Muscle Can Be Powerful Yet Feminine

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“I can’t really feel powerful if every time I cook someone else has to open the jar.”

I’m just a regular lady, I like it when boys act like gentlemen and I still wonder if I look fat in my dress.”

Robynn Europe

Activities: IFBB Pro Figure Competitor, Weightlifting

Q: How did you get into lifting weights?

When I graduated college, I was a little bit fat and a LOT unhappy. I felt that as a 22 year old female living in New York City, I should be beautiful, happy, vibrant, energetic, and healthy. Instead I was lethargic, miserable, depressed, and ashamed of the fact that I’d let things get so bad.

At the same time I was having these realizations about my life, I was working my first post-grad job in the corporate offices for David Barton Gym. David strongly felt all DBG employees should understand exactly what the company was offering and  the lifestyle that they were encouraging, so he set up a session for me with his trainer. I was skeptical, and honestly a little angry that I was being required to do it, but it turned out to be a life-changer for me. I got out a lot of stress, aggression, and discontentment I had not been able to direct anywhere else.  Additionally, I started to see changes in my body that made me happier with the skin I was living in. I decided, instead of being your average skinny girl, I wanted to look as powerful and strong as exercise made me feel. I never looked back.

Q: What”s your favorite body part to train?

Glutes! I never had a butt even when I was fat, but thanks to resistance training, I have a tiny little peach in the back now. The more I focus on it, the more it grows. I love it.

Q: How many days a week and hours do you train?

I lift weights and do cardiovascular activity four days a week (sometimes five if I’m brimming with energy), and the whole ordeal takes about 90 minutes.

Q: How has changing your body, changed your life?

I don’t know that changing my body has changed my life. It’s more like changing my life changed my body. I had to decide the sort of person I wanted to be and portray before I could do anything with my body. I have never been able to do anything in moderation and I have never been quiet and complacent. When I accepted those as positive qualities,  I was able to make decisions about the direction in which I  wanted my life to go. I wanted to be a strong, powerful, self-sufficient woman. That meant being mentally strong and driven, but also physically strong and fit. I can’t really feel powerful if every time I cook someone else has to open the jar.

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Q: Do you find people stereotype you when they find out you compete?

Eh, not really, for the most part, people don’t even know what competing means. It helps that I’m not all that big and look relatively normal in my street clothes. People judge me more harshly BEFORE they find out I compete. If my body is on display in any capacity, people assume they know something about the sort of person I am and the life I lead because of it. Men often assume that I want to take the dominant role in sex and relationships, and women often assume that I couldn’t possibly have any self-esteem issues or battle self consciousness and shame. I’m just a regular lady, I like it when boys act like gentlemen and I still wonder if I look fat in my dress.

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Q: Outside of competing, why is exercising important to you?

I am only good at two things, painting and exercising. When one stresses me out, the other provides relief. I use both as a way of redirecting a lot of the anxiety I deal with in life. Exercise clears my head, calms me, and allows me to process things without flying off the handle, yelling, or crying; it’s like therapy while I’m between sessions of actual therapy.

Q: What advice would you give someone that wants of compete?

Try it once and see how you feel about it, but give it your all the first time, because you’ll never know how you really feel about it if you half-ass it.

Q: Tell me about an awkward moment in your life?

Every moment of my life is awkward, I’m a weird broad. I don’t know, one time in college I went to get a pregnancy test despite not having had sex with any men in months. The nurse was like “Robynn, we need to talk about sex and how women become pregnant. You’re not pregnant and I don’t even understand why you would think you were. You’re a senior and you haven’t slept in days. Your period is probably late because of stress. Go home and get some rest.” Anyway, four hours and a long nap later, I woke up in a pool of blood. Oops.

Q: What inspires you?

I want to be a strong, healthy woman and I want my family and friends to be proud of me. I want the people who’ve sacrificed things for me in life to feel that I didn’t squander their gifts. I have to succeed at life so that all of the time and energy my loved ones have put into me has been worth something.

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Q:What song best describes this chapter in your life?

Iron Maiden – Running Free? Ha, no, Pusha T – No Regrets