The Wellness division is the newest addition to the IFBB Pro League and Olympia Weekend contest lineup. The inaugural Wellness Olympia was held during the 57th edition of Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend, and it was received with great enthusiasm by the fans. Brazilian athlete Francielle Mattos made history by winning the first-ever Wellness Olympia contest in 2021, and she has since become the reigning and three-time Wellness Olympia champion. This article will focus on the Wellness Olympia champions and explore the division’s history.
The Wellness division is known for favoring athletes with more body mass in the hips, glutes, and thigh areas. It comes as no surprise that South American, particularly Brazilian, women excel in this division. Francielle Mattos has been a dominant force in the Wellness division since its introduction in 2021. She is considered the benchmark physique for this division and has set the standards for other athletes.
Before the Wellness division, Mattos competed in the Fitness division. She won a gold medal at the 2019 Arnold Amateur South America in the Fitness division. When the Wellness division was introduced by the IFBB Pro League, Mattos made the transition and continued her winning streak. She emerged victorious at her first Wellness contest, the 2020 Arnold Amateur, and earned her Pro card in the process. Mattos has never lost a bodybuilding contest since then, winning the 2020 IFBB Musclecontest Nacional Pro, the Overall Arnold Ohio in 2020, and Miss Olympia Brazil in 2019, which granted her direct qualification to the debut Wellness Olympia contest in 2021.
The first Wellness Olympia took place in Orlando, FL in 2021. Francielle Mattos emerged as the champion, with Angela Borges in second place and Isabella Nunes in third. Mattos entered the competition as the frontrunner due to her impeccable track record. Borges, the first Wellness athlete to earn an Olympia qualification by winning the 2020 IFBB Europa Pro Championships, was also a strong contender. Isabella Nunes, who stands out with her considerable lower body size, put up a tough fight. However, Mattos came out on top and claimed the Wellness Olympia trophy.
In 2022, the Wellness Division was added to the Arnold Classic USA roster. Isabelle Nunes made headlines by winning the first-ever Wellness International title at the 2022 Arnold Classic. This victory established Nunes as a significant threat to Mattos’ Olympia throne. The 2022 Olympia became a more intense battle as athletes had a better understanding of what the judges were looking for in the Wellness division. Despite the fierce competition, Mattos successfully defended her title, becoming the first multi-time Wellness Olympia champion in the sport’s history. Nunes took Borges’ spot as the second-place finisher.
The 2023 Olympia took place in Orlando, FL, and Francielle Mattos was the favorite to win her third consecutive title. Several IFBB Pro League officials, including Vice President Tyler Manion, considered her the ideal figure for the Wellness division. Isabelle Nunes, the runner-up from the 2022 Olympia, faced uncertainties due to knee issues but delivered an impressive performance and secured the silver medal. Mattos maintained her dominance throughout the competition and claimed the highest honors in the division for the third year in a row. Angela Borges did not compete in the 2023 Olympia, opening up a spot for a fresh face on the Wellness Olympia podium. Elisa Alcantara from the Dominican Republic seized the opportunity and became the first non-Brazilian athlete to podium in the Wellness Olympia.
The Wellness division is specifically designed for females with athletic physiques that showcase more body mass in the hips, glutes, and thigh areas. This division has gained popularity among athletes and fans because women tend to store more body fat in the lower body compared to men. Women from South America and Africa, who are genetically predisposed to have larger lower bodies, often face challenges in the Bikini division, which requires proportionate upper and lower body development. The Bikini division is considered the beauty pageant of the IFBB Pro League, focusing on muscle balance, shape, overall appearance, walk, hair, skin tone, complexion, and poise.
The Wellness division was introduced by the IFBB Pro League as an alternative for women with genetically thicker lower bodies who did not wish to compete in the more traditional bodybuilding divisions such as Women’s Open, Figure, Women’s Physique, or Fitness. In the Wellness division, the judges assess muscle size, shape, and separation in the hips, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. It is essentially an extension of the Bikini division, with Wellness athletes expected to have significantly greater lower body muscle mass while maintaining an overall aesthetic appeal.
Despite the increasing depth of the Wellness Olympia lineup each year, Francielle Mattos has consistently demonstrated her commitment to improving her physique and staying one step ahead of the competition. As the reigning champion, she has set a high standard for the Wellness division and continues to inspire other athletes in the sport.