Natalia Coelho, Women’s Physique Star, Could’ve Been a Muay Thai Fighter


Natalia Coelho could be considered much more than one of the most popular athletes in the Women’s Physique division. The Brazilian’s popularity could rank up among the best in the entire IFBB Pro League. The two-time Arnold winner and Olympia runner-up joined Dennis James on this week’s episode of “The Menace Podcast.”

While James was asking Coelho about her background, she revealed that she used to train in Muay Thai with her father. She also shared that she wasn’t afraid to mix it up with the boys, either.

“I started doing the same classes with him. I would go and there was only, like, males in there. I didn’t care. I would go in there and get punched in the face and everything. I’m like ‘that’s hard, but I’ll get there.’ I think that is how we get stronger, but I just loved the whole thing.”

Coelho, who was actually born in New York, would eventually move back to the US when she was a teenager, and that was when she went all in on bodybuilding. It turned out the seed of her love for training actually was planted long before that. She would watch the competitions on TV during her childhood. She also saw two other athletes train in the gym when she was supposed to be in ballet class.

“There were two bodybuilders who showed me what bodybuilding was. Zack and Vinnie, and they were competing as bodybuilders. They were always downstairs where the weight training area was at the time of my ballet classes. I would find a way to get out of the class, go downstairs, and watch them training like beasts. I would always think ‘that’s so nice.’”

Clearly she decided to start competing as well, and the rest is history. Among her greatest victories onstage were her two Women’s Physique International victories at the Arnold Classic. She has also placed as high as second at the Olympia. The scary part is that she is only 24 years old. She won the 2015 Nationals at the age of 19 in Figure, which she competed in before switching to Women’s Physique in 2018. James asked her about that decision, and it stemmed from a conversation with head judge Sandy Williamson.

“She’s like ‘Natalia, once you figure out that Figure isn’t about the striations and the feathers, even if we put you in the first callout and compare you with the other girls, you’re going to stand out because you have that and they don’t. But that’s not the criteria for Figure. So I can give you two options. Either step back, soften up, get your body fat higher, do less cardio, or whatever, or step up and do Women’s Physique.’

Coelho talks more about her career and her background with James in this episode of TMP. You can see it in its entirety over at the Muscle & Fitness YouTube channel. Audio versions of the show are available on Spotify.

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