From Benchwarmer to Bikini Competitor: Meet Coach Marife Sanvictores

Hi! I’m Marife, a coach at 8fit. Welcome to the family!

Everyone comes to 8fit for different reasons. Maybe you’ve never been into fitness, perhaps you were a frequent gym-goer but have fallen off the wagon, or maybe you currently work out and are looking to change your routine. Whatever the reason, I am so glad you are here. We all have a story of our journey to health and fitness and I want to share mine with you.

Coach Marife before fitness

I wasn’t always healthy or athletic. I was the kid who was only picked for teams to be a benchwarmer or to cheer from the sidelines. I hated running, I failed the provincial fitness test every year and I always dreaded physical education classes.

After graduating from college, I got a desk job and gradually started packing on the weight. I was busy building my career in real estate and, as a result, was eating out for almost every meal. I was also a huge foodie. I would eat to please my taste buds which sometimes meant skipping entrees and having two desserts instead. I loved sugar (I still do) and would order a caramel macchiato with extra, extra, extra caramel. But, sweets weren’t my only vice. I also loved rich, comforting foods like bread and cheese.

It’s safe to say that I never dreamed that I would one day become a full-time fitness professional.

How I found fitness

I found fitness by accident — and it changed my life. In 2010, I was working at a trade show and, by chance, the booth beside me happened to have a fitness trainer on staff who analyzed my body fat. I was shocked to hear that I was borderline obese. At this moment, I knew I wanted to get fit but I had no idea where to begin.

I joined an 8-week boot camp but work got in the way and I never completed it. Then, I tried another challenge and failed again. I tried everything — internet workout programs, hiring a personal trainer and going to the gym by myself — but nothing seemed to stick.

The fitness competition that changed my life

The trainer I originally met at the trade show was creating a team for a fitness competition in Las Vegas on my birthday. I love Vegas and thought, “Why not become the fittest version of myself and celebrate my birthday in Vegas?” With less than 90 days before the competition, I signed up. Before signing up, I didn’t even look at what the competition entailed and when I finally saw a promotional video on YouTube my jaw dropped. I had to be in a bikini, on stage, in front of some of the most beautiful women in the world in just 90 days. What had I gotten myself into?! At that moment, I set the goal to simply look good enough to stand on stage without being embarrassed.

I followed a strict meal and training plan for starting a few days later with 86 days left until the competition. Training was hard socially, mentally and physically, but I had set a goal and wanted to achieve it. This was the time I finally did not quit. When I made it to Vegas, I realized it was the journey that was the most important. It didn’t matter what happened on stage because I felt amazing. I developed an “anything is possible” attitude which translated to my career and my life.


After placing third in my division, my peers saw my success and started asking me health questions so I wanted to educate myself. I was also beginning to question the food choices I was making. I knew I wanted to make health a lifestyle and help others to find it too. That’s when I decided to study at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I was trained in over 100 dietary theories and learned practical lifestyle coaching methods. Soon after, I became a NASM certified personal trainer and Crossfit coach. I founded Vida Fit Life in Canada before moving to Berlin and joining 8fit.

What worked for me

Changing my diet

You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Trust me, I tried. Instead, I changed my eating habits. I ate more lean protein, healthy carbs and fats, then completely eliminated processed food, sugar, alcohol, fried foods and condiments. I prepared all my meals in advance, ate smaller portions and drank a lot of water.

Increasing my exercise

I stuck to my weekly workouts by scheduling them into my day. My workouts included resistance training and high-intensity interval training — and I made workouts more difficult as I got stronger.

What didn’t work

When I first tried to lose weight, I kept failing. I never fully committed to the process. I would skip workouts when I didn’t feel like going (which happened on a regular basis). When I did work out, I rarely pushed myself and would often find myself doing easy cardio sessions at a steady pace for 60 minutes at a time. When it came to nutrition, I drank water sparingly and food was my vice. I would convince myself that a cheat meal here and there wouldn’t hurt but, in reality, it kept me from reaching my goals and seeing progress.

My struggles and my triumphs

What you need to remember when you start out is that you won’t see immediate results. This can be discouraging — don’t give up hope! This popular motivational quote says it all:

It takes 4 weeks for you to notice your body changing, 8 weeks for your friends to notice, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world to notice. Give it 12.

Surround yourself with people who support you. Many people who you consider friends will make fun of you or try to sabotage you. There are others who will support you and will help you stick to your goals. Latch onto them. You will need their support. I know I did.

In the gym, when it feels hard and you want to give up or cut your workout short… don’t. When you eat and you want to go off your diet and cheat… stay strong. No one is watching, but you will know. Learn that you’re only cheating yourself.

Push beyond your comfort zone, talk positively to yourself and know that in the amazing journey of self-discovery, anything is possible.

How 8fit fits my journey

After discovering fitness, I moved to Berlin, Germany, to pursue my dream to empower millions to see their true potential and live healthier, happier lives. This is my why. Moving to a foreign country with no friends, no network and a foreign language to learn, health and fitness gave me an instant community.

8fit is my how. I believe in teaching sustainable healthy lifestyles. It’s about progress, not perfection. If you love and enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to make it a habit.

How 8fit fits your journey

8fit is a platform designed to help you achieve your goals. We built the 8fit app to help you take the first steps towards living a healthier lifestyle with truly customizable programs that take the guesswork out of health and fitness. Ready to begin? Sign up for 8fit. You will get workouts that take 20 minutes or less and are tailored to your goals. The workouts will change as you progress to prevent your from hitting a plateau. Combine workouts with your personalized nutrition plan, tailored to your dietary restrictions, and you will see results up to three times faster!

“Sing like no one is listening. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like no one is watching. Live like it’s heaven on earth.”

– Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh