Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Body, mind & soul: There’s more to Janet Layug-Davis than meets the eye

Body, mind & soul: There’s more to Janet Layug-Davis than meets the eye
by rick olivares

When 27-year old Janet Layug-Davis competes in the bikini division of bodybuilding competitions she just doesn’t want to be known for her stunning and sexy physique. She wants everyone to know that there are more layers to her than the skimpy wear she has on her.

“Well, first I went to the University of Florida and am a registered nurse,” she says with those intoxicating round hazelnut eyes of hers demanding attention. “I took up swimming and running before I settled into body building. And I do modelling on the side.”

Born to a Filipino father and a Polish mother (Nadine Podgurski) who both served with the US Navy, Janet grew up in a household that emphasized values and studies in a strict Catholic upbringing. She worked at the intensive care unit of Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center in Florida after graduation before she was introduced into the sport of bodybuilding.

“When you think of body building the first thought is, a body with so much muscle,” shared Janet over dinner at Mom & Tina’s in Quezon City. Layug-Davis is in town along with internationally renowned body builder Shawn Roden for the Shawn Roden Classic Philippines that was held last Saturday, October 29. “I thought, ‘Can I look like that -- have a beautiful physique without looking too overly muscular?’”

“You can get a nicely toned body working out vigorously in other sports, but I felt that body building was going to help me with my confidence.”

With a beautiful face, she engaged in modeling. “That wasn’t easy at all,” she described of posing in front of cameras. “It took a while to feel comfortable with all that.”

As to lifting all those weights for that aptly toned body?

“I used to think, ‘can I lift that weight?’ Being able to do so does wonders for my confidence. That translates into so any other things.”

“At first, my parents were concerned,” admitted Janet who is the fourth of five siblings and is the youngest sister. “I was and am always going to be daddy’s little baby. But when they saw that it wasn’t all that bad, they became more relaxed.”

“For me, it’s all about making choices,” interjected the father who has coming along for her daughter’s first visit to his homeland. The elder Layug is only making his second visit to the country in 10 years after moving to Florida after his Navy days were over. “I was concerned for her that people will look at her differently. But my children have always been responsible. I want them to make good choices and to be comfortable with them. When they are, so are we as parents.”

Working at Hooters where she won Ms. Hooters International in 2014 also prepared her life in front of the camera as well as for the challenge in body building as she chose to compete in the bikini division. Since that time, the five-foot-eight Layug-Davis has done quite well winning a bunch of competitions.

I wondered if she has ever encountered people who would only ogle her for her body. “Thank Heavens, no,” she divulged with a laugh. “I sure hope I won’t. I think it is also how you carry yourself. If you act like you can’t be respected, then you won’t be respected. If you conduct yourself in a respectable manner, then you will be respected.”

“Getting into body building also helped me with my time management. I had to get up earlier than usual to train before my shift at the hospital. I also learned to eat better and live life better so there have been many good things that the sport has taught me,” shared Janet. “Body building has been good for me. But I also know this isn’t going to last. I am always thinking about my next move. “

“Everything revolves around my family,” revealed Janet. For one, there’s the budding tennis career of her eight-year old daughter Briley. “She’s good. She’s got game,” beamed the proud mother. “I can’t wait to see her career flourish.” Two, she still lives in the area where she grew up. Family, after all is important to her. She shares her ideas with her parents and siblings to see what they think of them.

She knows her career as a nurse is still not yet over. Bodybuilding isn’t forever. She could return to her original profession; maybe not. There are businesses to ponder as well. She hopes though that her current career will fuel the next stage of her life.

“I want people to think that ‘ah, she’s got a good head above her shoulders.’”

After all, Janet Layug-Davis is used to lifting the weights of those challenges.

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