Cover Story – Kali Bates: Top IPL Bikini Pro

“Self-confidence and loving yourself in every stage of life is so powerful.”

Kali Bates first touched down on the IPL stage at the September 2019 Florida Pro/Am in Daytona Beach, Florida. An incredibly impressive Kali would dominate every class she entered.

     She placed 1st in a stacked Bikini Novice class. Then a repeat performance in Bikini Open. This time earning her IPL Bikini Pro Card. Finally, in Fitness Angels Open she would once again place 1st, earning another Pro Card. Following the Florida show Kali splashed onto the pages of VIGOROUS Magazine in two different issues.

     It would then be a year before she returned to the IPL stage. This time at the October 2020 IPL Arizona contest in Phoenix. In Arizona Kali impressed once again. Making her Pro Bikini Debut, placing 4th, as well as her Fitness Angels Pro Debut, placing 2nd. Not the 1st place honors she had experienced in Florida a year prior, but notable, nonetheless.

     Then Kali would return to that winner’s spot in the Evening Gown division, placing 1st in Novice and 1st in Open, earning her IPL Pro Card. She then went on in that contest to make her Pro Debut in Evening Gown, placing 2nd.


BEN YOSEF: Congrats on landing the cover of VIGOROUS! Well deserved! How are you liking it?

KALI BATES: Thank you for choosing me! Super excited! I love the platform and visibility.

BEN: I have to say, these pix are pretty smokin’! What was it like shooting with Michael Brooks in Arizona?

KALI: It was incredible! The lighting that early in the morning was absolutely stunning coming over the Arizona mountains. Michael was extremely professional and respectful, as always. He has a great eye for the right areas to get some good shots.

BEN: Indeed! This was your second photoshoot with Michael, correct?

KALI: It was. First was in Daytona Beach, Florida.

BEN: Awesome. I have looked over so many images of you, it seems like you have had tons of shoots with him! –laughs- Which shoot do you like the most?

KALI: -laughs- I know, right?! Being that I live in Florida and near the beach, the Daytona setting, even though it was gorgeous, was nothing new to me. The Arizona shoot, however, was in Papago Park with beautiful burnt orange mountains as the backdrop. It was unique to me. So it’s my favorite of the two shoots.

BEN: You also seem to have gotten better and more comfortable in front of the camera. Would you agree? And if so, what do you think has changed?

KALI: Absolutely. Time and experience played a huge role in the comfortability in front of the camera. Also, I felt very confident with the package I brought to the Arizona shoot. I worked extremely hard in our home gym during quarantine and the shut downs.

BEN: You also delivered a fantastic look in all three of your divisions at the IPL Arizona contest. Congratulations again to you! On that note, how does posing and presenting in front of the camera and during photo shoots compare to the stage? And do you have a favorite between each…stage and camera? Also, what tips can you offer competitors out there with regards to improving for the stage and in front of the camera?


KALI: Thank you so much! I am a performer at my core. I was a ballerina for much of my life, so the stage is where I feel at home and most comfortable. Being in front of the camera during a shoot is tougher. However, if you have a good photographer they can guide and direct you to make you feel more comfortable. Michael does a great job at that.

     The best tip I can give any fitness competitor is to practice posing and your walk routines every single day. Record it. You want it to feel so natural that you don’t even have to think about it. Prep for a shoot is also important. Researching what type of looks and poses you’re drawn to make your personal style shine. Also, knowing what angles work best for your body type is key. You want to feel comfortable and confident so it will show through in your photos.

BEN: Love it! It has been great learning more about you in this third installment of Kali Bates in VIGOROUS Magazine! I definitely hope to have you back in this mag and others. And I can totally see more covers in your future! Any final thoughts?

KALI: What an honor and a pleasure to be chosen as a cover girl and represent VIGOROUS. It has been a dream of mine since stepping into the fitness world. I want women to know how beautiful they are, no matter what size or shape. The fitness world can create negative thinking when you start comparing yourself to others. However, the only person you should be comparing to is the YOU from yesterday and becoming a better version today. Self confidence and loving yourself in every stage of life is so powerful.

     I’d like to thank the IPL, Michael Brooks and my incredible team: Coach Brandon Guillen, MUA Christina Hoff, and most importantly my husband Anthony and son Breydon for supporting and making this opportunity possible.

About the interviewer:

Picture of Ben Yosef

Ben Yosef

Ben is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of VIGOROUS Magazine and the President & Founder of the International Physique League.

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