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Mechele West Protects People

A TCU education and faith propel the alumna’s safety and fitness career.

Mechele West Protects People

A TCU education and faith propel the alumna’s safety and fitness career.

At 5 years old, Mechele West rescued an adult relative who was being choked in a domestic violence attack. Her parents channeled that bravery into martial arts.

Mechele West is a veteran, bodybuilder, author and security professional. Courtesy of Mechele West

Mechele West is a veteran, bodybuilder, author and security professional. Courtesy of Mechele West

“I was put in classes at 6, but apparently it was a God-given gift before that,” said West, who is a first-degree black belt in hanbo jiujitsu and is proficient in several forms of martial arts.

Following in her father’s footsteps, West joined the U.S. Air Force after graduating high school and was a surgical technician before being honorably discharged in 1995.

“My family is primarily military,” West said. “All of us participated in doing something for the country.”

Built for Ministry

While serving in the Air Force, West found bodybuilding, seeing it as a chance for ministry. “I was stronger than the average female,” she said. “When I’m on stage, I’m representing Christ. So I use it to minister.”

West competed in National Physique Committee amateur competitions from 2003 to 2011. Her awards include first place in the lightweight class of the 2004 NPC Red River Classic in Norman, Oklahoma, and fourth place at the 2005 NPC Junior Nationals in Chicago — “which is unheard of for a newbie to win top five in a national show the first time out,” she said. At the 2010 NPC Central Texas Showdown she took first place in the lightweight category, second in masters and overall in posedown.

“My last show, I did my routine to a Christian song,” West said. “When I got through, a little girl came up and told her mom, ‘I want to be just like her.’ She asked how I got this way, and I told her it was just God. She had a big smile on her face.”

IT to Security

In her remarkable career Mechele West has served in the U.S. Air Force as a surgical technician, worked as a lead computer network analyst, trained and competed in national bodybuilding competitions, earned a first-degree black belt in Hanbo Jujitsu, been a private investigator, and co-founded two new martial arts disciplines. Photo by Mark Graham

In her remarkable career Mechele West has served in the U.S. Air Force as a surgical technician, worked as a lead computer network analyst, trained and competed in national bodybuilding competitions, earned a first-degree black belt in hanbo jiujitsu, been a private investigator, and co-founded two new martial arts disciplines. Photo by Mark Graham

After her military service, West wanted to start a business but couldn’t get a venture off the ground. She began taking classes and ended up working with computers — still protecting, but at a cyber level. She spent most of those years with ACS in Dallas.

“I was a manager doing anything from server maintenance to networking, ensuring 24/7 service for our clients,” she said. “If you’re in the IT field, you will be laid off at some point. After 10 years, I finally got the ax.”

West was ready for a new endeavor. “No matter where I went, people thought I was a cop,” she said. “I couldn’t necessarily see myself confined to one city. The military in me doesn’t like that. So I started doing security.”

She worked as a private investigator for about four years and earned Level III Commissioned Security Officer and Level IV Personal Protection Officer designations.

Frog for Life

After 19 years going in different directions, West and her first crush reconnected. Victor West, also an Air Force veteran and accomplished martial artist, shared her passion for protecting others. The couple married in 2008. The next year, West scaled back her security work and focused full time on earning her degree.

Mechele West co-founded two new martial arts disciplines: Osebo (intended for children and fit adults) and Chayah Agon (intended for the elderly). Photo by Mark Graham

Mechele West co-founded two new martial arts disciplines: osebo (intended for children and fit adults) and chayah agon (intended for the elderly). Photo by Mark Graham

“I like high standards and TCU has huge high standards and so that was beautiful,” she said. “I had access to a top-notch education at a top-notch campus. And I loved the gym.”

West earned a bachelor’s degree in religion with a fitness minor in 2013. She said she is especially grateful to Nadia Lahutsky, associate professor and chair of religion, for her encouragement.

“Dr. Lahutsky was my spiritual mom at TCU,” West recalled. “She would say, ‘How are you helping? Don’t waste the education you were given.’ ”

Another mentor was David Upton, who taught strength and conditioning courses when West was a student and is the wellness program manager in TCU’s human resources department.

“Dr. Upton was someone who kept my interest in fitness and often reminded me that God has a place in the fitness world,” West said. “I met a lot of beautiful people. I wouldn’t trade that education for anything.”

An Unexpected Author

In 2013, Mechele West published Fit Your Body to Honor God. Courtesy of Mechele West

In 2013, Mechele West (photographed here with her husband) published Fit Your Body to Honor God. Courtesy of Mechele West

During her sophomore year, West began writing about fitness and her spiritual beliefs. “I felt in my spirit that God wanted me to write a book — to use a $40,000-a-year education and turn it into a $12 book for him to use the way he wanted,” she said. “He gave me the story and told me to fill in the gaps with my testimony.”

In 2013, West released Fit Your Body to Honor God (Touch Publishing Services), a collection of eating plans, workouts and biblical wisdom.

West plans to write a second book with her husband — this time about marriage. “We’re living it now and then we’ll write about it,” she said.

Diamond-4-One

While still a student at TCU, West paired her bodybuilding experience with her kinesiology studies and became a personal trainer. In 2009 she founded Diamond-4-One, which provides personal training and fitness instruction.

“Diamond is going from coal to perfection — not necessarily how we see perfection but how God sees us,” she said. “So I’m a diamond for One — the One is God.”

West also speaks at women’s events. Her primary message to women and girls: “Please do not formulate your opinion of yourself off of others — you go off of what God made you to be,” she said.

Drawing from their shared passion for martial arts, she and her husband co-founded Kingdom Warriors in Christ in 2010. The ministry combines martial arts instruction, self-defense and Christian principles.

Called to Protect

Mechele West's TCU ring and the tools of the trade for her work a personal protection officer. Photo by Mark Graham

Mechele West’s TCU ring and the tools of the trade for her work a personal protection officer. Photo by Mark Graham

In 2015, West and her husband — who does graphic design and website development — put their entrepreneurial ventures under one umbrella company: Temple Talents, LLC.

“When we got married, we asked, ‘How do we give all this back to Christ?’ That’s how Temple Talents started,” she said. “There are several divisions of Temple Talents, and we are just letting it grow as God grows it.”

They launched their latest venture in early 2017 after they earned their security consultant license and established Kingdom Protectors, a church security consultant ministry.

“Our heart is to protect pastors all over the world,” she said. “We can go to churches and show them security vulnerabilities.”

“Church security is different than anything else,” West added. “With any other security, the main goal is to be the wall between outside people and whomever you’re protecting. In the church, you have to be a minister in your own right.

“If you’re in uniform, you have to have a smile when someone comes in the door,” she said. “You have to be able to pray with someone and diffuse a situation before it escalates.”

West and her husband cannot be present to protect every person. “As security consultants we can go in and assess, teach and disciple, and then move on,” she said. “And then they can teach and disciple, and it grows without us having to be everywhere.

“God has really set us up to want to protect those people who cannot protect themselves.”