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125th Fighter Wing Services Apprentice to Compete in Bodybuilding Championship

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ishimine Johnson announces the beginning of the running portion for a physical training (PT) test over a radio to fellow PT leaders at the 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville International Airport, Jacksonville Florida., Aug. 17, 2014. Johnson spends her time off from the Air National Guard training for and competing in bodybuilding competitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Troy Anderson/RELEASED)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ishimine Johnson announces the beginning of the running portion for a physical training (PT) test over a radio to fellow PT leaders at the 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville International Airport, Jacksonville Florida., Aug. 17, 2014. Johnson spends her time off from the Air National Guard training for and competing in bodybuilding competitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Troy Anderson/RELEASED)

Jacksonville Fla.- -- On August 30th, 2014, Airman 1st Class Ishimine Johnson will be competing in the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness' (IFBB) North American Championship in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Johnson is a Services Apprentice in the 125th Fighter Wing's Force Support Squadron at Jacksonville Airport, Jacksonville, Fla., but during her off time, trains for bikini bodybuilding competitions.

With the help of a personal trainer/coach at her local gym, and a great deal of time devoted to diet and exercise, Johnson has altered her lifestyle to maintain peak physical fitness. Her coach helps her with her stage presence, muscle tightness and definition, confidence, walk and other important characteristics that are heavily judged.

"Depending on what category you want to do, is what you work your goal towards," Johnson said. "Since my physique is smaller... I go towards bikini. So I'm a bikini body builder."

For the bikini category, all competitors must walk out, strike their pose and then line up on the back of the stage during the pre-judging.

"You're flexing every single muscle in your body that whole entire time" Johnson said.

From there, the judges call out around five individuals who place and move on to the finals. They go on to receive their ranking and, depending on their final rank, may be able to compete in larger and more important competitions.

But, all this work can lead to big pay offs. Besides the pride from placing, winners receive trophies, recognition and maybe even sponsors. Sponsors can donate merchandise to wear in the competition, pay for travel or even have the bodybuilder attend photo shoots.

"I want someone to sponsor me with their bikinis. They're really expensive! Some of the good ones are... a thousand dollars!" Johnson said.

Johnson qualified nationally in her last show even though it was only the third she has competed in. Her upcoming show will require her to place overall first in her category if she wants to receive a coveted pro-card. A pro-card designates the holder as a professional bodybuilder, allows the individual to compete for cash prizes, makes more competitions available to them and increases the chances of them receiving supplemental endorsement contracts.

"It's hard work... it's a lifestyle change. It's a lot about willpower and portion control" Johnson said.

Johnson said that she began considering bodybuilding competitions after meeting Steve Cook at a Miami competition. Cook is a highly recognized bodybuilder in the fitness industry. He told her that she should try it as she had the look for it.

In early 2014 Johnson began training. She doesn't drink, and she has to watch what she eats when she goes out with friends.

"But, if you want it bad enough, that's what you got to do... you have to sacrifice things. I would rather spend my money and my time on something that's going to help me improve my career, rather than going out" Johnson said.