The Road to Tough: Gold’s Gym Phils. Body Convention 2016

On November 30th, just this past Wednesday, Gold’s Gym hosted their yearly BodyCon competition in search of this year’s fitness and brand ambassador. The competition was open to both staff and club members. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder or crazy shredded to join; you only need to be willing to share your fitness journey and showcase why you would make the perfect Gold’s Gym fitness ambassador.

I was just easing into off-season mode and enjoying a less-intense training when I decided on the last minute to finally join. The same friend of mine who is a club manager at the gym I go to who encouraged me to join my first ever bodybuilding competition, is the same person who prompted me to sign up for this one as well. I felt like I wouldn’t stand a chance and so I was very hesitant at first. But as it once was said, “Fortune favours the bold,” and so when I finally made the decision to go for it, I was pleasantly surprised and relieved to see all things fall into place.

Aicy, Dyan, and I do a little back flex backstage.

The Friday before show day, I came down with a nasty case of the flu. I’m talking uber sinus congestion, cough, migraine, intermittent fever, etc. I was so scared because the next day was the fitness challenge for all BodyCon finalists. All 36 finalists were grouped into 9 teams of 4 members, each one to choose 3 challenges each out of the 12 that the whole team is supposed to accomplish. I chose to go for the bodyweight equivalent deadlifts of 15 reps (I was feeling ballsy because luckily I had already started lifting 145lbs and I only now weigh 111lbs), 15 atomic pushups, and 10 tos-and-fros on the agility ladder. WOW. I felt like I was going to die. It’s so hard to push your body to its limits when you can barely breathe, your joints ache from the flu, and your head is throbbing. But the only choice I gave myself was to bite the bullet and power through. One of my team members, Omi Sanawane, had just been discharged from hospital the day prior! So I had no excuse.

With all the female finalists of BodyCon2016 during Fitness Challenge Day.

After a series of rehearsals and photo shoots, the big day had finally come. One of my fellow finalists and good friend, Joaquin, remarked backstage: “Man, Hilary, you’re so chill. I wish I could be as relaxed as you and Culver (another fellow finalist). I guess that comes with being a veteran.” I chuckled because I hardly consider myself a veteran, but I understand what he was trying to say. I’m thankful for the several bodybuilding competitions I’ve been a part of because the experience helped me have a better approach to this show. I knew what to expect, I was rehearsed when it came to pumping backstage, the preening and last minute oiling up, etc. So yes, I suppose I was quite calm compared to the others. Mostly, I was just feeling the flu trying to kick me around, so I did my best to stay positive and cheery. It wasn’t hard when you have the kind of co-competitors like I did because they are a group of really fun, upbeat, and positive people.


After doing our individual and group walk down and around the stage, it was time for the Q&A. Since they were looking for someone to represent the brand, they wanted to make sure they chose someone who could speak well and engage other people, someone with charisma and confidence to stand in their behalf. What an honour it was to be chosen to receive that title. The question given to me was from Miss Earth 2014 Jamie Herrell, “What other components are key, to you, for fitness aside from nutrition and training?”

And my answer: “Mindset is everything. If you set your mind in a positive way, it just dictates the rest of your day. If you didn’t reach your fitness goals last week, you can always start again. The important thing is to think positive. Scientific data has proven that positive thinking is good for your health.” It sounded a lot nerdier live, but you get the point.

There was a lot of backstage fun and laughter and it was such a refreshing contrast from the atmosphere in bodybuilding competitions. I was very grateful that even though this was still a competition, I was able to relax and enjoy truly enjoy meeting my fellow competitors. Their life stories are so inspiring, I wish I could write about every single one of them. Well, safe to say we’ll have a lot of material for ToughGirl Spotlight features. *wink*

I was very happy meeting Arnold Aninion, Mr. Muscle & Fitness Philippines 2015. He was very generous with advice and encouragement and I left the convers
ation with a renewed excitement for whatever is in store. I’m very keen to train with him and learn more. I am quite elated that my passion for fitness and helping people have come together in the form of an opportunity that lets me motivate others to get fit and healthy and call that a job.

