It has been a wild ride for Temecula resident Givona Sandiford Sapp, Ph.D., who not only took first place in the group round of the national online Ms. Health and Fitness competition but also advanced through to the semifinals. Sapp, a 39-year-old new mother, speech pathologist and certified barre instructor, needed to take first place in her quarter-final group, and she did. The rounds are voted on by the general public, who must submit votes online. Thanks to the many votes she received through last week, Sapp has been successful in her run thus far.

“I recently had my first baby at almost 40,” Sapp said. “I believe that my healthy lifestyle contributed to a healthy pregnancy even at my advanced maternal age.”

Temecula’s Givona Sapp, who took first place in the group round of the national online Ms. Health and Fitness competition, moves into the semifinal round. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Voting to determine the next Ms. Health and Fitness resumed Monday, Sept. 14, and ends Thursday, Sept. 24, at 11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

This year’s winner will take home the title “Ms. Health and Fitness,” $20,000 and the cover of Muscle and Fitness Hers, which is read by more than 500,000 fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes each issue.

“It has always been my dream to be debt-free,” she said. “I would put the money toward paying off my school loans.”

The event will be hosted by Whitney Jones, the reigning champion of both the Ms. Fitness International and Ms. Fitness Olympia competitions. Jones is widely regarded as one of the best IFBB Fitness Pros in the world. Since entering her first fitness competition in 2010, she has received international acclaim and numerous awards for her physique and dedication to health and fitness. As this year’s official host and competition representative, Jones will be providing tips and advice throughout the competition as the search for the next Ms. Health & Fitness continues.

“I never actually thought I’d actually place,” Sapp said. “To my surprise, I made every cut. On the last day of the group rounds, I was in third place all day. Only first place would go on to the quarterfinals. In the last two hours, I moved into first place and went on to make the quarter-finals (top 1% of contestants).”

Voting to determine the next Ms. Health and Fitness resumes Monday, Sept. 14, for “The Final 8” and ends Thursday, Sept. 24, at 11 p.m. EDT. Valley News/Courtesy photo

The major benefactor in the competition is not just the winner, but over the last three years, the organization has also donated to Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors. Founded by former Carolina Panthers defensive end Jared Allen; their mission is to provide financial assistance and support to injured U.S. military veterans by building and remodeling accessible homes to suit their individual needs one wounded warrior at a time.

“With everything that is going on in the world, it has been so heartwarming to have family, friends and strangers support my goal to be Ms. Health and Fitness 2020,” Sapp said. “I didn’t start off believing it was possible, but their belief in me has encouraged me to aim high.”

To vote for Givona, visit

JP Raineri can be reached by email at