FARMINGTON — For two local women, statewide fitness competitions were a way to get serious about their health and nutrition. Now they're looking to help other women get started.

Maria Andersen and Lisa Haws have formed Desert Diamond Fitness. The group aims to help women prepare for figure, model and bikini competitions, or simply to eat better and exercise more.

Haws began competing in fitness competitions in 2010. She said she learned about competitions from magazines, and eventually from entering them.

"It's something I'd wanted to do for probably about five years leading up to it," she said. "There was nobody around here that knew how to do it. I didn't know anybody that had done a competition."

Andersen began seriously competing last year in Fitness New Mexico and other events.

"It's worth going up on stage to show how hard you've trained," she said.

Haws and Andersen hope to inspire other women to follow in their footsteps. Desert Diamond Fitness will offer two different programs, one geared toward women training for competitions, and another aimed at simply getting fit.

Much like a runner training for a marathon, fitness buffs can benefit by having a competition to strive toward.

"It's the lifestyle that goes with it, and having to be on point with working out and eating right and giving you a goal to be able to do that," Haws said. "It takes a lot of dedication and determination.



Women working toward competitions can benefit from supporting each other, she said.

"Having that team atmosphere is vital," she said.

Both Haws and Andersen come from law enforcement backgrounds. Haws is a lieutenant for the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, and Andersen was a Farmington police officer for six years before becoming a personal trainer.

Andersen aims to help women become more comfortable in the weight room. Too many are "cardio queens," she said.

"They're afraid to do the weights," she said.

Andersen has competed in Fitness New Mexico, the Southwest Classic and Fitness America. She has won three top-five trophies in competition. She's also pursuing modeling, and is featured as Ms. December in the 2013 Albuquerque Hard Rock calendar.

Haws competed in the Las Vegas Classic, Fitness New Mexico and Fitness Universe. She won the 2011 Fitness New Mexico Bikini Classic category.

"Our overall goal," said Andersen, " is to help encourage, educate and support women in attaining their health goals, and that's whether they want to compete or not."

Chuck Slothower may be reached at; 505-564-4638. Follow Slothower on Twitter @DTChuck