“It’s never too late to dream” is Ingrid Valentin’s motto. The 40-year-old athlete will live her dream this weekend when she competes in the NPC National Bodybuilding Championships in Miami, Florida, where she hopes to be a winner and awarded the coveted professional “pro” card as a bodybuilder.
“I’ve always loved bodybuilding, and competed only for fun,” said Valentin who has, until recently, considered the sport a hobby.
Earlier this year, she won preliminary competitions that qualified her for participation in the championships. Those and other successes ignited a spark in her to become a professional bodybuilder.
One day while sitting on a park bench thinking about how she could become a pro, she noticed a tree with its roots sticking out of the ground. “It was a vision of my future, and the only way to get there was to go back to my roots,” said Valentin who grew up in Brooklyn.
In 2000, Valentin moved from Brooklyn to live and work in Florida as a personal physical fitness trainer. After seeing the vision, she decided to return home to Spring Creek Towers (SCT) to train for the national championships. She wanted to be in a familiar and supportive environment; like the one provided at the Starrett City Boxing Club (SCBC) and Brooklyn Sports Club (BSC), where she was first taught how to be an athlete.
Welcomed home by her mother and encouraged by the folks at SCBC and BSC, Valentin committed herself to a rigorous training regimen that included running on a treadmill, walking up a steep incline on the elliptical machine, lifting weights and eating every three hours.
As a result, the 5’3” bodybuilder is in competition shape with just six percent body fat and rock hard muscles. Training has increased her muscle definition and symmetry; and created welldeveloped arms that she is very proud of. Eagerly looking forward to showing off her physique this weekend, Valentin says once she applies spray tan to her body for the competition, every muscle’s curve and vein will highlight her months of hard work.
“I always wanted to lift weights and to build muscles like the wrestlers [on TV],” recalls Valentin, who as a child was small in stature and often thought about being big and strong.
Her quest to become physically fit began at age 10, when she was in a scuffle with some children and did not fare well. The late James “Jimmy O” O’Pharrow, a family friend and Spring Creek Towers (SCT) neighbor, saw her afterwards sitting in their building’s lobby looking forlorn. After telling him what had happened, he invited her to join the Starrett City Boxing Club (SCBC), where she would get her first lessons in how to defend herself.
Young Valentin was introduced to the world of physical fitness and never looked back. When she reached her teens, training had become a way of life; one dedicated mto building strength, muscles and living a healthy lifestyle. She adopted a daily regimen of getting up at 4 a.m., preparing and eating a protein rich breakfast and lunch, running several miles and working out.
“Jimmy was like a second father to me. And he made me into the person I am today,” she said. Under his tutelage, she was one of only a few SCBC female boxers to qualify to fight in the Daily News Golden Glove Championships at Madison Square Garden. She lost her first match, but won the second.
The more active Valentin became through the years, the more developed her knowledge and skills became – leading her to a career as a physical fitness trainer. After graduating from high school, she became a certified personal fitness instructor who specialized in training women in self-defense.
Valentin moved to Miami, Florida to advance her career. Inspired by the painting of “The Creation of Adam” in the Sistine Chapel, Valentin will strike a similar pose for the judges. Clad in a bikini to show off her finely chiseled body, and wearing a blonde Mohawk haircut shaped like an arrow, Valentin (stage name “Warrior of God”) said she will be fierce.
Valentin believes her dream of having a pro bodybuilder card will come true. When asked why is she trying now to fulfill that dream, she replied “The sky is not the limit; there are footsteps on the moon.”