Sarah Matelart - WBFF Fitness competitor

Sarah Matelart is a fitness model, competitor and personal trainer who was born and raised in Belgium. On her very first WBFF Fitness Competition she won third place in the Diva Fitness category.

I grew up in the countryside and was an active kid loving the outdoors. There was always something to do: playing football or tennis, riding bikes, rollerskating, doing gymnastics in the garden... Later on I discovered dancing, group fitness and resistance training. I worked almost 10 years in media as a journalist and 3 years ago I decided to take the plunge, do a career switch, and live of my passion. When I was 15 years old, I was diagnosed with really bad hereditary hips and back problems. The doctors advised to stop any physical activity unless I wanted to end up in a wheelchair by the time I hit 30 years old. I didn't listen to the medical recommendations. Instead I listened to my body. I strengthened those weak areas and set myself a challenge: become a world class fitness model and competitor in my 30th year.

Diet and Training

During prep, I was eating around 3000 cals a day of which roughly 30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbs. During peak week I dropped it to 2700 cals a day. I didn't have to manipulate the carbs too much and still went down to 9% body fat. I was trying to avoid a too dry too vascular look as it isn't what the WBFF is about.
I tend to eat clean all year long. For breakfast I like a slice of toasted rye bread, 2 poached eggs, baby spinach, watercress, steamed asparaguses, 2 kiwis and matcha green tea. Mid-morning I'll have some tuna and hot sauce with greens, capers and seeds. For lunch it'd be grilled lean meat (chicken or turkey) or poached fish (white or salmon) with steamed green vegetables (green beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli...) and good carbs (sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, pearl barley, millet...). Post lunch I'll drink 2 cups of black coffee. In the afternoon I'll snack on chicken, all sorts of fruits (bananas, apples, pears, grapefruits, berries etc) and on my home-made protein bars. I'm also a big nuts and dark chocolate fan. Dinner will be quite similar to lunch. I'll drink about 4 liters of water, 1 liter of green tea and cups of herbal throughout the day.
I'm not a big fan of supplements. I believe if you commit to make time for shopping and cooking, you should fulfill all your body needs with natural food. This said, I have fish oil every morning. I eat a lot of fish but probably not enough to give me all the omega 3 I need. I also consume unsweetened whey powder. I make my own protein bars with it. It's a nice little thing to snack on. And I have it in a shake with water after a workout, coupled with a banana for easy absorption, when/if I don't have time to eat real food.

Typically I would be on a 5 days split: Chest and biceps, legs, rest, shoulders, triceps and back, legs, rest. Back to the top.
Cardio-wise, I have to avoid impact because of back and hips problems. I'm a spin instructor and avid cyclist. Pedalling for me is the only way. I like to mix intervals, sprints, climbs... Decent resistance, speed and intensity. In 45 minutes: job done. Less is more. What's not to love? No need to waste your life away with steady-pace cardio. That's my philosophy.

I worked with a coach who's an experienced bodybuilder. He would give me a new program every 6-8 weeks. He would see me once a week to measure my body fat and take progress pictures. He would then tweak my macros and training accordingly. Normally competitors are in full-on prep mode for 16 weeks. I decided to compete last Christmas and the show was end of May. So I got 5 months to get ready and enjoyed a very smooth prep. I was actually stage ready 2 months out. After that it was just maintenance. I would train 5 days a week and kept the calories and carbs fairly high all the way due to my energy expenditure: I teach lots of classes and commute by bicycle. I would also try to get enough sleep. I have to say it gets quite unsociable because you spend your time food shopping, meal prepping, eating out of tupperwares, training, sleeping, practising your posing...

On Stage

I have a background in samba dancing, love my feathers and glitters, and the WBFF is the most glamorous international federation. Their intention is to merge the worlds of fashion, beauty and fitness in one event. It really does suit me. Being an ex-journalist and fitness instructor, I love the stage, to be in front, performing is second nature.

Preparation is key. I hired a posing coach and did a lot of studio practice to make sure I nail my routine. My body was on point so there was nothing to worry about there. I arranged all the small details early: hair, make up, costume () so as to feel like a proper diva on the day.

My WBFF show was on May the 29th in the O2 arena, a huge London venue. Backstage, all the athletes, males and females, are on top of each other in quite a small space. Some retouch their make-up, some zone out with their headphones, some take selfies, some eat jelly babies, some try to get a pump with elastic bands... It's a mess and a long day. We're all hungry and nervous, there's a lot of waiting around. Despite that, I found it enjoyable. I got to meet like-minded people and will try to stay in touch with them.

Future plans

Short term goals: I'm now off-season and I enjoy training for the sake of it, training just for training, with no purpose. I like the flexibility to skip a day without drama or change my split according to my mood and schedule. I love making myself new programs to experiment and test before they get sent out to my online clients. It's also great to discover new exercises or modify old ones that will not hurt my back and hips. Long term goals: You always want to lift heavier, move faster, be more performant. And improve those weaker areas, in my case : lower body. I would also like to share the knowledge and experience acquired in the process and hopefully inspire a few people. I'm not sure when I will compete again but I'll keep you posted ;)

A photo posted by Sarah Matelart (@sarathletic) on

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A photo posted by Sarah Matelart (@sarathletic) on