By Victoria Idowu | CBC News
When Abimbola Aina came to Regina from a small town in Ogun state in Nigeria, he had little more than a body and a dream.
“My goal was to become a great bodybuilder, but it would not have happened if I was not in a great country like Canada,” Aina said.
“Coming to Canada changed my life.”
He was already a fitness enthusiast in Nigeria, but full-fledged bodybuilding was out of reach.
“I came from working out at the back of the house gym in Nigeria,” he said. “I could not afford to support my dream in Nigeria because it is expensive.”
Aina found a supportive environment in Regina’s bodybuilding community.
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With their help, the Nigerian-Canadian won his IFBB Pro Card last year, officially making him a professional bodybuilder.
Aina’s first major victory in sport came in 2016 when he was named Mr. Saskatchewan.
“It was more than happy for me,” he remembers. “I know how fortunate I am to be living in Canada and doing great things.’
In 2021 he travelled to Vancouver for a pro qualifiers show. His undeniable physique won him the Open Heavyweight class. He went on to win the overall title, which earned him his pro card.
“To win takes all you got, the total acceptance to be uncomfortable at times knowing great things can happen. Being in an uncomfortable position may be tough but that’s the price to pay,’ he said.
Aina said he finds motivation in a healthy lifestyle.
“I believe taking care of your body is a duty, and my parents have always told me health is wealth. Bodybuilding makes me understand how important the body is to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
“When you do what you love, you will do it with passion and your dedication to it will be unquestionable.”
Jaime Otitoju, a certified personal Trainer and WNBF professional bodybuilding coach. said success in this field requires two things: consistent dedication to working out and a proper diet.
“It requires a lot of rest, less stress and also persisting even when things are challenging,” Otitoju said.
Food plays a key role in bulking up.
“You eat at least six times a day. A combination of different classes of food. The food you eat during the season is different from the food you eat during the offseason,” Otitoju said.
Abimbola is no exception.
“I make sure I’m working out five to six times weekly and eating clean food. I try not to miss a meal,” he said.
Abimbola says earning his pro card is just the beginning of the journey for him, as he now plans to take his career to the world stage.
“My next step as a new IFBB pro is to continue working hard. I’m planning my pro debut in 2023 and by then I will be ready to battle it out with the best in the world.”
He said his story is proof for other immigrants that a better future is possible.
‘Some people have been allowed to come to this wonderful country and have never understood what their dreams are,” he said.
“I have found my path and I am succeeding at it.”