Everyone starts somewhere – and for the winners of the BodyPower Model Search, victory is just the beginning
Since its inaugural event in 2009, BodyPower Expo has enabled more than a quarter of a million people to meet their idols, try the latest innovations in training, and be advised and inspired by the smartest, hardest-working men and women in the fitness industry. And this year, a handful of those people took their first steps on the road to greatness.
The BodyPower Model Search, launched this year, attracted almost 500 hopefuls to 17 regional castings held throughout the UK. Each was put through their paces by top industry professionals, current and former fitness competitors and photographers – and 50 made it to the final on Sunday 14th May. After two tough rounds of competition, Ike Agho and Sonjia Ashby were announced as the male and female winners.
Success didn’t come easy. “I was training twice a day, six days a week,” says Agho. “Once at 6am, and then again for two hours at night. I’d hit two muscle groups a time – splitting it between two gyms just so I wouldn’t get bored.”
Dieting is the toughest part for any physique competitor, and Agho was no exception. “I eat clean anyway, and I’ve studied nutrition, but there are always days when your friends are going ‘Come on, have a beer’,” he says. “There are times when you think ‘I can’t do this’ but you remember what you’re doing it for and push through.”
And even tiny details made the difference on the day. “It’s about understanding your body, learning poses that suit your physique,” Agho says. “People copy each other, but you have to learn and understand what works for you.”
For the winners, this is just the beginning. Agho is aiming to turn pro as a physique model and make it to the Mr Olympia stage by 2021, while Ashby’s goal is to inspire and motivate others through personal training and competition. Anyone looking to emulate them will have the opportunity: applications will be open for 2018 soon… and it’s never too late. “Age is just a number,” says Ashby. “I’m 40 in November, with two young children, and there were testing times when I was tired and just wanted sugar – but it’s never too late to try something new and challenging. Never give up.”