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Vanessa Santana


Posted: 9/14/15 

Watching her son excel in his endeavors with school, chores, sports.. there is no excuse for Vanessa to get to the gym. At least that is what she says to herself. This young lady just earned her very own IFBB Bikini Pro card at the 2015 NPC North American Championships in Pittsburgh with just a few short years of training and competing. Do not be fooled, even though the time is short, doesn't mean she didn't put in the amount of work it took to get there! We are proud to introduce you to the new IFBB Bikini Pro Vanessa Santana!

1. When and why did you decide to start competing?

I had been approached by a handful of trainers over the past few years at my home gym, asking if I had ever thought of competing. I had been lifting weights for about two years on my own & was pleased with how my body had evolved. But I knew nothing about the sport & repeatedly declined trainer's offers to prep me. Having always shied away from the limelight, I couldn’t imagine being on a stage in a bikini with every part of my body being scrutinized by strangers.

However, I’m not one to let ignorance of something dictate my path so with a bit of research on the sport- I made it a New Years Resolution of mine for 2015 to see if I could do it- get through prep, follow through & have the confidence to step on stage. Vancouver Natural was my first show. I loved the entire experience & opted to keep going.

2. What makes you want to go farther in the sport?

The tenacity involved. About midway through prepping for my first competition, I began to note changes not just in my physical appearance but in my overall confidence and approach to life and it's many challenges. Training doesn’t lend itself to wasting one’s time on frivolous pursuits or toxic relationships- it really is an overhaul. I loved the inner & outter transformation- but what really keeps me going is the amazing people & positive relationships cultivated in the last nine months! Plus- it is such a rush & fun experience on stage. I absolutely love, love, love the presentation aspect.


3. What type of training do you implement during contest prep and the in the off-season?

During prep I am doing cardio every day & light weights/high repetition. My first off season is technically just beginning but it will be comparable to the first few weeks of my prep- heavy lifting focusing on building & sculpting certain muscle groups and small amounts of cardio 5x a week.

4. What is your favorite type of dieting meals and what is your favorite type of cheat meal?

I am fortunate to have a coach that let’s me play with a combo of IIFYM dieting & clean eating. During contest prep I love a clean “taco salad” made with ground turkey breast, fat free cheese & lots of veggies or even a modified shrimp ceviche! And cheats are hard- I just love cheese! So anything with cheese & I’m a happy camper!


5. Who are some of the people that have helped you along the way to get where you are now in life or in the sport?

I love this question because I can speak on my coach, Daniel Beck and the type of person he is. What I quickly realized by watching other trainer/client relationships and working with mine is that it really requires compatible personalities and deep mutual respect for one another! It’s a recipe for success! Team DreamQuest was also instrumental in helping me take the first steps as new competitor. They are a great resource for inexperienced competitors.


6. Who or what inspires you to strive for more in the sport?

My son, first & foremost. At ten-yrs-old he is already a stellar tri-athlete and I am constantly motivated by his energy, positive outlook and competitive nature. He goes from school, to homework, to chores, to football practice and doesn’t miss a beat. Of course I can make it to the gym everyday if my son can find all that energy! He is always encouraging me & I quickly realized my follow-through was setting a great example.

And of course, Daniel Beck, my coach, is also the only reason I had the gull to take the National stage within five months of my first show. He genuinely believes in my ability and has taken the time to learn how to bring my best look to the stage. And perhaps, the overarching most motivating factor is the fact that I have overcome many hardships in life and it feels amazing to be able to share my story & inspire others through this sport.


7. What is next for you as a competitor?

I am currently at the drawing board making some improvements and will be making my Pro Debut in early 2016. I have every desire to go all the way to that big stage. Since I am still fairly new I am looking to grow my fitness portfolio & hopefully begin working with sponsors. I also want to become involved in the sport in other ways, I'd love to be on the judging panel someday!

8. What is your favorite memory good or bad while prepping or competing?

When I came off of stage after finals at my first completion, my mom was crying- she said that seeing me in my tiara with my trophy put a smile on my face that she hadn’t seen since I was little girl. That was a big moment. Perhaps a bittersweet memory is stepping off of stage at North Americans and holding back tears as a new IFBB Pro with no one to immediately share it with. My coach & family could not make it, unfortunately. But I could not believe the outpour of support I had via social media & messaging from all my friends and family back home. Quite an amazing feeling!


9. Any website you would like to plug, Facebook, Twitter, personal site, etc...

You can connect with me at Facebook and Instagram

10. Anything you would like to say to all the visitors to NPC Oregon?

Fear and success are not conducive with one another. There is no reason to ever let past experiences or negative opinions steer you from what you want. The world needs more happy people & you’ll be happy if you are doing what you love, surrounded by people who love you! If you want to compete, compete! If you want to compete at the highest level- work your butt off! And most of all- take your OWN path, you are not required to do things the way everybody else has. It’s grind time!

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