This former lawyer is New Zealand’s most prolific Bikini Pro.
By Mike Carlson
PQ: “My shoulders are on the dominant side for Bikini, but I prefer an athletic look. I am not a model—I am an athlete, and I train like an athlete.”
PQ: “If you have an honors law degree and worked as a lawyer for four and a half years, people have a bit of faith in you.”
IFB Bikini Pro Sheena Jayne Martin does not give up. After suffering a disappointing placement at the 2016 Mr. Olympia, the New Zealand native and Orlando Pro champion knew she couldn’t end her competitive season on a sour note. So she began a whirlwind international tour in search of redemption.
First stop was the Korea Grand Prix, where she paced fifth. Better, but unsatisfactory. She spent four weeks following the advice of the judges and brought her muscular lower body down through daily fasted leg training, fasted cardio, and cutting calories. A show in Russia was a wash, thanks to the mind-boggling idiosyncrasies of international judging. A competition in Florida netted her fourth place. In December, she took second at the San Marino Pro in Italy and returned to New Zealand feeling redeemed, if not content.
Some might consider her rampage drastic. She traveled the globe and dropped 10 pounds in the process of dialing in her physique. Martin, though, is not one to take the middle road in any venue. A former lawyer, she left the soulless legal profession to train clients and achieve something she couldn’t in her law practice: Make a meaningful impact on the lives of others. Playing it safe is not her strong suit.
“There is a famous quote by Nicole Wilkins,” says Martin. “It goes something like, ‘Some people say I am obsessed. Well, yes, I am obsessed. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be doing as well as I have done and still be striving to do better.’”
Mike Carlson: How did you get into fitness as a full-time career?
Sheena Jayne Martin: I started dancing when I was three. I did ballet and jazz from three until I went to university. I was also into equestrian. I went to university and studied to be a lawyer. I was a lawyer for four years and then I quit. I hated it. My motivation for being a lawyer was to help people, but when you get into the real world of being a lawyer it is not at all about helping people. It is about making people money. I wanted to do something that helps people in a meaningful way. So I decided after a couple of years that I wanted to try and work my way out of it. I started studying to become a personal trainer.
MC: Do you still dance?
SM: I don’t still dance. I do incorporate a lot of stuff I learned from ballet. Particularly my glute training. For example, different foot positons that a typical trainer wouldn’t think of. If you turn your feet a certain way, you can recruit your glutes a different way and get a different result.
MC: Can you give me an example?
SM: On an angled leg press I’ll incorporate a wide stance—what you’d call a ballet second—kind of a typical sumo squat stance. I’ll also use what I call a “ballerina stance,” which is literally a first position in ballet. It is heels together and toes turned out. You put your weight in your heels and on the outside of your foot and it is all glute medius. I tried it once and I felt it a lot more through the outside of my glutes. I have all my clients doing it.
MC: What do you think is your best bodypart?
SM: My favorite bodypart is my shoulders. I also have a very strong posterior chain. I only train my back once a week, but I have a very well-developed back, considering I’ve never tried to develop it. And I have really dominant hamstrings. I put that down to my horseback riding background. From dancing I have very good posture, so that helps with the posterior chain. From horse riding, my adductors are really strong, and from pulling on a horse, my back is really strong.
MC: Your shoulders definitely stand out?
SM: I love them. Some people say that Bikini is not about having shoulders, but I think that having a cap on your shoulders makes your symmetry look better, and it also gives you more of an hourglass. At the end of the day, Bikini is all about wider shoulders, a smaller waist, and a bigger booty. My shoulders are on the dominant side for Bikini, but I prefer an athletic look. I am not a model—I am an athlete, and I train like an athlete.
MC: Who else has an athletic look?
SM: Narmin [Assria] has a very athletic look. She is one of my favorites. Justine Munro has an athletic look. She has narrow hips, so she struggles with the hour-glass thing, but she has great glutes. Ashley Kaltwasser has more of an athletic look, but more so in her lower body than upper body. There are a lot of Bikini athletes that don’t have much of an upper body.
MC: What is it like to be a member of Team Optimum Nutrition?
SM: Becoming a Team Optimum Nutrition athlete was an ultimate goal for me, and I feel so blessed to have been offered this incredible opportunity. It’s a forward-thinking and innovative brand, and I love that they are always releasing new products and flavors to deal with demand in the industry. In looking for a supplement brand, I think affordability and quality are very important, but often out of balance! I love that I can confidently market Optimum Nutrition products to my clients and followers and feel as though they are not only getting premium products, but that I am recommending products that are affordable and worth every cent they will spend on them.
MC: What supplements do you take?
SM: My favorite Optimum Nutrition products are Gold Standard Whey in White Chocolate and Amino Energy RTDs in watermelon flavor.
MC: What’s your training split like?
SM: Since the Olympia I’ve been training legs fasted almost every morning and doing fasted cardio because I’m trying to bring my legs down. I’ve made a massive change to them. I always incorporate two to three glute isolation sessions a week. I’m trying to grow my glutes as much as I can. Those are the main things I want to achieve. I’ll do two to three upper-body sessions a week. I love shoulders, so I train them a lot because I love it, not so much that I need to work on them.
MC: Was there a big change in your income when you quit being a lawyer?
SM: There was big change: I earned double in my first year as a personal trainer. When you’re a lawyer, you’re practically a slave for the first four to six years. I was earning shit money and working long hours; I was on a salary and only paid from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., but you have to be there from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 a.m. You basically sell your soul to the firm in the hopes that one day you’ll work your way up.
MC: Has your law degree helped in your new career?
SM: I think it has. I did commercial law, so my job was reading and writing contracts. I learned some practical business skills as well. My law degree taught me to work hard. That won’t ever be wasted. And it gives me a lot of credibility. If you have an honors law degree and worked as a lawyer for four and a half years, people have a bit of faith in you. IM
Name: Sheena Jayne Martin
Lives: I live in Auckland, New Zealand, but I’ve spent four of the last six months traveling and competing. I'm hoping to call Los Angeles home in the not-too-distant future.
Profession: Lawyer turned IFBB Professional Bikini Athlete, online trainer, and nutrition coach
Likes: People who chase their dreams, lifting weights, music, sunrises, sunsets, frozen yogurt, strawberries, summer, oats for breakfast with Optimum Nutrition White Chocolate Gold Standard Whey
Dislikes: Fake people, negative people, cold weather, rain, bacon, people who chew with their mouth open or eat really loudly
Favorite Drink: A cafe latte with unsweetened almond milk or a good espresso sweetened with stevia
Favorite Movie: I'm going to be really cliché and say The Notebook—and yes, I cry every time!
Ultimate Vacation: Somewhere tropical. I love Hawaii, but I have a bucket list of places like Bali and Rarotonga
Who Would You Cast To Play Yourself In A Movie? I couldn't let anybody play me in a movie; I would have to do it myself. I love to be in control of my own destiny and responsible for my own success. So if you want to make a movie about me, looks like I'll have to become a movie star.
Desert Island Exercises: Dumbbell lateral raises, glute/hip thrusters, lat pulldown.
Favorite Charity Or Cause: Make-A-Wish Foundation
Sponsors: Optimum Nutrition, CJ's Elite Competition Suits, Glam Competition Jewelry