I recently had the honor of meeting an amazing woman Named Belinda Ann Hope. Belinda competes in figure and has an incredible physique. She combines a great body, with obvious outer beauty, but throws in inner beauty as well. There are times when you see someone and you just know they are destined to be special. Not just in fitness, but in life. Belinda is one of those people. This is my opportunity to introduce those who don't know her, to Belinda, and let the rest of the industry see someone that they are going to see a lot more of.
Q: First, Belinda, I want to thank you for doing this. I greatly appreciate it, and maybe we can help show the world a future figure star.
A: It is my pleasure to do this interview. I love sharing my personal stories about competing, my training schedule, my job as a trainer,my family, and how I keep it all balanced.
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself. Family, where you are from, those kind of things.
A: I am 35 years old and I was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. I attended college on a full scholarship to run Division 1 Track and Field at Kansas State University. I have a BA in Accounting but became a trainer to help others change their lives!! I am married to a fellow trainer and we have a 6 year old daughter. We now live in Clearwater, Florida.
Q: Before training, where you an especially athletic woman. Play a lot of sports?
A: As I jumped into already in the lst question, I ran track from 12 years old to 28 ( I ran open track meets and coached after my college career from 23 years old to 28). As a college athlete I earned All American status 2 times and I was 5th in the country in the 400 meter dash in 1995. Lastly, I qualified for the 1996 Olympic Trials in the 400 meter dash. S I've been in sports most of my life.
Q: How long have you been training and what led you to the gym?
A: I started training with weights when I was 18 years old and did not get serious until I was 24 and out of college and forced to keep myself in shape.
Q: You are obviously a very beautiful woman. I see instances where women like you are not taken serious at first. Did you feel you had to prove yourself in the gym?
A: Wow, thanks for the compliment. It's interesting because I am very modest and laid back, and I never talk about myself, and would rather spend time trying to get my clients to appreciate their beauty!! As far as training is concerned, I think I look so focused and driven that people always took me serious in the gym. I had a world class track coach at 12 and I learned then that you get into a serious mental place whenever you work out and not questions asked!
Q: What led to you deciding to compete?
A: I always wanted to compete but was afraid because I always thought I was too tall and too muscular for figure, and then I became friends with a Pro figure competitor, Heather Green, and she stayed on my butt about doing it and made me understand that there is a Tall Division and I should try it. I am 5'10" and 140lbs and would need to gain about 40lbs to be competitive in bodybuilding. So I decided to abandon my fears and try figure!
Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time, and how about now?
A: My only family here in Florida is my 6 year old daughter and my husband and they are both very supportive. Believe it or not, my little one is already doing push ups and earning awards for her athletic accomplishments in PE, AND she does figure posing already! My husband is about 200lbs and 7% body fat so I have no room to slack or eat bad because my surroundings are perfect for competing!!
Q: Was your first show what you expected? Did anything surprise you?
A: My first figure show I was clueless about everything. I didn't have on the right shoes, my makeup didn't flow on the stage, my physique was that of a shredded thin bodybuilder with no curves. I had so much to learn about the sport. I didn't place well at all, so I knew it was time to educate myself and therefor I spent the last 4 years morphing into a National Level figure competitor. I am WIP every time I step on that state!! What is WIP? It stands for Work In Progress!
Q: Can you share your contest history up till now
A: My contest history, which is hit a little about is, I started with 2 bodybuilding shows back in 2004 and decided in 2006 to switch over and have just went back to the drawing board to recreate myself every year. My breakout years was DEFINITELY this year (2009)! I got so many compliments and praise for my transformation from too muscular and boxy to curvy and lean with just enough muscle. This year I did 8 shows as opposed to 2-3 that I was doing before, so it was a long long year, but very productive!
Q: What do you feel is your best body part, or the one that gets the most compliments.
A: I am a midsection fanatic, so I would say abs, but the biggest draw this year was not just abs, it was my waist size. I was previously a 30 in the waist, and this year I competed at 24.5, and that's tiny for a girl my size. It was the first thing mentioned in all my critiques from the judges! That was very motivating!
Q: Do you have a favorite part to train or favorite exercise?
A: I love weight training and cardio equally. I don't have a favorite boy part to train, but legs are fun to train because it zaps you and feeling fatigued is cool to me for some reason!
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: I change my food slightly for competition. I don't east ANYTHING processed or out of a bag (not even protein bars) during competition season, and allow 10% of that when I am not competing. Interesting enough for me, I eat the same thing for 3 months until a week before the show!
Q: When someone sees your physique for the first time, what is the common response.? More negative or positive?
A: The reaction to my physique depends on where I go and how I am dressed! If I am at the gym it is admiration. If I am out in public it is people trying to figure out if I am a pro athlete, or parties and social settings turn into me being drilled about training and nutrition ( WHICH I LOVE DEARLY)!! I lived in St. Louis and I ran into very unhealthy, heavy people that made me feel like an outcast for my muscle and leanness.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question you are sick of hearing?
