Linda Pulido has fought her way past countless competitors en route to 29 world championship titles in Tae Kwon Do, Filipino martial arts and other disciplines.
Now, the Gilroy native is in a different type of competition, similar in the fact that she’s facing off against hundreds of others, but one that has major implications for the numerous students she serves.
Pulido is vying to be featured on the cover of Muscle and Fitness HERS magazine, surviving so far through six rounds of online voting and outlasting hundreds of other women. She currently sits in first among her group of quarterfinalists, and she is urging the public to cast their votes by July 22 at 7pm so she can make it into the semifinals.
But it’s not just the cover photo and story Pulido is seeking, which is expected to be viewed by more than 500,000 people once released in January. The winner also receives $20,000, which Pulido plans to pour into her gym at 30 Third St. and get it back into pre-pandemic shape while catching up on the rent after being closed during the various health orders.
“I have felt so much support, so much love from my family, my friends, my students, my students’ parents, the community,” she said.
Pulido credits the martial arts for turning her life around, after struggling with her self-confidence and hanging out with the wrong crowd at a young age.
With her studio, Pulido’s Pro-Fitness, she said she wants to instill confidence and other life skills in her students, empowering them to believe in themselves.
When the Covid-19 lockdown hit and shut down her gym, Pulido said she had to quickly pivot by offering virtual trainings and one-on-one classes.
“When this pandemic hit, it hit home,” she said. “My students are like my kids, and to see them dropping off one at a time because they couldn’t afford it, or it was too hard for them to do on Zoom, I’ve never felt like that. I was scrambling to come up with creative things to keep the kids believing they can still continue this art and still achieve their belts and still stay motivated.”
When Muscle and Fitness magazine reached out to her about the competition, Pulido said she saw an opportunity to help get her students back in the gym.
With only a Facebook account required, the public can vote for free every day.
The public can also vote and donate money to Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors, which builds and remodels handicap accessible homes for injured United States military veterans.
“I believe in our community,” Pulido said. “We’re Gilroy strong. We’ve been through so much. I believe that my place is a place that’s going to change lives.”
To vote for Pulido, visit bit.ly/3BmF4dB.