In this week’s Health For Mzansi podcast, we focus on women in bodybuilding who have committed themselves to the discipline of the sport. Some people might still cringe at the idea of women carbo-loading and weightlifting. However, women are flexing their muscles and showing that it can be done. Hayley Barends from Wellington in the Western Cape is a perfect example.
Barends, an Afrikaans teacher and ‘piloxing’ (combination of pilates and boxing) instructor, started her journey in the gym in 2015. It helped her to tone and define her muscles, ultimately preparing her for the body-building journey she would later embark on.
She admits that her athletic genes made the bodybuilding transition much easier, but make no mistake, bodybuilding is about more than muscles. It’s also about food preparation, mental conditioning, understanding muscle groups in the body, and not only hitting the gym.
Even though bodybuilding is a visual sport that focuses on the physical body and toning thereof, Barends explains that it requires mental conditioning. This is the process of using whatever you are experiencing internally, whether it be stress, anger, or sadness to shift into strength.
Hurdles faced and overcome
In the discussion, Barends also elaborates on the unfortunate body-shaming that she has been exposed to. As a result of her toned and muscular aesthetic, her sexual orientation has been questioned and concerns regarding her loss of femininity have been raised. Perceptions like these are rooted in a lack of knowledge of the sport and the female body, explains Barends.
At the competition circuit, Barends recalls drawing inspiration from women that own their femininity regardless of their athletic aesthetic. Women that are mothers and over the age of fifty, but also embrace the title of bodybuilder.
In the podcast, Barends also discusses:
- Through all the trials and tribulations, bodybuilding has allowed her to reclaim and own her power as a woman and connect with her body.
- How she will take to the bodybuilding stage on 16 September, where she will be representing the Western Cape at the IBFF Africa Cup Nationals competition.
Listen to the full interview on the Health For Mzansi podcast:
Apple Podcasts: Click here to listen on any Apple device.
Google Podcasts: Click here to listen on Google Podcast.
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