Parents of young children who are particularly physically energetic often get them involved in some sort of exercise activity very early on. Kristina Nicole Mendoza was just such a young girl – a dynamo of youthful energy – and she began gymnastics training at age five. “I was in constant action as a young girl,” Kristina says. “Fortunately, gymnastics gave me an outlet for all my excess energy.”
Growing up in Florida, Kristina later got into competitive dance and cheerleading. Both very athletically demanding, she emphasizes. The only problem, she reveals, was the size of her legs. “My legs have always been very muscular and developed,” says Kristina. “Too much so for a dancer or cheerleader.” Ms. Olympia Lenda Murray also had the same “problem” – although with both women what was a problem in one context became decided genetic advantage later on.
After getting out of high school, no longer involved in athletic competition, Kristina found herself starting to gain weight and joined a gym to help her stay in shape. “Working out in the gym, including muscle training, I started to get comments on my physique,” Kristina recalls, “from people who kept asking if I planned to enter some kind of muscle competition. So back in 2012, after seeing my first bodybuilding competition, I decided that is exactly what I would like to do.” Kristina’s first contest was the physique class at the 2016 Dayana Cadeau Classic – where she placed second
“I was thrilled to do so well right at the beginning,” Kristina says. “But the criticism I got was generally that my legs were too big. About that point I started working with a new coach who told me I was in the wrong category, that I looked more like a bodybuilder than a physique competitor. So I decided to change categories.”
Kristina had been somewhat frustrated to this point because, instead of going all out in her workouts, she had been having to hold back. She has been concentrating on making her legs smaller, not maximizing their development. As a bodybuilder, she found this was no longer necessary. She placed third at the 2017 NPC in bodybuilding, but points out she only decided to compete in bodybuilding two weeks before the event, hardly time to make major changes in her physique. A few months later she went to the NPC Nationals, finishing fourth.
“It was at the Nationals that I met Jake Wood and Alina Popa, who asked me to join Wings of Strength as an Ambassador. The interest they showed in me was a great motivator and make me even more determined so succeed as a bodybuilder.”
In 2018 I placed second in the Ms. International Classic (hosted with the Chicago Pro event) “I was making progress, but I spent the next year working on what I felt were my weak points and concentrating on aesthetic qualities like symmetry and proportion. When I came back to the Arnold in 2019 I placed first / Overall in Ms. International Classic earning my Pro card
Kristina is 5’ 5” and her contest weight is about 160 pounds. She is determined to eventually be a world champion but she knows “muscle maturity” is a factor. “Champion bodybuilders, both male and female, can keep getting better as they mature, right up through their 40s. I’m only 28, so I have plenty of time ahead of me to develop and improve. It is just a matter of being patient and maintaining discipline. And those are things I’m determined to focus on.”
KRISTINA NICOLE MENDOZA
2017 – Dayana Cadeau Classic
2017 : Pro Qualifier
USA’s Physique – Third
National’s Bodybuilding – Fourth
2018 : Pro Qualifier
Miss International Classic Bodybuilding- Second place
2019 : Pro Qualifier
Miss International Classic Bodybuilding – Overall Winner
Earned Pro Card
Rising Phoenix Bodybuilding : Pro Debut
Instagram : @krristinanicole
Growing up in Detroit, LaDawn McDay had naturally broad shoulders and was often teased about them. “I didn’t quite have the body that most of the young girls had,” she says. She became fascinated with female bodybuilders like Lenda Murray and Iris Kyle, who became role models for her. “They were strong, feminine and confident,” she says. “I wanted to embrace all of those qualities but didn’t know how to achieve it.”
In her early thirties, LaDawn started training at Powerhouse Gym in Highland Park, Michigan – the hardcore gym where Lenda had also trained (and where current Ms. Olympia Andrea Shaw also trains). Once LaDawn started attending local shows, she began to imagine competing herself one day too. In 2004 she did her first show as a lightweight bodybuilder and soon realized she wanted to take it to the next level and began training heavier to add more muscle and improve her conditioning.
After five years of competing, LaDawn switched to women’s physique and turned pro by placing second at the USA in 2013. Within a couple of years she felt like she was getting too big for women’s physique, but didn’t yet have the size she would need to compete as a pro in women’s bodybuilding, so she took a year off in order to add more size. In 2016, she made her debut as a female bodybuilder at the Norfolk Pro – Lenda’s show – and placed sixth. Since then, LaDawn has competed in 10 pro shows and, at 5-foot-4 and around 158 pounds onstage, won the Tampa Pro in 2020.
Still living in Detroit, where she works as a special education resource teacher in an all-girls school, LaDawn says that the biggest challenge for her as a competitor is balancing her career and obligations and prepping for shows during the school year. “I try to find a happy medium giving equal time to both, but there are times where prepping is put on hold as my duties as a teacher must take priority,” she says.
