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Road to Competition

Road to Competition: Laurelle Martineau Goes From Carnival to the Stage



Trinidad and Tobago native Laurelle Martineau had the desire to look great in her annual Carnival costume. Who knew that motivation would lead her to becoming a pro figure competitor? Laurelle chatted with Black Fitness Today on how important this lifestyle is to her and has advice for anyone looking to begin the journey to competing.


BFT: How did you get started in fitness and competing, all the way up to your recent successes?

LM: I am originally from the twin Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago. We have an annual festival called Carnival. As part of the celebrations I often chose to wear one of the ‘sexier’ costumes. My motivation to get in shape stemmed from my desire to look good in my costume. I read tons of fitness magazines and was always testing out a new workout program or diet plan. Finally I decided to lift weights. I loved the changes that I saw in my body and with each change I wanted to see more. This eventually drove me to the competition stage. I found a great coach and he got me stage ready in less than 3 months. I placed 1st in my first competition and earned my IFPA Pro Card in my 2nd show when I won the Figure Overall title. My IFPA pro debut was not as successful as I placed 11th. This however fueled me to work harder. My determination led me to a 3rd place and 1st place Overall title on the IFPA pro stge. This year I wanted to try something new so I switched things up a bit and competed with a different association, NPC. In my first show I won the Figure Overall title which led me to my first Junior National show (NPC Jr. USA) where I placed 3rd.

BFT: Congratulations on earning 3rd Place in the Women’s Fitness/Figure Class B at the NPC Jr. USA’s! How does it feel to know that all of your hard work and dedication is paying off?

LM: Thanks! The NPC Jr. USA was the best package I have presented to date. My goal is always to be better than my last best but having some hardware to show for it is the icing on the cake.


BFT: How do you balance fitness with your personal life and what does this lifestyle mean to you?

LM: I have been into fitness for such a long time that it is almost as natural as brushing my teeth. Just as I find the time to take a shower and eat every day is the same way I view fitness. It is just part of my daily routine. Finding the time for it is rarely a burden. It actually helps relieve other burdens I may be dealing with. Fitness is my ‘feel good’ zone so I make the time for it just as I do everything that is important to me.

BFT: What you are up to at the moment?

LM: Where training is concerned, I am currently working on my next package. I am aware of my weaker areas so my focus is on bringing those up.

BFT: What is your training and nutrition regimen while training, and when you are in your “off season?”

LM:When preparing for competition I stick to my meal plan as much as possible. I measure out and prepare just about everything I eat so I know exactly what goes into my body. Workouts are carried up a notch as I increase my cardio. During my off-season, I am not as strict with my meals. While I still prepare most of what I eat I do not put as much focus on measuring out everything. My workouts are geared to improving my weaker areas.

BFT: Do you have any advice for others looking to start the journey of competing, as well as on how to reach their goals?

LM: Well first thing I usually advise a person is to “believe in yourself”. A lot of what goes into competing is mental. So having the confidence and discipline is half the battle.

BFT: What advice do you have for anyone looking to start competing?

LM: Once you have committed yourself, then I advise you do your research, read as much as you can on the industry. Talk to people around you who compete. They can offer some great advice that only comes from experience. Attend a show to see what the judges are looking for. It is a competition, though subjective, there are always distinguished features that can put you at the top of your class. Then, find a coach you trust. If you are new to competing it is sometimes hard to see your progress and know what you are lacking. This is where a coach comes in. They can provide that objective view and guidance to get you exactly where you need to be.

BFT: How people can find out more about you (website, social media links, etc.)?

LM: You can follow me on:




Facebook Page| XelleFit

Also a great video that highlights my last competition prep season can be found on my YouTube.


Ilen & Lauren Bell are the husband and wife team behind Black Fitness Today, born, in 2011, out of their motivation to change culture, build a platform and lead the charge. Their purpose is to help change the culture towards health and fitness in the African-American community, showcase those who are making an impact, and promote healthier living. They also aim to serve as a platform for African-American fitness and health professionals and enthusiasts who are otherwise overlooked in traditional fitness media.

