Liza Reichenberger is one of my favorite people in the fitness industry. Both in bodybuilding and life she has accomplished so much and you just know she isn't even close to done. In bodybuilding she is one of the best posers you will ever see, has an obvious amazing physique, and has worked hard to be one of the best at what she does. In life, she has had ups and downs, but has conquered and become a great person. Liza is someone who should be and is a role model to people. Call her Liza or Heruliza, but to me make sure to call her an inspiration. So it is my honor to post this interview and help Liza let people know the amazing woman she is.
Q: Liza I want to thank you so much for doing this. I am a fan, so this is very exciting to me.
A: Thank you, Jason for taking the time to put this interview together!
Q: Can you start out by telling a little bit about yourself. Family, where you are from, things like that.
A: I was born in Montreal, Quebec while my father was finishing his PhD at McGill. He moved the family to Tripoli, Libya when I was 2.5. My father was a geologist and did oil exploration, so we lived there for many years. We essentially fled the country in 1970, after the revolution. Muammar Khaddafi overthrew the government (grasping King Idris) and it wasnt really safe for non-arabs then. My parents are European (Dad Dutch, Mom a blend of Scottish and Welsh) and I had always gone to
British school. My first experience in the US was Bakersfield, CA in 1970...and I hated it. A little tomboy with a father who enjoyed collecting exotic animals, I had a VERY hard time acclimating. Teased mercilessly, I made a pact with myself at age
10 to NEVER be cruel to anyone because they were different. The residents of that farm / oil town were ignorant, and to them, I was like an alien. It took me 3 years to lose my British accent and grow out my hair. I decided maybe being a girl wasnt so awful after all as I entered puberty. Attending the prom with the quarterback of the high school football team, I was just starting to finally fit in...5 years after we arrived there, my father suddenly got a great new job in Oklahoma City. I was 15 I was horrified! Not again!! We moved there in 1975 and I enjoyed a brief period of popularity due to being the "new girl from California". I even made the high school pom-pom squad as a sophomore, and dated the captain of the tennis team. It didnt last, though... Unfortunately, my high grades and interests outside school (reading, keeping snakes and lizards as pets) made me officially nerdy and I didnt enjoy popularity and the attention of boys again until I was a freshman at Baylor University. My parents wanted me to be pre-med...and I wanted to party! My friends included a Texas pageant beauty and a country and western singer, the wild daughter of a popular Texas televangelist.With awful grades, my parents brought me back to Oklahoma, thinking sorority rush with my younger sister would head me in the right direction, little realizing the constant party atmosphere, and a whole new collection of wild and fun friends.I was thrown out of that honored institution (not OU, the sorority...Kappa Kappa Gamma) for not completing my pledge duties. Apparently playing frisbee in army pants and a bandanna, with beer cans in my pockets and a cigarette in my mouth was not ideal Kappa behavior:)
I started lifting weights in 1980, after winning several armwrestling contests in bars (just genetics, folks!) for cases of beer and piddly prize-money. I was dating an OU football player at the time, and he thought I should bodybuild, showed me pictures of the legendary Rachel McLish, who had just won the 1980 Olympia.
Q: Before you started bodybuilding, were you an especially active or athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I was athletic...always. Built like a locomotive, I used to cry when I saw my rear in the bathroom mirror because of my wide shoulders and V-tapered back. I was afraid I looked like a boy. Other than straightforward genetics, I also spent a few years on the swim team (Bakersfield) and danced ballet and jazz from six to about 14 years of age. I was a very active kid, climbing trees and sandstone cliffs at the beach in Libya and rode my bike everywhere in Bakersfield, building forts and catching reptiles and amphibians. Once I even pulled a jackrabbit out of it's hole in the desert! It scratched the hell out of me, but I wouldnt let go. (I have always been very determined, and I was determined that day to show my prize to my dad!)
Q: What led you to the gym to begin with?
A: I was taken to the Oklahoma "Field House" (gym) by a football boyfriend, who thought I should lift as well...cause I was naturally strong! I still have an armwrestling trophy from 1980...before I ever lifted a dumbell. I'd work out in between partying and occasional class attendance...my parents cut me off in 1982, cause I had a "C" average, and my IQ had been tested considerably higher than that. They were frustrated (with GOOD reason) with my poor performance. Forget about it! At THAT time, I had seen Conan the Barbarian, and had found my calling. I wanted to compete in bodybuilding just long enough to get action-adventure movie roles, like he did. I had a HUGE crush on Arnold back then, and thought...no, truly believed I could do a better job as "Valeria"...well, she got killed off... and he stopped making Conan movies after 1984. Too bad!
