From exercise physiologist, personal trainer, and figure competitor, Kayla’s achieved it all and overcome unhealthy addictions, isolation, serious injuries, and misunderstandings with her family. She’s done it with incredible will-power to succeed and a deep belief in herself and her own value.
With over 50 thousand followers on social media, numerous satisfied clients, and a growing online presence, Kayla’s on her way to greatness and there’s no sign of her stopping, and this is her story.
|Full Name: Kayla Dee Johnson|
|135 - 145lbs (61.2 - 65.8kg)||5'4" (162.5cm)||American||Bodybuilder, Figure Competitor|
|Weight||135 - 145lbs (61.2 - 65.8kg)|
|Profession||Bodybuilder, Figure Competitor|
“I’ve learned that my emotional pitfalls are not valid excuses when it comes to reaching my goals. No matter what obstacle comes my way, no matter how my heart has been broken or no matter how much I want to give up…tomorrow is coming…and I don’t get to do today over…so I better make the most of it!”
Education & Awards
- Degree: B.S. Exercise Physiologist
- Certifications: NASM- Certified Personal Trainer
- American Society of Exercise Physiology- Board Certified Exercise Physiologist
- September 2012
NPC North Star
Figure D Class Winner
2nd Place Overall
- May 2013
NPC Iron Viking of the North Championships
Figure Class D Winner
- June 2013
NPC Junior Nationals
- June 2013
NPC Minnesota State Championships
Figure Class D Winner
- November 2013
NPC Iowa Battle of the Midwest
Figure Short Class Winner
- November 2013
5th Place Figure Class D
- October 2014
NPC Badger State
Figure B Class Winner
- November 2014
- June 2015
NPC Junior Nationals
3rd Place Figure Class D
“At the end of day, I know that I am my own creator. Every choice I make or choose not to make reflects in what I do.”
Finding Her Feet
Kayla Dee was fortunate enough to have been brought up in a sporting family which cemented her love for fitness and health at an early age. Her two older brothers would tease her at any chance they would have if she ever appeared too girly. It’s no surprise that Kayla went on to play a lot of sports in her youth, she admits that she was a bit of a tomboy growing up.
After finishing high school from a very small town and moving to a much larger public school took some getting used to for Kayla. She admits the transition was quite difficult. It took her some time to find out what it was that she loved to do and which direction she should go. She soon managed to find a smaller private college and started studying Exercise Physiology. Although she graduated with a sports science degree, her lifestyle was anything but healthy.
Kayla hardly exercised, she drank a lot of alcohol and picked up smoking. She only ate one nutritional meal per day from the ages of 18-26, Kayla was on a downward spiral. She knew she had to realize what her own worth was, but one thing that held her back was her self-image of herself and the constant fear of becoming overweight in a phobic state. Her fears took over her life.
Even with her period of unhealthy living, Kayla’s never been overweight, but she makes a very interesting point on self-image and the roles we play in society, “I believe our society plants the seed and cultivates the desire in young people to try to obtain an unrealistic self-image and sets up those with a weak support system or low self-confidence into a whirlwind of disappointment and frustration.”
“In March 2012, I woke up on my kitchen floor realizing that I needed to make a change.”
Something snapped in Kayla, in 2012 when she woke up on the kitchen floor. This is when she knew it was now or never, she knew a change needed to be made. “I owed it myself, my family, my friends and especially my clients that I was meant to be a leader in the fitness industry. I turned my life completely around. I promised myself and I would never live my life so selfishly and that I would use my talents of perseverance and old-fashioned hard work to inspire, encourage and coach others towards becoming the best person they are meant to be.”
Kayla turned her life around and is now a successful fashion model, coach, and competitive figure model. She’s been rising to the top ever since 2012. But things haven’t been all smooth sailing. In 2014 Kayla broke her fibula, tibia and dislocated her ankle after landing incorrectly in a training session. She went through extensive surgery to put her bones back together. With wire mesh and screws in her leg, she was focused on making a full recovery to step back on stage as soon as possible.
“It has been a long road to recovery and has proven itself a daily challenge. It has taught me patience, dedication and the importance of a relentless attitude to be successful in life.”
“I do this sport to continually prove to myself that I’m worth it. That I can do anything I put my mind to that I have control over what I become.”
On To Greatness
Making a full and healthy recovery, Kayla continued to compete and train harder than ever. She now helps other competitors prepare for the final stages of their training program to make sure they’re mentally focused throughout the whole process. She knows how hard it can be to overcome what your mind is trying to tell you, Kayla knows this more than most. She knows how to tap into the emotional and psychological changes that need to be carefully looked at when getting ready for a competition or any other challenges in life.
“I know that I exemplify this mantra through everything I do and I know it would resonate in anything I do and represent. I would love the opportunity to reach out to others to help support them in their fitness journey, whatever it may be. Whether that is writing articles, motivational speaking, running seminars, working booths/expos or just sitting down and chatting!”