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World’s Youngest IFBB PRO, Shanique Grant, Discusses Her Successful Rise in Figure Division

Ilen Bell, MS, CSCS, Co-Founder of Black Fitness Today



Shanique Grant, World's Younget IFBB Pro

Shanique Grant may only be 19 years old but she is already making a name for herself in the world of professional bodybuilding. As a figure competitor, Grant has quickly climbed the ranks. Starting in November 2013, Grant, in just one year’s time has turned her budding interest in fitness into a profession, earning one of bodybuilding’s most coveted titles – IFBB Pro. Given that many athletes compete for years and never achieve pro status, Grant’s accomplishment is nothing short of amazing, and now she has no plans on turning back. Check out our interview with IFBB Pro Shanique Grant as she discusses her journey from 18 year-old novice to 19-year-old professional figure competitor!

BFT: When did you start your journey?

SG: I started my fitness journey this time last year November 2013, I was so new at the “eating clean, training mean” lifestyle but I was determined to make a change and step outside of the crowd…to stand out.

BFT: Did you play any sports growing up? If so, do you think this helped prepare you for the sport of bodybuilding?

SG: I ran track & field (sprinter and high jumper) since I was in 3rd grade racing in town track events and then throughout high school, earning three varsity letters and a total of 70 medals. I wouldn’t say that specifically prepared me, but the ability to have such a focus for all these years (whilst running track) has prepared me for such a big jump into this sport of bodybuilding.

BFT: How did your nutrition and training change once you decided to commit to changing your body?

SG: I changed my eating habits drastically cutting all junk foods, no more soda; more water…I was even surprised at myself how disciplined I became. I trained seven days a week for 3-4 hours and it became a daily regimen, a part of each day had to consist of me attending the gym.

Shanique Grant, World's Younget IFBB Pro

BFT: Often times, getting started on a new plan is easy, but it’s sticking to the plan that can be the most difficult when the results don’t come immediately. How did your mentality change once you started to see results?

SG: It became a passion, a very strong passion! People started noticing me, asking if I competed — which I had no idea what that was at the time — so I looked it up and found out myself.  I was never the type to be center of attention and so outgoing so I was hesitant about it. A couple months passed and I was contacted by my now prep coach JohnnyDiezel. He told me he saw potential and a very strong future for me as figure competitor so I listened.

BFT: What did it feel like to hit the stage for the first time?

SG: My first competition was August 9th, 2014 in West Long Branch, NJ (NPC Muscle Beach Championships). As soon as I hit that stage my mind completely went blank, the lights were SO bright and I was so nervous. But once I heard the crowd cheering me on, I said to myself “make an impression, you’ve worked so hard, own it” and with that being said at my very first competition I won first place in my class and first place overall for Figure Division.

Shanique Grant, World's Younget IFBB Pro

BFT: How soon after your first show did you start prepare for your second?

SG: My coach started me up with my diet and training prep a week after my first show for NPC East Coast Championships (November 15, 2014 in Wayne, NJ) and also NPC Nationals (November 21-22, 2014 in Miami, FL). My coach and I were hesitant about prepping me for two shows so very close to each other but we went for it. I won first place at NPC East Coast Championships and the following weekend I took 2nd Place at NPC Nationals earning my pro card, I am now the World’s youngest IFBB Figure Pro at 19 years old!!

BFT: How does it feel to be the world’s youngest IFBB Pro? What’s next for you?

SG: It has to be one of the best feelings of my life, I feel accomplished but it doesn’t stop there. Next year, I will be competing at a pro level show, New York Pro. With five months of training and dieting, I have high hopes on what greater improvements I can make by then!

Shanique Grant, World's Younget IFBB Pro

BFT: What advice do you have for young women looking to get started in the sport of bodybuilding?

SG: Honestly…Go for it! With the right mindset and discipline, your achievements are endless. Just stay on course and never give up.

BFT: How can people find out more about you and stay connected with you on your fitness journey

Facebook: Shanique K Grant IFBB Pro
Instagram: _Fitnessbeauty


Photos courtesy of


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Interview with Team JBM Elite Bikini Competitors Of Cincinnati, Ohio



BFT: What inspires you to strive for greatness?

