British Bikini Competitor Finds Love In Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding has change Phoebe Hagan’s life in more ways than one.

Earlier this month BBC Three produced a video piece on British Bikini Bodybuilder Phoebe Hagan. She discussed her love of the sport, her competitive life, and the social stigma against women developing muscular physiques.

At the age of 22, Haga has been bodybuilding for just over a year. She began in January of 2017 and had her first competition in March of the same year. She explains that a desire for higher self-esteem fueled her interest:

“All of my life I was kind of very shy, and very in the background, and I kind of wanted to change that. And bodybuilding has definitely done that and given me the confidence to do a lot more.”

She was also eager to describe how she saw the difference between bodybuilding shows and the beauty pageants more traditional of women:

“A lot of people would look at bodybuilding as like another form of beauty pageant but you’ve kind of got to look past that and see the harder side in it. Like a lot of the people -even bikini athletes- work very hard to look the way they do. I don’t like lifting light, I like lifting heavy cause I find it so empowering.”

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Although Haga is still a relative novice, she takes competition seriously and undergoes extensive preparation for each show.

“In the lead up to an event I usually start cleaning up my diet from about 16 to 14 weeks out, and obviously the closer and closer it gets to show day the lower the calories and harder intensity of training comes in. You’re pretty much getting your body fat to quite a low percentage to show off your muscles. Everything all adds up together like your hair, makeup, your tan, your body, your bikini, everything all comes together to create that overall look that the judges are looking for.”

Haga won second place in the Junior Class of the UKBFF British championship and looks forward to more competition. When asked about how her passion for bodybuilding has been received by others, Haga replied:

“I’ve had a few times on Instagram and social media where a lot of people say, ‘Oh you’re manly, you look really gross,’ and stuff like that. I think it’s a really amazing thing. Girls have muscles just like guys do, so why can’t we show them off?”

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