This is my interview with beautiful figure competitor Heather Grace. She is a phenomenal woman. She is the kind of woman you can not help but to root for. She has competed in gymnastics and other sports in her life, but now all of us who follow the fitness industry are blessed to be able to have her in our sport. She is also a trainer, and if you live anywhere near her, how can you not want to be trained by her. After reading this interview you will see she is more than just a beautiful woman with an amazing body. She is so much more.
Q: First, Heather, thanks so much for doing this. I am a fan of yours so this is an honor for me, for you to be doing it.
A: Thank you very much, the pleasure is mine and I am honored that you've selected me to interview
Q: Can you start out bu just giving a little info about yourself. Family, where you are from, things like that.
A: I am a military brat originally from Tacoma, Washington. I have 2 younger sisters and our family moved around quite a bit. We spent time in Nuremberg, Seoul, Naples, Mt. Clemens, Michigan, Oahu, Hawaii, and Tacoma, Washington. I went to college at Columbia University in New York City.
Q: Now, I know you started gymnastics at the age of 4. What got you interested in that?
A: My mother pushed us into athletics very early on. She basically forced us through the entire 7 years, but told us that we would thank her in time. .. I now thank her regularly...LOL
Q: Did you have a specialty or any part of gymnastics that you most enjoyed?
A: I excelled on the floor, but enjoyed the artistic side of the sport more than anything.
Q: I know you also played basketball in college. Where did you go and what position did you play?
A: I began playing basketball after beating the boys at a game of 21 while bored outside of my first dance. I worked hard and became a fairly adept ball handler and point guard. By 14, basketball was my ABSOLUTE passion! My decision to attend Columbia had more to do with the opportunity to play Division 1 ball and "pick-up" in a basketball "Mecca", than to attend an Ivy League school.
Q: So what led you to the gym?
A: Are you kidding? I LIVED in the gym. I played ball 6 hours a day. The weight room was always something that I dabbled in with the guys between games. However, I didn't start a formal strength and conditioning program until College.
After college, I was browsing through a copy of Muscle Media 2000 and decided to begin a training split and cycle my first round of creatine (good 'ol phosphagen to the rescue).
Q: How long did you train before you entered your first show, and what made you decide to compete?
A: Well, I suppose that I began training seriously at about 22, however, I didn't actually compete until I was 33. I suppose the timing was right. I was just getting out of ANOTHER dead-end relationship and really needed something to focus on. I also wanted to stand on stage with the beautiful physiques that I saw in the muscle mags.
Q: Was that first show what you expected? Did anything surprise you?
A: Everything surprised me about my first show. My dieting, presentation, and posing were awful, but I managed to take my class and was blessed to meet my current trainer, Dylan Armbrust, shortly afterward.
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: My contest history includes
*2006 Rocky Mountain Classic, 1st place D Class
*2007 Colorado Pro Am, 2nd place D Class
*2009 Arnold Amateur, 2nd place D Class
*2009 USA's, 13th place D Class
Q: What do you think is your best bodypart, or the one that gets the most compliments?
A: My back is my most dominant bodypart, but I receive the most comments and questions regarding my abs and oblique training suggestions.
Q: Do you have a favorite bodypart to train or favorite exercise?
A: I'm trying to convince myself that my hamstrings are my favorite area to train, as they are my weakest.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: I am fairly muscular for figure and consequently am not as concerned with an "off season". While I hope to refine my symmetry, I certainly don't need to "bulk" in order to do so. My training is consistent throughout the year. I cycle strength, mid rep range, and metabolic (superset) sessions on a 4 day split: quads and glutes/ back and rear delts/ hams and glutes/ delts and chest. I've just recently added 5 high intensity weekly sessions in the hope of tightening my lower half a bit through sprints, stairs, and Bulgarian bag training, along with Heather Mae French and Taylor Waldrop.
My diet and supplementation are also fairly consistent through the year. Last season, I began both of my preps a bit late and decided to employ a ketogenic approach ( I;m a HUGE Dave Palumbo fan). This year, I plan to do several shows and will carb cycle while trying to increase my overall leg development and streamline my upper body.
