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Lifting Herself Up: Professional bodybuilder remakes life in the gym

Yamilla Rodriguez. (KATU Photo)

About 10 years ago Yamilla Rodriguez left Cuba. She thought she would find happiness in the land of opportunity. But her transition to America was a difficult one.

"There were a lot of things as an immigrant that I didn't anticipate, and that was kind of a struggle," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said she got depressed and she got out of shape.

"When I got here I put some weight on, a lot of weight," she said.

Then one day Rodriguez walked into Foster Fitness in Southeast Portland and she started rebuilding her body and rebuilding her life.

At Foster Fitness men and women train for professional bodybuilding shows. Rodriguez was curious to see what that world was all about. She liked what she saw.

"I went to my first bodybuilding show and I was hooked," she said.

She started to take her training seriously and just 8 months later, she took part in her first bodybuilding competition. She won. She won her second competition as well.

At Foster Fitness she met her coach and now fiancé Noel Fuller.

"Ever since she first hit the stage you could tell there was something really special about her," said Fuller.

With the help of Fuller, Rodriguez pulled off the rare feat of earning her Pro card with the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness, which is something that usually takes people many years and multiple tries to accomplish.

Since becoming a professional, Rodriguez has begun training other athletes, not just to make their bodies healthier, but to make their lives healthier.

"It's not so much about the muscles or the looks, it's the learning how to take care of yourself," she said.

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