Q: Was training something you picked up pretty easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: I saw results immediately. You know, I did a photoshoot for a Playboy photographer ("Girls of the Southwest Conference") while at Baylor and had bulging triceps before STARTING lifting! No, I didnt pose for Playboy...ever....but I WAS tempted a couple of times.
Q: You are clearly a very beautiful woman. Does that ever make training complicated? People trying to talk to you and things like that?
A: Even while I was single, I didnt like talking to guys while working out. I have worked out with boyfriends and husbands over the years but there's not much chat between sets. When single, or alone in the gym, I always wear an IPOD and look focused. Also, a HUGE cubic zirconia on my left fourth finger always proved to be a useful 'playa' detractant. On several occasions, especially when out of my home town, I have pretended not to understand English. (I speak reasonable French, well, enough to fool any non-Franc)
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: Rachel McLish. I wanted to achieve that. Ms. O. Shoot, when Cory came along (totally my body-type) that cemented it! I dont know who I admired most then...Cory...or Arnold.I have always had an intense desire to be a celebrity in my own right. Yes, what I wanted most was to do film (action, not adult!) but it just didnt work out. I was on the wrong side of the country, and the more fit I got, the more I was shot down! No steroids, nice high, clear voice, no facial hair or grapefruit traps...and they said I was waaaay too muscular!? "Lose 20 pounds of that mass and smooth out those lumps, and we'll think about it" (1990) I had won some titles, like Arnold, but that did nothing for my potential acting career. I LOVED lifting, and liked winning contests, but I was not in bodybuilding for bodybuilding's sake.
Q: Was your first competition what you expected, did anything surprise you?
A: My first show was an exercise in total terror. Up until that very moment, I had no idea I had stage fright! Ballet performances were completely different. There werent people critiquing your half-naked body! I drank about 4 glasses of wine backstage (Arnold always said wine helped:) and wobbled through my routine to the 'Surfin' safaris' song, "Wipe-Out" in a striped bikini, smooth as butter, not a single cut...what a joke. That was 1985.
Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time, and how about now?
A: Friends didnt like it, cause it took me away from the party scene...so I got new friends. My family had been through so much already, and when they saw some of the gorillas I was dating, it put them over the edge. I started going for guys that looked like long-haired muscular barbarians, and my first husband bore a striking resemblance to Arnold. He had a roving eye, so that marriage didnt last long. (Note to self: NEVER MARRY A PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER!) Men who look like that dont have the kind of jobs my parents thought respectful, and a couple of them were outright criminals. They worried that my bodybuilding attracted the wrong sort of guy, and they were probably right to some degree. I wish my family had come to some of my shows though. I have been competing for 25 years, on and off, and they have been to one or two. That's it. I think they are proud now that I am stable, have a medical degree and a great husband...and that I am STILL winning:)
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: This might be tough, but let's see....
* NPC Boomer Classic--3rd (Norman,Oklahoma)--as Liza Hoen
* NPC Indian Nations--4th (Norman,Oklahoma)--as Liza Hoen
* NPC Mr and Ms Muscle Beach--2nd (Galveston, TX)--as Liza Hoen
* Mr and Ms Brazoria County--overall champion (Freeport,TX)--as Liza Hoen
* NPC Sunshine Classic--4th (Houston, TX)--as Liza Hoen
* NPC Austin Gold's Classic--overall champion (Austin, TX)--as Liza Hoen
* NPC Texas--3rd heavy (Austin, TX)--as Liza Hoen
* NPC Palm City Championships--overall champion (Fort Myers, FL)--as Liza LeRibeus
* NPC JR Florida Championships--overall champion (St Petersburg, FL)--as Liza LeRibeus
* NPC Florida Championships--8th heavy (Miami, FL)--as Liza LeRibeus
* NPC Southern States--heavyweight champion (Miami, FL)--as Liza LeRibeus
* NPC Nationals--9th heavy (Pittsburg, PA?)--as Liza Hoen
* Women's Extravaganza Strength show--4th in leg press, last in everything else! (Clifton, NJ)--as Liza Hoen
* NPC Florida--4th heavy (Miami, FL)--as Liza Hoen
* NPC USA--11th heavy (Raleigh, NC?)--as Liza Hoen