While in contest prep, I manipulate my cardio and carbs in order to lean out. I will also add thermo's, increase my leucine consumption, and get at least 8 hours of sleep each day.
Q: When people see your physique for the first time, what is the most common response? Is it more positive or negative?
A: I get a lot of positive feedback. I try to remain open and attentive to questions particularly when dieting. I would hate to perpetuate that "hardcore, unapproachable" bodybuilder stereotype, even though I'd often like to. LOL
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question you are sick of hearing?
A: "How many crunches do you do each day?"... I don't think I've ever really done crunches..LOL
Q: What is the one lack of proper gym etiquette that annoys you the most?
A: I get annoyed when people approach me in the middle of a set.
Q: Is competing something your family supported from the star, and how about now?
A: My family is ALL about ANY form of athletic competition. I am the lest athletic of all of them.
Q: Are there any big misconceptions about women who weight train and compete?
A: Of course! The worst misconception (by fay) is the myth of lifting heavy and getting big. :((
Q: Do you have any other people in the sport you admire or are a fan of?
A: Absolutely! Sharon Bruneau is my all-time fav, but I loved the physiques of Davana Medina, Jenny Lynn, and Monica Brant in the early years of figure. In my opinion Valerie Waugaman brought the best package to stage in the 2007 Arnold Classic. However, my incredibly gifted and hard working friend Heather Mae French, provides my daily inspiration. Heather is consistent year round and epitomizes the structure of the ideal figure athlete.
Q: What is your favorite and least favorite part of competing?
A: My favorite part about competing is the final week leading up to the stage, when the sacrifice is FINALLY evident. My least favorite is the suffering necessary at about 4 weeks out, when you are second guessing yourself and at the mercy of the step mill, tilapia, and asparagus.
Q: If someone came up to you and said they wanted to start training and competing in fitness or figure, what is the one piece of advice you would want to give them?
A: DO YOUR HOMEWORk AND GET ORGANIZED!
Q: Any favorite cheat food?
A: I make a GLORIOUSLY scrumptious pie with a graham cracker crust by mixing 3 scoops of vanilla whey isolate, a mashed up yam, 1 cup of fat free fage, nutmeg, cinnamon, seas salt, and stevia (try chilled)!!! YUMMY!
Q: Is fitness modeling something you enjoy doing, and if so, how can photographers get ahold of you if they would like to book you?
A: My modeling experience is limited, but I do enjoy the camera! (Don't we all)
I can be reached through my facebook and myspace pages at:heathergracefitness.
Q: Outside of training, are there any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I love to travel (particularly to warmer climates), watch movies, cook, and read great books.
Q: Describe a typical day in the life of Heather Grace
A: I'm up at 4AM, where I hit my first cardio session before training clients. I will then work until about 10AM and head to the track/Red Rocks/or Armbrust Gym for a high intensity session. I go home for a nap and do personal research online before heading out to train and another low-intensity cardio session. I will then train my evening clients, and head home to prepare meals for the following day, before heading to bed at about 9:30PM.
Q: Favorite actor, movie TV show, and musician.
A: Actor: Denzel Washington (specifically "Glory"_
TV show: South Park and Family Guy
Musician: Angie Stone
Q: Obviosuly sponsorship is so important. Do you have any you want to plug, and are you looking for any sponsors.
A: I am still looking for the "coveted" sponsor, but would like to thank Author L, Rea of ALRI. I am a long tiem ALRI product fan and Author has been a great help. He recently send samples of both POISON and COMATOSE for my clients and they are all now devout fans.
Q: Anything planned for 2010 as far as competing or any other projects?
A: Yes, I am currently 11 weeks and 4 days out of the Arnold Amateur. I also plan to head home to Seattle and compete in the Emerald Cup before hitting the nNtional stage at Jr Nationals.
Q: Heather thanks for doing this. Anything you want to add before you go?
A: Thank you for the opportunity!