Very few people in the United States know what it's like to serve in the armed forces. Few athletes know what it's like to compete on the Olympic stage. Finding athletes who have done both puts these people in a rare breath.
Lenda Murray and Whitney Jones had two such athletes on a recent episode of Femme Flex Friday. Julia Waring is an IFBB Figure Pro who is a member of the United States Army. She is also a two-time Chicago Pro Champion and has been on the Olympic stage three times. Stephanie Gibson is also a figure pro in the US Army and placed third at the 2021 Olympia.
Both athletes know the rigors of preparing for competition while performing their military duties. Waring spoke about her reasons for getting into bodybuilding, and it stemmed from finding a way to channel the personal pain she was struggling with.
"My grandfather passed away, and I just needed a place to like all the pain and channel all the pain," Waring said. It was her husband who encouraged her to go on stage.
"And he said, 'We should do a bodybuilding show.' I was like, okay, you know, I've literally been lifting weights since I was 14 years old. So I had a good base. I just didn't train to build a physique obviously because I didn't really follow bodybuilding when I was younger. So he introduced me to the sport. That was my first exposure to the sport of bodybuilding. I did my first show, I think it was the Mississippi, it was a Mississippi Classic in Jackson, Mississippi and 2014. I did the beginner category one and then I was hooked.
As for Gibson, she turned pro in 2020 and is now considered a potential star of the future thanks to her first win in Savannah and surprise finish at the Olympics. The military has helped Gibson stay disciplined when it comes to commitments, but she also has genetics to thank for her success in the sport.
“My father was actually a bodybuilder. So he did some shows in Mexico. And he never turned pro. But he loved it. He was so passionate about it," she said. Gibson is still on active duty, meaning she could be deployed at any time. She knows this firsthand because she had to miss an Arnold Classic. Luckily the bosses she works for know I do this. And that, you know, they're very accommodating and supportive. because they also understand their commitment to the sport.
"You know I do this. And that, you know, they're very accommodating and supportive," she said proudly.
Waring and Gibson share more about both careers and more. Get started with Femme Flex Friday each week at www.wingsofstrength.net.