From the Philippines to Hollywood: Maureen Blanquisco’s Incredible Path to Victory at the Bikini Fitness Olympia
Health and fitness have become a way of life for many women. However, there are also women who do fitness full time. One of them is Maureen Blanquisco, winner of the 2022 Bikini Fitness Olympia competition. She is one of the most successful fitness icons in the world and is an example for many fitness women who work hard and accomplish their goals without compromise. She became the face of our upcoming NEBBIA INTENSE collection, which we designed to improve women’s performance and motivation. This collaboration supports the most important values in the fitness world.
Maureen is not only successful and talented, but also very single-minded, hardworking and consistent. She is a woman who is not afraid of hard work. Yet she is very kind, human and professional. That is why she has become a source of inspiration and motivation for many people. Get inspired by the interview with Maureen, which busts the myths about the fairy tale path to victory.
As the winner of a bikini fitness competition, you have been working on yourself for a long time. Have you tried other sports before you started with fitness?
I’ve always liked sports. I did judo as a member of a team in the Philippines. Later I switched to swimming. But I was very competitive, I used to compare myself a lot with others. After moving to Norway I started gymnastics and fell in love with it. I’ve been doing it for five years. But once again, my competitiveness got the better of me. I’ve discovered that I’m not a team player, and the dependence on the team makes it difficult for me. When I fell during a stunt through no fault of my own, I was very angry – that was the moment I realised that I would be better off doing athletics individually. The eighteenth year of life is exactly the time when a woman wants to look good and make herself up. That’s when I started working out and decided to do a sport where I could combine sport and beauty. And so began my fitness journey.
What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you work with them?
I grew up in a developing country, meaning that nothing is difficult for me. Fitness is my whole world, I have it set up that way and I see all the hard work as easy. It’s part of the game. We’re all tired. But I’d rather be tired and do what I enjoy than what I don’t enjoy. One of my strengths is patience. If I think of something, I’ll do it, even if I have to do it for the next ten years. I’ll hang in there and I won’t give up.
How would you describe your life outside of fitness? Do you have other hobbies, work or studies?
I studied dermatology in Norway, but I did it for my family. I come from a medical family, so it was expected that I would follow this path. I wanted to make them happy. But after my studies I became a kindergarten teacher. Fitness became a part of my life and I started doing it full time. I qualified for my first Olympia in 2019. I went to Las Vegas and stayed in LA. Whenever training is over, I try to switch off completely and not mention anything about fitness or competitions. The same applies to diets. I do ordinary things – I go to the beach, with friends, just normal stuff. And I sleep a lot :)
Do you also have a role model who motivates you to push yourself further?
If we’re talking about competitions, it’s India Paulino. But outside of fitness, it’s my grandmother. Everything she did was easy for her. When I remember the hard work she had to do, I know I can do it too. Every single thing is easy in comparison. So I admire these two women. But I also look up to my boyfriend Francisco because he has an interesting story too. He came to the US at the age of 23, spoke no English and had $40 in his pocket. Today he is 37 years old and has built his own company. I really admire him.
What is your greatest achievement?
This will most likely be the Olympia winner :) After this big win, many new and interesting opportunities opened up for me. But I think my greatest achievement is being here. Because the path was not so clear and simple. When I started fitness, I was teaching kids. I was poor. I had no money and I was raising my little brother. I was working full time and was actually a single mother. I tried to help him, to support him and today he is a freshly graduated engineer. Coming to the USA was a small victory for me. With or without a win, I feel successful.
It’s great how you have the values set. It’s your mindset that makes you the most successful. Tell us about your preparation for Bikini Fitness Olympia 2022. Have you been dieting and working out more?
Frankly speaking, my preparation for the last Olympics was almost like normal training. I’ve been training hard but within reason. I didn’t overdo it with the big weights. I focused more on the details. I ate more than ever, but I was very careful about the quality of my diet. The substantial difference was that I changed my trainer. Before that, I had a trainer from Brazil. My new trainer is from Spain and I am the only bikini fitness competitor he coaches. But I was impressed by his approach and he gained my trust. And thanks to this trust, I won the Olympia.
Trust is very important in life. Obviously, you made the right decision. How did you feel on the Olympia stage when you were announced the winner?
If you saw my shots taken just after the winner was announced, they speak for themselves. I was really shocked. Frankly, I believed I could win the Olympia. But I didn’t think it would come so soon. I assumed it would happen in the next two years because I really believed in myself. But when they announced my name, I suddenly couldn’t believe it. Have I really made it now? In my head I also thought, what did I actually do? I realised that I had a lot of new responsibilities and projects ahead of me. But I was happy and I knew that all Filipinos would be proud of me.
Has your life changed after winning the Ms. Olympia title?
Of course. The victory changed my life a lot. I still haven’t stopped since that day. There have been many collaborations, projects and interviews. But I’m not complaining at all, rather the opposite. I really appreciate it and I’m grateful for it because it’s what I’ve always wished for. I’m very busy but it’s a dream of mine that came true.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start competing?
If I could change anything at the beginning of my fitness path, it would be to start exercising properly from the very beginning. I didn’t have a trainer to train me on how to exercise properly. But the positive aspect of it all was that I was sure of what I wanted to achieve. At the beginning, you have to make a decision whether you are serious about this as a full-time job or whether it is a hobby and a new experience for you. If you take it just as a hobby, you will never give it 100%. My goal was to win the Olympia and I didn’t care if I had to work hard for 3, 5, 10 or more years, I just wished for it. So my advice is: consider your priorities and goals and stand by your decision. And I have a second piece of advice. Choose the right trainer you trust. You don’t need a well-known name that coaches everyone. For me, the key was to look at the results of the trainer, i.e. the athletes he trains, and see their fitness, and then make a decision. The last piece of advice: “Consistency is the key to achieving goals successfully”. Fitness is strenuous, it’s more than a full-time job. You can’t put anything off until tomorrow. And bad days will come too. But you need to stay strong and persevere in what you are doing. Even after achieving your goal you must not slack off.
The life of a professional athlete is very time consuming. How are you coping with all this? Do you have any rituals where you can switch off and relax?
If a person is committed to fitness 24 hours a day, he or she needs to set priorities. Birthday celebrations, Christmas, holidays spent with family. In all of this, the athlete must set rules about what he or she can and cannot do, he or she cannot always have fun like everyone else. Fitness is a full-time job and you have to persevere, set goals, priorities and think twice about what you actually want. As for my rituals, even when I feel very tired and sick, I wash my face, get dressed and leave the house. That’s when I know I’m not coming home until I’ve done everything I plan to do today.
Maureen, thank you so much for the interview! We are proud to be part of NEBBIA and to dress an Olympia champion. We’re looking forward to working with you!