Athletes & Celebrities

Female Arab Bodybuilder Strives for Pro-Card

Haifa Almusawi trains six days a week and her favorite cheat meal is a mega beef burger.

Female Arab Bodybuilder Continues To Go Forward For A Pro-Card

Back in July M&F Hers covered a story on Haifa Almusawi, a female Arab bodybuilder from Bahrain who started searching for recognition elsewhere due to the Gulf's conservative cultural stereotypes. Growing up, Almusawi battled obesity and had a love for bodybuilding, a sport that is rare for Arab women to participate in due to social restrictions. That's not stopping Almusawi -- driven by her passion and the support system of her family, she already has competed in the physique category of the International Natural Bodybuilding Association in which she placed sixth. And she already has several certifications under her lifting belt from international fitness and bodybuilding competitions.

As of right now her eyes are set on obtaining a pro-card, and she has been pouring her energy, sweat and time into the gym to get there. In the mix of it all, Almusawi trains clients and makes supplement sponsorship rounds. With all that said, our online editor caught up with her to see where her journey has taken her and how she keeps pressing forward. 

Courtney Anaya: What’s your status in regards to obtaining a pro-card?

Haifa Alamusawi: I plan on competing in the first quarter of 2016 in Portugal as my Portuguese manager, Andrea Sousa, is in touch with the Portuguese Bodybuilding & Fitness Federation. And accordingly, my journey will start to obtain my pro-card.

CA: Did you end up traveling to Portugal this past October?

HA: No I haven’t due to a sudden change of plans. I’ve attend a competition there before in 2014 and it was an amazing experience; the level of the athletes who were there were excellent. That gave me a push in so many ways not to only compete but to also work toward taking my physique to a different level.

CA: When is your next bodybuilding competition?

HA: I will be competing in the physique category +165 cm around the end of April 2016.

CA: In regards to your nutrition plan, can you tell me what that’s like? Do you keep close attention to the amount of macros you’re consuming like cutting back on carbs to lean out more?

HA: My nutrition plan includes six meals a day. I eat every three hours and my nutrition always comes first. My meals consist of protein, carbs, and fats. It’s high in protein and high to moderate in carbs and low in fat. I consume higher carbs when I’m in off-season, and stay completely away from refined carbs. And yes, cutting carbs takes place gradually to lean out and mostly it will be at the last weeks before competition.

CA: What’s your cheat meal? And how do you incorporate cheat meals into your training schedule?

HA: I have one cheat meal a week and it's a mega beef burger 90% of the time. I have it on my day off. I try to have it early during the day and most of the time it’s my second meal. The rest of my meal remains the same and sometimes I cut down on carbs for the rest of the day.

CA: What’s your workout program like? Favorite lifts?

HA: My training program consists of strength training and cardio, six times a week. I train one or two muscle groups a day, combining big and small muscle groups usually. I focus on training big muscle groups twice a week and each time the training will vary from high to moderate in terms of intensity. My favorite workout is training my legs and I have a love-hate relationship with them, however love always wins, especially when I see consistent change.

CA: What’s your fitness philosophy and how do you encourage your clients to keep going?

HA: My philosophy is that fitness is a lifestyle, so I try to always remind my clients that getting to their goals and maintaining their gains require living a healthy lifestyle and consistency.

I guide them throughout their program to replace their bad eating habits with healthier ones and to always look at better alternatives. I believe that change only comes out of a better understanding of how our bodies work and react to our lifestyle, so I make sure they understand all aspects of their program carefully.

CA: It seems like you have a pretty busy schedule with training, training clients, and making sponsorship rounds. How do you balance it all?

HA: It is very difficult at times but these three aspects are my priorities so I make sure they’re all achieved. I schedule my training time around my clients. At first I wasn’t very good at time management, but now I am a master at it. The sponsorship rounds can be tiring, especially when we have to drive for hours to get to events or when I have to stay out late. However, once I am at the events everything just changes – the energy and the drive to get the message out there to the public. And I look at it from a different perspective since I am doing something I love, which is educating the public about fitness in general. It really adds a lot to me as a trainer and fitness figure.

CA: What’s on your training playlist?

HA: I listen to different DJ mixes, mostly vocal, deep house, and motivational vocal music.

CA: Where do you hope to be in regards to bodybuilding within the next three months?

HA: I will be preparing for my upcoming competition in the coming three months, starting from January. All what I will be hoping and working on is to get to my best shape and condition.

CA: What tips can you share with those who are trying to make fitness/nutrition New Year’s resolutions?

HA: I’d say, “The best gift you can give yourself is empowering yourself through fitness and well-being. Living a healthy lifestyle adds a lot to us in many ways and at so many levels, starting from strengthening us physically, mentally, and enhancing our health and productivity in our different walks of life. Start your journey and be consistent. It is definitely worth it.”