Saturday, 3 September 2016

She's So Shredded: Hayley Hirshland

I remember posting the picture on the left (above, right) in 2013 and all of the positive comments I got. Unfortunately, that physique was achieved by forgetting to eat, was fuelled by caffeine and cigarettes, and was supersetted with pretty dangerous Insanity workouts. Think what you want, but I love being strong and I'm hella proud of the work I've put into completely reconstructing my body. No special supps, no pills, no waist trainers, but whole foods and A BUNCHA HARD WORK.

Shredded Hayley Hirshland isn't backwards in coming forwards about her love of her own muscles and strength, and the key to that self-love is, I think, to be found in the story told in the above quote. The old body was loathed, the new body is loved. And Hayley is all about spreading that message to young women far and wide.

The 25-year-old from Wisconsin was a competitive figure skater in her youth, and comes from a golfing family. She started lifting initially at school, but became serious about it during her second stint of living in Japan - she had previously spent a term studying there - working for a Japanese golf channel. It was not uncommon to work for over 12 hours a day, she says. I would take the easy route when it came to nutrition by eating out constantly and not making the correct choices when at work functions. I was never overweight, but found that I had gained quite a bit after a few months of living abroad so I decided to make a change. I joined Gold’s Gym in downtown Tokyo, began lifting first thing in the morning before work. By August 2013, a matter of months after she had begun to train consistently, she was featured on the cover of Woman's Shape and Sport, a Japanese fitness magazine.

By 2015 she was also writing for a Japanese fitness magazine, and it was after a request from her editors there for a story that she first competed, "so they could get an idea of how the competitions in the United States work". She chose an NPC contest, Pride of the Midwest Championships, and finished 3rd in her Figure class. I didn’t enjoy myself, she says. I knew that I couldn’t succeed against athletes that may have been using PEDs, but I thought I would give it another chance in a drug-tested competition.

Whether you agree with her reasoning or not, without the opportunity to compete in a "natural" show, Hayley may have never competed again. Instead, though, she cleaned up at the Wisconsin Natural Championships, winning both her class and the overall title in the Figure and Fit Body categories, resulting in not one but TWO pro cards! I wanted to give bodybuilding competitively one more chance, she says, so I went into the competition solely for the experience. I honestly was so shocked!

Success there was followed by success at her first pro show, the Central USA Natural Championships, and most recently she finished 2nd in the Figure class at another pro show in Sacramento. And there will be no stopping her now. After meeting all of the incredible athletes, coaches, and attendees and feeling confident in my performance in the gym and on stage, I've caught the bug and can’t get enough! I'll forever be grateful to the WNBF for making competing one of the best experiences!

And while all this has been going on, this "truly mesmerising" beauty has not escaped the attention of the brethren. Some fans are just as all about natural as Hayley herself is, enjoying her "natural breasts" as well as her "natural muscles", but even those who are not can't help but love her "hard and sensual" bottom, her "electric smile", and those abs - "if I put my fingers in those grooves between her abdominal muscles, it would hurt like a vice if she flexed!" I'm no purist, but count me in for all of the above and those gorgeous delts she's fashioned. Hayley is one stunning young woman.

Her travels have taken her back to Japan again now. She speaks (and more impressively writes) the language, you know (as well as Mandarin and Spanish), and she's on a mission to spread her own version of the strong-and-shredded-is-sexy gospel. The bodybuilding scene is just starting to make waves in Japan, but it is still relatively underground, especially for Japanese women. Unfortunately, there are still social stigmas for women that do not have extremely "skinny" body types and much of the fitness industry targeted at women is still flooded with gimmicky "diet" products. I went from someone who was sickly thin to an athletic, strong woman with curves, strength, and confidence. I personally believe that weightlifting allows for a woman to build a beautiful physique, but more importantly, gives her the confidence to love and appreciate the body she has for what it is capable of doing as well as what it looks like. If you feel good about yourself, you begin to radiate confidence and can spend time and energy focusing on the things that truly matter!

She's an international traveller, a polyglot, a natural bodybuilding champion, a writer, and a female muscle advocate. Follow Hayley's Japanese adventures on Instagram.


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