Body building: It’s all about biceps, triceps and delts, right? For Barbie Thomas, an armless bodybuilder and model, it's much more than lifting weights. Despite losing her arms at a young age, Thomas has achieved her dreams of competitive bodybuilding against all odds.
Thomas, a 37-year-old who lives in Phoenix with her two sons, regularly competes as a bodybuilder, which she documents in her website, Fitness Unarmed. She’s even won a few amateur competitions since she began in 2003.
According to "Good Morning America," Thomas lost both of her arms when she was two years old, living in Texas. She told "GMA" that she climbed onto a transformer while playing outside of her apartment building and electric current from the wires burned her arms off.
"They were like charcoal," she wrote on Fitness Unarmed. "They were completely dead and had to be amputated at the shoulders."
While she was not expected to live, Thomas, against the odds, not only survived but achieved the impossible as a bodybuilder. "I thank God I am alive," she told "GMA."
She said she went through years of physical and occupational therapy though doctors thought she would end up “a vegetable,” GMA reported.
"The doctors were boggled by my recovery," she said. "They decided I must have survived because of the rubber soles on my tennis shoes. True, they may have played their part, but I believe I survived because God saw the bigger picture and had plans for me."
Instead of getting down, Thomas participated in athletic activities growing up like soccer, dancing and aerobic running, adding fitness has been part of her life “forever.”
"I was not allowed to be negative and say I can't do something," she told ABC News. "I was always taught to focus on what I can do, not what I can't do. It probably has a lot to do with my personality -- I can't imagine being a negative Nancy all the time."
Despite lacking two crucial limbs, Thomas said she gets by using her shoulders as arms, which her sons, 13 and 17, call her “nubs.” During her phone interview with ABC News, she said she was holding the phone between her ear and right shoulder. She said she also uses her feet to open doors, plug in music and hold bags and uses her mouth to fasten her shoes.
And in bodybuilding competitions, Thomas performs dance routines with splits, high-kicks and a ninja kip-up, which she nailed in one competition through the National Physique Committee, an amateur division of the International Federation of Body Builders.
"We were thinking, 'How can she do that routine?' but she blew our minds," said Miles Nuessle, Arizona chairman of the NPC. "She was absolutely beautiful. She was on the floor jumping up and doing splits. I don't know what half the moves were called. She was rolling all over the place and shaking it -- sexy, athletic, fun and emotional. The crowd went nuts.”
"You can't use the word handicapped with her or she may punch you in the face," he continued. "Barbie is not handicapped."