Tara Ballard is a Figure competitor. As you will see, she has not been training to compete for very long, however in just a short time, has built a great figure, and shows that she can go a lot farther in the sport. She has the right attitude and you can tell is one of those people that no one or nothing can stop. She is someone I am honored to have gotten to know, and look forward to seeing and knowing more in the future. Just one look and you can see she is a beautiful woman with a body to be proud of. But after reading this, you will see she is so much more.
Q: Tara, thanks for doing this. We just met, but in a short time, I have become so impressed with you.
A: Thanks Jason! I appreciate the opportunity!!
Q: Can you start out by just telling a little about yourself. Family, where you are from, things like that.
A: I was born in Labrador, Canada, on the Air Force Base there, but spent a lot of my early childhood in Wilmington, North Carolina- that is where most of my family is. We moved around a lot with my dad's job after that. Long story short, I lived in Florida for 15 years, until 2006 when my boyfriends and I loved to Clemmons, North Carolina to be near my dad. My mom died that year, and I wanted to be closer to home after that.
Q: I know you are a long distance runner and do marathons. What got you interested in that, and is it something you still do?
A: I started running in 1999-mainly for fitness, but then I found that I really enjoyed it, maybe a little too much! It became my outlet for stress, and when I was going through a divorce in 2002, it's what really got me through. But, it does cause a lot of wear and tear on the body, and I kept getting injured- some serious injuries that kept me from doing anything for months at a time. In 2008, I changed my running styles and form, and was finally able to run a marathon, a goal that I had had for a long time, but never thought I would be able to do. My goal was to complete a marathon- I ended up doing three in four months time! I was determined to stay healthy and to do each marathon faster than the last. I did that, and then I entered the world of competing in Figure!
Q: What has been your greatest achievement with your running?
A: Being able to do 3 marathons with no injuries! I actually cried when I crossed the finish line of my last marathon- I had struggled so long to get to that point.
Q: How long have you been weight training and what got you into that?
A: In 2001 or so, I started out going to those Body Pump type classes at my gym in Florida- those were ok for awhile, but around 2004 or so, I was healing from yet another running injury when I decided I would try lifting heavier. So, I paid for a few personal training sessions. I was hooked after that! After a few months of training, a bodybuilder in the gym asked me if I had ever considered doing a competition. I was like "No way!! I could NEVER do that!!", but the thought stuck in my mind. In 2006, I took a hiatus from heavy weight training- I started teaching group exercise classes and was so busy with that, my weight training fell by the wayside. Late in 2008, I met who would become my good friends and trainer, Jill Coleman. I knew that she had competed in Figure, and on a whim (and remembering that thought that had lingered in the back of my mind), I asked her if she though I could compete. Jill is extremely confident and assertive, and her answer to me was basically, "Hell yes you can do it- let's start training next week!"
So I guess you could say that I started weight training in 2004, but REALLY serious weight training in January of 2009.
Q: How long did it take to see any real improvements in your Figure training?
A: It took about 12 weeks or so, with subtle differences noticed before then. The biggest thing for me was changing my diet. I always ate pretty healthy, but being a runner, I ate tons of carbs and way to little protein. Once I started eating every 2 to 3 hours, meals consisting of protein and good complex carbs, things started clicking!
Q: What made you decide to go ahead and compete?
A: I kind of made it a goal to do before I turned 40 in October 2009.
Q: Was the show what you expected, or did anything surprise you?
A: My first show (Figure Universe in Miami- June 2009) was overwhelming! I had no idea what to expect, and I came in as a total newbie! My posing was horrible, I was still way too thin with not enough muscle (that runner thing), and there were SO many people there!! But you know what? I'm glad I did such a big show my first time, it really prepared me for the smaller shows and made me more determined than ever to get to where I needed to be. And it was super-inspiring to be around so many fit people in one place!
Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time, and how about now?
A: My friends and family really had no clue what it was all about. They thought I was going to get huge and look unfeminine. I remember showing a good friends of mine some pictures from Oxygen Magazine- contest wrap-up photos of some of the big pro's... there was no hiding the look of disgust on her face. Since then, that same friend, as well as my family, have been to a couple of my competitions, and while they still may not quite get it, they have a little better understanding. The most important people in my life support me, and that's enough for me.
Q; What did competing teach you about yourself?
A: Hmmm- I kind of knew this already, but it really reinforced how determined and dedicated I am once I set my mind to something. I am very goal oriented. I NEED goals to keep me sane and on track. Once I set a goal, I do everything in my power to achieve it and then some. Some of my friends who compete would complain about this or that, especially about diet, but when I am in the zone, it doesn't really bother me too much-- eye on the target!
