Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sherri Gray Interview

Sherri Gray is one of my favorite bodybuilders. Not because the fact that she has the shoulders I hope to achieve, not because she has an all around awesome physique, not because has is one of the more beautiful women in the sport. But because she lives the sport. She wants it. She works hard to look that good. She started in Figure, but due to having so much muscle, has moved to bodybuilding, and the bodybuilding industry better be thankful. Sherri can be a huge star in the sport, and I really believe she will be.

Q: First, Sherri, thanks for doing this. As a real admirer of you and your physique, this is an honor for me.
A: Thank you for asking me to become a part of this. I hope it will benefit in promoting the sport of women's bodybuilding.

Q: First can you tell a little bit about yourself. Family, where you are from, things like that.
A:I am a 38 year old, married mother of 2 great children. I have a son and a daughter that keep me pretty busy. We live in Wilmington, NC and love it here. We all love boating and going to the beach so it is a great place for us to live. My husband has lived here all his life so we have grown to love it as much as he does. I work full time as an Instrument Engineer at a pharmaceutical company. I am responsible for calibrating equipment in the analytical and manufacturing facilities to make sure they are compliant for the FDA, etc. We are also owners in a furniture store here in town that my husband and his brother own and operate. Needless to say, we stay pretty busy year around. I usually train at lunch time, so that is a good break in the day for me. Both children are involved in sports almost year round so we are usually on the go as soon as I leave work. We have a great time watching them do things they enjoy and cheering them on.

Q: What is it that first got you into the gym?
A:I have always been athletic, all through school. Even lifted weights some in high school for sports but not until college when I took a weight training course did I get more interested. So I guess that is what really got me started. It has only been within the past 3-4 years though that I have gotten serious and focused on changing my body and life for the better.

Q: Was weight training something you picked up naturally. How long did it take before you started to see results.
A: I feel like weight training did come naturally. Even when I started in the gym I must admit I did more machines than I do now but not totally. I still did free weights but not to the extent I do now. Once I committed myself to compete, changing my eating habits and focusing on my weight training I could see results within 4-6 weeks initially. It was probably mostly body fat but losing that is when you see what is underneath it!

Q: Now, you started out doing figure. What led to you deciding to compete in figure?
A: I was in the gym one day and some friends came up and asked me if I competed. That led to a lengthy conversation that got me thinking. My first thought, what in the world do I do to get myself ready for that and when would I have the time? I went home discussed it with my husband and decided I would go for it. I wasn't getting any younger and with the kids getting older, our life would be getting busier and busier. Luckily I had some guidance from others who had competed so I wasn't going into it totally blind. After I started training for my first show I realized how focused it made me and it was good to have an individual goal that only you have the power to achieve.

Q: Was your first show what you expected or did anything surprise you?
A:To be honest, I really didn't know what to expect. I had never been to a show so I was going in with no expectations really. Of course I wanted to do well but I was new to the whole things so I didn't set my expectations too high. The first show was definitely a learning experience and let me know what I needed to work on before the next one.

Q: You moved from figure to bodybuilding. Why make that switch?
A: After each show I would wait to get feedback from the judges. Each time they would say I was muscular so I may need to tone down this or build up that. So I tried to make improvements for each show. By the last figure show, which was Jr.USA's in 2008, the word was they were not looking so much for muscularity in the figure girls. That is when I decided to make the switch. I did not want to compromise my workouts to try to lose the muscle I had worked so hard to put on. So from there I have been trying to improve my physique and be a competitive bodybuilder.

Q: Was bodybuilding something your friends and family supported at the time, and how do they feel now?
A: I don't think any of them really understood it all. They didn't realize how important nutrition is to it all and how your workouts can differ depending on your goals. With each year, as they watched me change, they were supportive but I still don't think they totally understand it all. Everyone has their hobbies I guess and going to the gym is part of my lifestyle now. I don't feel like my day is complete if it is a day I am supposed to be training and I can't make it. If I want to be the best I can be, I have to keep that commitment. My husband has been great with it all. He allows me the time to train and helps me cook healthy meals. He realizes how important this is to me and how bringing my best physique to the stage takes a lot of commitment, and dedication. I try to never take time away from my family because of it but if I have to in crunch time, he understands and supports me. I want him and my children to be proud of me when I walk out on that stage. They know how hard I work and it means the world when I know they are cheering me on. Friends are always supportive but really, it's hard to totally understand it until you do it.

