Bodybuilder trying to help shape up a sport


Layne Luna likes the way Isaiah Kanakanui is trending through bodybuilding, and he’d like to see more of it for youngsters on the Big Island.

Kanakanui was a Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion in wrestling and judo at Hilo High, and he didn’t stop working out after he graduated.

“He was still looking for that competitive edge, and he found it through bodybuilding,” said Luna, who works out with Kanakanui at Penn Fitness and Training.

Kanakanui, 20, started his competitive bodybuilding off with bang in late October, scoring a victory in the novice light heavyweight division at a competition in Kapolei, Oahu. The 48-year-old Luna, meanwhile, took runner-up in a more advanced division.

Luna moved up one spot to the winner’s podium a week later at the Paradise Cup in Honolulu, and he was joined by two other bodybuilders from Hilo — Francis Blas and Gerald Saragosa.

Blas took first in men’s physique medium class and Saragosa won men’s unique short class. It was Luna, however, who had perhaps the most entertaining competition, locking up with decorated veteran Paul Perri in a “showdown.”

“It was two fighters trying to psyche each other out,” Luna said. “We were staring down each other and everything. Very uncomfortable. But I studied my opponent and won.”

With another masters title on his resume, Luna is ready to try and revive the bodybuilding scene in Hilo, which according to him as been dormant for some time. There is even a plan in the works to hold a local competition.

Between the success of Luna, Kamuela Chun and Naea Lindsey, Hilo has produced capable bodybuilders who have gone to Oahu and brought back titles. But all of those competitors are north of 40.

Luna says the next step is to try and gain more youth involvement in the sport.

“We want to get them in the gym so they can make a better life for themselves. Not as much fighting, and more working out,” said Luna, who said he’s ready to retire from competition.

“I love the sport so much, no matter what I’m going to be involved as a coach and a judge,” he said.

In addition to the rigors of training and diet, Luna admits there is one big mental drawback to bodybuilding. But he feels that if participants can overcome the self-centered aspect of the sport, the lessons gained can be used in all facets of life.

Luna noted that he has first-hand knowledge of how narcissistic bodybuilding can make competitors.

“It’s a selfish sport that can take away from your character,” he said. “If you don’t watch yourself, your head will grow along with your muscles. You start paying too much attention to yourself and not enough to others.”

According to Penn Fitness and Training representative Michelle Vidinha, promoter JD Penn’s goal is to hold a bodybuilding competition in Hilo in June, which would be the first of its kind in quite some time.

“It’d be a invitational, men and women from around the state,” she said. “We are just looking for a venue.”