As a bodybuilder and founder of Olive Branch’s LT Unique Fitness, it’s hard to imagine 40-year-old Lakennia Terry as anyone but a powerhouse committed to her body.

Yet only four years ago, the Southaven mother of two was battling pre-diabetes, hypertension, and mild depression. Her post-motherhood weight had inched up to 226 pounds.

Looking back, Lakennia says, “Not to toot my own horn, but I was a person who was not athletic at all.

“There were a lot of things I couldn’t do back in the day with my daughter. Now, sometimes I’m training her to do things. It’s an amazing feeling.”

A visit to the doctor in 2015 started Lakennia’s journey. After finding out her blood pressure was an alarming 152 over 120, she started a basic diet and joined a boot camp before issues with her legs forced her to quit. “It was my shins, my quads, everything,” she says.

Lakennia’s daughter Treveka, 22, was then a talented volleyball and track athlete at Southaven High School and with the Memphis Mustangs AAU team. She kept the pressure on her mom to keep persisting, leading to another alarming visit to the doctor.

The doctor asked Lakennia when her youngest, her son, would graduate from high school. “I said, ‘Two years.’ He said, ‘If you don’t get these health issues taken care of, you may not live to see him graduate.’

“That was my motivating factor. I started pushing and pushing and pushing. As I continued to push, the weight was going away.”

Through her daughter, Lakennia found trainer Toye L Bogard of Fit Nation. With all his tips and motivation, alongside a radical restructure of her diet, she eventually lost 80 pounds over five short months in 2016.

With a renewed sense of what was possible in her own life, Lakennia wanted to help others. She opened up LT Unique Fitness in February 2018 and has seen her client list increase to 30. The focus, she says, is on supporting goals, however big or small.

“I developed it to inspire, empower, and uplift ladies, and we have some men too,” she says.

“At the end of every workout, we form a circle and give everyone the opportunity to recognize a small victory … if you lose two pounds, we make a big deal out of it. The whole thing about LT Unique Fitness is motivation because that can be the missing piece.”

Bodybuilding came into Lakennia’s life after reading about it in 2017. She linked up with Collierville bodybuilders Chris and Cindy Caudy at Next Level Training. By May 2018, she competed in her first competition at Battle of the Bluff. She claimed second place as true novice (figure) and fifth for masters (35+).

“In bodybuilding, is it’s not about winning for me. After weighing 226 pounds, being able to step on stage in a bikini, whether I win or lose, I feel like I’ve already won.”

In the space of four years, Lakennia has become an entirely different person and credits Treveka and her son TreDarius with supporting her throughout. She understands that the first step in changing your health situation is always the hardest.

“My advice is to be able just love yourself,” she says. “If I could have looked in the mirror and just embraced that person, embraced some of the qualities I had, it would have helped.”

By Ben Stanley

Photo by JoLaura Bell