Q: You have not been competing for long, are people often surprised at how much size you have put on in a short amount of time?
A: Well, it has taken me 3 years to get to where I am now and I'm still trying to grow! Luckily, I have some genetics on my side and I have always been athletic so once I got serious about lifting, it came naturally. A few people are surprised at how much size I put on over the past few years but I am a stickler with my diet. I keep it clean pretty much year around. I also started working with Mike Davies and that has done wonders. Planning my nutrition around my training and using the foods to fuel my body to help it grow has made a great difference in the past year and a half.

Q: Any bodybuilders you would call favorites or that you admire?
A: I guess the ones I admire the most are the women who work and have kids who still find time to do what they enjoy, which is bodybuilding. Finding time for yourself is very hard when you have a family and work full time. I think it is very important to make time for yourself or you will lose yourself! I love my family but if I didn't train to release stress, frustration etc.. I wouldn't be a good mother or wife.

Q: With a family, kids, work, how do you find time to train?
A: I tend to plan my training around my family. I don't want to miss any part of my
children growing up. Saying that, I get up at 4:45 am some mornings to go to the gym to get some cardio in, then get home to see the kids off to school before I go to work. I use my lunch break to go to the gym and do my weight training and maybe some cardio as well. If it gets to where I need to add in another cardio session later on then I will go to the gym at night after the kids go to bed or try to go.

Q: What do you consider your favorite body part, or the part you get the most compliments on?
A: My favorite body part is my shoulders. I tend to get the most compliments on those but lately though, to my surprise, I have been getting compliments on my legs. I really never liked my legs until recently. I have molded them into something I can be proud of. The part I liked the least has become one of my favorites and biggest assets.

Q: Favorite part to train?
A: Shoulders used to be my favorite part to train because they were one of my stronger muscle groups. Now, I am trying to get my back and hamstrings to grow, so back and legs are my favorites to train at the moment. I am focusing on growth so when I see improvements it keeps me motivated.

Q: When you train, do you have a preference of alone or with a partner, and why?
A: I do have a partner that I train with. It's nice to have him around so when we are going heavy I have someone to spot me so we can get a few more reps out. Some days I need to be pushed and if I were alone then I don't know if I would do that every day. I do like to train alone some days though. I put my Ipod on and just zone out, I need that time to myself to regroup and refocus.

Q: Can you share your contest history so far.
Competition History:

May 2009- Jr. USA Bodybuilding/Fitness/Figure Championships
Middleweight Female Bodybuilding- 2nd Place

April 2009- NC State Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure Championships
Lightweight Female Bodybuilding- 1st Place Lightweight and Overall Winner
June 2008- Jr. USA Bodybuilding/Fitness/Figure Championships
Figure Division Class C- No Placement

May 2008- NC State Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure Championships
Open Figure Class B- 4th place

June 2007- Atlantic Coast Crystal Cup Bodybuilding and Figure Championships
Open Figure Class A- 1st place

May 2007- Gold’s Classic Bodybuilding and Figure Championship
Open Figure Class A- 2nd place

April 2007- NC State Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure Championships
Open Figure Class B- 4th place

Q: For me, one thing that drives me crazy is when people do not rerack the weights. Any lack of gym etiquette that bothers you?
A: That is funny because that is one of my pet-peeves as well. I also can't stand when someone leaves their sweat all over the equipment. I mean come on, can you just wipe it off? No one wants to sit in a pool of sweat! Another is when people sit on equipment and read magazines or talk on their phones. Leave those in the locker room!

Q: If someone came up to you and said they wanted to start bodybuilding. What is the one piece of advice you would want to give them?
A: My one piece of advice would be to get yourself mentally ready for it. It takes a lot of motivation, determination and your attitude has to be right. Get ready to change your diet and start eating clean on a regular basis.

Q: When people see your physique for the first time, what is the usual reaction? More positive or negative?
A: Sometimes I can't tell if the reaction is positive or negative. It's just a big STARE coming from them. Especially when you are lean and only a couple of weeks out from a show. You don't see too many women walking around muscular and lean, so you get some crazy looks! However, most reaction are positive. Men and women will compliment me on my physique. Others, who don't understand will throw out a negative comment here and there but they just go by the wayside.

Q: When people see you for the first time, what is the one question you are sick of
A: "Do you workout?" I mean you really think I don't??

