When most people think of the Caribbean Island of Barbados, they begin to imagine a sun filled vacation in a tropical paradise. It’s a destination place, somewhere we have either been or hope to one day visit. But if that’s where you’re from, you may dream of seeing other places. For Ramona Ramjit-Munoz, the time came when she needed to venture beyond the already familiar. “I was at a point in my life where I just wanted to go explore and see what else was out there for me. I first moved to Hawaii. That is where my brother was stationed at the time, he is in the Air Force.” For Ramona, Barbados will always be home and she will carry it with her in her heart. It is there where she first developed her passion for fitness and being onstage. “I started modeling and entering pageants as a teen. To keep in shape I would go to the gym and that continued into my adulthood, but I never was as committed as I am now.” Competing in pageants is something that runs in her family. “My baby sister, Regina at 19 won Miss Barbados World. She represented Barbados in the Miss World Pageant in Indonesia!”
Ramona’s Caribbean roots allow her to look back and reflect on the similarities and differences she can now see as she continues her fitness pursuits. “In Barbados people love to feed you,” she says. “If you go to someone’s home they will offer you food on top of food, lol! Our local dishes are huge portions. There is no such thing as portion control at home. Food has lots of flavor. Our main dish is flying fish and cou cou..yuumm! Our annual Crop Over Festival (our carnival) always seems to be a date most people try to get into shape for. Maybe 3 to 4 months before, the gyms will be full. During Crop Over Festival we wear sexy costumes and parade in the streets. Everyone’s having fun and celebrating, so of course most want to look their best in their costumes.”
From this modest foundation Ramona’s passion for fitness and exercise continued to grow. “At the beginning of 2012, I felt in a rut with life…work, home, work, home…not much of a social life either…I decided that was going to be the year I focused on myself and set some goals. One of my goals was to become consistent again with working out (years ago I had been more consistent when I competed in pageants and modeled). I wanted to get in the best shape I’d ever been. I tried by myself in 2011, did P90X and had good results but knew I needed something more to get the best results. Some of my girl friends who competed would post pics from their shows and seeing their transformations inspired me. I spoke to my friend Carolina and she told me how much fun the shows were and I should do one with her, so I did.”
Once she started doing fitness based bikini competitions Ramona felt right at home onstage. “I did 5 shows with one organization and I qualified for their National Level. But since I’m only a US Resident and not a US Citizen yet, I’m wasn’t able to compete in their National Shows. I heard of the WBFF (World Beauty Fitness and Fashion) and wanted to give it a shot. They allow any nationality to compete. This was a blessing in disguise for me as the WBFF is more of a production and you get so much stage time to show off all of your hard work and just have fun on stage, it was right up my alley. It’s glamour meets fitness. They look at your overall package and seem to care about you as a competitor. You are not just a number to them for their show. The atmosphere backstage is super friendly. EVERYONE helps each other, everyone gets along. It’s more like a family atmosphere. I had the chance to meet some WBFF Pros and the ones I come in contact with were extremely friendly, helpful, and supportive. Very approachable. This was definitely the federation I aspired to earn my Pro Status in.”
Ramona competed in a couple more shows and continued to get better. Having adopted a new and healthier approach to contest prep she was able to stay close to her competition weight and maintain a fit look in the off-season. Her metabolism rebounded from previous, more extreme programs and she found herself getting ready for the 2014 WBFF World Championships on track to look her best.
“Going into Worlds I felt very happy with my progress. This is when I truly appreciated my results since I began with my new method. I try never to have expectations going into a show. Of course we all want to win, it is a competition after all, but I was more excited to show the progress I made since my last show, to show the difference 4 more months of consistency made.”
“I got called in the Top 10 and I was excited. When my name was called for Top 5, I felt excited. They then called 3rd Place Winner, then 2nd Place Winner and I remember thinking, oh well I just placed Top 5 at Worlds…and my name was called as 1st Place Winner, getting me my Pro Card.. I was so surprised my expression said it all! Lol. I remember walking through the motions during the awards but it didn’t really sink in until I got backstage and was being congratulated.”
“Getting my pro card feels amazing, but this is even more special to me because I earned it in a healthy way. Things have been the same for me since. I am looking forward to setting a date for my Pro Debut next year.”
But as much as she enjoys competing, that’s not the main reason Ramona is so devoted to fitness. “As I get older and I want to feel and look my best. I enjoy setting goals for myself and it just feels great to accomplish them. I want to learn as much as I can and keep challenging myself. I’ve only been involved in fitness a relatively short time and I had no idea this part was going to happen, but it’s an amazing feeling to inspire others to pursue their own goals, not only in fitness but whatever they want to pursue for themselves in life. Also, I would like to possibly pursue personal training and help others achieve their personal goals like I’ve have achieved mine.”
Ramona understands that everyone has different challenges. She offers this advice to those wishing to become more fit. “First, you must be doing this for the person in the mirror, YOURSELF! Set realistic and healthy goals for yourself. Do some research, find some good workout routines and most important is your diet. You MUST be eating balanced meals your whole family can enjoy too. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym which will take away time from your family and job. Don’t be afraid to pick up the weights, you will not get bulky like a man! Another important reminder is being patient and consistent. Consistency is the key and any small change is great results so don’t be too hard on yourself”
Ramona also knows the importance of having a strong team around you when you are trying to accomplish anything challenging. “I’ve been blessed to have the amount of support that I do. My hubby David who supports me daily through all my highs and lows, my baby Dexter (our French bulldog) for his unconditional love and always being able to keep me in good spirits, Ana Tigre and Terry Goodlad for their guidance and genuine support, Kevin Myles, my coach for giving me a healthy alternative to extreme fitness approaches and for putting up with my millions of questions, concerns and doubts, Spartan Sports Nutrition Store in Las Vegas for making sure I have all my necessary supplements, Top Secret Nutrition, my City Athletic Club Family, everyone who follows me on my Facebook page, all their ‘likes’, comments, and messages keep me motivated to continue on my journey, all my family and friends who keep in touch and keep encouraging me, a huge thank you!!!”
Ramona’s fitness journey is still ongoing. There’s no telling how far it will take her or where it will ultimately lead. But she’s determined to travel it in a healthy and positive manner, inspiring as many others as possible along the way. And wherever she goes, she will bring along the warmth and light of her home country Barbados in her spirit and her smile to share with others.
(photography: Terry Goodlad)