You remember the story of the ugly duckling. A poor little duckling feels ugly and out of place in the flock because he doesn’t look like the other ducklings. Then one day a new group of birds lands in the pond and they look like him.
They are swans.
Aleesha Young was somewhat in this situation as a very young girl as early as the first grade. She had an unusual amount of muscle, didn’t like that much and people were always noticing her physique. She eventually became a competitive gymnast and dancer but was always trying to minimize how much muscle she had – doing things like becoming a vegetarian and performing excessive cardio. She wasn’t against muscle per se. Her father was a bodybuilder and powerlifter. She just didn’t think this was appropriate on a very young girl and it made her uncomfortable.
At about at 15, her father got her into gym training. She was still very ambivalent about muscle building but she did love how weight training felt. And of course, working out like this she gradually kept getting bigger and more muscular. At one point she simply had to accept the fact that she was genetically predisposed for muscle, but she really never expected she would eventually compete as a bodybuilder. That was simply not how she saw herself.
In her 20s, Aleesha continued to train and grow but she is also an entrepreneur and is business minded. The created a mortgage business which paid off very well for her until the last financial crisis. Having to closer her business and looking around for something to do, she was persuaded to enter a bodybuilding contest – the 2008 Ms. Utah. Aleesha won her class and the overall against pretty decent competition.
As somebody with a business sense, Aleesha did not consider making bodybuilding her career, not thinking there was a living in it, until she began getting requests for paid photo shoots. “I would not have set becoming a pro as a goal if I hadn’t seen it was possible to make money being a bodybuilder. That’s when I gradually overcame my reservations and set my sights on being the very best bodybuilder I could be.”
One thing that motivates Aleesha is, goven her background in gymnastics and dance, she loves performing and is very comfortable on stage. “Having a performance background,” she says, “gives me a lot of confidence when I’m posing.”
Aleesha was eventually able to turn pro by winning the 2014 NPC USA Championship, heavyweight and overall. “It was not a slam dunk” she says. “There were some very good women in that show and I considered winning this title to be quite an achievement.”
Aleesha then won the 2019 Wings of Strength Chicago Pro, and set her sights on the Rising Phoenix later that year. But fate intervened. She was in two car accidents in the space of 10 days and ended up with serious injuries, including herniated discs in her neck. “My doctor told me it was only the amount of bodybuilding muscle I had that prevented me from suffering much worse injuries, including a broken neck.”
Aleesha fulfilled her commitment to compete at the Rising Phoenix, but she was not able to train hard enough to be at her best. But standing on stage with such full muscle development, symmetry and proportion she acquired a lot of fans among the audience.
“I look forward to 2020, entering the Rising Phoenix in my best shape and qualifying for the Ms. Olympia.”
2019 Rising Phoenix 10th
2019 Chicago Pro 1st
2017 Rising Phoenix 6th
2017 Omaha Pro 7th
2015 Rising Phoenix 6th
2015 Tampa Pro
2014 Tampa Pro 9th
2014 USA Championship Overall *Earned IFBB Pro Card*
2014 Utah State Championship Overall
2011 USA Championship HW 8th
2009 USA Championship HW 7th
2008 Nationals Hw 8th
2008 Utah State Championship Overall
As a girl, Andrea Shaw was seriously into gymnastics and competitive cheer. She says that being athletic benefitted her both physically and mentally. She loved it! Her mother is a nurse and formerly a personal trainer, and she encouraged Andrea’s athletic ambitions. In fact, it was her mother who first got her to start working out at Powerhouse Gym. Her mom’s training partner was a female bodybuilder and she began giving Andrea guidance on muscle building exercises when she was 17 years old.
“I had no desire to be a bodybuilder back then,” recalls Andrea, “I wanted to be a fashion model, but at 5’5” I wasn’t tall enough. As Andrea continued her training in the gym she recalled coming across a fitness magazine and stated, “I came across Oxygen Magazine and saw it was full of athletic fitness and sports models. So then that became my ambition.”
But Andrea is one of those women whose body started to respond quickly to resistance training and once she started intense weight training, soon people were asking her if she competed in muscle contests and if not, why not. She didn’t see herself as having enough size and development to compete with the female bodybuilders she saw in the magazines but she liked the look of the figure competitors. So in 2008 she entered her first figure contest and placed third. “My problems was,” she recalled, “I had more muscle mass than the division called for.” She entered another and higher level figure event and placed 4th. But she still didn’t feel she was on the right path.
