Feminine muscularity: Beauty meets muscle
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
Society usually set out a standard for what is the acceptable definition of a ‘beautiful woman’ and unfortunately, an athletic physique comes nowhere close to it. However, Raiza Macharia, a body builder, has worked hard to prove this wrong.
Jasmine Atieno @sparkleMine
For a long time, body building was seen as males-only sport. Today, it still hasn’t been wholly accepted, but more women are embracing and joining in the field.
And Raiza Macharia is one woman, who has fully grown into the lifestyle.
Born and raised in Nakuru to a family of four children, Raiza had always had an undeniable love for fitness.
Her journey as a body builder though was initiated when she moved to Australia in 2015.
“I quickly learnt that sports is an integral part of the Australian culture, which is something that resonated with me.
Growing up, although I didn’t play professional sport, I always kept active. We would go for walks with my parents, which turned into 5am morning runs with my brother and sister.
And as I grew older, that active lifestyle became a part of me. After school I started going to a community aerobics class that was hosted by Ceragem, a Korean company based in Kenya that specialises in spine science.
They hosted aerobics sessions in a hall on a first come first serve basis and being that there was a limit to how many people could exercise at each session, we always had to be up early,” she shares.
In November 2016, however, is when the bodybuilding journey professionally began. At this point she had been going to the gym on and off for about 15 months.
“I wanted results, and at the time, that meant I wanted to look like the Instagram fitness models or the ‘swole chics’ I often rubbed shoulders with on my way to the gym bathrooms. This for me was the ‘light bulb moment’- I had found a goal,” she says
She divorced all her excuses and decided to believe in herself. “I put my head down, started taking my gyming more seriously, which meant I was more consistent, and did more research.
In the process, I bumped into so much new information both true and false and a lot of scary lingua such as macros and calories.
However, I did not let that intimidate me, I had a vision. Any exercise that I came across that was alien to me, I would watch how to execute it on YouTube,” shares Raiza, who is also a social worker.
While many people would assume being a bodybuilder means spending half your days in the gym trying to build up, Raiza proves that she has been able to balance well between work and gym time without starving the other or her social life.
“I wake at 4 am in the morning and head to the gym. After which I head to my day job where I work eight hours a day.
I then go for a walk along the beach after my day at work. Relax watch an episode or two on Netflix then go to sleep at about 8pm, I obviously love my sleep.
I don’t get to do much during the week, but I compensate for the lack of social life on the weekends. Balance is key,” she shares about her routine.
Her inspiration in this journey has been the belief that she has always been different, unique.
Her biggest strength is her stubbornness. “Once I set my mind on something and I decide to get it, nothing and no one can convince me otherwise.
Sometimes, this doesn’t work well, but when it comes to fitness, the odds fell in my favour.
I set myself on a journey to achieve an athletic physique, and nothing was going to stop me. And true to the word, I am in the best shape of my life,” she says.
Being a female bodybuilder though, came with some challenges. This include a lot of criticism and rejection, which came with the label ‘a woman with muscles’.
She had overlooked the fact that just because she found it beautiful, not everyone would.
“Being a muscular female was still a strange concept to my friends and family, although they wanted to be supportive.
Society has set out a certain standard for what is the acceptable definition of a ‘beautiful woman’ and unfortunately, an athletic physique comes nowhere close to it.
Although times have changed and with the exponential growth of the fitness industry, many people’s opinions are evolving, I still think that we have a long way to go with this mindset.
Muscle is sexy and I think you can be muscular and still be feminine; I am a living example of that,” says the athlete proudly.
Raiza started competing in professional power lifting mid-2019 and has so far participated in two major competitions.
Both competitions were under the Australian Power Lifters Union where she placed first in the 72 kilogrammes women category, with her personal best deadlift at the time being 157.5 kilogrammes.
And in the second one she placed third female overall hitting another deadlift Personal Best at 167.5 kilogrammes.
She also participated in her first bodybuilding competition early this year.
Her advise to young and upcoming female body builders is to embrace and do what they love with their bodies.
“Your body is yours, to do whatever you want with it. Don’t seek anyone’s approval, if building muscle is what you are into, just go hard at the gym, eat well, rest and be patient because results will take some time,” she says in conclusion.