Q: Do you feel there are any misconceptions about female bodybuilders?
A: Certainly there are misconceptions. A lot of people think we are becoming too masculine. If they take a look at a lot of the new and upcoming bodybuilders these women are far from masculine. Muscle doesn't make you masculine. It makes you strong and beautiful! You can have muscle and be feminine.

Q: What is for you the best part of the sport and the worst part of the sport?
A: The best part is staying focused and knowing that it is totally up to me on how I look in the end. I can never blame it on anyone else. The worst part I think is that there isn't enough attention paid to female bodybuilders. The focus tends to be on figure and bikini competitors. I wish they would give the bodybuilders as much attention as they do those women. We work hard as well to achieve the physique we are striving for.

Q: I have always been critical of the judging in female bodybuilding. Do you think
anything needs changed, or is ok the way it is?
A: I think overall the judging has been good. There may be a few times I could question the end result but most of the time when I go back and look at the placing and take it all into perspective, symmetry, conditioning, muscularity, it all falls into place.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I love going to the beach or on the boat in the summer with family and friends. Just sitting on the beach relaxing or playing with the kids is awesome! I love being
outdoors. We also enjoy going to the mountains to ski and ride 4-wheelers.

Q: Describe a typical day in the life of Sherri Gray.
A: Well, it's not very exciting but it's my life- I try to make my own excitement. We stay pretty busy with the kids activities, working full time and then training. When show prep is in full swing- life is pretty hectic but when it's your passion- you make time. Work, train, chauffeur the kids, eat, homework, bed, repeat....

Q: One thing I have noticed is you are very photogenic and it looks like you have fun on photo shoots. Is that something you enjoy doing?
A: Actually, at Jr. USA's this past year in 2009 is the first time I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot. I had a really good time with it. It was a lot of fun and great to have pictures of yourself when you are at your peak. Pictures last a life time. I hope I get the opportunity to do others in the future. There are a lot of great photographers out there.

Q: OK, if you were told that you could only watch the movies of two actors, watch two TV shows, and listen to two musicians for one year. Who would you pick?
A: That's a pretty tough question.... actors I think I would choose Vince Vaughn, his movies make me laugh and I like to have a good laugh as often as possible. The other would probably be Tim Robbins. Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite movies and he is such a good actor. As for TV shows, I think I would pick The Biggest Loser because it motivates me. If these people can make such a great change in their lives, why can't I get up and get moving? Everyone has the opportunity to better themselves, you just want to have to do it for yourself, it has to come from within! The other show would have to be a comedy, probably Two and a Half Men. It is a pretty funny show that has me laughing every time I watch it. Music wise, I really can't pick 2 that are my favorite. I listen to such a variety of music I can't pick 2particular ones. I listen to Old School R&B, Rock, 80's, 90's and current Top 40 music. So to choose just 2 artists is about impossible. I like to have a variety.

Q: Describe Sherri Gray in five words.
A: It's pretty hard to describe yourself but I'll give it a shot. Caring,Fun,Dependable,Friendly and Organized!!

Q: Now obviously in bodybuilding, sponsorship is so important. I am sure you are looking for some. Would you like to take this opportunity to let people know what you are looking for, how they can get ahold of you, and why they should sponsor Sherri Gray.
A: Sponsorship is a great opportunity and I am currently in search of one. I just hope I will be fortunate enough to be picked up by a company or person who is looking for female bodybuilders to sponsor. I would love to promote supplements, fitness wear, anything in the industry that I believe in. Being able to get your face and name out there not only helps yourself but the company as well. Seeing different faces as well as different ages motivates all types of people.

Q: Anything else you want to promote?
A: Other than promoting myself.... promoting the sport of female bodybuilding and fitness in general is very important. I'd love to help motivate people to get to the gym and start living a healthier life.

Q: So what are your plans for 2010 as far as competing or any other projects?
A: I am currently training to compete at the Arnold Amateur in March. I have been accepted already so I'm hitting it hard to bring a great physique to stage. I do plan on doing another National show in 2010 but don't have one set just yet. I always like to take one show at a time and make sure I make the improvement necessary to bring my best physique.

Q: Sherri, I want to thank you for doing this. You are an amazing woman and an amazing bodybuilder. I think it is a sport you have only scratched the surface on how far you can go in it. Any last words before you go?
A: Thank you for the opportunity and I hope this will bring some positive feedback not only for myself but for the sport in general.