2021 New York Pro, 2nd
2020 Ms. Olympia, 12th
2020 Rising Phoenix, 8th
2020 Tampa Pro, 1st
2020 Omaha Pro, 3rd
2019 Lenda Murray Pro, Norfolk, 5th
2019 Chicago Pro, 5th
2018 Rising Phoenix, 9th
2018 Tampa Pro, 3rd
2018 Omaha Pro, 3rd
2016 Lenda Murray Pro, Norfolk, 6th
2014 Tampa Pro, 16th
2013 USA Championship, 2nd
MayLa Ash was a hyperactive child who did all kinds of sports from gymnastics to volleyball. Her greatest love was track and field, in which she started competing in the fourth grade. MayLa became an elite competitive power sprinter winning local and regional competitions. In 1984 she won the bronze medal in the 400 meters at the Junior Olympics. She continued her successful track career through high school and into college. Ultimately her performance against the best runners in the nation, along with her longstanding collegiate track records, resulted in MayLa getting inducted into the Western Illinois University Athletic Hall of Fame.
A torn ACL and a damaged meniscus forced MayLa to retire from competitive running, she but soon discovered a new passion. After attending the 2012 Dallas Europa, she became fascinated with the world of bodybuilding. She entered her first figure competition in November 2012, turned pro in Figure in July 2013 and moved up to Women’s Physique in June 2017. As a women’s physique competitor, she won three pro shows and placed 11th at the Olympia in 2019.
2020 was a turning point for MayLa. At the beginning of the year she was still planning to compete in women’s physique and hoping to qualify for the Olympia again. But she gradually realized she was outgrowing the division. “I had to hold back in my training so I didn’t add any more mass – but that made getting conditioned difficult”, she says. After the Olympia, she had decided to train a little heavier during the development season and then attempt to burn off some muscle going into competition season. “I didn’t realize how much mass I had put on,” she says. “I still saw myself as a physique competitor and didn’t think I was that big.” After placing tenth at the Optimum Classic, she realized it was time to move up to women’s bodybuilding.
MayLa made her debut as a female bodybuilder at the New York Pro – and won the show. That experience made her realize she belonged in women’s bodybuilding. She added some more size in the next 10 weeks and placed fourth at the Ms. Olympia – an incredible achievement for a competitor who had only decided to compete in women’s bodybuilding a few months earlier. She is now “beyond excited” to realize her potential as a female bodybuilder. At 5-foot-6, she weighed around 150 pounds at the Olympia. She is now adding more size, especially in her legs and back, while making sure she maintains her 24-inch waist.
· 2020 Olympia Women’s Bodybuilding – 4th Place
· 2020 New York Pro Women’s Bodybuilding – 1st Place
· 2020 Optimum Classic Women’s Physique – 10th Place
· 2019 Olympia Women’s Physique – 11th Place
· 2019 Chicago Women’s Physique – 3rd Place
· 2019 San Jose Pro Women’s Physique – 1st Place
· 2019 Arnold Classic Women’s Physique – 12th Place
· 2018 Olympia Women’s Physique – 14th Place
· 2018 Omaha Pro Women’s Physique – 1st Place
· 2018 Optimum Classic Women’s Physique – 10th Place
· 2017 Olympia Women’s Physique – 16th Place
· 2017 Mile High Pro Women’s Physique – 1st Place
· 2017 Toronto Pro Women’s Physique – 5th Place
· 2016 Toronto Pro Figure – 7th Place
· 2016 Optimum Classic Figure – 5th Place
· 2016 Phil Heath Classic Figure – 10th Place
· 2014 Dallas Europa Figure – 4th Place
· 2014 Pittsburgh Pro Figure – 11th Place
· 2014 Emerald Cup Figure – 12th Place
· 2013 Houston Pro Figure – 13th Place
· 2013 Dallas Europa Figure – 16th Place
I live in Toronto Canada; I have moved to Canada from Iran in 2003. Currently I am the only Iranian female bodybuilder who has turned pro. I started training when I was 12 back in Iran. Ever since I remember I was always fascinated by muscle and how beautiful they look. Before I started training, I used to swim and do martial art and that’s why I’m very flexible. My first job ever when I was in Iran was a lifeguard. After I moved to Canada, I shortly became an aerobic instructor then became a personal trainer. My boss at the time was prepping for a competition and I watched her transformation and I loved what I witnessed. I started training with her coach, but I wasn’t very successful at prepping, it took me 4 years to learn to trust the process and stay consistent. After 4 years of constant prep I did my first show in 2010 and I won overall in Bodybuilding division. A year after I competed at Toronto super show and I got 2nd. A year later I did physique competition and I got 3rd but my heart was in bodybuilding. I competed same year at national level in bodybuilding and I got 3rd. I took a break from body building competition and traveled. During that time, I didn’t stop training, and because my strength got very high, I decided to compete in power-lifting. I won my class and broke record in my weight category. During that time after I was done with travelling, I decided to go back to school. Until now I have done and completed few programs. Currently, I am studying full time at York university in Toronto, and I am studying health Study. My academic goal is to get into Physiotherapy or Osteopathy. During one of my internships from school I traveled to Thailand as I got accepted to work at a physio clinic in Bangkok for my internship program. I got very motivated in Thailand to compete again as I met many athletes in Bangkok. I started my prep in Thailand then came back to Toronto, then competed at Toronto super show pro qualifier and I got my IFBB pro card. A year later I did my pro debut at the Toronto pro show and I placed 3rd. I was then qualified to compete at Rising phoenix in September 2019. At Rising phoenix, I got 9th place and I won best poser title. Right now, I am getting ready for Norfolk pro, July 11th and would love to also compete at Rising phoenix. My competition goal is to be able to compete at Olympia and continue to improve myself.