Stories that Inspire: Fitness Buffs Old and New

This past weekend I had the chance to attend the Arnold’s Sports Festival. I’ll be honest, this is little out of my range of interests, but it was important nonetheless for so many people who attended and it was an incredible experience and inspiring to see the level of dedication and advice past bodybuilders had for young people. The Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival is an annual multi-sport event consisting of professional bodybuilding, strongman, fitness, figure and bikini weekend expo.

In addition to this piece  with Arnold Schwarzenegger I found a couple more people who have had inspiring stories in fitness and more. So if you’re wondering where your life is headed or want a new start, I hope this inspires you to go for more.


Lola Montez 

I competed in the open figure class C and won. This was my first body building competition, I never did regional shows, this my first competition, this is my first time wearing a swim suit, so many firsts. I have two children at home. A 10 year old and 3 year old boy. Fitness has been a huge part of my life. I was abandoned at 16 and bullied most of my life for my muscularity and the way that I looked. The gym, sports, soccer, track, those things helped me get away because I was alone a majority of my life. It helped me channel that sadness I had into something powerful. When I started body building a year ago, I had no expectations, I just wanted to better myself every single time I went into the gym. Fast forward to now, in January, my coach said, ‘what do you think about the Arnold’s? I thought, ‘if he believes in me, we’re going to go all in.’ It doesn’t matter how many people say it’s impossible, t doesn’t matter if you’re an outkast, a black sheep, a nerd, they’ll continue to say it’s impossible till it’s done. Before competing, I worked out for me, I have two children, I’m with them full time, I have no family to look after them. At the gym they have a moms program where you can get a couple hours to yourself so instead of having girls night or going out, that was my time to work out. That was my time to do me. I did it for me but in turn I got this.



Cedric Macmillan

This is not for me, this is for 8 year old Cedric; this is for every little kid who is watching a screen and wishing they could be a bodybuilder. This is for 8 year old Cedric who is watching the TV and is amazed by it; who is looking through magazines and say, ‘I want to be like them.’ Most of the people on this stage come from situations I did not. I didn’t have a daddy to teach me not to give up or quit. I wasn’t able to develop those skills that people on TV gave to me. These men up here gave me something to aspire to be like. Looking at these men made me say,‘ I want to be like them,’ even if they didn’t look like me because there wasn’t a lot of people who looked like me. I flipped through magazines and I did push ups in my room. Since I didn’t have a father in my life, my mom would bring home guys I didn’t like; this one guy beat my momma up so I said, ‘one day I’m gonna be strong enough to beat this man up  and so that’s what I did.’ Cedric is an American IFBB professional bodybuilder and Army Instructor. His most recent victory was the 2017 Arnold Classic.

He continued, ‘I don’t have a killer instinct to win, I still get scared that I will lose.’ Some people say, ‘well then if you have that mindset you’ll never win, but it’s not about the win. It’s about the process you go through to get there, I love the try. You can dream about something all day, but if you don’t try, you’ll never get there.

Men up here inspired me. They are not thinking about some little kid in the hood looking at him saying, ‘that kid’s is looking at me…he’s just doing his thing’ but indirectly he’s impacting me and that matters.

Don’t’ let anyone drive what winning or losing means for you. Don’t let social media mess you up, be true to yourself, be something you can be proud to be, don’t do what is popular just to get a W, do what’s right and you will always win.


Natalie Hanson

I competed in the SPD Grand Meet which is a full meet on the grand stage. I’ve been competing for 6 years and did cross fit and gravitated to strength movements and learned it existed as a sport. I heard about it through a gym I was at, a recruiter who saw that someone in the gym had beat the state record. From that day, I decided I would compete. When someone believes in you it matters.

Don’t underestimate the importance that sports as a kid can have on you.

There is a huge mental component to power lifting, it’s extremely objective so you can get caught up in comparing yourself to other people, you can get caught up comparing your progress. That’s a big part of it; you will need to focus on yourself and keep going. Don’t get caught up in the numbers. Social media has changed this sport for the better but it gives us access to other people, people are only posting the good things and we don’t realize there is a whole other element to their lives. I celebrate other people’s successes and hope others will celebrate mine. Wishing that you could be as strong as other people won’t make you stronger. Being consistent and show up every single day will.

Do what is best for your own progress. Do what is best for you and your growth.


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