Alexandria Overton, 25, admits she’s always had a minor obsession with Arnold Schwarzenegger, particularly his career as a professional bodybuilder. In March 2019, she attended her first bodybuilding competition in person, the Arnold Schwarzenegger Strongman Classic in Columbus, Ohio, and was hooked.

“The women were strong, muscle-bound, and powerful,” Alex recalls. “To put in that much effort and work to get onto a stage…I was just mesmerized.”

Upon returning home, Alex hired a coach and began training for her first bikini competition that summer. By October 2019, she was posing in five-inch heels in front of a table of judges in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This past June, Alex competed in the Mid-South Muscle Showdown in Southaven and won first in her division. With four competitions behind her, she’s stepping into a well-deserved off-season, but her training is far from over.

Outside her full-time job at Stretch Zone in East Memphis, Alex spends roughly six days a week in the gym. “I am always striving for progressive overload, so I’m trying to get better with every rep, muscle group, and movement,” she adds. Weightlifting is a key component of her routine, but she also adds light cardio four to five times a week, primarily in highincline treadmill walking.

Born with a heart condition known as Atrial Septic Defect (ASD), Alex underwent two open heart surgeries before she was seven. She currently has mild to moderate leaks in her aorta, mitral, and tricuspid valves, which are monitored regularly by her cardiologist. Despite some physical limitations surrounding workouts, her condition hasn’t slowed her down from achieving her fitness goals.

Leading up to a show, competitors often cut back on calories to get as lean as possible for the stage. But now that Alex is taking a “full improvement season,” she’ll be doing the opposite. With the help of her coach, Pamela John, she has slowly started introducing more calories into her diet every few weeks. “I’m constantly getting critiques to grow my shoulders, so we decided to move into a leaner kind of bulk,” she explains.

One of the added bonuses to Alex’s job at Stretch Zone is utilizing their patented stretch equipment for muscle recovery. “We all hop up on each other’s tables, so I try to get stretched at least once a week,” she adds. Alex is also a big believer in listening to her body, so rest days are crucial to avoid burnout.

“It’s hard. It does take a mental toll. But at the end of the day, I chose to do this. And I choose to do this every day because it makes me feel better, and I’m very passionate about it.”

For her next competition season, Alex says one of her goals is to make it to her first National show. After that, ultimately in the five-year mark, she’d love to turn pro. As for now, she’s got her eyes set on the next Memphis bodybuilding competition in April 2023.

By Colleen May
Photo by Tindall Stephens