Have you ever had that one ‘aha!’ moment that changed your life? For me, that ‘aha’ moment was back in August 2016, when I trained at the USA Gym in Bridgeview, IL. Prior to this, I was already a regular gym-goer, but I did not train with a purpose. Personally, for me to be successful at something, I need to have a goal. At this point, I was already working out, but I did not have a set goal.

Identifying My Passion for Bodybuilding

Deep down, I was filling an empty void. When I wasn’t in the gym, I felt like an outsider, I put my energy towards things that didn’t matter, such as negative people and partying. In the gym, I felt safe enough to be myself; it was the only place that really matched my energy. I knew in my gut that the gym was not only my safe space, but it was my calling in life… I wasn’t sure what that was yet, but the day I trained at USA Gym changed my life. My dad and I would work out together at a local gym in our town, but one day we decided to switch it up. He asked me “Are there any bodybuilding/hardcore gyms in the area?” So, we looked online and found a gym called USA Gym nearby.

Discovering Destiny

The moment I entered the old-school bodybuilding gym, I had an internal feeling that spoke to me and said ‘You are home’. The walls were covered with famous bodybuilders stage pictures and their signatures. I saw photos of bikini competitors on the wall and I said to my dad “I am going to be on that wall”. That day, I hired a prep coach and committed to compete in May 2017. Since then, I have competed in 4 bodybuilding competitions, and qualified for nationals this summer of 2019. The more I learned about bodybuilding, the more I realized my purpose in the sport, which is that I will become a Pro Bikini Competitor and work toward winning the Miss Bikini Olympia title. I don’t know when it will happen, but I know in my heart and gut that it is my destiny.

I have participated in plenty of activities before, such as dog showing, horseback riding, karate, cross country and tennis, but nothing has fueled a fire inside me like competing. What makes this sport so unique is that it is a 24/7 commitment. Every meal, training, gallon of water, minute of sleep and pose impacts how you will place at a competition. By setting daily goals for myself toward my competition, I win every day because I stay on my plan 100%. Currently I am less than a month out for my first national show in Las Vegas and less than two months for my second national show in Pittsburgh (If I don’t turn pro). This is just the beginning and I hope that you will join me on this journey to the Olympia Stage!

About Sophia

Sophia Valbuena is a membership representative at FFC Old Town. She has been in the fitness industry for over 5 years and it has entirely changed her life. In this series, Strong Mind | Strong Body, she will cover how she got into fitness, as well as mindfulness, nutrition, motivation and time management tips. Stay tuned! In the meantime, you can follow along with her on LinkedIn here and Instagram here, as well as check out a behind-the-scenes article she wrote about her bodybuilding experience here.