Before I start, let me get this clear… you’re telling me its not normal for a slightly orange and baggy clothed person to be eating every meal out of tupperware and nearly crying at the sight of peanut butter? Hello to all my fellow competitors, friends, family and the people who are extremely confused by what I just said.
My name is Shayla Jacobs and I guess you could say I was “born into” bodybuilding. It all started during the year of 2000. At the time, both my parents were highly competitive athletes in the NPC with nearly 5+ years of experience under their belt. My dad, Marc Jacobs, was a lightweight bodybuilder but brought a killer symmetrical and cut up look to the stage where as my mother, April Jacobs, was an energetic and innovative fitness competitor.
Off the stage, both worked in the industry. My dad has been with Europa for more than 20 years and my mom was a gymnastics coach but was also was a major component in the supplement industry for the top brands you see to this day. The foundation they had from the earliest moments of my life was strong and never once do I think they really knew what they were getting themselves into with me.
I was in gymnastics before anything and my mom made sure to teach me how to point my toes and bend my back. Our family was very active but there was always another level to our life, which was competing. In 2003, my dad went on to receive his procard which inevitably lit a fire in my mom to do so as well come 2004. I vividly remember the fire in their eyes and the outstanding amounts of discipline when I would try to convince them to share a zebra cake with me. Amidst the triumphs and awards, they decided to enjoy the journey and incorporate me and my gymnastics background to the stage. I did about three guest posings where promoters would fly us out to see a little troll-looking five year old cruise on stage in her electric convertible (head bobbing and all), doing some summersaults, headstands and of course my famous “toe wiggle.”
After both parents reaching the pinnacle of their career and rightfully earning their IFBB Pro card, it was time to hang up the heels and focus on life, me and my two older sisters. The next 10 years that came our way was nothing less of an experience. Through divorce, leaving our childhood home and worst of all, seeing that once so bright light shine in my parents eyes dim. Sometimes the hardest times in your life can lead you down paths that could save you or kill you and Thank God life brought us down the right one.
At 11 years old training became my outlet. It was something that not only allowed me to lay it all out on the line but brought me closer to my dad who also needed that form of therapy. Years go by and some days were harder than others but it was that overall sense of relief and accomplishment every single day that compelled me to consider it less of a hobby and more of a passion. This was also the time I could see improvements in my family because of training and eventually witnessed that light begin to shine again in my dad’s eyes.
2016 was the year that changed my life. In July, I was turning 16 years old and like every year, the main question was what did I want for my birthday? I thought on it for so long but I had everything I could have ever want… so what better to ask for than to see my dad get back on stage after a ten year break? He personally thought it would’ve been easier to get me a car but boy was it just too perfect considering the Europa Games Charlotte was the weekend of my birthday! He began his prep and I made sure to stand by his side as much as possible whether it was for 45 minutes of cardio or simply writing little notes to get him through his day. Watching him at an older age allowed me to grasp a portion of what it is like to be a competitor and prep for a show. I was infatuated with the resilience and the “no excuses” type of person he formed back into. It inspired me every single day and began forming a small voice in the back of my head to do this one day as well, when the time comes.
After the longest 10 year holt, my dad stepped on stage in the 212 division and received a top five placing in a stacked class. He brought aesthetic and played his strengths by not sacrificing his physique based on the guys who showed up. I will forever hold that time near and dear to my heart and it will go down as the best birthday of my entire life. But wow, was that only the beginning. I remember vividly standing in the kitchen a week after my dads show, eating stromboli and pineapple sherbert out the carton telling him that next year, Im stepping on stage. I was inspired and I knew we just could not be done and this was only the beginning.
Fast Forward to January 1st 2017, 16 years old and just doing simply what I was told. With the excitment of their baby girl getting on stage for their first time, the team came back together! My dad trained me, did cardio with me and talked me through the tough days while my mom came out swinging with a banging fitness routine rightfully themed as “Oompa Loompa.” The North Carolina State Championships was something that both my parents won in their previous times of competing and come April, their little girl took the title as well. What do you know, a whole family of state champs! Its’ crazy sometimes where life can take you and the true meaning given behind doing what you do makes it all worthwhile.
Now, for the most recent chapter of my story…2018. With 2016 being my dads’ comeback year, 2017 being my debut year, what better than 2018 to be our year? We started prep January 1st to be able to step on stage together at the same show. Some days were tough in a house full of competitors on low carbs and high pressure but somehow putting on a little Delilah and jamming out to some old classics soothed our soul. The days counted down and before we knew it, my dad and I were up at 2:30 in the morning enjoying steak and oatmeal. There was an overwhelming sense of excitement even when we were both sitting silent. We both knew there was a job that had to be done and every single second of work that was done would be laid out on that stage within the next hours. From then on, it all happened in a blink. From both of us rushing backstage before we were ready to go on to nearly wanting to rush the stage itself when both of us won our divisions. That was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life. There was so much more behind this show than just what was seen with the naked eye. It sparked a fire in both of us that now is growing even more. From goals that were only a mere thought to now looking at the highest levels in bodybuilding and knowing it can only be a few steps away with persistence, hardwork and dedication. Let’s just call this the beginning.
