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“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.”

These are the words former Gore woman, International Federation of Body Building Fitness (IFBB) cardholder and professional bikini athlete Sheena Martin lives by.

Martin, who lives in California, became a professional body builder when she received her IFBB pro card in early 2014.

The first step for body builders wanting to gain an IFBB pro card is competing in amateur competitions, in New Zealand within the NZIFBB, in the hope of becoming a member of the United States equivalent, the National Physique Committee (NPC).

To have the opportunity to win their professional status they must first become nationally qualified, then they must win their pro card at a national show.

Martin said some athletes competed for years and years never reached professional level, but here journey to becoming a professional was rapid, She won her Pro Card in just her fourth show.

“I had only been competing for six months,” she said.

After turning professional, body builders compete on the IFBB Pro League circuit in shows all over the world.

Martin said most competitions were in the US, the hub of the sport.

“Professional body builders compete on the IFBB Pro League circuit with the goal of winning a show which is an Olympia qualifier,” Martin said.

The Olympia is the most prestigious & high level competition in competitive body building.

“Last year, I was the first IFBB Bikini Pro to ever qualify to represent New Zealand or Australia, at the 2016 Bikini Olympia .. this is the Olympics of body building,” she said.

Martin is just weeks away from representing New Zealand again in her second Bikini Olympia on September 15-16, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

” In March 2016, almost two years since I won my IFBB Pro Card, I won my first IFBB Pro Bikini Championship at the Orlando Pro Bikini,” Martin said.

“I am working up towards one of the biggest competitions in my life,” she said.

Martin, who is also a qualified lawyer, said she began her journey in 2012-13 and entered her first competition in 2013.

“In mid-2013 I decided to enter my first NZIFBB (the New Zealand equivalent of the NPC) bikini competition .. I hadn’t really turned my mind to the idea of competing before. Building muscle and looking athletic hadn’t previously been a priority to me. I just wanted to be ‘model-thin.”

“While I have always been a ‘healthy’ eater, I have not always been healthy.”

Martin said she struggled with her eating for while and this contributed to her decision to become a body builder.

Winner winner… Sheena Martin receives first place at the New York Pro Champion 2017 which qualified her for Miss Bikini Olympia.PHOTO:  asiagrapher_mkay

“I have always had very high standards for myself and my pursuit for perfection lead me to a battle with eating disorders from the age of 18.

” Fiercely independent, I was determined to recover on my own .. my decision to start eating clean and to take on the challenge of competing in bikini competitions has played a huge role in my recovery.

“I started eating real, nutritious whole foods and fuelling myself like an athlete.

Martin said it was one of the best decisions she had ever made and the results were incredible.

“I changed the way I lived and the way I treated my body .. my skin and digestion improved, I had energy and I felt ‘clear headed’ all of the time.

“I learnt to respect my body and my whole mindset changed.I felt confident and vibrant, knowing that I was fuelling my body with all the ‘good stuff’.”

“My biggest reservation with competing was a fear of not being good enough .. a fear of inadequacy that stemmed from the body images and confidence struggles of my past.”

As well as competing Martin coaches clients from all over New Zealand and the world who want to compete in IFBB. She helps them train and compete in Bikini competitions.

“Sheena-Jayne Fitness is all about sharing my knowledge and experience with you. I want you too, to feel empowered, and to discover what you and your body are capable of.”

“It is surreal that I have had the honour to represent my country at that level, and I am about to do it again.

“My ultimate goal is to one day win the Miss Bikini Olympia title and I am working whole heartedly every single day to bring that dream to life.”