Hayley Hirshland


About Hayley

Home + Work

Lives in Shizuoka, Japan

Originally from Orlando, Florida

Lives with cat, Xiao Hui (“Little Grey” in Mandarin Chinese)

Works as Coordinator of International Relations-Nishiizu, Japan and is the WNBF Representative for East Asia

Personal Stats

Age 25

Height 5’6″

Competition weight 119-120 lbs

Off season weight 120-122 lbs

WNBF Qualifying Show

INBF Wisconsin Natural

WNBF Pro Card Holder In: Figure, Fit Body

What got you interested in working out?

I was a competitive figure skater when I was younger and also played many sports, such as diving and basketball, so I have always been an active person. My family is also heavily involved in the sports world, so that has certainly influenced my interests. That said, I think when you decide that you cannot continue to be competitive into your high school/college years, it becomes more difficult to find options that keep you active daily. I am lucky in that my high school offered weight training as an option for P.E. classes, so I was able to learn the proper form for the major lifts early on, but I didn’t start weight lifting intensely until 2014. Before that, I would challenge my friends to see who could follow through with 30 days of Insanity, and I would use the office gym at Golf Channel, where I worked at the time, but I never thought about weight training as intensely as I do now.

What got you interested in competing?

I became more serious about training while living in Tokyo, Japan. I moved there in January 2014 to work for a Japanese golf television station and my job was extremely stressful (it is not uncommon to work for over 12 hours a day). I would take the easy route when it came to nutrition by eating out constantly and not making the correct choices when at work functions. I had never been overweight, but found my body changing in ways I didn’t like after few months of living abroad, so I decided to make a change. I joined Gold’s Gym in downtown Tokyo, began lifting first thing in the morning before work (I would go at 5 a.m. every day as it was the least expensive membership; some gyms in Japan charge upwards of $300/mo.) and stayed consistent in my training. Woman’s Shape and Sport Magazine, a Japanese fitness publication, approached me while I was training at Gold’s about a small feature in their magazine, and they ended up featuring me on the cover of their Summer 2014 issue; as “Japan’s fitness navigator”, I needed more credentials, so they asked if I would be interested in competing. I honestly had no idea what I was doing at first (looking back on it, I was nowhere near ready for competition), and I wasn’t a fan of the federation I competed in. When I commit to something, I really commit, and because I was unhappy with my performance, I decided to give it another chance after finding my current trainer and the WNBF after doing a lot more research into the bodybuilding world. Since then, my passion for weight training has only increased, and I’m excited to stay active in the natural bodybuilding world!

Who was most influential in your decision to begin natural bodybuilding?

I found female bodybuilders on Instagram that not only looked great, but had amazing athletic abilities (Bella Falconi was a big inspiration of mine), so I wanted to be confident and powerful like them. I am happy to say that although I cannot do a “human flag pole” (I’m working on it) just yet, I am pretty proud of my training progression thus far.

Where do you currently workout?

Nishiizu, Japan

How long have you been competing?

My first competition was in November 2015, where I placed third in figure. I am lucky that I found the WNBF so early on in my competitive career, and I am looking forward to continuing to compete in natural competitions around the world.

How many competitions have you entered?

Three in total thus far, and hopefully many more will come! My next competition will be in July at the 2016 California Natural Muscle Mayhem.

What was your best placing and where?

I placed first in pro-figure at the 2016 INBF Central USA Natural Championships, which was such an exciting and humbling moment in my fitness career.

What is your most memorable moment competing so far?

My most memorable moment was when I earned two pro cards in the same show; apparently a rare feat, and I was certainly surprised as both the figure and fit body divisions were absolutely stacked with incredible athletes and physiques! I half cried and had the goofiest smile at the end (did not realize that it would be forever immortalized in photos), so I made sure not to do that for my professional win…

What is your most surprising moment competing so far?

My most surprising moment was winning the overall in Fit Body at the 2016 INBF Wisconsin Natural Bodybuilding Championships. The final decision was between me and two others, who I were sure were going to out pose me, and their physiques were absolutely incredible. I try not to psych myself out and certainly go into the competitions with confidence, but I was very nervous when we were lined up to go on stage, especially since I had never competed in the fit body category before. One thing that differs between the WNBF and other federations is that we hold our poses for a lot longer in the natural federations, so when I was sweating, shaking, and making horrible faces (especially during the back double-biceps pose), I honestly felt like just giving up and letting my competition win for a moment, but then I remembered that I had worked so hard over months and months of training for that moment, so I couldn’t let myself give up that easily. Once they announced the winners, I was shocked, surprised, happy, sore, and honored to have competed against such tough competition.

What was the best workout advice you received?

I think the best workout advice I received was from my trainer. One time I told him that I was struggling and tired, and he responded with, “if you tell your clients that they are strong, they will be strong”. I think about this every time I work out, as I truly believe that your success in both training and competing is mostly mental. When I think I can’t do something, I go to the bar and tell myself that “I’ve already conquered this lift”, and 99% of the time, I end up hitting my rep targets. The same goes for competing. Go into the competition having convinced yourself that you’ve already won, and regardless of the actual result, your confidence will shine through and you’ll enjoy the experience much more by having a positive mindset from the start.

What advice about fitness, health, etc. would you like to share with our readers?