Written by Shayla Jacobs
I was born in Jackson, Mississippi – played sports and went to Ole Miss. I was always involved in working out and sports but I was detoured away from it when I got married at the young age of 22.
The marriage quickly turned to one of verbal and physical abuse. Finally after two and a half years I was divorced and shortly after found my way back to the gym. I was asked to join a fitness team and try out a bikini contest. I was 128 pounds at my first show.
Over time I fell in love with the sport of bodybuilding. After six years of competing I had progressed from bikini, to figure, and now I compete in the fitness division.
I also started the process of becoming a judge last year in hopes of giving back to the sport I love so much; that helped me find what true beauty is. I have since moved to Nashville where I work as a travel nurse and am currently perusing my masters in nursing.
So, I decided to do the Midwest Gladiator in November 2017. I did an 8 week prep and won third place. That was my goal. To just place top 3 in my first show. I didn’t know anything about bodybuilding in terms of proper nutrition, how to pose or even what poses were called. I was never really the guy who posed in the gym or at home. I tend to have some insecurity issues, but this whole change allowed me to change myself mentally on top of the physical changes. After placing third, I got the fire burning and wanted more. My goal was to take my weight class and win the overall at my next show. I put in countless hours of training and working with my coach Phil Visicaro who really brought me to a whole different level than I thought was possible. So, 7 months between my first show and my second, I was able to reach the next goal I set for myself. I won LHW open bodybuilding and the Overall at the NPC Illinois State Championships. My fiancée Krista Wessley did her first show at this one as well and also placed third in Novice Figure. Without the help and support day in and day out from her and of course my amazing family and friends this would be a hard endeavor. Anyone in this sport definitely needs the support. Sometimes we can get the best of ourselves.
My name is Ciara Houston an NPC Bikini competitor from North Carolina, but I reside in the DMV area. I’ve always been an athlete since the age of 5. Therefore, competing is nothing new to me whether it was on the basketball court, on the track or running thru the woods. Fire and determination has always been in me.
I ran collegiate Track and Field. The 400 was my specialty as well as all the relays. After graduating, I moved to the Maryland where I was introduced to the sport and have fallen in love with bodybuilding. Bodybuilding for me is more than just working out and eating my meals on time, but it’s a peace of mind and place where I can be myself. Many people don’t know that I struggled with my body and self-image growing up. I was always overly muscular than the other females that played sports as well. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more and more comfortable with my muscles. That’s why when I’m on stage I come alive! I work so hard every day putting in countless days and nights that when those lights hit me I can let the real me shine bright and let my personality come through.
This past year I took some time off to really work on my overall physique. Bodybuilding is so different from any sport that I’ve ever participated in . Before with other sports, I would train hard and win! Now I train harder and smarter. Being critiqued by judges and they pick the winner was new to me. It can be very hard to take in that you weren’t good enough to win. The feedback I got from the judges last year after nationals lit a fire up under me that has driven me to see this beast in me that I haven’t seen in a while. I thank them for that. My muscle maturity and the size of my legs were pushing me into figure but that’s not me. I love bikini and I want to keep pushing for that so I knew I had to switch things up. Back scaling on the weights, higher reps with low weights. Endless running and walking. I began with isolation work on each and every muscle. Really taking the time to know and re-shape my body to an appropriate size.
I have a rehabilitation therapist I call him my “ muscle god” that dedicates him to helping me keep my muscles healthy and breaking them down to keep everything flowing. He truly knows the function of the body . My coach also knows how to fuel my body and knows exactly what to do when it comes to my nutrition because that played a big factor as well. She has helped guide me. We work as a team when planning out my future in this sport. This sport can become so humbling. It has helped me build a better me from the inside and out. The sport has helped me find my way again and believing in myself when life gets hard. I never gave up, stayed focus, determined, and dedicated.
Most of all, I stayed true to myself.
I was born on May 22nd 1993 given little chance of surviving birth if I manage to clear that hurdle it was said that I would never walk or speak as a kid growing up.
I went through the typical amount of bullying and teasing through my high school years.
I fell in love with bodybuilding wrestling and overall just lifting weights in general and then I realized that I could use my story to motivate others as I started to see my body transform I knew that I wanted to utilize my story to make other people’s lives better.
