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Michelle Sotomayor

Growing up with my brothers as my best friends I had always been kind of athletic. At the age of nine my mom signed me up for self-defense martial arts. Five years later I became a black belt, and did kickboxing shortly after. After high school I was no longer in karate or kickboxing and kind of really lost myself to the college scene. Honestly, I partied a little too much and after a couple years I really wasn’t sure where was my life was going. I know I needed to make a change. I signed up for my first gym membership at the age of 19 with my best friend. I would make it a point to hit the gym at least 4-5 days a week, kept drinking only for the weekends, and was even able to quit smoking cigarettes.

Year after year I did this, and the gym eventually became my sanctuary. It helped me block out any stress going on in my life. The more time I spent in the gym, the more recognition I received on my body from friends, family, and even strangers. People admired my hard work and even reached out to me for work out plans or meal advice. A lot of people saw how much work I put in the gym and a lot of them started to ask if I was doing a show. I always had thought about it, but had no clue where to start until my cousin, Anibal, pushed me to do my first one. My family believed in me so much they wanted to sponsor me for my first show. The show was UFE Fury in Chicago on June 18th 2016. I had no posing coach, and no trainer but I researched and studied more than ever on what to do to prepare for a show. The second I got on stage all I could think about was winning. When the night show came I didn’t even place. I went back stage after the show and thought hard. I could either walk away crying or with my head held high. I packed my bags & smiled, I know I gave all that I had without any “what ifs” and that is all that mattered to me. I later found out from the judges score card I was “too toned” for the competition.

Thankfully right before that show I had met Sarah Lyon and Mandus Buckle while I was working a booth for Maw Nutrition. Shortly after, I signed onto the team of the Underground Athletes and switched over to the NPC organization. Best decision I made. It took a while to get on an NPC stage due to some unfortunate setbacks. I was scheduled to originally do the Midwest Gladiator November 2016 but I had torn a muscle in my shin a month prior. Shortly after I recovered from my injury, I ended up getting in a severe car accident when a tow truck crashed into me breaking my left wrist and left a small fracture on my right elbow. As soon as I got the ok from my orthopedic, I got right back into training. I had a fire in me that was lit, I wanted a taste of what a real competition felt like.

First NPC show I did was the NPC Titan Open in June 2017 and placed in both Open and Novice. I placed fourth in Open and was Nationally Qualified. To win and make my comeback after all those setbacks had me on cloud nine. Although I nationally qualified, I knew my body needed time to grow more muscle mass for a national level. So, I took a year off and hit the training real hard and kept a balanced diet throughout the year. I think that helped me a lot. And sure enough worked in my favor greatly for my last show.

Forever grateful to have placed not only first in my class but as the overall champion in the NPC Midwest Gladiator this past November. The show I was supposed to do two years ago I came back and conquered. I still have a long way to go on this journey, but I’m damn sure excited to see all the things I will accomplish. Next time you’ll be seeing me is on a national stage chasing that pro card.