Courtnea: It’s all about purpose. God placed me here for a reason and it is nothing short of greatness. I’m just operating  according to His will and striving to live out His purpose that He has for me.

Krishawnda: What inspires me to strive for greatness is my belief that everything I do should require my full effort. I never want to involved myself in anything that I can’t fully dedicate myself to. I believe that God blessed me with many talents and abilities in order to help others. In order to do this, I must work daily to perfect that skill.

Angel: In this sport I feel that failure is not an option. God gave me this body and what God gives me is GREAT! I strive to keep that greatness going in all aspects — physically, spiritually, and mentally.

BFT: What have you learned about yourself while on your fitness journey?

Krishawnda: On this fitness journey, I’ve learned that the tomboy in me never left lol! After high school, I drifted away from my athletic talents. But it’s great to be back into it. I feel that at an older age, I am stronger and a better athlete than I was in high school. More importantly, I learned that I have a higher sense of self-control that I knew. I’ve always been a small girl, but I love food and would eat anything. Competing has become such a serious part of my life that I have the ability to control what I put into my body. My ability to do all things through Christ has manifested itself in my fitness journey.  These who ladies and I have all competed and done well in shows. But we see the challenges in competing as well. One can easily question themselves and their “look” by placing low in a show, leading to self-esteem issues or the desire to give up.

Angel: I’ve learned that I’m a fighter. I had a full blown stroke at a young age and was told I’d never be able to do any type of physical activity. I fought to prove doctors wrong! I started lifting,  gained a love for it and competing and never looked back. GOD is so amazing.

Courtnea: Quitting is never an option and that I can go through the fire and come out a gold. Let’s just say I’ve experienced a lot of life in a short period of time while simultaneously trying to reach a fitness goal of mine – going pro as a bikini athlete. I’ve learned that no matter what was thrown my way, there was never a reason for me to give up. I pressed through even when I didn’t want to but I know what I need to do to reach my goals. I sucked it up and lifted it out in the weight room.

BFT: It’s often said that Black women take the time to build one another up – how do you keep each other accountable so that each of you reach your personal goals?

Angel: I use encouragement as a tool to lift us up and stay on track in reaching our goals. People often try to bring female bodybuilders down with negativity; we need that encouragement to give us that spark to keep going.

Courtnea: This brings me back to purpose. I remind myself and others to remember that there is a reason for every obstacle, victory, what may seem at the time as a defeat, there is a reason for all of it. Don’t be discouraged, keep your eyes set on your goals and weather the storm. God will provide. It may not be when we want it or how we want it but if it’s attached to your purpose it WILL happen, flat out. I just speak life back into them. Well, God speaks through me, I’m just a vessel.

Krishawnda: We train together at least once a week. We keep each other informed about fitness events that surround us. We recognize that we are a team. We want to move upward together because we share a love for training and goals to become pros. And it any personal issues arise, we do all we can to better that situation and ensure that it doesn’t affect training.  Angel, Cournea and I hope to impact women, especially women of color, encouraging them to take care of their bodies and to support other women with fitness goals. Having muscle and definition as a woman does not make you less feminine than another. We hope people see that when they see us.

Follow Angel, Courtnea, and Krishawnda on Instagram at @angelicarms83, @blaq_beauty0487, and @kjalle2.

Professional photo credit: @the_artist_imagery



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Road to Competition

Former Transformation Story Ray Holmes Places 4th As Physique Competitor



“It’s crazy to think that people who haven’t seen me since college remember me as that 305 pound guy on the left. I remember waking up with random aches and pains and being told by doctors I need to gain control of my cholesterol and blood pressure. I remember going into stores and having to goto the Big & tall section to find my size 4XL shirts and size 46 waist jeans. However, I also remember the day I decided to change all of that. Thank God for my will power, desire  to change, and support from friends & family, bc that’s what got me to where I am today. I haven’t looked back since and I can’t imagine ever doing so. If I can do it…ANYONE can” – Ray Holmes

Check out Ray’s transformation story where he covers how he got started on his fitness journey and what kept him on track!

Follow Ray on Instagram @holmboyray!

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