There are many deserving champions throughout all the divisions in bodybuilding and physique sports. Arguably, the most popular athlete in the Bikini division is the reigning Bikini Olympia champion, Janet Layug. Her physique, confidence, and dedication to improving connected her with fans all over the world. She told Dennis James on this week’s episode of The Menace Podcast that the dedication may come from her working on a farm in Florida during her childhood.
“My dad had a farm. We had a garden where we grew a lot of vegetables, and I actually did a lot of hard labor that you wouldn’t think young girls would do,” she told James. “I think growing up in that manner helps build character in you at a young age. You learn a lot.”
That effort she gave to the farm is what she applied to her career onstage. After winning the Nationals in 2013, she competed on the Olympia stage in her rookie year and placed 2nd at the Bikini Olympia. It would be six years before Layug finally took the title. The realization of what she had done over that time didn’t hit her until she saw an image on social media of her improvement over the years.
“It showed every year of me improving, and then 2020, it was the best photo out of them all, and I couldn’t believe I had done that,” she admitted. “If you keep staying with it and putting in the work and wanting to change, you’ll get there and that’s what I did.”
Layug’s victory at the 2020 Olympia changed the course of her career onstage and off. Her experience and commitment in the past also prepared her for the changes that came away from the stage after winning in Orlando, FL, last December. While she wanted to take advantage of the spoils of her victory, she wanted to be true to herself.
“Since winning the Olympia I feel like I hit the ground running with an incredible amount of opportunities,” she says. “I always try to remain the same person. I always try to remain very authentic. I don’t want any of the opportunities to get in my head or anything like that.”
Layug and James talk about her upbringing, her experience working with Hooters, her initial passion to be a runway model, and the opportunity to promote shows herself. Catch the whole episode over at the Muscle & Fitness YouTube channels. Make sure you subscribe so you can see past and future episodes of TMP as well. New shows air every Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern time.
0:09 – Intro/Parents
1:30 – Philippines
3:00 – Connection to Poland?
4:05 – Childhood in Florida
7:40 – Working at Hooters
8:42 – Wanting to Be a Runway Model
9:36 – Getting into Fitness
10:40 – Flex Bikini Search
14:45 – Winning Nationals and 1st Pro Season
19:50 – 1st Olympia and Commitment to Succeeding
23:09 – Getting Feedback and Improving Weaknesses
27:46 – How Bikini is Judged
33:07 – Who She Looked Up To
35:34 – Being a Taller Competitor
36:10 – Looking at Herself in Photos
37:08 – 2020 Olympia
41:20 – 2021
44:29 – How the Olympia Changed Her Life
45:17 – Becoming a Promoter
48:34 – Training and Physique Goals
50:14 – Posing and Crowd Appreciation
52:22 – Looking at the Judges
53:41 – Offseason vs. Contest
54:40 – Cookies