Amateur Bodybuilder Of The Week: Shaka Smith

In the vibrant culture of bodybuilding, nothing comes easy. Shaka earned spectacular results by paying with time, effort and discipline. See what put him on stage!

Name: Shaka Smith
BodySpace: SSTRONG
Age: 26
Location: North Hollywood, CA Height: 5' 8" Weight: 160 lbs Years Competing: 1

How Did You Get Started?

I have always been active, primarily swimming and playing water polo through college. In college I was introduced to the weight room and wanted no part of it. It was foreign to me and I felt fit and initially couldn't see how it could benefit me.

After college without sports to remain active and fit, I returned to the gym and just started to learn, and what I learned I began to love. I continued to remain in shape and hit the gym, but it wasn't until I moved to LA last year to pursue acting and fitness modeling that I really focused on competing.

I was fortunate enough to meet and start working out with James Ellis, a seasoned fitness model and competitor in the industry who encouraged me to compete. He stepped up my training to a new level. Everything he did in the gym was technical, there wasn't one thing that was not deliberate from the number of reps, to precise angles, and even speed of the reps at different parts of the motions for certain exercises. Adopting this level of consciousness for my training made a huge difference.

We went to check out the new Men's Physique division in March 2011, where I saw now IFBB Pro Alex Carneiro take the Overall. I saw great athletes competing and wanted to be a part of it all. After watching that competition I decided to step on stage in April and I was hooked!

Why Do You Love Fitness/Bodybuilding?

I love fitness/bodybuilding because it keeps me motivated to live an active healthy lifestyle. I love it because as I get older I want to continue to enjoy an active lifestyle and through remaining fit, I know I can. I also love that it is one of the few things in life you have a fair amount of control over. I really enjoy changing my diet or training even in slight ways and seeing direct results.

I also love competing and the training leading up to competition. I live for the feeling of focus I get when I am prepping and the rush on show day. Among the competitors, I also love the support we give one another. The camaraderie in the Men's Physique division has been amazing. Of course, we are all individual competitors trying to win, but there is also a sense that we are in this together as we seek to bring our collective best to the stage.

What Motivates You To Follow A Healthy Lifestyle?

Competing motivates me to follow a healthy lifestyle. More than this however, I want to enjoy a certain quality of life as I get older and to be around to enjoy moments with family and friends.

I have just seen many people regret not having made wise health decisions when they were younger and have seen the effects first-hand of poor health on the young and old. I have always had a sense that if I am healthy and fit, I can deal with whatever life throws at me, but health and fitness come first.

What Made You Want To Achieve Your Goals?

My mom made me want to achieve my goals. She instilled in me a sense of needing to complete what I started and do so at a high level. I was fortunate to get this motivation and drive at a young age.

I think it is important to instill great values in children, but unfortunately fitness is one of those values often overlooked. My mom pushed me into sports early on and encouraged me to stick with it and I attribute my motivation and desire to achieve my goals to those early lessons. I do my best to motivate young people to get involved in sports and pay attention to their health; building good health habits early can avoid a lifetime of problems.

What Are Your Future Fitness/Bodybuilding Plans?

I plan to compete next on May 19, at the Junior USA Championships in South Carolina in hopes of earning my IFBB Pro Card.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Fitness Competitors?

Do it for you. This is a sport where we make changes based on the recommendations of others, be it judges, trainers, fellow competitors etc., but ultimately you have to want to make those changes for yourself as well. If you don't, you won't be a happy competitor and that will come through on the stage as well. So, do it for you and enjoy the ride!

Who Are Your Favorite Fitness Competitors/Bodybuilders?

My list grows as I meet more people in this industry - I am very fortunate to be a part of it. To name a few though, James Ellis who has been a great mentor, Jay Cutler whose drive and humble nature I have always been impressed by, Greg Plitt who doesn't seem to have an "off" button and is a constant motivator, and Charles Glass, the Godfather, who is an inspiration in every sense of the word. I really love this industry and the people in it - no list of my favorites will ever be long enough.

What Features Do You Use On

I love BodySpace and I love reading the forums and checking out all the competition updates and pictures. was the first place I turned to learn more about pursuing my fitness goals - it's been a great resource.