Andrea took a pause of about 8 years from competing, during which time she attended college, earning a BA in exercise and sports science and she continued to refine her resistance training. Then she decided to resume competing, and Andrea decided to switch to physique, entering a show in May of 2016, placing 4th. “I felt much more comfortable in physique,” she says, “and in 2018 I entered five shows, earning my pro card at the NPC Nationals.”
But Andrea soon found she was not only too developed for figure, but for physique as well. She competed in pro physique at the Toronto Pro in 2019. At that contest she had an awakening. She spoke to one of the judges, to Lenda Murray and Alina Popa and they all told her she looked more like a bodybuilder than a physique competitor and she ought to consider changing divisions.
So she entered the 2019 Chicago Pro as a bodybuilder, placing second by 1 point to the incredible Aleesha Young. She knew she had obviously made the right decision.
Andrea says being a bodybuilder has been a tremendous relief. She no longer had to hold back and restrain her muscular development. She could diet for maximum hardness and definition without fear of going “too far” for the judges. Finally, she felt she was where she belonged. “My legs, in particular, were just too big,” she says, “I tried over time to make them smaller, but nothing worked. Getting into bodybuilding allowed me to create a better balance by further developing my upper body rather than reducing my legs.”
“I was particularly happy to be in bodybuilding because of Jake Wood and Wings of Strength. Until the involvement of WOS bodybuilding there seemed to be no future in pro female bodybuilding. No place to compete and nowhere to go, but thankfully Jake has changed all of that.”
March 2008 – Karen Zaremba Classic – placed 3rd in Open Figure
July 2008 – Michigan Natural Championships – placed 4th in Open Figure
May 2016 – John Simmons Championships – placed 4th in Open Women’s Physique
March 2018 – Ohio Natural Championship – placed 2nd in Open Women’s Physique
May 2018 – John Simmons Championship – placed 1st & Overall in Open Women’s Physique
August 2018 – Lenda Murray Detroit Classic – placed 1st & Overall in Open Women’s Physique
August 2018 – North Americans – placed 3rd in Open Women’s Physique
November 2018 – Nationals- placed 2nd in Women’s Physique
June 2019 – Toronto Pro – placed 11th in Women’s Physique
July 2019 – Chicago Pro- placed 2nd in Women’s Bodybuilding
September 2019 – Rising Phoenix World Championship – placed 7th in Women’s Bodybuilding
There seems to be two extremes of how the body processes food. At one extreme, there are bodies that primary turn food into energy. At the other, physiques that primarily use food to create mass. People with the first type of metabolism have a great deal of trouble gaining weight. Those with the other gain weight very easily.
Weight in the form of fat or by building muscle.
Christina Bryant has one of those “mass creating” types of metabolism.
“I was very heavy as a young girl,” she explains. “At 5’ 2” I got up to 270 pounds. Much of the reason for this is I’m a country girl from Alabama and I grew up eating a lot of very fattening food. That’s just part of the culture. It wasn’t until I discovered training and dieting like a bodybuilder that I developed the knowledge and discipline to get my eating under control and to lose body fat and gain aesthetic muscle.”
“Chrissy” Bryant admits she was never an athlete as a youngster. In her late 20s, divorced and overweight, she met a bodybuilding couple who agreed to help her learn her way around a gym. Under their guidance regarding training an diet, she was surprised when her weight dropped unexpectedly from 270 to 180 in a relatively short time.
She was also pleased at how quickly her gym training started to pay off and she started to develop a remarkable amount of muscle. As her body developed, so did her focus and motivation and Chrissy found her life beginning to revolve around the gym and her muscle -building efforts. She hooked up with a coach or two, but mostly she says she paid attention to her body and began to learn what approach to training produced the best results for her.
“I’ve read that Ronnie Coleman was known for lifting very heavy weight for fairly high reps,” she explains, “I try to do the same thing. I like a weight that will challenge me for each rep and I also try to keep my reps fairly high in a set. That’s what makes me feel best, and it seems to be what my body needs in order to achieve maximum results.”
As has happened to many a promising young muscle competitor, Chrissy’s physical development caused those round her to ask if she were planning to compete. And this helped motivate her to decide to do just that.