Q: Can you share your contest history
A: *June 2009- Figure Universe, Sports Model Universe
*October 10, 2009- National Atlantic Coast- High Point North Carolina- 3rd in Open Figure and 3rd in Masters Figure
*October 17, 2009- Mid-Atlantic Class- Charlotte, North Carolina- 2nd in Masters Figure, and 5th in Open Figure
* November 7, 2009- Elite Class- Greensboro, North Carolina- I felt I came in looking the best in this show, but the girls were really big and I looked tiny up there! :-) Working on that for 2010!
Q: What do you think is your best body part, or the one that gets the most compliments?
A: Back/V-taper and shoulders, abs.
Q: Do you have a favorite part to train or favorite exercise?
A: I love training back, chest, and abs. I love to hate training shoulders and legs! I really enjoy it all because I know I'm doing good things for my body.
Q; What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: Jill and I are still tweaking things, but I'm currently on a hypertrophy routine and diet... Monday is back and biceps, Wednesday is legs, Friday is shoulders/chest/triceps, Saturday is legs, do core workouts 5 times a week. As we get closer to contest time, we lower the weight and up the reps.
Q: When people see or hear you compete for the first time, what is the most common response? More positive or negative?
A: It is strange when they hear that you compete, I think they are looking for you to look like a freak or something, but then they see my pictures or me in person, and the reaction is very positive.
Q: When they see or hear it that first time, what is the one question you are sick of hearing?
A: None really- I love educating people and talking with them about this sport.
Q: Are there any misconceptions about women who train or compete or things you wish people knew?
A: This is mainly for women- please put down the pink dumbbells and pick up the heavy ones. You won't bulk up by lifting heavy.
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: Oh my gosh- SO many! On a personal level, my trainer, Jill Coleman is first and foremost! I love Monica Brant, Maggie D., Julie Lohre, Nicole Wilkens, Jenny Lynn, the list goes on and on.
Q: If someone came up to you and said they wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would want to give them?
A: Set a goal and stick to it. Don't let fear dictate your goals.
Q: You are also a trainer. What do you enjoy about raining others?
A: I absolutely love seeing my clients get stronger, with that comes more confidence, poise, and just an all-around outward sense of well-being.
Q: If someone wanted to be trained by you, how can they contact you, and what are the benefits of being trained by Tara Ballard?
A: They can contact me via email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. I take a personal interest in all of my clients- it is not about the money for me, it is a true enjoyment of getting to know all of my clients on a personal level and designing their training programs around their goals. That is not to say I am "nice" when I train- I always tell my clients "You can hate me during our session, just not before or after." I can help you reach your goals, whether it's to add size, train for a figure competition, or train for a marathon.
Q; What is the biggest mistake you see people make when they start training?
A: Lifting too light and with bad form. Take the time to learn the correct way to do the exercises.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I am a huge animal lover and animal rescue advocate, so a lot of my free time is spent hanging out with our menagerie of pets! I also like to read, travel, and just relax!
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Tara Ballard.
A: 5:00AM: get up, east breakfast, check email prepare for training clients, check on things at my "real" job (IT Manager at a law firm in Florida)
6:30-8:30AM: train clients
Afternoon: train clients or teach evening group exercise classes
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Bang Bang shrimp for Bonefish Grill.
Q: Favorite actor, movie, TV show, and musician.
A: Matt Damon, Shawshank Redemption/ Pretty Woman, Modern Family/ Desperate Housewives? Grey's Anatomy/ American Idol, musical tastes run the gamut- can't pick one, but I like Nickelback, Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi, Seether, Hinder, dance, and some hip hop
Q: Describe Tara Ballard in five words/
A: Dedicated, Loyal, Sincere, Tenacious, and Caring.
Q; Do you ahve a website or anything you want to take this time to plu?
A: My blog: www.runtararun.wordpress.com
Website: www.tsbfit.com - work in progress
You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter (tsbjax)!
Q; Any set plans for 2010 as far as competing or any other projects?
A: I plan to compete in a show here in North Carolina in April. Possibly one more in May, then several in the fall.
Q: We know sponsors are important to people who compete. Are you looking for any sponsors,and if so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Tara Ballard the athlete and competitor?
A: Yes, I would love to have a sponsor. What a sponsor would get from me is someone who is 100% dedicated and committed to whatever she sets out to do. This goes for speaking up for products and services I believe in- I am a huge believer in helping anyone/anything if I believe in the product or service!
Q: Tara, I thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I really appreciate it, and hope to see you go farther in this sport. You are a very inspirational woman. Any last words before you go?
A: I just want to tell everyone out there- don't let fear get in the way of your dreams and goals. You are stronger than you think...go for it! If I can do it, anyone can!