Barbie Thomas, 37, of Phoenix, Arizona is not your average bodybuilder. Thomas has no arms, having lost them to electrocution at age two, but life without arms did not stop her from competing in other sports before she became a bodybuilder. In high school she competed on the soccer and swim teams.
Thomas didn’t start training to become a bodybuilder until 2000. She said that when she began consulting trainers, they told her she would never win. “When someone says I can’t do something, it lights a fire under me,” Thomas told the Huffington Post.
Thomas says she has only won competitions when she is the only one competing, but her biggest bodybuilding accomplishment so far has been placing fifth out of six competitors. She says she will continue to compete and is working on adding a complete flip to her routine to impress the judges. She says the only reason she hasn’t done it yet is because, she “freaks out” when she is on new surfaces.
While she continues to work up to her flip, Thomas continues to be completely self-sufficient, despite not having arms, pointing out, “I think it happened young enough that it was easier for me to adapt [to doing things without arms].”
She says that she does not want for people to feel sorry for her. After she lost her arms, her mom was, “frantic,” about what was going to happen to her. Thomas wasn’t worried, she said, “I put my legs out to hug her like I had already decided what I was going to do.”
Now, Thomas is a full-time mom to two teenage boys and also performs everyday tasks such as driving, using a computer, and cooking. Despite being an inspiration to others, she says she still has trouble getting her boys to listen, “They’re teenage boys. I still have a hard time getting them to do chores.”
Thomas also does some modeling work in addition to her training for competitions. She now plans to turn her focus toward acting. She’s been to auditions before and has had some success, “I was actually up for an acting job when Steven Spielberg was making the film, AI,” she told the Huffington Post. She got the part, but did not appear in the film because she was pregnant with her second child. She also plans to pursue motivational speaking in an effort to inspire others to accomplish their goals.