The biggest struggle of the natural athlete is that our muscular gains come more slowly, and it takes both hours in the gym and discipline in the kitchen to attain optimal results. I am still in the midst of progressing and further improving my physique, and because our bodies and environments are ever fluctuating, it can be a frustrating process. That said, I would say that discipline always trumps motivation, so when you find yourself not wanting to go to the gym or feeling like it would be easier to eat out, remember why you chose to become involved with the sport. Stick with it, enjoy the process, don’t stress (it releases cortisol anyway!), and the results will come in time.

What do you like most about the WNBF?

It is an absolute honor to compete in the best natural and drug-tested federation in the world alongside the best natural athletes in the game. I am constantly in awe of the athletes I have seen step on the natural stage, and believe that they personify dedication and hard work through their training efforts. When competitors have physiques like we do, there are bound to be naysayers and doubters, but it’s important that we prove and maintain the integrity of our sport by competing in natural events, thus showing that this lifestyle is certainly attainable through dedication, self-control, and persistence.

Are you involved in any other parts of the sport? 

Not yet, but I am launching an online training business soon (scheduled to launch late-2016), so I can help others reach their general health and wellness goals, and give no-nonsense advice to future competitors to compete at their very best! If I can help even one woman experience the kind of confidence that I have gained through weight training, I will be extremely happy.

What are your short and long term goals?

I plan on competing in the WNBF Pro USA in Sacramento, CA. July 16th. Afterward I intend to compete abroad, as I will be moving to Japan to work for a municipal government office (it will be interesting to document my dietary/training adaptations while being abroad). Since the WNBF has affiliates all over the world, I’m excited to see how the competition stacks up in Asia and elsewhere! Outside of bodybuilding, I think my life would be complete if I was able to be on American Ninja Warrior, or it’s Japanese equivalent, Sasuke.

What does being a WNBF pro/amateur competitor mean to you?

As a natural, professional athlete, it is very important to me to dedicate myself to the sport and promote natural bodybuilding as a sustainable and holistic lifestyle choice. There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to bodybuilding in general, and I am constantly questioned by others as to why I do what I do. I have found that bodybuilding has given me a sense of direction and self-confidence and has allowed me to understand true dedication and discipline; furthermore, weight lifting in general is a great meditative tool for me. I sometimes get caught up in day-to-day worries, but I use my training time as “me time”, which keeps me sane. Also, I choose to be a natural athlete and represent the WNBF because it’s extremely important to me to exemplify that a fit lifestyle is something that can be maintained over an extended period of time, and that anyone can achieve great results through monitored training and diet. Although drugs, supplements, and other “shortcuts” have permeated the bodybuilding world, it is very important to showcase that bodybuilding can be achieved in a healthy and holistic manner. I once talked to a friend at the gym about his opinions on PEDs, and he stated that your “prime” while on drugs is a very short one before you risk illness or severe injury due to the side effects. On the contrary, everyone I have met in the drug-free bodybuilding community are very healthy individuals that personify hard-work, effort, and dedication. I hope to showcase this through my efforts with regards to my training, and although the natural path certainly is not the easiest or fastest way to be a bodybuilder, it is absolutely the most gratifying, ethical, and sustainable way.


Heavy deadlifts or weighted pull-ups. I feel like a certified boss when I lift my own bodyweight, plus more.

Bharanatyam (classical Indian) dance. I currently am working toward my Arangetram (debut performance as a classical dancer), which takes over two years of study. The dance style is a lot of squatting, stomping, and jumping, so you get very exhausted; also, my guru is relentless (in the best way) and makes us hold poses/steps for extended periods of time. Otherwise, I really avoid “cardio”, in the traditional sense, as much as I can!

Body Part
All of them! I love myself and what my body is capable of doing, but if I had to pick, I would say my shoulders. I always disliked my arms growing up, and now I am proud of how much work I have put into shaping them.

“Diet” Food
I am lazy and eat a lot of what my boyfriend refers to as “bodybuilder mush”, which is usually some combination of fish (salmon, tilapia, and mackerel are staples), a starchy carbohydrate such as sweet potato or cauliflower, and some other cruciferous vegetable in a pot, topped with a healthy fat like milled flax or avocado. Throw some hot sauce on there, and it’s certainly not aesthetically pleasing, but it gets the job done (and is quite tasty).

Non-Diet Food
I can usually make anything fit into my diet, but the best thing that certainly does not exist in my competition plan is frozen custard and ooey gooey chocolate chip brownies (they have to be the ones with melty chocolate chips inside; anything else is unacceptable).

Non-Workout Activities
I am a polyglot and love learning new languages! I speak Japanese, English, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish fluently, and have been studying Turkish on and off.

Other Sports
Figure Skating

College Sports Team
UW Badgers

Pro Sports Team
SF Giants (my father, grandfather, and ancestors would not be happy with me if I didn’t say this)


I would like to thank my family, who didn’t really understand my interest in the sport at first, but have become very involved and supportive, my trainer, Menno Henselmans (I couldn’t have achieved my current physique without his guidance), the WNBF for their integrity in the sport by promoting natural/drug-tested competitions, as well as my fans in the U.S. and abroad/fellow competitors who inspire me to grind harder every single day!