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Photos by Per Bernal
A FORMER HOOTERS WAITRESS AND CURRENT REGISTERED NURSE, JANET LAYUG OPENS UP ABOUT OVERCOMING HER SHY TENDENCIES TO MAKE IT ALL THE WAY TO THE BIKINI OLYMPIA.
Janet Layug's résumé in NPC and IFBB Pro League bikini competition reads as follows: nine wins, two runner-ups, one third, one fourth, and one eighth (that last anomaly being her pro debut). Impressive for someone who took it up in 2013. But long before she was turning heads on bikini stages around the world, the stunner from Lakeland, FL, was doing it at Hooters, where she worked for seven years as a waitress. In between bringing happy patrons their drinks and appetizers, she also graced the Hooters calendar, won its International Swimsuit Pageant, became a registered nurse, and won the 2013 FLEX Bikini Model Search Championships. Oh, and she’s a mom. Whew! Here’s how the self-professed shy kid burst out of her bubble to become one of the sport’s hottest rising stars.
FLEX: How did you come to work at Hooters?
JANET LAYUG: I was working in retail at the time, and I’d never been to Hooters, but my friends suggested we go to watch the college championship game. I was approached by the manager, who handed me an application right there. The hours were flexible, which was great because I was starting college, and also, I was kind of shy growing up, so I knew that meeting new people all day would help me develop better social skills. And of course I loved the fast money!
How did you end up being in the calendar?
They had tryouts every year. My first year I didn’t make it! I wasn’t devastated. I just knew I would try again. I did and made it every year I worked there, including the cover in 2015! I also won the 2014 Miss Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant.
What motivated you to enter the FLEX Bikini Model Search?
I love modeling! I had recently graduated from nursing school and was working at the hospital. I really wanted a break from my big-girl job and to go back to my first passion. I had done many swimsuit/beauty pageants, but this was geared toward a different audience, fitness. I always had more of an athletic look, but I knew I needed to step it up, so I got a trainer.
And then the next logical step was the NPC?
I had heard about the NPC for years, but I was scared that I would fail. But after winning the FLEX contest, I wanted to see if I could transform my body to the next level. I entered my first show and became addicted! I did four shows that year, won each one, and earned my IFBB Pro League card.
What were the major differences between being a Hooters model and an NPC/IFBB competitor?
Training and dieting! It requires a lot of preparation weeks before the show. You have to be very dedicated. Oh, let’s not forget the super-dark tans and posing. As far as other elements, like stepping onstage in front of a big audience, glamming up with big hair, makeup, and the bikinis, it’s similar to Hooters and other pageants I’ve done.
Has training always been a part of your life, or was it something you discovered when you started competing?
When I was younger I did tumbling, soccer, and competitive cheerleading. I would condition on my own with lots of running and cardio. But I never picked up weights before this!
What is your favorite body part to train?
Glutes all day. I love the burn!
Calves. Who likes training calves?
How do you juggle being a competitor and a mom?
It’s not always easy. You have to know your priorities and plan your day around them. Luckily, my daughter Briley is very athletic. She will join in on my workouts I do at home. And sticking to the diet is crucial in prep, so I take my meals with me for any function. My daughter actually likes eating the same healthy foods. She doesn’t have to do it, but she certainly has learned a lot about healthy choices and being active. At such a young age their minds are sponges, so it’s important to be a good influence and teach what you can. But I still enjoy cooking her typical kid meals like mac and cheese.
Do you still work as a nurse?
I’m going back to school because eventually I want to become an advanced registered nurse practitioner. I still work occasional jobs and do volunteer work.
I’m sure you’ve heard the old “you’re making my pulse race” joke, but what was the most ridiculous line a patient tried on you?
When I worked in the surgical intensive-care unit, we would get a lot of patients going through open-heart surgery. One patient woke up and said, “Wow, you’re my nurse? I think I’m going to have another heart attack.”
What was it like being in your first Bikini Olympia?
Crazy! Being on the same stage with idols before my time was an honor. And to just be a part of it, hanging backstage with inspirational athletes, the packed expo, and having tons of fun meeting fans from all over the world was an experience I won’t forget.
What are you working to improve to go from runner-up to Bikini Olympia champion?
I’m really looking forward to bringing my best physique. My biggest downfall is glutes. I’ll be focusing on tightening and lifting them with a variety of training techniques. And of course, I will come in conditioned. I’ll be ready!
LAYUG’S LEG & GLUTES WORKOUT
Squat* | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10–25
Leg Press** | SETS: 4 | REPS: 25
Bosu Ball Hip Thrust | SETS: 3 | REPS: 25
Walking Lunge | SETS: 6 | REPS: 20 yards
Vertical Jump | SETS: 6 | REPS: 10
Stiff-leg Deadlift | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10–25
*Use a wide stance and go down low. Push through your heels to fully engage your glutes.
**Place your feet high on the platform. This position puts more emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings.