A year ago, Columbus personal trainer Sam Salinas never saw herself competing in body building competitions. She said she started going to the gym a few years ago to deal with the stress and anxiety she grew up with.
Fast forward to April when Salinas won the Miss Diva Fitness USA national title in Orlando, earning her a spot at the World Fitness and Beauty Fashion Championships (WBFF), which takes place in August.
Salinas said she never imagined herself competing in events like this.
“I did six shows this past year and I just really, really fell in love with being on stage and in the production of it,” Salinas said. “Sometimes it takes my breath away to think that I’m a national champion and that I could have made it this far, especially being from here in a small town in Nebraska. It’s pretty awesome because I’m going up against girls who are from Nebraska. the biggest countries around the world.”
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A graduate of Columbus High and Central Community College, Salinas started out as a personal trainer and turned to shows to take her fitness to the next level. She said exercise is more of a mental thing and helps her be a better person.
“Once I started seeing the benefits myself, I wanted to help other women understand that the gym could help them feel better, not only in their bodies but also in their minds,” said Salinas. “In order to do that I had to get certified so I went to school and started training. I started working at a few different gyms here in Columbus and then outside of Omaha before I started competing.”
Her passion for fitness has developed more recently. She said she played basketball for one year at Columbus High School, but the only physical activity Salinas did was what was required during school. About 24 years ago, she started lifting weights and wanted to be in the gym.
Salinas described his preparations for the competition.
“Generally, it takes about 12 to 15 weeks to prepare. I do two workouts a day, an hour and a half each. I work with my coach in Miami virtually and we make meal plans. I eat about five meals a day. I’m very measured and strategic about what kind food I need to eat,” she said. “On top of that, the type of pageant I’m working on is sort of Miss USA with an added element of fitness. I also have to do things like put together a fashion wardrobe because we’re not only judged on our physique, but also our fashion sense, how we present on stage. It takes a lot of different elements to bring it together.”
During each workout, Salinas said she does four supersets of 25 reps. For meal plans, she’s on a high and low routine.
“So two days a week, usually on leg days, I eat a high-carb meal, and on low-carb days, I eat low-carb but high-protein,” Salinas said. “My lunch (today) is going to be one cup of whole grain rice and one chicken breast and that’s a meal for me. I do that about five times a day.”
The friends she made, Salinas says, were her favorite part of the competition. Although her friends are spread all over the country, she feels their support.
Salinas described the empowerment she feels competing.
“The confidence I’ve gained is worth more than any crown or title I’ve won, especially at shows, I’m surrounded by other powerful women. We’re not just bodybuilders,” she said. “Most of us are business women or personal trainers trying to make our brands bigger. I’m just surrounded by women’s empowerment and women’s desire to change the world the way the fitness industry has played. It’s amazing.”
Sam Ficarro is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Contact him by email at email@example.com.