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Sonja Kilbourn from Roodepoort is a real go-getter, and the ultimate combined package of health, glamour and motherhood.

12 September 2011 | GetIt Joburg West

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She tells Sonika van Wyk about her life as a bodybuilder, an image consultant and being a mother.

Most women approaching the age of 40 look back at the past, longing for their youth … not Sonja though. This self-motivated woman always dreamt of becoming a concert pianist or singer. Although her life ultimately took a different path, Sonja remains an aspiring woman who looks at the future as an exhilarating challenge of things still to accomplish.

Sonja decided to get involved with bodybuilding because it entailed something she had never tried before. She says, “The challenge of disciplining yourself to give your best, to become your best, was what attracted me the most about this sport. All of this started with regular visits to the gym, and then it followed with off-road races and road running for two years.”

It was only this year that Sonja made the choice to participate in the fitness and figure division in bodybuilding competitions. “My husband and friends encouraged me to take part, and then I thought to myself, well, I’ve got nothing to lose, let me give it my best shot.”
And no, for Sonja, bodybuilding is not really a matter of a woman in a man’s world. “The women have their own divisions and are judged by female standards,” she says. She encourages every woman who is dedicated to exercising, and enthusiastic about challenges, to participate in this sport.

Until now, the entire bodybuilding fixation has turned out to be a huge victory for Sonja. The International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) Van Der Mescht Classic competition in June, which is also her very first competition, was conquered as she won the body fitness division.
For Sonja, the reward is in the whole journey and process, not just in winning. “It is a powerful feeling when you have set yourself up for a challenge and then succeed. You compete not against the other competitors, but against yourself.”
Physical appearance is important to this fitness fundi, and her self-described “elegant” look is inspired by Chata Romano and Eva Longoria. Sonja has been a Chata Romano image consultant since 2009. She says, “What could be more rewarding than guiding women towards discovering their best attributes, and showing them how to pull it off by way of consultations, workshops and makeovers?”
As an image consultant, Sonja’s goal is to open a woman’s eyes to her inner and outer beauty. “Don’t try to be somebody else, find your own style,” she advises. At present, many women and young girls have the misconception that being as thin as a stick is the latest fashion statement.
“Everybody should be comfortable with their own bodies. Personally, to be physically strong and healthy is much better than to be too skinny.”

Besides all of this, Sonja is married and is a mother to three boys aged 8, 10 and 13. “It was easier said than done to maintain a balance between exercising, motherhood and work,” she laughs.
“But thankfully, my family was supportive about my decision to pursue my bodybuilding ambition. Motherhood is not always easy, and most mothers struggle with time management and feeling unappreciated. It’s important to think about the best thing about being a mother, to give and receive love.”

Through Sonja’s intense commitment and perseverance, it comes as no surprise that she is a successful woman balancing life as a dedicated bodybuilder, a stylish image consultant and a loving mother.

Fun facts:
1. Favourite item of clothing: Any nice pair of jeans.
2. Food: Chocolate.
3. Holiday destination: Mauritius.
4. Movie she has seen the most: As it is in Heaven.
5. Colour: Black. It is so versatile!
6. Heels or flats: Heels. They makes you feel sexy and your legs look better.
7. Most memorable family experience? A deep-sea swim with dolphins in Mozambique this past April.

Article in this months edition of the GetIt Magazine

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