Joint Force Headquarters

Camp Fogarty, RI


Story and photos by SGT Terry Rajsombath

EAST GREENWICH, RI- “Growing up, I was actually the fat girl,” said Staff Sgt. Kayla Chase, a recruiter with the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Rhode Island Army National Guard. “The first time I ever picked up a weight was in 2015.”

On April 30, 2022, Chase won first place in the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF), Fitness Atlantic competition, and earned her pro card as a professional bodybuilder.

As a teenager, Chase spent many years taking care of her younger sister, Steffanie, while her parents tended to her sister Sara, who was undergoing cancer treatment in the hospital.

“I didn’t really have a teenage life,” said Chase. “While other kids were partying or playing sports, I had to be home to raise my baby sister.”

Unfortunately, in 2001, Sara passed away. Shortly after, Chase attended the University of Rhode Island where she remained physically inactive throughout her college career.

“I think in my twenties, the only thing I curled were twelve-ounce cans,” said Chase.

After a period of struggling within an in-and-out relationship, Chase decided she needed to make serious changes in her life.

“I was always making everybody else’s life the best it could be and realized I needed to focus on myself,” said Chase. “So, I joined a boxing gym and committed myself a few days a week.”

One day, after a workout, the owner of the gym asked Chase if she wanted to compete in a fitness show.

“I thought, ‘What’s a fitness show,’” said Chase. “I knew who Arnold Schwarzenegger was, but I didn’t know he was the man [in bodybuilding]; I didn’t know anything about the industry.”

The owner of the gym went on to explain that he would educate Chase on how to eat healthily, how to exercise, and ultimately, how she would walk on a stage in a bikini to display her physique.

Chase laughed at the idea – especially the thought of strutting in a bikini and heels – but was interested in the challenge.

“I couldn’t walk in heels, but I am the kind of person, if you put a challenge in front of me, I’m going to take it,” said Chase. “I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Sixteen weeks later, Chase lost fifty-five pounds and competed on stage in her bikini.

“I was so nervous,” said Chase. I was in this tiny, tiny bikini, exposed and self-conscious of my mommy tummy, but it was the most incredible experience! I felt so proud of myself, so I decided to do another show.”

Despite all her hard work, she wasn’t able to take home a trophy after her second, third, or fourth fitness competition.

“All of my life. All. Of. My. Life,” said Chase. “I’ve always come in second best. I’ve never been number one in anything I’ve done.”

Determined to win, Chase knew her fifth competition was going to be different.

“The day of the show was my sister’s 21st anniversary,” said Chase. “I just knew my angel was going to be with me. I had to do it.”

Motivated more than ever, Chase hit the ground running with an hour of fasted cardio each morning, followed by ninety minutes of strength training in the afternoon, an additional twenty minutes of cardio, stretching, and then a walk with her dog Chase. All-in-all, most days totaled nearly three hours of exercise.

On the day of the final competition, she stepped on stage and realized once more that this competition was different for reasons beyond her loved ones.

“[In previous competitions] I don’t think I knew who I was,” said Chase. “I was trying to be like everybody else to fit in. This time I was confident in who I am.”

With her husband and son cheering her on from behind the judges, Chase flexed, hit her poses and modeled her gown to the roar of a screaming crowd with bright lights and blaring music.

When the judges were ready to announce the winners, the crowd grew silent with anticipation.

“My number was fifty-nine,” said Chase. “When I heard fifty-one, I was like, ‘Oh, I lost.’”

The announcer was calling forth for Kylie Chase to claim her first-place trophy. When none of the contestants moved forward, Chase turned to look at the contestant beside her.

“Hey, do you think it’s me?” asked Chase. “Do you think I won?”

“Yeah, I think they messed up,” said the contestant.

Realizing their mistake, the announcer called for Kayla Chase. Moving to receive her award, Chase was overwhelmed with excitement and emotions, unable to hear the judges as they also announced that she also won her pro card.

“I blacked-out,” said Chase. “I have to watch videos on my phone to remember [what happened].”

After five fitness competitions, years of training and effort, Chase has proven to everyone and to herself that she has what it takes to be number one in a fitness competition and become a professional bodybuilder. Currently, she’s undergoing Officer Candidate School training, setting her sights on new challenges and new ways to grow personally and professionally.

When asked what message she would want to share with the world, she said, “If you are goal-driven, you’re going to do what you need to do. You have to be positive and have that go-getter mindset. You cannot let anything derail you from that end goal you want.”

Date Taken: 07.20.2022
Date Posted: 07.20.2022 10:35
Story ID: 425384
Location: RI, US

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