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Amanda Latona may be a household name now, but this stunning IFBB Pro was still a rising star when she won our Flex Bikini Model Search in 2009. And with Flex and Muscle & Fitness Hers magazine covers now under her belt, this bikini bombshell is still making quite the impression on the bodybuilding and fitness world. We caught up with her recently to discuss how winning our Bikini Model Search transformed her career, and what other women can expect from our competition.
FLEX MAGAZINE: How did you prepare for our Flex Bikini Model Search and what made you want to enter our competition?
AMANDA LATONA: I remember it like it was yesterday. I entered Flex’s first Bikini Model Search in 2007 and got 8th place. I entered in 2008 and got 4th place. So, by the time 2009 came around, you can imagine my excitement. The NPC started the bikini division in 2009, and before winning the Flex Bikini Model Search that year, I won every NPC show I entered, and then turned pro. So I was feeling very confident, and I was hopeful that this could be my year to win. I always entered the online portion of the contest every month, so when I finally won that I was so excited. I even still have the message saved from when they called me to tell me I was an online winner. Call me a dork, but it’s memories, so I don’t care.
FLEX: What was the most memorable part of the competition weekend?
AL: There were so many awesome parts about that weekend. Like the photo shoot with Terry Goodlad at the Flamingo Hotel–every time I go there I still think of that day. Also, getting a chance to do video interviews and my family cheering for me. And then, of course, finally winning! And then presenting the awards at the night show and walking on the Olympia stage–I will never forget that feeling. I mean, you’re in Las Vegas for the Olympia weekend and you get to be on stage. It doesn’t get much better than that–at least to me. I will always be grateful to Robin Chang of AMI, everyone at Weider, and everyone who has supported me and helped me throughout these years.
FLEX: What would you tell women who are considering entering the Search?
AL: For me, the Flex Bikini Model Search wasn’t a Pro Figure or even Pro Bikini competition. It was more of a mainstream bikini look—a girl with sex appeal , class, confidence, and great overall package–with an athletic curvy look who could also represent the prestigious Weider brand. I thought of it more as a spokesmodel package.
A lot of girls think they have to come to the competition super-ripped, but I was definitely not ripped for that win, and I did that on purpose. I try to encourage all women to enter.
FLEX: How did your life change after you won our competition? How many competitions have you won or placed in since?
AL: I always say my life changed at FLEX that year. I had just started working with BSN, and that day after the win I not only won my Weider contract (a dream come true in itself), but I was also offered a BSN athlete contract.
The Weider brand was–and still is–amazing to me . I landed my first cover of Muscle & Fitness Hers–another dream come true–and then started competing as a Pro Bikini competitor. I was then featured in the Flex Swimsuit issue and landed my own Flex cover, which is still one of my absolute favorite moments. Since then, I have achieved seven Pro Bikini wins, have placed in the top three in two other Pro shows, top five at the Bikini Olympia in 2010, and in the top six at Bikini International in 2011.
FLEX: What's your weekly training schedule like?
AL: If I’m not prepping for a show, I go between lifting heavier with less cardio, and I can maintain with three to four days a week. If I have a shoot, I will add in cardio or will lift with supersets and circuits.
If I’m training for a show, then that’s a whole new level. I’ll train up to seven days a week, doing cardio for five days, and I’ll sometimes train twice a day. I really just love training, and always have. I love the feeling of lifting weights. Also, a clean diet does wonders, so I try to keep that year ‘round with enough time off from competitions to enjoy life and have balance.
FLEX: Do you have any body parts you like to train more than others?
AL: I love training glutes the most. I would do it every day even though it’s super hard. I think the body part I dislike training the most is abs. At least it’s what I skip most, but I’m trying to work on that.
FLEX: Speaking of glutes, your rockstar backside is pretty well documented. What’s your secret?
AL: Diet, HIIT cardio, consistency, and heavy weights twice a week with a glute focus. I work hard and train my a** until I feel like puking, basically. That’s worked for me for all these years.
FLEX: Besides heavy lifting, what other fitness styles do you try to incorporate?
AL: I'm currently in love with Bikram yoga. I've been training for so many years, and haven’t stretched as much as I should, so doing yoga has been much needed and long overdue. It’s totally different from lifting but still challenging, which I think is why I love it. I love to be challenged.
FLEX: How do you choose a bikini to compete in?
AL: My family laughs at me about this. I actually look online for weeks at styles and colors. Then I go to a swimsuit store and try on as many colors as I can, even some I would never normally try. I try to see what looks good with my skin tone and hair, and after asking my coach, I usually go with the suit that I feel the most confident in. That’s my number one piece of advice. You can put on a suit and feel pretty, and then put on a suit and feel like you’re on fire. Go with that one. Now you see why I always end up in red. (But black is just plain sexy, too.)
Want more Amanda? Follow @AmandaLatona on Twitter.
Enter our 2013 Bikini Model Search for your chance to be a star!