Miss Universe Organization has yet to announce when the next edition of the global tilt will take place, but Philippine bet Rabiya Mateo is already buckling down to work in preparation for what is yet to be the most challenging mission of her life.
She may have received the Best in Swimsuit award during her national competition, but the Ilongga beauty is not about to rest on her laurels, as she diligently hits the gym to mold a battle-ready body.
No less than John Cuay, the fitness trainer responsible for the pageant physique of 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach and other world-class Filipino beauties, is at the helm of Mateo’s physical preparations.
“Back then, I would watch videos of him and Pia working out together and I can’t believe that he’s training me now,” Mateo told Lifestyle in an online interview.
Cuay said his goal is to give her a “symmetrical and well-proportioned figure.” To achieve this, he works with Mateo for two hours in the gym, three to four times a week.
The two had already collaborated for Mateo’s preparation for the Miss Universe Philippines pageant, together with a handful of other aspirants including three of Mateo’s eventual runners-up.
At the time, one-on-one sessions were limited that’s why the regimen concentrated on improving only their core and leg muscles. This was to prepare them for the long hours of standing and walking in heels.
When the pandemic hit and the country was placed under quarantine, the sessions moved online, making it more difficult to monitor the ladies’ progress remotely.
This time, Cuay designed a routine that would give Mateo an “hourglass” figure on stage.
“What we are trying to achieve now is to work every muscle that acts on her shoulder girdle and shoulder joint itself to achieve more width in the area and broaden the shoulders for that ‘V’ silhouette,” he explained.
He clarified, though, that even with Mateo’s impressive backside and legs, she would still have to work on her lower body “to achieve near perfection.”
But what makes Mateo’s preparation different from her predecessors’ is her need to bulk up.
Cuay said the Miss Universe bets he worked with before always had an area of the body that needed trimming.
“Pia needed to lose fat on her hips and chest. Janine (Tugonon, 2012 Miss Universe runner-up) needed to trim her lower extremities. Shamcey (Supsup-Lee, Miss Universe Philippines national director and 2011 Miss Universe runner-up) had to lose some girth on her lower midsection,” he shared. Mateo, Cuay said, has to “gain muscle all over” so she would not be towered over by taller international delegates when they stand side by side on stage.
The beauty queen understands this all too well, being a physical therapist herself.
“We would always talk about certain muscles like latissimus dorsi and deltoids, and what certain actions will strengthen them. It’s good to train with somebody who has knowledge of the human anatomy,” Mateo said.
Cuay also found this beneficial. “We always try to remind ourselves with all the rationale of everything that we do in the gym,” he shared.
But it does not end in the gym.
Mateo said nutrition director Cristy Marasigan designed a protein-rich meal plan for her to build more muscles.
“I eat a lot of chicken, pork and beef,” she continued.
With a target of around 1,600 to 1,700 calories per day, “I don’t need to limit my rice intake, but I need to add more vegetables and fruits to my meals,” Mateo said.
But what might perhaps be the most difficult part of training her body is the pain that comes with it.
“Sometimes, I would go to events with muscle soreness while wearing high heels. But still, I need to maintain my poise and composure,” she confessed.
And whenever Mateo finds it difficult to power through the pain, Cuay said he would remind her that she is doing this for the country.
“That motivates her back to work,” the trainer said.