Oxygen: After being a professional cheerleader for several sports teams, what was the driving factor for becoming a Bikini competitor?
Juliana Daniell: To be honest, I actually started my professional cheerleading career around the same time I started my competition career. I was a Division 1 swimmer at Virginia Tech, and after graduating, I stopped my normal athletic routine and became a cardio bunny and looked skinny fat. It took about three and a half years and calling off a wedding for me to realize and understand what was missing in my life — being involved in a sport, being part of a team and having a personal goal.
At the time, I was cheering for the Atlanta Braves, but it was more of a spirit squad than dance or cheer team, and the athletic demand wasn’t there. It was after calling off my wedding and missing tryouts to be on the Braves again that I decided to try out for the Atlanta Thrashers and the Atlanta Hawks, and I made both teams. Around that same time, I had done a photo shoot in a small gym and one of the trainers there saw me and asked if I ever thought about competing because he thought I had what it takes and would do well. The rest is history!
Oxygen: What sets you apart from other athletes in your sport?
JD: I think what makes me different from the other athletes are my athletic background and my reasons for being involved in this sport.
Oxygen: Every athlete has a routine they follow whether before a training session, during prep or before you step onstage. What’s yours?
JD: First and foremost, I listen to my body. I am very headstrong when it comes to training, prep and the stage, but I have learned that it’s all much easier when my body and mind are on the same page. Before I train, I ALWAYS get on a treadmill, turn my music on and walk at a speed of 3.6 mph for roughly four to six minutes (depending on how I feel and how my heart rate changes), and I incorporate some front skips, 30 side skips to each side and maybe 30 to 45 seconds of backward running. This is when I can gauge how I feel mentally, physically and emotionally, and also how my workout is going to be.
Oxygen: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
JD: Stay true to yourself! This world is so saturated with other people’s opinions of who you are, who and what you should be, what you should do, how you should act … ugh, the list goes on and on! But at the end of the day, you are all you have and you have to be truly happy and complete with the person you are. Most important, only YOU can control that. Figure out who you are and stay strong and true to that person.
Oxygen: Where do you see yourself in five years?
JD: Oh gosh, I am so not a fan of this question! I am such a free spirit and don’t like “life plans” but … if I have to answer, I would say, in five years I hope I’m happy, healthy, married (or at least found “the one”), maybe thinking about having some children. I’d like to be established and successful in the workplace where my goal is to be an on-camera host.
Oxygen: How do you remain focused and driven in such a competitive environment?
JD: This is a huge challenge for me that I battle daily. Recently, I’ve been trying to remind myself that I can’t compare what I’m doing to others because I am not them and they are not me. Someone might relate better to my way than someone else’s, and I must keep going to not let them down! I also have a couple of books that I read daily, which have really helped me a lot.
Oxygen: What���s the one thing you always have to have with you?
JD: A positive mindset, which, believe me, isn’t easy. I’m sure most people would answer with a materialistic thing, but I’ve learned that regardless of what you have with you — your phone, ChapStick, water bottle, food — none of that will benefit you if your mindset isn’t right. Some of those things might help create a positive mindset for you, but practice daily to achieve one on your own — it’s much more satisfying.