A: From women the question is usually "you don't eat carbs do you?", and men it is whatever they can say to break the ice....it varies.
Q: Are there any misconceptions about women who train and compete, or anything you wish people knew?
A: The biggest misconception is that girls on the cover of fitness magazines have secrets and special genetics that the rest of us don't! I learned that airbrushing works wonders and even so, any woman can achieve that level of fitness with the right direction in nutrition (most important part) and training.
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any that you admire?
A: I really admire Heather Green. She is so beautiful and yet so nice. She spends time complimenting other women when she is in the gym. Heather is a true gem in this sport! I will not name names, but I met some big names in figure and they were very very nasty and arrogant and it was a complete let down.
Q: What is your favorite and least favorite part of the sport?
A: My favorite is watching the human body change before your eyes during show prep and the energy I get from standing on that stage. The negative part is that it is just like anything, there is some politics involved with the scoring and placings, and I don't think that will ever change.
Q: You are also a trainer. What do you enjoy about training people?
A: I enjoy seeing my clients believe in their abilities and watching their self worth increase! Not everyone is blessed to have supportive friends and family, and I make sure that I listen and support their dreams and goals, but with 100% honesty. I've gotten that, trust me! But anyway, I never hate going to work. I LOVE MY JOB!!!
Q: If someone wanted to be trained by you, what's the best way to contact you, and what is the benefit of being trained by Belinda Ann Hope?
A: The best way to reach me is email firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text me at 727-504-7376. I am a big texter (think I need to attend Texters Rehab). I think the benefits of training with me is for competitors, is that I have been through everything they are going to experience and I have figured out the easy smart way to get ready for the shows and not the "curse out your family and friends for months" way, out of pure discomfort. The process is so refined right now that my competitors worry that something is wrong when they are not uncomfortable and crying 1 week from a show. For my clients that just want a lifestyle change, I offer encouragement in the form of text messages, little emails, and anything that will motivate them to keep believing in their abilities to keep getting better and being WIP (work in progress).
Q: If someone came to you and said they wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would want to give them?
A: The first piece of advice is to start a food journal and make it the priority to changing your goals, and now how many hours can you stand of cardio per week! Nothing outweighs nutrition!
Q: One thing anyone can see, is you have great abs. Any secret to getting them like that?
A:I use my abs every moment I am awake. OK, what I mean is that I am always tightening my abs, whether I am working out or driving in my car! I only do about 2-3 ab movements per weight workout because honestly, you can't crunch away body fat, you have to take off that blanket of fat to see what lies beneath. For most people, there is a nice midsection but unfortunately it will continue to be covered until they change their food and lose the blanket!!
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Not really any favorites. I just like sweet stuff, so I keep it out of the house because my 6 year old eats healthy and could care less about sweets!
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: Honestly, all of my hobbies are athletic... I love to run, I love spinning, I love being outside in the park with my kid, but we always end up running, so I am an athlete to the heart, and it doesn't stop! Oh, I forgot, I love word games. I am a true intellectual, that loves to read medical articles.
Q: Describe a typical day in the life of Belinda Ann Hope.
A: Typical day of mine! Wow, OK. Out of bed by 4:15AM, training or running by 5AM, home to help with getting my kid to school by 7AM, and then back to the gym at 9AM for either client or workout #2, and then a few clients, then home by noon for lunch and workouts and menu's, and text messages, etc. Then kid pickup at 3PM, and homework until 4:30PM, then back to the gym for a few clients and somewhere in there workout #3! Then home for food and getting the kid to bed and then to bed myself to do it all over again the next day. The latest I sleep any day of the weeks i 5:30AM!! Wow, I really do all that? I am crazy!!
Q; Favorite actor, movie, TV show, and musician?
A: Not a big celebrity person, so no favorite actors, and I don't watch much TV except Cartoon Network with my kid....gotta love Spongebob! No favorite musician because I like everything.
Q: Describe Belinda Ann Hope in five words.
A: DEDICATED, DRIVEN, FOCUSED, TENACIOUS, AND CRAZY AS HELL ( sorry not one word but had to say it!).
Q: Any set plans for 2010 as far as competing or any other projects?
A: I am currently studying the 2010 NPC schedule and plan to do as many as possible, just like 2009, so the judges understand I mean business!
Q; We know sponsors are important for a competitor. Are you looking for any, if so,, what is a potential sponsor getting in Belinda Ann Hope?
A: I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to find sponsors that want to sue my image in 2010! It is a constant dream of mine to find sponsors that represent what I believe in and that all natural hard work!! I would love to make Oxygen magazine and will have that as a goal to grace those pages. As I said earlier, anyone can do it, and I truly believe I can. I must stay positive and believe it will happen.
Q: Belinda, I again, want to thank you for doing this. I am very impressed with you and really can see you becoming a star in the industry. I look forward to watching your career go forward and seeing how much of a success you become. Any last words before you go?
A: Thank you