“I never thought I would enjoy cardio. In fact I always said if I was running it would only be if someone was chasing me with a knife.”
Cardio For Conditioning
Kayla has always been a relatively slim person, she always relied on her genetics and weights training routine to get her body “competition ready.” But, she always came up short with her conditioning. Every competition Kayla had done, her feedback always pointed towards her lack of conditioning. She knew she had to do extra cardio. Kayla admits she never thought she would enjoy cardio, she much prefers using weights.
Her cardio sessions will consist of a morning fasted morning cardio roughly 30-40 minutes on a step machine, and then another 30 minutes after her lifting workout. She admits that she responds best to HIIT cardio, as opposed to any type of cardio on the step machine.
As for weight training, Kayla likes to recommend three exercises to always include in her routine. There are:
- Rack Pulls – This allows you to lift heavier weights and focus on gaining strength and focusing on gaining extra power and size without worrying about injury.
- T-Bar Rows- Another safe exercise to strengthen the back and the arms. This aims at increasing the depth of the back with the benefit of hitting the arms at the same time.
- Wide Grip Pull Ups – This exercise is great for overall upper body strength and creating wide lats and improved grip strength.
As we can see, Kayla loves to train heavy over cardio any day. Her exercise routine consists of heavy compound movements that focus on getting more bang for your buck. This can clearly be seen from her awesome physique.
- Monday: Heavy Hams/Calves – Back Pump
- Tuesday: Heavy Arms – Delt Pump – Abs
- Wednesday: Heavy Chest – Cardio – Abs
- Thursday: Heavy Back – Bicep Pump – Abs
- Friday: Heavy Quads/Calves
- Saturday: Heavy Delts/Tris – Chest Pump – Abs
- Sunday: Cardio/Abs or OFF
“Fish isn’t my favorite thing but I made it work by going to a local restaurant and had them cook it for me to my specifications. I think that was more psychological as I felt like I was getting a ‘cheat meal’ when really I wasn’t.”
Kayla will always maintain a healthy eating routine even when she’s in the off-season. When she’s finished a competition she uses a dieting protocol called reverse dieting which involves slowly increasing her calories to build up her weight without gaining unwanted body fat. In this time, she’ll add red meat back into her diet.
Her reason for not eating red meat whilst she gets ready for competitions is that red meat striates her muscles, something she wants to avoid for her competitions. Her physique needs to be for Figure competitions. Bodybuilders will tend to focus on trying to achieve striated muscles to impress the judges.
It’s All Psychological
Kayla believes that when it comes to diet it’s all psychological, “you always want what you cannot have.” When she does get cravings for foods she will drink a lot of water, “it helps me get my mind off of it.” Most of the time she’ll admit it’s just boredom that triggers her cravings. She will treat herself to a protein bar or almond butter every two weeks to alleviate her mind both “psychologically and emotionally.”
“I know I have people that look to me for guidance, support and motivation. My motivation comes from those that I know might need that extra push.”
Idols and Influences
Kalya’s a role model and inspiration for over 50 thousand people on social media and around the globe. She knows that it’s her actions and attitude that can affect the way people view themselves that look at her for guidance and support. Kayla knows how vital it is to work hard and let people know what it takes to achieve their goals. She’s always there for her fans, clients, and anyone who needs it to give them that extra push they need to get the job done.
There were times in Kayla’s life when she felt misunderstood and unsupported from her family, she’s chosen a life that’s incredibly time-consuming and stressful. The strict diets, the structured regime that lasts for months, Kayla knows how dedicated you have to be to make it on stage in top condition. She’s totally committed 100%. Kayla doesn’t want to step on to stage feeling she’s missed something out, something that she could have done differently, something she could have made better.
She knows how it is to feel lonely and isolated during her training process. This makes Kayla a great example of someone who knows how to dig deep and motivate others to do the same. She’s been able to make some great friends and form some solid relationships in the community of bodybuilding and figure competing.
“There are times where I feel lonely in this sport but at the same time I have been able to form solid relationships with other competitors and others who have fully committed themselves to living a healthy lifestyle. There have been moments that I question why I do what I do and why I put myself through it, but I also know I could never give it up. It is something that has literally saved me from myself and I will always hold that close to my heart.”
What we can learn from Kayla Dee
Kayla’s battled through unhealthy addictions, injuries, and isolation; if we can look to anyone for inspiration it’s certainly Kalya. With years of experience and a physique to back up her hard work, we know her drive and ambition and “lead by example” mentality has inspired thousands and will continue to do so for a long time to come.
With a psychological approach to exercise and life, Kalya has achieved a world class body. With the right preparation, whether it’s for bulking or cutting, taking a tough mental attitude along with patience, you too can have your very own physique of greatness.
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