With Mr. Muscle & Fitness himself, Arnold Aninion

My good friend Joaquin Valdes won Mr. Gold’s Gym Philippines and it was surreal to be sharing the stage together. I’ve been trying to coax him to get into bodybuilding for quite some time now, but his schedule has not permitted him to prep for one. He’s a TV commercial director and a stage actor and has got his plate quite full. But it appears he’s finally committed to prepping for a show next year, so he’s definitely one to look out for. You’ll see him featured on ToughGirl Spotlight very soon too, so you can know more about him and his fitness journey.

photo by Edmund Chua of FABManila

Joaquin and I will be going with the amazing team of Gold’s Gym Philippines to Las Vegas, Nevada in the summer next year. We cannot wait to start the work and fulfil our responsibilities that come with the titles. This has been such an amazing experience. I have made new friends, learned many things, got to share what I know, and best of all, this was a good affirmation that I am exactly where I need to be. The road I travel is what I call #TheRoadtoTough because it’s exactly that. I hope to be able to continue sharing this journey with you and others in the same way I look forward to hearing about the journey of others.

with Cassie Umali, last year’s Ms. Golds Gym Philippines 2015

Another one of my favourite photos is this one with my fellow moms Dyan and Dang. Dang and I are both single moms, but she’s got two kids. I have never lost sight of how hard my life as a hands-on and full-time working single mama, but I gained so much perspective meeting Dang and seeing how she manages to play her role as mother to two kids while handling a busy 9-5 corporate job. Dyan likes to call our little group the “#NoExcuseMoms and it’s easy to see why. We all hope that our discipline and commitment to fitness and health, all the while being Mom to our brood 24/7, will serve as encouragement and inspiration to other women and moms out there, whether married or single, whether they are raising kids with a partner or by themselves. If we can do it, so can you. Nothing is impossible if you face your challenges with the right attitude.

Dyan won Ms. Golds Gym PH (staff) and Dang won Ms. Fitspiration. (PS I love the way my son’s face is on this pic: utter pride and joy<3)

Winning Mr. and Ms. Golds Gym Philippines among the GG Staff were Dyan Manaloto and Andrew Canlas. While my buddy Culver Padilla and Dang (Sherelyn) Go won Mr. and Ms. Fitspiration.

Dyan and Andrew win Mr. and Ms. Golds Gym PH for Staff members. Photo by FABManila
culver and dang.jpg
Culver Padilla and Dang (Sherelyn) Go win Mr. and Ms. Fitspiration. Here they are posing with two of the night’s judges Michelle Dayrit-Soliven of Miladay Jewels and Mark Dayrit of Muscle & Fitness Magazine, and LA Fitness.

Of course, I’ve always said and believed that fitness MUST be an inclusive community that singles no one out. And true enough, Gold’s Gym Philippines espouses the same principle as they awarded the youngest finalist and contestant of this year’s competition to Toni Roman.

Tony Roman.jpg
Alex Dayrit awarding Toni Roman, 18 years old, his prize for winning the Gold’s Gym Youth Fitspiration award. This young man has such a bright future ahead of him. 

A big thank you to Mark Dayrit, Mylene Dayrit, Kevin Christie, Pete McCall, Eric Tai, Hideo Muraoka, Michelle Dayrit-Soliven, Bobby Claudio, Maria Garcia, and Jamie Herrell for trusting us with the titles and responsibilities to represent Golds Gym Philippines and the fitness and health values they uphold. Stay tuned to our journey as Gold’s Gym Philippines fitness ambassadors by following us on Instagram! @goldsgymphilippines @jpedvaldes @hilaryisaac @dyanmanaloto @iamwonderdang @culverpadilla @coach_andrew_canlas @tonibrah


Change your body, change your mind. And if you renew your way of thinking into a positive one, you can absolutely change your life. Life is made of tough stuff, so you need to be tougher. ❤




Want to share your fitness journey? Or do you have any fitness questions? Write to us at




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s