Runnin’ with Rani: Kailua-Kona’s Winona Chen among final eight in Ms. Health & Fitness Competition

alex brown

By this time next week, organizers will announce the winner of the Ms. Health &Fitness Competition and Kailua-Kona’s Winona Chen is among the final eight women with a darn good chance of claiming the coveted title. “It’s so exciting — it’s all of the emotions,” Chen said. “I’m thrilled, thankful, […]

By this time next week, organizers will announce the winner of the Ms. Health &Fitness Competition and Kailua-Kona’s Winona Chen is among the final eight women with a darn good chance of claiming the coveted title.

“It’s so exciting — it’s all of the emotions,” Chen said. “I’m thrilled, thankful, nervous — I mean, I’m really nervous. It all started back on July 20 and it’s been eight long rounds of voting. I’m so stoked to be here but I really feel like the pressure is on. I just really want to bring this home for all of us.”

Ms. Health &Fitness is a fan voting competition that has grown to become the world’s largest virtual fitness event and is open to all women, ages 18 and older, who are dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle. The grand prize winner, chosen by members of the public who cast their votes online over a nine-week period, will not only receive the honor of gracing the cover of Muscle &Fitness Hers Special Olympia Edition, but she will also take home a cash prize of $20,000.

The online competition began on July 20 with 64,000 contestants, and after eight qualifying rounds which require competitors to place first in their group to advance, Chen has made it to the final round.

“It’s definitely been the full gamut of human emotions,” said the 30-year old certified personal trainer at Kukio and event coordinator for Aloha Tri Sports. “It’s been exciting, stressful and nerve-wracking because some of these rounds have been a roller coaster. I’ll start out in first, then I’ll drop down to seventh, then I’ll work my way back to fifth then fourth. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to finish in first round after round.

“But regardless of the stress and anxiety, my biggest hope at this point is to win because of everyone around me — my family, friends, community, all of my supporters have been so dedicated and I have not for a second taken it for granted. The fact that people have given me the time of day to vote for me every single day, it’s been huge. I always come back to that thought.”

With Facebook being the direct method of voting for contestants, Chen said she feels thankful for all of the positive support she’s received.

“Everyone has been really kind,” she said. “All of the messages and comments I have received have been so sweet and supportive. No one has said a cross word at me about being in this competition which I really appreciate. It’s all of this positivity that’s lifting me up. Yeah, it’s stressful and I get anxious about it, but when I think about all of the positivity around me, I just feel really good about it.”

Voting for contestants in the final round of the Ms. Health &Fitness Competition opened on Monday, September 28th, and is continuous through 5 p.m. HST on Oct. 8. Announcement of the winner is expected to be revealed on Oct. 11.

While votes may be cast for free once every 24 hours for anyone with a valid Facebook account, additional votes may also be cast by purchasing Warrior Votes that benefit Jared Allen’s Home for Wounded Warriors. The nonprofit organization owned by the pro football star, Jared Allen, seeks to support veterans and service members who have experienced a physical injury while serving in the military.

Chen said she’s been keeping herself nerves calm and mind preoccupied by focusing on her own exercise routines and through teaching fitness classes. She also had time to reflect on how this competition is similar to competing in the Ironman World Championships, an event she completed in 2014 and 2019, and how symbolic it will be to have the winner announced the same weekend as this year’s Ironman race before it was postponed.

“It requires so much support from the people around you, so I feel like it’s very similar to Ironman,” Chen said. “Everyone has been so supportive and so committed. At the beginning they were like, what is this? But now everyone is just really on board. I receive messages from people wishing me to win. At this point, everyone is pretty invested in wanting me to win. It’s the final countdown now.

“And I try my best. I post on social media multiple times per day, I send out a few group texts and messages. It’s because people have done so much for me I just really want to do my part to try and make it as easy as possible. So, I’m hoping that I’m doing enough because it feels so massive to have made it this far. I really want to bring it home for the team and for everyone who has been there for me.”

Online voting through Facebook is happening daily until 5 p.m. on Oct. 8 and may be accessed through Chen’s profile link at: https://mshealthandfitness.com/2020/winona-chen. For more information about the Ms. Health &Fitness Competition visit mshealthandfitness.com.

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