* NPC Sunshine States--overall champion (Jacksonville, FL?)--as Liza Hoen
* NPC Junior USA--6th heavy (Myrtle Beach, SC?)--as Liza Hoen
* NPC Nationals--(didnt make top 15) ..Orlando, FL--as Liza Hoen
* NPC Collegiate Nationals--overall champion (Raleigh, NC) --as Liza Hoen
* NPC Atlantic USA--overall champion, best abs, best poser (Atlanta,GA)--as Liza Larence
* NPC Georgia--heavyweight champion (Athens, GA)--as Liza Larence
* Musclemania Dixie--overall champion (Atlanta, GA)--as Liza Larence
* INBF Southern Natural--overall champion (pro card WNBF)--as Liza Larence
* Musclemania World championships--overall champion (Anaheim, CA)--as Liza Larence
* WNBF Pro American--runner-up (Austin, TX)--as Liza Larence
* WNBF World Championships--heavyweight champion (NYC,NY)--as Liza Larence
* WNBF Universe--runner-up (Grand Cayman)--as Liza Larence
* WNBF Pro International--heavyweight champion (Kansas City, KS)--as Liza Larence
* WNBF Universe--overall (Grand Cayman)--as Liza Larence
* WNBF US Cup--heavyweight champion, DQ (Sacramento, CA)--as Liza Reichenberger
* IFPA World championship (Yorton Cup)--3rd heavy (Bowie, MD)--as Liza Reichenberger
Q: What do you feel is your best bodypart, or the one that gets the most compliments?
A: My shoulders, arms, and ABS:)
Q: Do you have a favorite part to train?
A: My most satisfying workout is legs...by far!
Q: When people see your physique what is the most common response? More negative or positive?
A: Most people admire my level of conditioning...I get pretty ripped. I havent had any negativity (to my face, anyway!)
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question you are sick of hearing?
A: Surprisingly enough, I still get asked if I work out...??? So tired of this question, I say "yes, I play a little tennis!"
Q: Can you talk about the WNBF US Cup? Maybe clear the air, clear rumors, and tell the real story?
A: I would be happy to. Jim Evans did a decent job in his article in "The Examiner Online," titled: "The Mighty Herculiza Dethroned but not Defeated"...Unfortunately I was the victim of a medical boo-boo on my part, and a "zero-tolerance" policy on the
part of the WNBF. In July I had a small surgical procedure called "fibroid embolization" where a radiologist inserted a catheter in my femoral artery and injected tiny plastic pellets into my uterine arteries to choke them off. Why?? Well, I was symptomatic from a common problem many women have, uterine fibroids. They are benign muscular tumors in the uterine lining that can get quite large, causing constant bleeding, anemia, pressure on one's bladder, and pain. They also can cause one to have a "pot belly" due to the mass effect. My primary care MD wanted me to have a hysterectomy, but I was getting ready for the US Cup and chose the less invasive procedure. The only possible side effect I had to worry about was premature menopause. EXACTLY 2 weeks after the procedure in late July, I began having horrendous hot flashes (your face burns up and turns bright red) and night sweats...so severe that my poor husband thought I had peed in our bed!! Along with dieting, cardio, training, work...it was too much. I didnt DARE take an estrogen pill, and resorted to a vaginal cream I had used in the past after the birth of my son. For some reason, I had post-partum menopausal symptoms for a few months that resolved...I knew it had female hormones, but didnt realize this compounded (unlabeled) goop had testosterone in it as well. I was wearing it (literally globbed on) when I peed in a cup at the contest and contaminated my urine sample...clueless. A few days later I got a call from Charlie Carollo (CEO) saying I was suspended until further notice, and that my US Cup title was to be stripped from me. I got immediate bloodwork, which was all negative, and both my Ob-Gyn in CA and my OB-Gyn in GA wrote letters to explain that there was NO way the amount in the preparation was performance enhancing, that it was made for WOMEN. Didnt matter though. Negative bloodwork, letters, medical proof, including passing the polygraph at the show (!) werent enough in thiscase...the WNBF booted me. Luckily the IFPA saw that the WNBF's "loss" was their gain, and gladly accepted me into the ranks of their pros...I got to compete in the Yorton Cup near DC, on the SAME day as the WNBF Worlds I had planned to attend!! I was emotionally exhausted, maybe a little stringy and flat....but I placed 3rd... It was a decent enough start, after a HORRIFIC end to my WNBF career, and a happy end to the 2009 season.
Q: Are there any misconceptions about female bodybuilders, or things you wish people knew?