Oshanda Rhoden, the winner of three NPC Florida overall classic physique competitions, and an aspirant to earn his IFBB pro card, is a 22 year college student majoring in Exercise Science. A former soccer player and a native of Jamaica, he utilized weight lifting to build his upper body, and developed a passion for bodybuilding after seeing rapid muscular development from his training and changing his diet regimen. He pursued competitive bodybuilding after a casual encounter at a health club with an NPC Judge, and the encouragement to compete due to his genetic build.
His aspirations for a new athletic career came with several challenges. “I had to learn on my own about nutrition from magazine articles, find the financing to cover expenses from supplements, and budget my time for school commitments as well as training time.” But from the support of his family, as well as income from personal training, he achieved the goal of covering expenses. He also managed his time, going from school to training in the gym, in an effort to fulfill his goal of competitive bodybuilding.
In 2016, Oshanda began competing and used this platform to overcome another obstacle, stage fright. “My first show was the Florida Muscle Classic, and I was nervous and overwhelmed about being in front of hundreds of people on a stage to the point where my posing was distorted.” Despite learning to present his physique on stage without a posing coach, he captivated the judges enough to win the overall title in his category. Such an accomplishment created a feeling of belief in him of potential to succeed in the sport.
In his journey, however, there were more challenges to overcome. After a disappointing sixth place finish at the Southern States championships, he took a year off to further educate himself on precontest preparation and add size to his physique. In 2017, his precontest preparation for the Bill Wilmore Classic was accomplished while residing in his car for two months. “This was a hard time because I had to meal prep, and attend school under these circumstances.” Despite this adversity, he placed third and again took an extended break to pursue a career venture in construction to assist his mother. “This was a tumultuous time for me. I had to change my lifestyle and endure unprofessionalism while in construction work to raise funds to find a home for my mother.”
Oshanda persevered through this grueling time and returned to the stage with determination in 2018 to win two NPC overall titles, most recently, the Florida Grand Prix, his biggest achievement so far in the sport. An avid believer in a healthy lifestyle, he continues to excel academically, and is aspiring to become a Herbalist, with the goal of creating nutritional plans using herbs. This year, he intends to challenge himself in the gym, adding size, in the hopes of winning two more overall titles, and be closer to the IFBB pro card. Keep your eyes on for this future champion in the sport.
Written by Lee Salamanca
My name is Akin Walters.
I started my bodybuilding journey a little over a year ago but at the beginning of my journey I got into a motorcycle accident which landed me in a cast for two months with mandatory physical therapy for two more months; even after completing physical therapy I still wasn’t full capable of lifting much weight.
Thanks to my coach Anthony Guzman (@t_fitness57) he kept pushing me to get stronger and stronger over the following months. As difficult as it was we both never gave up. Gaining back weight and muscle mass was the biggest struggle while holding lines and conditioning.
When we got closer to competition, during an eight week prep I purchased my supplements from @limitless_sn who also provided tips for my body type and supplements I should take to help me during my contest prep. The support of my friends and family gave me the drive to complete my prep, but most of all my one-year-old daughter gave me the drive just knowing that some day I can tell her ‘daddy did this’ would make me happy… the following are pictures of my journey.
My name is Gina Scafoglio, I’m 24 years old, and I am a fitness enthusiast and influencer.
I started my fitness journey a little over 6 years ago when I was a senior in high school. I ran, danced, and played sports all throughout my childhood, and when the last competitive season of my senior year was over, I was left with a driving energy and urge to sweat, but college sports were not in my future, so I began going to a local gym.
From the very beginning, I have always been consistent with working out. Exercising is an escape and a passion in my life, but nutrition on the other hand – I struggled with it for the first 3 years, until I decided I was going to learn how to count macros. Now, I can actually say nutrition is one of my strengths.
Since the beginning, I have been able to lose over 25 pounds and have gained 10 pounds of muscle. I have also found my true passion in competing. I did my first NPC bikini show in August of 2017 and won first place at the Tim Gardner San Antonio Extravaganza. After that, I competed in the Summer Shredding Classic in 2018, as well as the NPC Hurricane Bay Championships and took the overall at both shows.
My long-term goals include earning my IFBB Pro status by the end of 2019, winning a pro show by the end of 2020, placing top 5 in the Olympia by 2022, and becoming Ms. Bikini Olympia by 2023. Dream big and shoot for the stars, right? “A goal without a deadline is just a dream.” -Robert Herjavec
As of now, I’m planning on taking 6 months to grow and work on my weaknesses, while also trying to motivate and educate others. Obstacles throughout the last several years seem to be never-ending, but I do my best to be transparent on social media and share my story so others can see that we all struggle.
February 28th-March 3rd, 2019
March 23rd, 2019
April 20th, 2019