Sky's the limit for UAE bodybuilding air hostess Anita
Anita Joubert is not your average air hostess. In between flying around the globe serving in-flight meals, she's in the gym building up her muscles to take on some of the strongest women in the world.
The 32-year-old South African expat hopes to quash the myths that surround her hobby and her career.
"You don't have to eat steroids or supplements to get a fit body," she said.
Healthy food - preferably organic - and exercise is all you need, according Anita, who has worked as an Emirates flight attendant for 10 years.
She is training to represent the UAE in her first Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (WBFF) World Championship this month. In July she won first place at the WBFF European Championships in Iceland, which was only her second competition.
Anita, who is also a holistic nutritionist, doesn't let her job get in the way of her training, and works out wherever her flight shcedule takes her. "The best thing to cure jetlag is exercise," she says.
Anita says she has been working hard to build up a body that could "at least land me in the top 10" as she prepares for the WDFF competition - this year held in Quebec, Canada, on August 24-25.
At the moment she eats six small protein-based meals a day, mainly white fish, chicken and half cups of vegetables. Until a week before the competition she can eat a very small amount of healthy carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes and fruits. But when it comes to crunch time, she has to eliminate everything except proteins.
However, the toughest thing to avoid in that final week, she said, is salt, which she can't consume as it retains water.
"It's so funny because after the competition you see all these women running off to bakeries, but I'm just dying for something salty," she said.
Anita's daily gym visits consist of an hour of weight training, and no more than 35 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. She said she cannot afford to lose too much of her body mass, as the six judges "don't like too skinny".
The day before her appearance in Iceland, she started panicking as her legs were looking too thin, adding that she gets teased for having "chicken legs".
Another important part of her build up to a competition is choosing the right outfit, in other words, her bikini. But not just any bikini. According to Anita, contestants can spend up to US$4,000 on their outfits, some which are adorned with Svarowski crystals for enough "bling" to dazzle the judges.
For Anita, Satwa in Dubai is the place "to get anything you want" when it comes to design ideas, and she plans to pay homage to her African roots by wearing a tribal "Zulu" warrior bikini.
The spray tan on competition day, which gives the muscles more definition, is the messiest part, according to Anita, as a single drop of water on the skin can ruin the tan. Worse still, a sweaty armpit will turn the tan a strange green colour.
For Anita, who has been exercising since she was five years old, working out and eating healthily is simply part of her life.
Thankfully her husband, Faisal, is equally as passionate about fitness and acts as her trainer. Together they run the Dubai-based fitness company, Du Fitt.
The WDFF competition has three categories: Woman's Figure, Bikini Model and Diva Fitness Model, the latter Anita will be entering in.
While the Figure category is for women with lots of muscle on show, and Bikini caters to the softer, more toned bodybuilder, Anita's category is for those with an athletic body and defined muscles, but, she says, "still feminine".
"That's the way I like my body, and that's how I want to maintain it," she said.
Updated: August 9, 2012 04:00 AM