Aleesha Young

I am a wife and mother first and an IFBB professional female body builder second.

I have always been very muscular and as a young dancer/cheerleader I despised it.  I spent the majority of my adolescence uncomfortable in my own skin and went to great lengths to try and get rid of muscle.  I was always striving to obtain that “perfect” dancers body.  In my more mature years I have learned to embrace being muscular and working with it instead of against it.  Life would be so boring if we all looked the same.  I hope through my own journey I can help a few young girls learn to embrace being different and not trying to fit a mold.

My father (also a body builder) recognized my inner struggle.  Knowing my competitive nature and drive he introduced me to the IRON.  I’ve been head over heels in love ever since.

I competed in my first body building show in 2007.  It was so exciting to be involved in a sport that embraced my muscularity.  I obtained my IFBB pro card in 2014 winning the overall title at the USA’s in Las Vegas.  This was also the same year that the IFBB decided to remove female body building from the Olympia.  I had spent years trying to get my pro card with a goal to grace that prestigious Olympia stage.  To say I was upset that this was no longer a possibility for me is a gross understatement.

Thankfully Wings of Strength stepped in and saved female body building.  Giving women like myself a stage to stand on.  I am so grateful to them for their endless efforts to keep female body building alive and thriving.

I am honored and so grateful to be a part of the Wings of Strength ambassador program this year.  As of right now, I am busy preparing for the Chicago Pro show that will be held on July 6th 2019.  Come out and support the amazing women of this sport and Wings of Strength.  I’m looking forward to being back on stage and hope to see you all there. 

Amanda Smith

I’d like to start off by thanking Jake Wood and the Wings of Strength team for creating such a platform for female bodybuilders, and for allowing me to be a brand ambassador.

I’m from a small town in Ontario, Canada, where I work as a hairstylist. I’m the youngest of eight children, and have always been considered the black sheep of the family. It wasn’t the kids at school who made fun of my size, but my family. I learned to develop thick skin at a young age. I had to. I never really fit in anywhere growing up, but I was also raised to be very independent, so fitting in was never really a concern to me. Doing what made me happy was more of a priority, than fitting in was.

I was a goalie in competitive hockey for 15 years. There were several years where I was the only goalie on the team because the commitment and dedication I had to the sport and team, allowed for my coach to be confident in me to always show up and perform at my best. I thrived under pressure. Many years, I played on multiple teams, which meant being on the ice every day, sometimes multiple times a day. But that’s what I loved. I lived and breathed hockey. 

I then switched my focus to post secondary education, and gave up all sports. I completed a Pre-health certificate. Then made a switch and went to school for hair dressing and makeup artistry. While working in a salon, I continued my education with Business-Marketing, and then Photography. 

During my college years, I found myself in a very bad relationship, and to cope with the aftermath of it, I resorted to an excessive amount of drinking and poor eating habits which led to weight gain. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be out at the bars six nights a week, all while working, and attending classes full-time. After being drugged on two separate occasions, I decided to make some serious changes and take control of my life again. I quit drinking and started making healthier choices. On my own, I managed to drop nearly 50lbs strictly from running and diet. Eventually I was able to afford a gym membership, in which I quickly fell in love with weight training. I felt like the stronger I became, the more I’d be able to defend myself and tackle whatever life throw my way.

Watching another gym member prepare for a bikini competition, sparked my interest in competing, although I literally knew nothing about the sport. From there, I went on to hire my first coach, lost another 30lbs and did my first show in 2013, which I placed last in both bikini and figure. It was a horrible experience, which only lit a fire underneath me even more.

In 2014, I gave women’s physique a shot, and won a first place, overall title, and second place. I took the following year off to improve and in 2016, I was determined to do whatever it took to get my pro card, and did just that at the North Americans in Pittsburgh. 

2017, I made my pro debut in California, placing seventh out of thirty eight incredible ladies. 

2018, I competed in the Toronto Pro and placed last. I had previously received comments on multiple occasions to be cautious of my size and getting too big. After receiving similar comments in Toronto, I decided to test the waters in bodybuilding, and it was the best decision I made! I competed in Omaha the following weekend and placed fifth. Later, I did the Chicago Pro, with the intention of just getting more feedback being new to the category, and ended up placing fifth again. Making the switch to bodybuilding reignited the fire that I was missing leading up to the Toronto Pro. 

I can’t even begin to describe how much bodybuilding has changed my life for the better. I have learned to become even more comfortable in my own skin and confident in who I am, even if it means being different from those I’m surrounded by day to day, because I know, there are a group of incredible and inspiring ladies out there who share similar experiences.

Being someone who has always been judged harshly before being given a chance. Deciding to become a bodybuilder and get judge negatively for it, really didn’t matter to me. I believe in following your heart, and doing what makes you happy, whether people understand it or not. And that’s what I want to encourage others to do. It’s more than just a sport, or lifestyle. It’s a way of thinking. It’s a community, and a family.

Andrea Shaw

I am certified personal trainer & group exercise instructor.  My competition career began in figure in 2008 at the Karen Zaremba Classic & The Natural Michigan, placing  3rd & 4th.  In 2016 I competed in the women’s physique division for the first time at the John Simmons Classic.   March of 2018 I had a revitalization of my passion to compete.  I placed 2nd in the Ohio Natural,  1st & overall at the John Simmons Classic (a nice victory after placing 4th in 2016), 1st & overall at the Detroit Lenda Murray Classic,  3rd at North Americans, and I decided to try again at Nationals where with a 2nd place win by 1 point I earned my IFBB pro card.  I finally decided that women’s bodybuilding  is the perfect fit for me after my pro debut at the Toronto Pro 2019. 

My current aspirations are to qualify for the Rising Phoenix, and continue to promote women’s bodybuilding with hopes of seeing the division return to the Olympia. Many of my favorite quotes to live by are to, “believe you can achieve, then you will!”  “Look for the opportunities in every obstacle!”

I believe my life’s purpose is to motivate and empower women to take the best care of their health which will ultimately improve their quality of life.  It’s so joyful to see women utilize exercise to cultivate a new found confidence and appreciation of themselves.

Angela Rayburn

My name is Angela Rayburn and I’m an IFBB Pro Female Bodybuilder.  I have been a Certified Personal Trainer for nearly two decades.  My fitness journey began at a young age in junior-high school as a cheerleader.  This led me to join our high school dance team and I loved every minute of it.  But, I wanted more for my fitness goals and began to look for something beyond dancing.  I had always enjoyed lifting weights and even took weight lifting classes in college.  Then one year a good friend of mine, who was known for prepping clients to compete in bodybuilding, challenged me to try a “Competition Diet”.  I successfully completed the diet and LOVED the transformation that my body had made.  My interest in bodybuilding grew and I wanted to learn more about what improvements I could make to my physique.  In 2001, I stepped onto the competition stage for the first time.  Each year my shape got better and better.  I continued improving and created new goals to become my Best.  After years of regional level events, I decided to enter my first national show.  I was blessed with a top 5 finish at the NPC Junior Nationals in Chicago.  Continuing to compete at the national level fueled the development of my Ultimate goal…to one day earn a “Pro Card” in Women’s Bodybuilding.  After fourteen years of training, dieting, and competing, it finally happened at the 2014 NPC Masters Nationals and I’ve felt so Blessed ever since. Thank You to Wings of Strength for creating a platform for female bodybuilders to continue to compete and grow. Your support is simply amazing!  This organization has gone above and beyond for female bodybuilding and this sport. Thank you Jake Wood and all the members of the Wings of Strength crew for choosing me as one of your Wings Ambassadors and Athletes.  I Truly feel Blessed to be a part of this incredible organization.