A: ....that I can beat everybody up, merely because I have muscles. Too funny! I am a HUGE UFC and MMA fan, and it's always the most muscular guys that gas first. If there's a woman who's going to kick your ass, it ISNT going to be the bodybuilder. Most bodybuilders are not in great cardio shape:)....dieting, walking on the treadmill or riding the stationary bike (even for hours)at contest time does not a fighter make!!
Q: If someone said to you "women should not be that muscular", how do you respond?
A: Get a LIFE!!!!
Q: Is someone told you they wanted to start bodybuilding, what is the one piece of advice you would want to give them?
A: Dont use drugs! Though that sounds somewhat hypocritical given my demise from the WNBF, I am still a nattie and think like one:)
Q: Do you do any personal training, if so, how can people contact you?
A: I dont do that anymore, not since the 90's...but I am practicing orthopaedics, so I can assist anyone in the South Bay area with their musculoskeletal complaints. I diagnose and treat a variety of pain producing disorders, and specialize in fixing and rehabbing people with chronic back and neck problems, osteoarthritis, and all the rotator cuff and tendinitis problems out there. Our website is www.jointoptions.com and office phone number is (650) 361-8718. We are located in Redwood City, CA.
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or people you admire?
A: I believe I mentioned a few above, but I would also like to include Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell. I admire John McCain (and ALL war heroes, all men and women in uniform, period) and I also like Sarah Palin. She's a bit overboard with the organized religion stuff, but she's tough as nails, honest, and knows how to use a gun:)
Q: Can you share your normal training routine and diet, and how it is altered for contest prep?
A: I train each bodypart once a week, even during contest prep, and ALWAYS do cardio first! I prefer the elliptical, on a high resistance, say level 12 or 13, for 45 min to an hour BEFORE I lift! Getting ripped naturally is hard work. I am a high protein, low fat, modest carb type of dieter.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activites you enjoy?
A: Scuba diving, traveling, whitewater rafting, snowskiing, hiking, camping, tidepooling, making jewelry, painting, cooking, reading...
Q: Describe a typical day in the life of Liza Hoen Riechenberger
A: After seeing my husband and son off to work and school, I get ready for work...make rounds at the hospital, then see patients in the office all day during the week. I work out in the evenings from 5-7 or 6-8. Then I whip up dinner, or bring home take-out. My husband has an extremely long commute and works long days in Berkeley in the Bio-Tech industry, so I still make it home first. My 11 year old son, Conan, has started working out with me every night! Sometimes we go to the gym, sometimes we work out at home.
Q: Favorite movie, actor, tv show, and musician?
A: Actor: Russell Crowe
Movie: Gladiator (I went TO the theater 5x in 2000 to see that, in my 40th year...felt like a stalker:)
TV show: Survivor
Musician(s): ACDC (I was personal trainer to the bassist in Fort Myers for 2-3 years, and we remain friends still) We went to their latest show twice (in Oakland, and san Jose) once with my hubby, and once with the boys, Both my son Conan and stepson Marc were pretty impressed. The show was INSANE! My hubby said that he's seen the Stones once, and that ACDC topped even that. I agree.
Q: Describe Liza Riechenberger in five words.
A: Strong, Smart, Stubborn, Adventurous, Mischievous.
Q: Any set plans for 2010 in the sport, or any other projects?
A: I am going to do the IFPA Universe in June, back on Grand Cayman...YEAH!! My hubby and I hope to celebrate our anniversary (we were married the day after the WNBF Universe in 2008) and scuba dive!! Right after that, I am going to do the IFPA USA in July in Sacramento...I got some 'bidness' to settle in that town!
Q: Is there anything you have going on that you want to plug or promote?
A: I believe I have, but the main reason for taking hours to complete your interview is just that...I want people to KNOW me. I hope I have answered any questions that might be floating around out there, and hopefully have attracted the interest of those who would like me to represent them.
Q: Are you looking for any sponsors or maybe to do fitness modelling, or anything like that, and if so, how can people contact you?
A: Absolutely! I am extremely interested in sponsorship...having a REAL sponsor that would like me to endorse their product (or products)... I believe I have paid my dues, and as a medical professional, with TONS of competitive experience, I can offer alot as a spokesperson or model for any company marketing to the baby-boomer crowd, or MY generation...I am REAL. Who needs another 20-something figure girl?! Pick ME:)
Q: Liza, I again want to thank you for taking the time to do this.