PASO ROBLES — Tucked away on the East side of Paso Robles, behind the Food 4 Less and the Jack in the Box is a small fitness studio, named “The Studio” and inside of it trains a champion.
Up at 4:45 a.m. every morning, Linda Flynn is the embodiment of persistence. Flynn is a 58-year-old bodybuilder who competes in NPC Figure competitions and has for three consecutive years finished runner-up at the Masters National Championships in Pittsburgh, Pa., but has put in the work and hopes this is the year she brings home a National Championship to Paso Robles.
It all started eight years ago for Flynn who grew up working with horses and running as her choice of exercise.
“I used to be a runner but my body was getting tired of it, my knees were starting to hurt. So I started to lift,” Flynn said. “Obviously not real heavy or anything, and I wasn’t very knowledgeable about it, but started to learn proper form and started enjoying it until it evolved into ‘OK maybe I will do a show, just one time.’”
Her first show came eight years ago in Lake Tahoe and like anyone with years of experience in a certain field looks back at her first time with fondness and slightly embarrassing memories.
“It was horrible,” Flynn recalled. “I got fifth place but I got a trophy and one of my good friends was up there and brought me some flowers and I carried that trophy and those flowers in my arms in the plane all the way home.”
Just like that, the former runner was hooked and officially became a bodybuilder. Over the past eight years, Flynn continued to compete, coach, train and more importantly inspire others in her community to get healthy and feel good about their bodies. She has earned numerous certifications including just recently wrapping up her International Sports Science Association better known as the ISSA certification and uses her knowledge to help others.
Not only has she inspired others in the community to simply get in shape, but she has also inspired a few of her trainee’s to compete. While for many the allure of bodybuilding is in the daily vanity, that is not the case for the Paso Robles native who is covered up more often than not despite being perfectly bronzed with a body that looks like the muse for an alabaster statue.
They say there is beauty in the struggle and that is the part that Flynn loves. It is the dedication to nutrition, to lifting, to cardio, to your sleep schedule that all go into improving your body little by little that she finds pleasing but once she steps on stage a star is born.
Like a socially awkward comedian that finds their presence on stage, Flynn flips a switch when the lights come on and she feels the empowerment from years of hard work brings out the diva we all have inside of us.
“When she comes on it is just a whole different woman,” Flynn’s husband Bob said. “She comes out and it is just showtime and again, she is not like that.”
She has won competitions before, like the first Lou Ferrigno Classic where she went home with a tiny gold Hulk statue, and could have won a major competition had she competed on the West Coast but she only competes in the East because it has the best shows and the toughest competition. Short cuts are not an option for Flynn.
Her goal is simple. She wants to win first place in one of the five National shows which would see her receive her IFBB Pro Card making her officially a professional bodybuilder able to compete in international shows. Over the Fourth of July weekend, she traveled to a show — ”The Universe” — she had not attended before in and took second place. Next weekend, Flynn will make her fourth trip to Pittsburgh, Pa., for the Master National Championship competition and plans to fly home with a much bigger trophy in her hands this time.
If you are inspired by Linda’s story and would like to get in shape or ask her fitness questions, you can reach her at [email protected].