In 2017, she entered the Lee Haney games in physique and placed 3rd. This level of success, right off the bat, for a former fat girl, was highly motivating. Freshly energized, Chrissy signed up for physique in the 2017 Border Klash, finishing a respectable 4th.
“I felt great on stage in competition,” she says “and I became more and more determined to improve my physique and diet and win a title.”
Chrissy made good on her determination the very next year going back to the Lee Haney games in 2018 and winning the overall title in physique. She capped that off by entering the NPC Jr. Nationals, a contest very high on the food chain, winning first place in physique and earning her IFBB pro card.
“I don’t want to set any limits on how much I can develop my physique,” so I have decided to switch to competing in pro bodybuilding. But I also want to be a role model for girls and young women with weight problems like I had. I want them to know there is a method and a system that gives you far more control of your weight and your body composition than you might realize exists. That method is bodybuilding, not necessarily as a sport, but as the most effective approach to exercise and diet ever developed.”
2017 Lee Haney Games 3rd place WPD
2017 Border Klash 4th place WPD
2018 Lee Haney Games OVERALL WINNER WPD
2019 Jr Nationals 1st place and IFBB PRO Card
Donna Williams Salib Aka “sis”
I am a happily married Coptic Orthodox Christian!
IFBB pro women’s bodybuilder
Live in USA
I began my journey in the fitness in 2006. As a single mother I knew it would take time, patience and Gods grace. I fought eating disorders as a teen and young adolescent. I wanted to be someone the youth could look up to and be inspired by. I wanted to influence the world and show it, despite the obstacles put in our way, that faith and hard work will result in achieving goals. I remember lifting concrete filled coffee cans with rebar that my dad had made and thinking one day I would be in the magazines like Lenda Murray and Rachel McLish. I started In figure in 2007 , to advanced to women’s bodybuilding in 2008. i won Kentucky muscle overall champ to go on to 2009 northern natural to win overall taking me to team universe and the national Stage experience with a less than favorable placing. I came home regrouped, changed coaches, and went back to work. 2012 I went to win overall in Indiana but knew I wasn’t ready for the national stage, and in 2015 my dream had been extinguished as the Ms Olympia no longer existed. I focused on strength training and competitive powerlifting to earn my Pro/elite status In the sport in 2013. I loved being able to compete with strong amazing women and challenge myself daily. I continued training diligently and was happy to hear that WOS was supporting women’s bodybuilding and bringing our division from the ashes . I was thrilled to know we had a platform to show case our artwork and share our love of the sport ! In 2017 I entered Kentucky state open, the only show in Kentucky to support women’s bodybuilding thanks to Gene Goode. This time I was using my husband as my coach and we won the overall title, that landed me at the North Americans three weeks later to earn my pro card with Ifbb.
I had the opportunity to meet the amazing team at WINGS OF STRENGTH at my pro debut at the 2018 Chicago Pro and I am so grateful for all they do for the athletes.
I served as a firefighter and paramedic up until 2010 and I have enjoyed being a personal trainer and strength coach since 2008. I currently serve as the event coordinator of Active Heroes Inc community center for our veterans. As a marines daughter, Air Force sister, and army mom, I am proud to work close with our veterans and military preventing suicides. ! I also stand at my husbands side as his valet in professional wrestling at OVW and enjoy the balance we have supporting one another’s dreams and ambitions. We make an awesome tag team there, and in anything we set out to do.
I love my huge family and my amazing husband , who have been so supportive on my journey. Gods blessings in my life are unmeasurable! The sky is the limit and love knows no boundaries!! Here is to an amazing future and making extraordinary memories!!
2007 northern Ky figure – 5th place
2007 Tricky Jackson Classic figure – 3rd place
2008 Kentucky muscle overall
2009 northern natural overall winner
2009 Team universe – 8th place
2012 Midwest States overall winner
2017 Kentucky state/open overall winner
2017 North Americans overall winner – earned Pro Card
2018 Chicago Pro – 11th place
2018 Norfolk Pro 4th place
2019 Chicago Pro -9th place
2019 Norfolk Pro- 9th place
Facebook fan page :IfbbPro Donna Williams Salib Instagram :@lilbearlifts Twitter: @SalibDonna