Beating the Odds

In 2004, I had just gotten my pro card and had competed in my first Olympia, when I herniated multiple disks in my back. Back then, athletes weren’t as focused on the importance of body work and recovery. It was just balls to the wall, lift heavy shit! My doctor said I was done—I’d never compete again. I had to retire when I was just getting started, but I never gave up hope that I’d come back. I worked with a number of doctors and specialists and used the next eight years to rehabilitate my back. In 2011, I made a comeback at the FIBO Pro in Germany, and I won. Then, in 2017, 13 years after I was forced into early retirement, I won the Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix World Championships.

Getting Her Wings

Female bodybuilders were fighting to have a stage, and not only did Wings of Strength give us that, they gave us the highest prize money in history. There has never been an organization that has done more to promote women in bodybuilding. If there’s something you love, you want to yell it to everyone, and no one was yelling with us until Wings of Strength. In the past, female bodybuilders were treated like a sideshow or were just tolerated at events—it’s not a fun feeling—but with Wings of Strength, you feel like you’re part of a family, while still being a competitor. This year is my year of redemption. Last year I lost the title, but this year I’m going to be on point and I’m taking that title back!

Evolving Beauty

When I started training in the ’90s, women were scared of muscles; they just wanted to be skinny. Today, I see that changing. More women want to be fit and strong. But we still have a way to go, and I hope what I’m doing is paving the way for women’s empowerment. Anyone should have the right to do whatever and look however they want without worrying about what’s socially accepted. When anyone tells me women shouldn’t be so muscular, I just say, “Why not?” They never have a response for that.

Redemption Song
Watch Trevino’s journey to reclaim the Rising Phoenix World Championships in her daily Instagram stories @helletrevino.