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Evelyn Okinyi: Building a winning body

 Building a winning body (Photo: Evelyn O.)

Evelyn Okinyi Owala is a rare dime. At face value, one would hardly know the exploits she has made, gracing podiums in the world of body fitness competitions.

“I am a world champion in bodybuilding, Arnold Classic Europe champion and the Africa wellness champion,” she says, inviting she invites us into one of her training gyms, Advanced Fitness, in South B, Nairobi.

At the time, we found her preparing for yet another world championship taking place in Abu Dhabi today (November 5).

“I feel well prepared for this one. I am confident the results will be good,” she says with a sigh.

Her love for muscle is what brought her to where she is today. One of the things that made Okinyi step into a gym was to work on her body.

She, however, says this was not the main reason.

 “I had a cyst and I went in for a surgery but before my stitches healed, I was diagnosed with another cyst, which called for another surgery. I told the doctors to hold so that I can look for an alternative. On looking, I found out that working out was one of the recommendations.”

With consistency at her work outs, the cyst disappeared but she kept going. She stopped working towards achieving curves but curves with muscles.

She had motivation from her husband who had been a friend to the gym since high school.

She recalls how her dad, a church leader, felt after seeing her in newspaper covers after she won the first competition. When she applied for the competition, at first it was just her and the husband. She never thought her family members would come in to the picture as well.

“Me competing affected so many lives especially because I was doing it in a bikini and in the public domain, somehow, I dragged family into it. My dad got upset and was not understanding why I was walking nude bearing in mind that he was a seventh day pastor.”

Okinyi’s dad suffered from a slipped disk later on and working out was recommended to him. He wasn’t sure of what routine to follow and decided to consult his daughter.

“Changing my dad’s perspective of what fitness involves is underrated. I would some up all the transformation I have done to everybody to amount to how I transformed my dad.”

Apart from wellness, there are many categories like figure, bikini and many more.

She says bikini competitors have a skinny body type that has soft muscle.

“I’m in the wellness bikini category, which is a soft category but curvier so my muscle has to come out curvy. When you look at me, you still see my curves, I still have my bum but I also have muscle,” she says with a smile.

She explains that rules in her category require that muscles should not cut so deep. A nice figure, muscle shape and thick legs are also part of what adjudicators in her category look for.

“You can place yourself in a category without knowing because you want to be in that category so much. A lot of ladies want to be in the wellness category because it is curvy.”

This type of competition elicits reactions from people who do not understand the shows, specifically why competitors have few clothing on while on stage.

“Somebody would see me in a bikini or see photos of me in less clothing and question why. I still educate people that I am doing my job of showing ladies that they can have a perfect body.”

Some of her memorable moments she has in this journey is when she bagged the third position in Interisland, Venezuela and Barbados.

“The down part was the Arnold Classic Europe for last year. Since I had five other championships, my body was exhausted and my performance was not to my expectations and came eighth,” says the star who is also the founder of the popular Eveal Health and Fitness, a personal training business.

The competition she is attending today is a pro competition. Such competitions are only attended by those who have earned pro cards, a process Okinyi says is not easy.

“There are different levels of competitors. As a bodybuilder, you start as an amateur. This means you do not earn from your championship. To became a pro, you take part in different championships that give you pro cards.”

She is the only lady with a pro card in Kenya.

“In 2019, I got my pro through Arnold Classic Africa, it was my first international championship that took place in South Africa. I won and won the overall.”

 “I have prepared well for this show and have made some improvement. My expectation is that I should give a good fight and hopefully place well.”

However, nothing comes easy. This same passion that makes her excited has also left her with injuries.

“I have three bulging disks. Sometimes they move and I can even lay off training for like a week because they are very painful.”

Working out and developing muscle can also help heal some injuries.

“I have a broken bone which got in my younger years, but with working out, I have formed a muscle around it and it no longer hurts the way it did they,” she says.

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