Living sculpture: Miss Universe Pro Sports Model Katelyn Bartlett

We are thrilled to feature the amazing physique that made Katelyn Bartlett a world fitness model champion in Rio – and the extraordinary mental attitude that helped her get there.

When Katelyn Bartlett won the Miss Universe Pro Sports Model in the WFF Universe competition last year, it should have been reported on the nightly news. It wasn’t because the mainstream media don’t get fitness modelling or bodybuilding, which was a pity because what Katelyn achieved in Rio this time last year was extraordinary.

The American-born Australian became the world number one in one of the most competitive sports on the planet, one that requires a perfect storm of superb physique, mental strength, stage presence and charisma. What made the achievement even more astonishing was that Katelyn had taken up fitness modelling just two years before. That win in Rio propelled Katelyn from the obscurity of being a PT on Sydney’s North Shore to the biggest world stage in her sport.

So, below is a gallery to celebrate Katelyn’s achievement a year on, now that she starts to gear up for her next formidable assault on the world titles. But before you get to the gallery, you should also know the huge role that mental attitude played in her success. In fact, if you want to learn anything from Katelyn’s success that you can easily apply to your own life, this is it.

Start of the journey

Katelyn’s fitness journey started when she tired of being the office manager at a health company four years ago. After becoming a PT, she decided she needed a goal that would see her put into practice what she preached to her clients. The person she turned to was Steve Baudo, who had been her mentor during her PT training at the Australian Institute of Fitness.

Steve also happened to be one of Australia’s top strength and conditioning gurus and contest prep coaches. For anyone wanting to be a fitness model, there was no better teacher than Baudo. After Katelyn began training with him, the success came almost immediately. In her first big national contest, the 2016 Nationals held in Sydney, she placed an impressive 5th both in the 30+ division and the Pro Card division. But just a year later, she placed first in the Fitness Model category at the NABBA/WFF Night of Champions in Newcastle, the first of an unbelievable sequence of firsts in other Australian competitions.

Mental attitude

Of course, Katelyn had a sculptor’s understanding of her body, which also responded perfectly to Baudo’s training. But what also set her apart – and what makes her so inspirational – was her unique mental attitude. When she arrived in Rio she told her coach “I’m winning this.” She recalls that he chuckled and said “let’s just go out and just do what you do.” She repeated herself: “I said no, I’m winning this. I can feel it. This is mine.”

There was a method to her madness. In the lead up to the competition she would write in her gratitude journal every morning all the ways she felt she was getting better. In essence, Katelyn was focusing on her improvements and successes rather than her faults, and also staying humble. She wasn’t worrying about negative stuff or her opponents.

“I would do little notes to notes to myself and I would literally write ‘I’m thankful for being Miss Universe WFF Sports Model Comp.  I’m thankful that I’m getting to Rio and that I’m learning to be amazing on stage.’ And I would write it as if I’d already achieved it and it was mine and it was done. It was a feeling. I still talk about it and think about being on stage and I get really emotional.”

On the day of the Miss Universe Pro Sports Model competition, “I could feel it with all the grains in my body. I’m like, ”I’m there to win this. I’m bringing it home for Australia.'” It wasn’t just for her, but for the people who had helped her raise the $3,000 she needed to get to Rio, she says.

This meant that when she took to the stage in Rio, she was focused on her positives. As a result, her confidence and powerful presence really shone through and highlighted the physical aspects of her work. And if that isn’t a metaphor for life, we don’t know what is.


Post Comp shoot


The first shoot, Post Comp

A week after the came 5th in her first serious national competition, Katelyn lined up for a photoshoot with photographer Carl Hensel, assuming “I’d remain in the amazing condition I had kept for so many months.” However, the reality of the Post Comp “blowout”, when competitors stop all the strict pre-competition dieting and training, meant that by the time of the shoot she’d put on 5kg.

“For the first time in my life I was not feeling confident in my skin,” Katelyn says. “I was crying on the long ride up from Sydney to Newcastle thinking how much money I’d just wasted paying for this photoshoot as my body was not photo worthy like it was the previous week.” 

Hensel disagreed with her, however. “When I showed up, Carl was greeting me with a huge smile and was ecstatic with my figure. I kept apologising to him for not being in my best condition. Yet, to him this was the best condition to be in for photography.

“He said ‘Oh, Kat, your curves, you’ve filled out perfectly, we are going to create some stunning images.’ I had huge doubts and was going through the motions as he directed me where to look and how to pose. At one point in the shoot when we were doing the boxing scene and he wanted me to seriously hit the pad, my emotions started to take over. I was letting out my disappointment in myself and anger.”

“In that moment he stopped everything and just said ‘wow, I have to show you this image’. I looked at the back of his camera and burst into tears, tears of joy! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I actually looked fit and healthy and sporty and toned – which was not at all how I was feeling. That first shoot was the best experience and what I needed to experience Post Comp.”

Check out the next few shots from the Post Comp shoot!