Lakeland resident Janet Layug adds to success as bodybuilder – The Ledger

LAKELAND — Janet Layug stood on the stage, her flawless physique on display, and received attention from the guy who virtually invented competitive bodybuilding.

The Lakeland resident had just captured first place in the Bikini International division at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to monetary prizes, Layug earned a brief interview with the event’s eponymous founder, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“He’s such an inspiration and such a legend, that moment was just incredible,” Layug recalled Monday.

It was Layug’s second time being interviewed by the renowned actor, former bodybuilder and ex-California governor, who first greeted her after she won at the Arnold Sports Festival Australia in 2015.

Since turning pro in 2014, Layug has twice finished second at the sport’s premiere event, the Olympia Fitness and Performance Weekend in Las Vegas. The Lake Gibson High School graduate hopes her victory March 3 at the Ohio competition will help propel her to a first Olympia title in September.

Layug, a former server at Hooters in North Lakeland, appeared in the company’s calendar for several years before being named Miss Hooters International in 2014. A married mother of one, she earned a nursing degree from the University of South Florida and worked for a short period at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center.

She said the publicity she gained through Hooters helped lead her toward a career in bodybuilding.

“That was a good foundation to exposure for stage presence and being able to speak out with media and all that,” she said. “But after I got a nursing degree and graduated, I was wanting to take on a new adventure and a new journey I was passionate about. I loved exercising, loved working out, loved learning about nutrition and health and wellness because that goes along with nursing, so for me it was right up my alley to start competing.”

Listed in competition profiles at 5 feet 8 inches tall and 130 pounds, Layug has dark hair that curls to her shoulder blades and a mocha skin tone.

Layug has competed in such countries as China, South Korea, the Philippines, New Zealand the the Czech Republic, and she was flying out Monday for next weekend’s Arnold Sports Festival Australia.

When home, Layug does her training at Just Move in North Lakeland, where she also coaches others. During preparation for an event, she works out two or three hours a day, broken into two or more sessions.

Lance Davis, Layug’s husband, said she is unusual among competitors in being a mother. Their daughter, Briley, is 10 and active in gymnastics and tennis.

“We have a daughter, and from what I see a lot of her other competition, they do not have kids and they don’t have to deal with the fact that there are snacks around you would like to try and things like that that others could get away with because of the different lifestyle she leads,” Davis said. “She’s a very good mother — the greatest. She is all about education — reading, ‘Do your math, do your extra stuff.’ ”

Layug has sponsorships from GAT Sport, a supplement company, and from companies making tanning products, swimsuits and jewelry. She has some 356,000 followers on Instagram and more than 56,000 on Facebook, and she sells training programs through her website, www.bikinijanet.com.

Davis, a former pro baseball player, said Layug has avid followings in other countries, particularly the Philippines, because of her Philippine ancestry.

Though Layug has appeared on the cover of such magazines and Muscle and Fitness Hers, bodybuilding does not draw as much attention in her hometown as it does in some other countries. While Layug said she is well known in the sport and to people at her gym, she said many in Lakeland are surprised to learn of her worldwide prominence.

Davis said he and Briley traveled to watch Layug compete at the Arnold event in Ohio.

“It was surreal,” Davis said. “In my era, Arnold was like the movie icon. That was the guy I watched growing up, and to see him and be 10 feet from him at some point and watching him do his thing — for her to actually get to be interviewed by him twice, it’s cool.”

Gary White can be reached at gary.white@theledger.com or 863-802-7518. Follow on Twitter @garywhite13.

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