By courtesy of Alina Popa
By courtesy of Alina Popa
It's a sunny, cloudless Monday morning in Denver, Colorado, and cool, fresh air is pouring through the open windows of my new car. A truck pulls up, the window shuts down, and a woman screams, "Congratulations!" The car I drive is my trophy, adorned with the words "2018 IFBB World Champion Wings." I give her a thumb. to thank her and get goose bumps. Tears are forming in my eyes as I recall the moment on stage when the presenter (and my close friend) Sara Hurle declared me the rising Phoenix World Champion 2018, the # 1 bodybuilder in the world.
Then I deeply feel gratitude in my heart for this moment, an amazing gift from the universe that fills my day with a wonderful, positive attitude that I know reflects in the people I associate with come in contact.
Nevertheless, I never forgot where I'm from – my journey was against all odds. I was born into a middle-class family in a small town in eastern Romania, and from an early age I dreamed of being independent, earning a living and exploring the world. As an athletic kid I was athletic – athletics, martial arts, aerobics – but I never thought that my strength and agility, along with my will to keep pushing my body, would help me turn all of this into a career. I never thought I would be a bodybuilder, a successful one. But since my first local show in Romania 18 years ago, when I came in second, and with every subsequent show after that, I have gained more confidence in overcoming my limits and shooting for the stars.
I do not take for granted the natural talent and physique with which I was born. This is a blessing that I gratefully recognized and without which I would not have been able to accomplish everything I have. But in bodybuilding sport, hard work and dedication is just as important to success. I see this either as an inherited or learned trait. I will always be grateful to my parents for giving me the best education and setting a good example of having a strong work ethic and being honest and ambitious.
When I won the IFBB Amateur World Championship in 2008, I started the competition in the USA. My professional debut came in 2010 at the Arnold Classic, where I finished eighth. In every show after that, I never got into the top 5 and in the years 2013 and 2014 I won second place with Ms. Olympia. At that point, I realized I had what it takes to get to the top.
Jake Wood created the 2015 Rising Phoenix World Championship, the follow-up contest for Ms. Olympia, and the climax for female bodybuilders. I started in 2016 and finished third. In 2018 I reached my goal and won the title, for which I worked for 20 years. Trust me, it's an overwhelming feeling!
Wings of Strength is now the true leader in the world of female bodybuilding, and my dreams came true when I joined the team and organized bodybuilding competitions to represent the athletes. For me, achieving the top bodybuilding title for women is more than just a personal achievement. It is a duty to lovingly portray the sport, to help others achieve their goals, and to develop the sport by attracting new talented athletes. It really is a privilege to work with these amazing athletes and to encourage aspiring competitors and future stars to follow their dreams as well.
I have a lot of passion, this sport that has given me so much to give something back. It helped me build and strengthen my character, build self-confidence, live a great life in a great country, and meet so many great people.
Being a proud bodybuilder is an expression of true freedom. If we master this, do not submit to the pressures of society, but harmoniously integrate the lessons we learn in our unique way, then we are successful. We can then take what we have learned and apply elsewhere in our lives, and success will follow. I'm just one example of this concept: being free means bringing our own imagined reality to life.
This content is sponsored by Wings of Strength.