a proponent of natural bodybuilding, and 95 percent of the competitions I participate in are drug-tested [the Mr. Maryland competition is not]." The 46-year-old oral and maxillofacial surgeon (named Best Oral Surgeon by Baltimore in 2002) began competing as an amateur in the late '90s. He has since won Mr. Maryland in his age class, the Maryland State Cup, and the Maryland Silver Cup in his age and weight class.
Bodybuilding has also shaped these professionals' personal lives. Dr. Aukland met her husband at the gym; Dr. Emmett is married to pediatric dentist Margie Hernandez, also a bodybuilder, though she doesn't compete.
Their dual lives generate lots of curiosity: Emmett doesn't hide his hobby from friends and colleagues, and when inquiries into his bodybuilding regimen got overwhelming, he wrote the self-help book Turning Back the Hands of Time: The Art and Science of Physical Change (he and his wife appear on the cover, photographed at their home gym in Phoenix).
"I got tired of answering everyone's questions. Now I just direct them to Barnes and Noble," he says with a laugh.