An Exercise And Proper Diet Payoff
Family and friends of Skyler Kamaka are used to seeing the 21-year-old in athletic wear and with no makeup. But now, they’ll have to get used to seeing the newly crowned Miss Hawaii in a more glamorous way.
A recent graduate of Concordia University in Portland, where she received a B.S. in exercise and sport science with a minor in coaching and was a star volleyball player, Kamaka wanted to pursue a master’s in education and decided to run in the Miss Hawaii pageant for its scholarships. She was crowned Miss Diamond Head earlier in the year, which earned her a spot in the Miss Hawaii pageant, and in January she will compete for Miss America.
“I’m just really honored to be a part of the Miss America Organization and to use my crown kind of as a megaphone to advocate the things I care about like health and fitness,” explains Kamaka, a 2008 graduate of Kamehameha Schools. “I want to educate people on how to take care of themselves and give them daily tips on what they can do to live a healthier lifestyle.”
Kamaka, who was born and raised in Kaneohe, also has a background in dance, starting with hula at age 5 and then adding jazz, tap, ballet and hip-hop. Then, when she was 12, her grandparents took her to a UH Wahine volleyball game, and she instantly fell in love with the sport. “My heroes at that time were Lily Kahumoku and Kim Willoughby,” she recalls.
She started by joining Jammers Volleyball Club and would go on to have a successful volleyball career, including an appearance in the Junior Olympics for six consecutive years, and winning three league titles and two state championships at Kamehameha. At Concordia, Kamaka was a starting setter and captain as a freshman, a Cascade Collegiate Conference all-conference setter and MVP, and is ranked No. 5 on the school’s all-time list with 1,913 assists, and finished among the top 10 in school history in sets and games played.
“My mom always pushed me to be active and be who I am,” notes Kamaka. “She raised me as a single parent, and it was very important for her to instill in me self-confidence and being self-motivated as well. With volleyball I like the team bonding part of it. Your teammates become your family, and for me that was huge because I didn’t have siblings growing up.”
A self-proclaimed jock, Kamaka used to spend a lot of time working out in the gym and playing volleyball, which resulted in a muscular, athletic body. But in the last few months leading up to the Miss Hawaii pageant, she modified her workouts and diet, and managed to lose 10 pounds and showed off a much leaner body.
“My biggest problem is I eat like an athlete,” she says. “I’ve always had this athletic mentality where you have to eat so many calories and load up on your carbs because you’re working out so hard. I was so bulky and athletic, and I would just eat all the time, so in preparing for the pageant I had to train myself to eat smaller portions and do different types of work-outs, such as more functional movements.
“In volleyball, it’s all about legs, so I had really big, muscular legs, big thighs, big butt and big hamstrings. It’s all about explosive power, some core and, of course, back and arms. So, for the pageant, I had to tone down on the arms and legs, and work on my core a lot more. It was a total body transformation, and I definitely had to work hard at it. But I think it helped that I had all those years of muscle build-up and that knowledge of lifting, so I could make that transition easily.”
Kamaka, who stands 5 feet 8 inches tall, also incorporated yoga, as well as workouts with Brandon Akamime at Strength and Conditioning Fitness Academy on Ward Avenue. Her career goal is to teach health and fitness, and coach volleyball.
“The biggest secret (to being healthy and fit) is diet,” she notes. “No matter how much you work out, it’s really about how you fuel your body and what you’re doing to your body on the inside. I love to eat. I love local food, and when I went to Concordia I learned about kinesiology and then the nutrition aspect of sports and how you eat certain foods so your body works properly. I think it’s really important that we share that message with the community because there’s a lot of misconception out there, like that you can drink a shake and lose 10 pounds. It’s really just about your daily habits and the way you eat, and encouraging people to get out there and be active.”