Mechele West is a transfer student studying religion and physical fitness who took the first-place prize for the Open Lightweight category in the NPC Central Texas Showdown for bodybuilding this past weekend. She also took second place in the Masters 35+ category and had the best overall posing. Alongside her wins, she would like to share an outreach she developed with her husband that shares her love of fitness and God. The program is called “Temple Talents” and combines self-defense with Christian theology. For more information on the ministry visit kwicministries.org.
Was this the first time you had been in a bodybuilder competition?
“No, I have done Junior Nationals where I placed fourth. My first show I actually placed first place in the lightweight at the Red River [Classic body building competition] and then I went to junior nationals and I placed fourth.”
How long have you been involved in these competitions?
“I have been competing since 2004. Prior to that I was lifting weights and doing martial arts for quite some time before that. I started martial arts when I was six. I started competing in bodybuilding 8212; actually, I started lifting weights 8212; when I was 14.”
What sort of training did you do in preparation for this competition? Do you go to the gym or have a personal trainer?
“Yes I do have a personal trainer, and I do go to the gym. On offseason [I go] three times to five times a week and while I am trying to get ready for a show, I go everyday. Doing two hours of cardio everyday and five days a week I’m working out on top of that in weights.”
What is your main motivation in pursuing bodybuilding and keeping in shape?
“Well, my husband and I are pursuing a martial arts/fitness ministry, and I just got done writing and editing a book called “Honor God with Your Body.” And so I am getting back into competing for those two reasons.”
So you have a family too. Are they very supportive of this? What do your kids say about it?
“Well, my daughters love it. My oldest daughter is 18; she’s actually thinking about becoming a fitness girl because of my competing. They are very supportive.”
You are getting a degree in religion as well as movement science. Are you using that in helping pursue your martial arts program? Or what do you plan on doing with that?
“Well, I am getting a health and fitness degree as well as religion just for the simple fact that for the ministry we are linking the two. Teaching God’s people how to take care of the body and as well as teaching them self-defense. So the ministry we’re starting, the company name is Temple Talents and the ministry itself, the belts that you get 8212; like in martial arts when you get a belt 8212; you have to literally learn the self-defense techniques for that belt, the scriptures that correlate with that belt, and different information about Christianity and fitness.”
Where did you come up with the idea for this program?
“Between my husband and I, we know 10 different martial arts styles. He trained mainly in African arts and Kung Fu, and I was all the other styles. I have at least seven styles under my belt between Tae Kwon Do, Tang Soo Do, Shotokan, Jiujitsu 8212; and so we are combining all those styles and actually training two styles of our own. One is called Osebo, which we just chartered, and the other one is called Chayah Agon. Osebo is for kids and [able-bodied] adults; Chayah Agon is for the elderly. The other reason that I chose TCU was because Dr. [David] Upton and I were discussing possibly starting an outreach from TCU where we talk to the different high schools and middle schools and get them more involved in fitness at a younger age and teach them the proper ways of staying fit. That is something that may be a possibility in the future.”
Would that involve other TCU students helping out?
“That and Dr. Upton and I have to discuss maybe starting a group. With the background that I have and the background that he has, at least we can get something initiated, and so that will give TCU a little PR and will also help the community.”