We all have our ambitions in life from the day we start school, right until the day we graduate from University and so on. One thing is for: sure life is unpredictable. We spoke to Rosa Leona about her career change from a small town girl, to standing in front of thousands of people wearing just a bikini.
Here is her story.
Can you start by telling us briefly, who you are, and where you are from?
My name is Rosa Leona and I’m 23 years old. I’m from Sweden, but Sydney, Australia has been my playground for the past 4 years. I’m a Natural Bikini Model Champion, and I am now training to earn my PRO* card and compete overseas.
There are two divisions, amateur and pro. Anyone can compete as an amateur and you have to qualify by winning an open class category in a state championship, or win a place at the top, in a national event, to qualify to a Pro Qualifier event. Once you have won a spot in the top three, you get a PRO card, which will allow you to compete on an international level. Then you can compete in the professional league, where people make an income by competing.
We know that you studied dance in Sweden. Have you always had an interest in dance? What was your ambition?
I started dancing street style when I was 11 years old. I love choreographing and performing. I’m truly a stage person at heart, and I love to perform in front of a large audience; I guess I just love to entertain people! It’s when I’m on stage, I feel alive!
Did you decide to travel/move to Australia, after completing your studies?
Yes, I moved to Australia in September 2011, which was two months after my graduation.
Why Australia in particular?
My sister was here in Australia already and I thought I needed a break from everything at home, and just came to explore the beauty of the Aussie life!
How were you introduced to the fitness world?
My Samba teacher, Cristina Ramon saw my potential both in my genetics, stage experience and my non-quitting mindset. She introduced me to the whole fitness world.
How come you decided to start with bikini modelling?
Last year, I tried for the last time, to pursue my dream of becoming a professional dancer/teacher and finished my first semester studying Bachelor of Dance at Wesley Institute in Drummoyne. I realized that this wasn’t my dream anymore, and when I kept training and competing, it just felt natural that fitness is what I am meant to do!
Can you tell us about the sport? How do you prepare before a competition?
Bodybuilding is about reaching your ultimate physique, and celebrating the journey by competing and showing what you have worked hard to achieve. It takes time to get in shape, and the more you condition your body, the better it gets. That’s why bodybuilding will never get boring, because if you keep working hard, you will only improve. To prepare for a competition, you need to lose body fat and gain muscle. You will need to train all your body parts equally to form symmetry. This requires constant weight training, cardiovascular training and appropriate dieting.
I go to the gym six days a week to do both weights and cardio, and I follow a strict diet. The diet is high in protein and low in fat. I don’t eat additional sugar, fat or salt.
Of all sports, don’t you think that bodybuilding is one of the ones that focus mostly on “body image” and an unrealistic view of the same? What are your thoughts on the same and how do you cope with it?
Yes I agree, bodybuilding is certainly not about personality! But as any other sport, it’s got its own audience. And people that are interested in health, fitness and nutrition have an understanding of what bodybuilding is about. This audience knows how hard it is to train and diet before a competition, and the extreme leanness that is presented on stage is not an everyday look that you can maintain. If it was, we would see more people walk around the streets like that! A person with a lean physique is someone to get inspired by and look up to, because it takes a lot of sacrifices and hard work to get there.
How do you cope with having your body/figure in constant focus?
It’s still a process for me. It created obsessiveness with my body. I need to weigh myself everyday and take pictures of my body all the time, and compare it with other pictures. But as a dancer, I have always been connected and am very aware of my body anyways. As a samba dancer, I’m always in a bikini, dancing in front of people, so not much of a difference there! However, when you learn to love and respect yourself, you will think more about taking care of your body, rather than obsessing about it not being pretty enough.
What is the industry like? Is it competitive?
I guess it’s extremely competitive. Fitness competitors have a similar type of personality, and are all strong and confident, which definitely results in a bit of a battlefield like situation. But I think it’s all about how you choose to see it: if you are kind to people, people will respect you as a competitor. I would like to think that we are all a big, fit family!
Has bodybuilding changed your way of living in any way?
Yes, definitely. I give my body the nutrition and ambition it deserves! I used to consume alcohol at least once a week before, and that’s something that I have totally eliminated, or saved for a special occasion. I go to the gym all the time, which makes me feel and look great! To have enough energy for a workout, I need to sleep and eat well. It all goes hand in hand, and I take care of myself better!
What ambitions do you have? Is bodybuilding something you want to continue with?
My goal this year is to earn my PRO card. When I get that, I’m going to compete in Natural Olympia in San Diego in November 2015. I’m sure a lot of doors will open along the way; it’s hard to predict the future. But I’m confident that the fitness industry is my life path and I will always work in this industry, whether is it as a personal trainer, coach, posing instructor or opening my own gym – only time can tell!
If you could give any advice to our readers that are thinking about bodybuilding, what would that be?
If you love to challenge yourself, and see that you can master a long time commitment, do it! With the eyes on the prize, and the fact that you are investing in yourself, how could it not be worth it?
’ A well-built physique is a status symbol. It reflects that you worked hard for it; money can’t buy it. You cannot inherit it. You cannot steal it. You cannot borrow it. You cannot hold on to it without constant work. It shows dedication. It shows discipline. It shows self-respect. It shows dignity. It shows patience, work ethic, passion.’
What would your Plan B be, if you did not do bodybuilding? If you could work/do anything you like, what would that be and why?
If I could do anything I want and be world famous for it, I would definitely do acting! I would love to be a world famous actress, because I’m a character and it comes naturally to perform and make others laugh, cry and engage their minds in what’s happening in front of them.
Have you got a similar experience as Rosa Leona, a change of career or an unexpected turn in life? Do let us know by commenting below.
Connect with Rosa Leona and follow her journey to Natural Olympia in November!
Instagram: mentiroosa Click here
Facebook: Rosa Leona Here
Words: Josefin Lundahl