COLUMBUS — One 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 help deal with stress and anxiety that she grew up with.
Fast forward to April when Salinas won the Miss Diva Fitness USA national title in Orlando, earning a spot in the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) World Championship, which takes place in August.
Salinas said she didn’t envision herself competing in these type of events.
“This last year I’ve done six shows and I’ve just really, really fell in love with being on stage and the show production part of it,” Salinas said. “It’s pretty breathtaking for me sometimes to think that I’m a national title holder and that I could have come this far, especially being from here, a little town in Nebraska. It’s pretty phenomenal because I’m going against girls that are from the biggest countries throughout the world.”
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A graduate of Columbus High and Central Community College, Salinas started as a personal trainer and turned to shows to take her own fitness to the next level. She said working out is more of a mental thing and it helps her be a better person.
“When I started seeing the benefits myself, I wanted to help other women realize that the gym could help them feel better, not only on their body but their mind, too,” Salinas said. “In order to do that, I had to get the certifications so I went into school and got into personal training. I started working at a couple of different gyms here in Columbus and then out of Omaha as well before I started competing.”
Her passion for fitness developed more recently. She said she played one year of basketball at Columbus High, but the only physical activity Salinas did was what required during school. Around 24 years ago, she got into weight lifting and wanting to be at the gym.
Salinas described her preparation for a competition.
“Generally, it takes about 12 to 15 weeks prep time. I do two workouts a day, an hour and a half each. I work with my coach out of Miami virtually and we set up meal plans. I eat about five meals a day. I’m very measured and strategic on what kinds of food I should be eating,” she said. “On top of that, the type of competition I do is kind of Miss USA with the added fitness element to it. I also have to do things like getting my fashion wardrobe together because we’re judged not only on our physique, but our fashion sense so how we present on stage. It takes a lot of different elements to bring it together.”
During each workout, Salinas said she does four super sets of 25 reps. For meal plans, she’s on a high-low routine.
“So two days of the week, usually on my leg days, I eat a meal that’s high in carbohydrates and on low days I eat low carbohydrates, but high protein,” Salinas said. “My lunch (today) will 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 made, Salinas said, has been her favorite part about competing. Even though her friends are spread out across the country, she feels their support.
Salinas described the empowerment she feels competing.
“The confidence that I’ve gained is worth more than any crown or title I’ve gotten, especially being at the shows, I’m surrounded by other powerful women. We’re not only body builders,” she said. “Most of us are businesswomen or personal trainers trying to make our brands bigger. I’m just surrounded by women empowerment and women’s drive to change the world in the way the fitness industry has played out. It’s incredible.”
Sam Ficarro is a sports reporter with The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at [email protected].