Two bodybuilders who started dating by exchanging flirty texts during lockdown have become the first couple to be crowned ‘Mr’ and ‘Miss’ Universe – on the same day. Ryan Mackins, 34, first caught the eye of Amy Scholes-Higham, 30, on social media – and sparks flew between the two after they admitted she had ‘really done’ her morning .
The couple had a long-distance relationship until a year ago when they bought a house together in Bolton, Lancs., near three gyms where they work out muscles twice a day. And although they train separately, teacher Amy said it was “amazing” to live with someone who “fully understands” her needs as an athlete and a partner.
In May, the couple took part in the PCA Universe event, where they faced off against some of the most toned amateur bodybuilders in the world. And after both winning the men’s and women’s top-level titles, they can now compete as professionals in international events.
Amy said: “Living with someone who completely understands the process has been amazing, and it’s still not understood yet. We feel very lucky to have us.
“I don’t think any other couple can say they got ‘pro’ status or became Mr and Miss Universe on the same day – so it’s incredibly unique.
Ryan added: “It’s so amazing to have someone who understands you. I don’t know if I could have reached the same level if she hadn’t been there too.”
Amy, a biology teacher at Bolton Primary School, said she first spotted Ryan on her Instagram profile about two years ago. She recalls: “I was following a lot of other bodybuilders and I saw him in someone’s story, and I just thought, ‘Oh, I like his look,’ so I took him. followed.
“He then texted me and he was like, ‘Oh, you really made my morning’. It was really, really cheesy, but then we started talking.
“We actually talked about music and food and a lot of things that had nothing to do with bodybuilding, so we knew right away we clicked.”
Ryan, who competes in the super heavyweight class, explained that he started bodybuilding when he was 17 – after feeling inspired by Hollywood action heroes. He said: “It’s really cliché, but I watched Arnold Swarzernager in Terminator 2 when I was maybe five or six, and I was just a little obsessed with muscle men.
“I’ve always been obsessed with superheroes and things like that, then I started training at 17, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until seven years ago. “
Amy said she was also motivated to get in top shape by powerful action characters, as part of the ‘strong, not skinny’ women’s movement. She said: “I really like weightlifting. I found it really explosive, and I found that in each session, you can challenge yourself.
“But I was also looking for a strong feminine look, with an “X” shape – such a small waist, big legs, big shoulders, almost like a superhero, like a kind of Wonder Woman figure. found training for aesthetics in a way really, really motivating, and I started to love my body more than ever. It gave me so much confidence.
The two lovers moved in together last year and now spend thousands of pounds each year on gym memberships, supplements and competition equipment. They also consume large amounts of food together – with Ryan eating over 6,000 calories a day and Amy reaching around half that when bulking up.
Amy said: “For us our way of life is very, very normal, but for others it is not. For example, we eat pretty much the same foods but in different amounts, and each time we eat a meal, it is weighed.
“But on top of that, bodybuilding is incredibly expensive – my bikinis alone start at around £250, and I’ll get a few every season. The tan you need to get is around £70, makeup is around £65, stage heels are around £70-80 and all your jewelry is around £10 a pop.
“We’re a little reluctant to tabulate the full amount, but it will go into the thousands.” But Ryan said that despite the expense, they see the time and money they spend building muscle as an investment in themselves.
He said: “As we are so passionate about what we do, a little expense here and there is no problem. It’s an investment in ourselves, that’s how we see it.”
That expense, along with their grueling twice-daily gym sessions, paid off when the pair claimed top titles at the PCA Universe amateur event on May 15 this year. Ryan, who was crowned “Mr Universe”, said the accolade was a major step up for him.
He said: “It’s quite hard to put into words because I’ve been competing since 2015 and I’ve done 17 shows. I won my first show in 2016 and it took another six years from that point to reach that next level.
“I feel like I have a new level of respect from my peers. I feel different now – the way people interact with me is different now.
Amy, who had competed in her first bodybuilding event in 2020 alone, said she was “proud” of the incredible progress she had made in just two years. She said: “Before I won Miss Universe, which is basically the world championships, I also became a Bikini North West champion.
“But to become Miss Universe and receive a ‘pro’ card within two years of competing is really exceptional, so I’m super, super proud.” The couple now hope to compete overseas, where they can compete for cash prizes and sponsorship deals.
Ryan said: “It’s nothing set in stone, but we want to go overseas. The ideal would be to go to America for a show next April or May, Amy and I are going to compete there. But we are very, very open to anything.
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