One of the most valuable lessons I’ve been taught regarding health and fitness, came from my ex husband’s father. When I met his father he was in his late 40’s and in impressive shape (I was only 18.) He was an avid runner and occasionally went swimming and trained with weights. He was about 6’1” but light on his feet and well proportioned with decent musculature. His son on the other hand, my ex, (let’s call him Sherman,) had a husky build that developed rapidly from 5’9” – 129 pounds at the age of 19, to 200 pounds by the time he was 25. It was a combination of bone-density, muscle mass, and fat that commonly accumulates when a youth develops what I call the Late Twenties Man Body.

It was a normal change but it came on fast with him. Sherman was passionate about fitness, but was struggling with his cardio conditioning at that weight. He didn’t want to be one of those athletes who can bench press their weight, but can’t run across the street without gasping for air and clenching their chest. As a result, he persisted and we continued to run all the time, but it was always difficult for him. It also didn’t improve much over time like you’d expect from consistent training.

One day, we were having dinner with Sherman’s dad. Sherman and I had been speculating that he and his father had completely different physiques and we were wondering if his dad had any tips to help him with his running. He said “You’re just not a runner.” We were a little surprised to hear him say that, but what he said next changed the course of my training goals for LIFE. He said he started training and eating like a professional runner when he realized he wanted a runner’s body and conditioning. He knew he wanted a decent amount of lean muscle mass and a lower body weight, going into his 40’s, so he started researching what runners do.

He told Sherman that he should do the same thing – model a pro athlete’s entire regimen – but to also take into consideration what his physique would be suited to. He suggested rugby or boxing for cardio conditioning, and said to look up what boxer’s eat, and what their training drills look like. I thought that was BRILLIANT advice. Of course! Why not find athletes with a similar body composition to Sherman, and see who has a training and diet plan he could model, to achieve his ultimate health goals?

This advice resonated with me like crazy. I had always wanted a female boxer’s body. As he was talking to us, I was already imagining myself skipping, doing crunches, and hitting heavy bags. I imagined my new delts and abs and supreme cardio conditioning. I had no idea what a pro athlete’s diet would look like, but I was excited to learn how I could improve this arer of my life going into my late 20’s.

This is a snapshot of me when I was 30 and heavily into my boxing training. Coincidentally, this is also the pic I sent my first bodybuilding coach upon deciding to turn my boxing physique into a fitness model physique. I had modeled a boxer for a while, and decided it was time to model a pro athlete in a different facet of fitness. I entered a bodybuilding show in the bikini division that year, learned so much from the experience, and was hungry for more inspiration for my goals.

Following that show, I looked online for my idea of the ultimate pro female fitness model who embodied poise, passion, discipline, a true healthy lifestyle, and solid achievements in the fitness industry. Of course, I was also looking for a physique that made me say “Daaamn!”

It’s a little odd that all of my Google searches led me to WBFF Pro Fitness Model Fatima Leite Kusch, because she happened to be the one female athlete at MY GYM who I couldn’t take my eyes off of. Every time I saw her in my gym I thought “Who IS she? Why does she look like that? She must be SOMEBODY.” It took me a while to realize that this star at my gym was actually FATIMA – the pro who I collected pictures of from the internet and was starting to look to as my model athlete.

Then I realized I had seen Fatima at some of the fitness shows with her team of girls, and was ecstatic that I could compete in a team environment with her as my coach. The situation was just too perfect for what I aspired to achieve next. I don’t think she realized back then, but I was fully modeling her lifestyle. At this point, one year later, she is a full-blown mentor on all levels of my life.

Not only am I the healthiest I’ve been in my life (eating clean has given my immune system a total makeover,) but my musculature is developing in a much more balanced fashion too. I wasn’t prepared for the residual benefits of modeling a pro athlete though. I’m now a champion competitor, a published fitness model, and I’m being certified as a bodybuilding judge in 2013. Now I’m being asked by fellow gym rats who I am and why I look this way (exactly what I was thinking about Fatima when I first saw her.) It has been a wild ride, this process of modeling a pro athlete. I still have plenty of room for improvement with my training and muscle development, so I think I’ll stay put for a while with this goal.

Who could YOU model? If you found an athlete with a similar body type to you, performing pro-level activities that you enjoy, and eating a diet that works for you, who would that be? A Vancouver Canuck? A track and field star? A well conditioned martial artist like Georges St. Pierre? I’m officially daring all of my readers to up their training goals and find that one athlete to model for excellence. 1-2-3-GO!

Happy Lifting!

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