How it all started
by Margie Serrato
The Story Behind the Story
In January 2018, after I was done with baby-having, I was ready to get my body back to how it was before motherhood–strong and fit. I was committed to my goals and began documenting my postpartum fitness training process on Instagram, for both accountability and motivation. Halfway through the year, I realized that I wanted to pursue a decade-old, neglected goal: to compete as a bodybuilder in the bikini division. Only this time, my goal was reframed to compete at 40 years of age, in the Masters category.
As I embarked on this first competition prep, I learned a lot about myself, the sport, and bodybuilding culture. I watched all of the available bodybuilding documentaries on Netflix and YouTube that I could find to learn more about what to expect. And through documenting my journey on social media, I began befriending hundreds of fellow fitness enthusiasts of all levels, as well as bodybuilding athletes in the amateur and professional leagues. It was in this process of building my fitness community that I noticed many topics that I was eager to dive into conversations about, given my research interests on gender and culture. For example, understanding how others see fitness and bodybuilding through a negative lens despite our awareness that taking care of our physical health is important, and that muscle – a visible and tangible outcome of strength – is seen as unbecoming and unattractive in women based on our society’s standards.
It was in this process that I had the brilliant idea of filming a very different type of documentary about bodybuilding. I wanted to focus on the complex human side of the sport, instead of the methods of diet and training that you see in documentaries about male bodybuilders. And, I wanted to show the female perspective and experience, which is entirely different in very important ways. There was one small glitch: filmmaking was not my expertise. (I mean, I hadn’t even made home movies before.) But, if there’s one thing that you need to know about me, it’s this: NOTHING gets in the way of realizing huge visions when they’re in my head…
Sparking Filmmaking Magic
As I contemplated how to go about filming a documentary, I knew that I wanted to work with someone who was just as passionate and committed to this vision as I am. I attended a local Women in Film – Cincinnati event as a first step to networking and talking about my idea. And when I met Olga, it was magic! Not only did we share backgrounds as immigrants to the USA–me being of Colombian heritage and Olga from Moldova, we are both very unconventional women with strong characters and a burning desire to give more power to women’s voices and experiences. With less than a month to go before my first competition in the 2018 NPC Natural Kentucky show, we joined forces and began working together!
Since that show, we have also filmed interviews and footage at the 2019 Arnold Amateur and the 2020 Arnold Classic competitions. We have had enthusiastic interest from all participants, and we are excited to be wrapping up filming at the end of this year, at the 2020 Olympia event.
Follow Margie on Instagram.
Follow Olga on Instagram.
Do you like what we do?
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We acknowledge that this is a difficult time for many, and appreciate all of your interest and support. We wish you good health, peace, love, and abundant prosperity.
Strength. We value it as an attribute and in its physical form, in ourselves and in others. Our strength as individuals and a team has been tested through this work; we’re prevailing and getting stronger.
Authenticity. We are both unconventional, nontraditional, free-minded women who are fully committed to being ourselves–and we admire and respect others who transcend their boundaries on their quest to be true to themselves, too.
Empathy. We believe in the importance of human understanding. We want our work to be an example of compassion and empathy by challenging limiting beliefs about others.
Empowerment. We want to amplify female voices, give space for their experiences, and offer resources for growing their confidence and claiming their right to be whoever they choose to be.
Integrity. Our intent is to capture truth, not sensationalize or distort it for profit. Real stories are invaluable, and we are committed to their ethical display.
To create a film with underrepresented voices and content that unites a community of strong-minded, strong-willed, and strong-bodied people.
To present this community to the world in a compassionate, honest, and authentic way. In this way, we intend to show a different version of who they really are, and not who others think them to be.
To confront stereotypes, biases, and otherwise limiting beliefs about how people are or who they should be to fit in, especially in a world where we profess the importance of being – and being true to – oneself.
This film is an invitation to diverge from our increasing tendency to “judge a book by its cover”. We challenge you – the viewer – to stop for a moment, put aside what you think you know, act differently by opening this book with curiosity, and allow yourself to learn and reflect about what is, actually, on the inside.
For us, we empathize with bodybuilders in myriad ways. We also admire them. They inspire us to be even stronger and more committed to ourselves. The film participants and supporters have given us the opportunity to do what we love, increase our professional experiences, learn more and expand our skills, grow our networks, travel and extend ourselves, and be more of who we are.
We want this work to be impactful for more than this small microculture and niche in our society. In fact, we intend for our impact to go beyond bodybuilding.