By Michael Seium | Eri-International Sports Blog
Semret Russom is an Eritrean-American athlete and business owner whose sport may not be popular among many cultures. The sport known as Fitness Modeling requires athletes to stay in shape. As a fitness model, your body is not only your temple. You will have to keep your body in peak physical condition to be a successful model in this competitive industry. Fitness models have an athletic physique with toned muscles and very little body fat.
Born in Eritrea and moving to America at a young age, Semret settled in sunny San Diego, California where other great Eritrean athletes like Olympic champion Meb Kiflezghi, and NFL star Nat Berhe also hail from.
Semret moved to San Diego 23 years ago. Moving to a foreign country was challenging at first. Her love for fitness and health became a reality five years ago when she discovered bodybuilding bikini competition. It has changed her life tremendously.
Semret used to buy fitness magazines wanting to look like the models on them, but was not aware of what it took to become a bikini competitor. It was challenging from the beginning as she had to change her eating habits, start exercising and adjusting her daily habits including eating six meals a day, drinking a gallon of water and doing cardio in the morning and weight training seven days a week.
Semret would like to share her experience and knowledge with people all over the world especially women from all cultures. Her mission in life is to help and inspire women achieve their dreams and goals by being an example.
Eri-International sports blog recently was lucky enough to get a hold of Semret for an interview.
Q. Could you tell us how you got into Fitness Modeling?
Well, I got into the sport accidentally and without looking for it. I’ve always enjoyed working out at the gym. One day I met someone there that invited me to a bodybuilding show. After I saw all of the beautiful women and their bodies out there on stage, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Q. With the sport being a combination of modeling and also weight lifting, how were you able to manage your time?
When there something that you really want to do there is nothing that can stop you from achieving it. I managed my schedule by adding in to what I already had. I looked for spaces where I could go to the gym even if it meant getting up at four in the morning or going late at night. I wanted it so I went for it.
Q. As an Eritrean, did you have any worries being accepted in our community as a female athlete in a unique sport such as fitness modeling that requires muscle building and bikinis?
Yes I did have a concern about being accepted and the perception people may have. However, I realized that it was something new and that with most sports that Africans got into they end up easily dominating in most cases. I wanted to be the example to the sports industry and showing them that people from my country like myself can participate at a high level and do well in the sport. I then examined other sport industries that people from my country participated in the past and technically looking at it their uniforms showed parts of their body but no one pays attention to it in that mindset. So, I felt that this was the sport that I wanted to get into and I do understand that this is new for female and even male Eritreans but I wanted it to be ours! by taking the time and effort to compete.
Q. Your sport requires people to be fit and one of the things that our community lacks collectively, especially in the diaspora is the lack of exercise, what advice can you give women and men to keep themselves fit?
Exercise is a must. Everyone needs it. It makes you feel better and also keeps your body healthy. The advice that I would give to others is to find time to be healthy so that they could live longer and live healthier. The added stress of the workload in the diaspora especially here in the USA can make life unhealthy but taking a small time out to exercise, eat healthy and making sure you are doing cardio but also building your body muscles is important.
Q. Could you talk about the events you compete in and how you have fared so far?
I’ve competed in a few bodybuilding and fitness competitions. During my last competition, I scored pretty decent. Each day I try to become better and better. One day I believe I can dominate the sport by working hard and I want to represent my country of Eritrea and to stand proud because of my efforts.
Q. Watching your chiseled body it may seem like you have way too much muscle to the average person especially Eritreans who may not be familiar with Fitness modeling but Eri-International sports is aware of events like yours and you are almost the perfect mix between modeling and fitness, how do you explain that to the average person and especially Eritreans?
I would tell them that muscle is beautiful you can control how you show it to others. If I flex my muscles during competition it is meant to prove my ability and hard work as you are judged by the way you look, but when I’m ready to be soft and beautiful I don’t flex I just become the regular me.
Q. How long did it take for your body to transform to what it is today and what are the after effects of a muscular body if there are any?
It took me a total of about four years to get to where I am today. It takes a lot of hard work, time and effort. It is also important to understand that with anything that you overdo, there’s going to be a response within your body. It is very easy to over exert yourself and get over-worked. The best thing to do is, when you get to those points you take a break.
Q. You seem to be an advocate for health and especially for young people, what advice do you have for the young people especially girls?
I would tell young girls and young women that they have to live with their body all of their lives. So, it’s very important to be aware that it is much easier to build your body when you’re younger versus when you’re older. Start off fresh and early and be conscious of your body. To Eritrean girls, I want to assure them that staying fit for your own benefit are important and also it can give you confidence to compete in any sport that you set your mind to.
Q. What are your goals to help out the Eritrean community in the diaspora and at home back in Eritrea?
I would like to offer exercise classes and share my expertise in Eritrea and abroad when I’m in the United States especially to Eritreans. I would like to utilize new technology websites where people can tune in via the Internet and stay interactive by working out. I’d like to also talk and educate people about healthy eating and how it impacts the body, especially for women who are at the stage of their life where they plan to have children and give birth. I would like to stress that the healthier our bodies are the healthier our babies will be. The stronger our bodies are the stronger our children will be.
Q. You will be traveling to Eritrea following this interview; do you have any plans to share ideas on fitness and modeling with people back home to raise awareness about healthy living?
Well, my trip this time is to visit family and I have no plans to do that, however if anyone reaches out to me about sharing my experiences about health while I am in Eritrea, I would be willing to talk about it and share my knowledge. I plan to stay for a few weeks starting this week and my main reason for going there is to spend time with my family and get a much needed love from them and vice versa.
Q. Any other thoughts or ideas you would like to share with Eri-International sports?
Yes I would like to say to everyone that whatever you put your mind in to, the possibility of conquering it is very high, even if it looks difficult. I am a prime example of what can be achieved and as an Eritrean athlete and businesswoman who lives in the USA I will always remain passionate about my country Eritrea because it inspires me.