Ever hear the term "total package"? It may have been created for Tonya Todd. Beautiful woman, great physique, very kind, and the drive and determination to accomplish any goal she sets. Tonya is a great Figure competitor, Elite Level armwrestler, Personal Trainer, wife, mother, grandmother, and so much more. I have been a fan of Tonya Todd the Figure competitor, but in this interview she made me an even bigger fan of Tonya Todd the armwrestler. I knew nothng at all about the sport, and she made very interested in it. That should tell you about the passion she exudes when she talks. I was about to write that Tonya should be an inspiration to women everywhere. But that is not really true. Tonya should be an inspiration to women AND men everywhere. I was honored when Tonya said yes to the interview, and even more honored, when as I assumed, she did one of the best interviews I have done. So if you are not familiar with Tonya, be prepared to become a fan.
Q: Tonya, first I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: No problem! I am very honored that you have asked me to do this. It gives me an opportunity to let people know a little more about who I am and what I do. Thank you!
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself. Family, where you are from, things like that.
A: God has blessed me with so much! I am married to an incredible man, Professional Heavy Weight World Armwrestling Champion, Michael Todd. I have two grown boys and three grandchildren (Issac-3, Gracie-2, and Kenidee-1). I am a little Southern gal from Cabot, Arkansas, where we also run a personal training studio.
I am a 14-time National armwrestling champion as well as a 3-time World silver medalist. I have been a member of Team USA's Armwrestling Team since 2000. I compete internationally as well. I also am a National level NPC Figure competitor.
I am a teacher by trade and a personal trainer. I thrive to inspire/help people achieve their goals. I have always held high expectations for my students and those that I train.
Q: Before you started with Figure and Armwrestling were you always athletic? Play any sports?
A: I played a little basketball and ran some track. I was also a cheerleader.
Q: First, let's start out with your armwrestling. What got you interested in doing that?
A: My husband has been armwrestling for 20 years. He had talked to me about competing; however, I was very reluctant. Finally, he talked me into entering, and I won.
Q: Can you share any career highlights you have in armwrestling. Things you are most proud of.
A: I believe that earning my silver medals at a World level is one of my highlights. In 2003, I went undefeated into the finals, where I ended up losing with a pin and a foul. I was also awarded Female Armwrestler of the Year in 2005. That was a huge honor! Lastly, I set a goal to be the only athlete to ever compete in two very diverse sports at the Arnold- I did this two years in a row (2007 and 2008)
Q: Can you explain the training or practice one does for armwrestling and does it go hand in hand with Figure training, or are they totally different?
A: I train as any athlete would. I do cardio daily and weight training three times a week. When I do weights, I do it in a "cross fit" type of training. It's very intense.
Tuesday-chest/back/abs, Wednesday-legs/abs, Thursday-arms/shoulders/abs.
For armwrestling specific (besides table time), I walk parallel bars backwards and pull up bar holds for a better lock and hold position. I also climb both with two ropes simultaneously and on rope without using legs- just upper body. I also use a rope-pulling machine. There are so many exercises that one could do.
Q: With Figure and armwrestling, is one more important to you than the other one?
A: They both mean two different things to me. Armwrestling has given me so many extended family members from all over the world. It has enabled me to travel and see more than I ever imagined that I would as well as meet some very incredible people. It has also given me the opportunity to prove that women may excel in anything. It has also given me a wonderful opportunity to compete alongside my husband. However, armwrestling provides me with a solution. If I lose a match, it's because I beat myself. I didn't train hard enough, I wasn't ready, or I just messed up my game.
Figure competitions are a completely different ballgame. I enjoy Figure because it gives me the opportunity to feel good about myself. I have had a low self-esteem for many years, and when I do well I feel on top of the world. I am very critical of myself. I meet great people, but walking away knowing that on that day, I looked my best makes me feel better about myself. It's really hard in Figure because I have found that some judges tend to like different looks. It makes it really hard to come in ready to win when you are not sure what they are looking for in a Champion on that day.
I take criticism very well. I see it as a learning tool to getting better. I am not one that always believes that I should win. I am a realist. I welcome all the criticism I ca get!
Q: What got you interested in competing in Figure?
A: In 2003, I was training for Unified National Armwrestling Championships. It is the only qualifier to go with Team USA to Worlds and an Arnold qualifier. Therefor, I had been dieting to make the 0-110 pound class. I was very lean.
An acquaintance had mentioned to me that she thought I should try competing. I had never seen a competition before and had to idea about posing, suits, etc. Anyway, four days from the Northwest Arkansas Classic I decided to jump in and do it. Therefor, I took a crash course in how to pose and water deplete. I entered and took third. I didn't even think that I would place!
Q: Was the first competition what you expected? Did anything surprise you?
A: I didn't have any expectations except that I didn't want to come in dead last! What surprised me was how ripped the people wee and what they told me was on their diets.
Q: Can you share your contest history.
These are not all of the titles or history, but it is some memorable ones.
* 2005 American Armsport Association Female Armwrestler of the Year
* 14 National titles
* 1 North American title
* 3 World silver medals
* 2 World bronze medals
* 1 Tournament of Champions title
* 1 World Championship- 4th place
* 2 GNC Show of Strength (0-67kg class) 4th places
* 1 Arnold Classic Armwrestling Challenge -3rd places
* 2 Arnold Classic Armwrestling Challenge- 4th places
* Various State titles
*2003 Northwest Arkansas Bodybuilding Classic- Tall Figure- 3rd place
*2004 Northwest Arkansas Bodybuilding Classic- Short Figure- 2nd place
*2004 Arkansas Bodybuilding Classic- Short Figure- 4th place
*2005 Northwest Arkansas Bodybuilding Classic- Short Figure- 1st place
*2005 Arkansas Bodybuilding Classic- Short Figure- 1st place
*2005 Arkansas Bodybuilding Classic- Masters Figure- 1st place
*2005 Caveman Classic- Short Figure 2nd place
*2005 Caveman Classic- Masters Figure- 1st place
*2006 NPC Jr. Nationals- B Class- 16th place
*2007 NPC Arnold Amateur Figure- B Class- 13th place
*2008 NPC Arnold Amateur Figure- B Class- 13th place
*2009 NPC Southern Classic Figure- Short Class- 2nd place
Q: What do you consider your best bodypart, or the one that gets the most compliments?
A: I believe that I get the most compliments regarding my arms and back.
Q: Do you have a favorite part to train?
A: I really like to train arms; however, I am beginning to enjoy leg workouts.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: An example of a leg workout might consist of the following
* 50 reps of lying leg curls (30 second rest)
* 50 reps hacksquats
* 100 standing calf raises (30 second rest)
* 50 leg extensions
* 50 abductors
* 50 adductors (30 second rest)
* 50 leg presses
* 100 lying calf raises (30 second rest)
* 50 seated leg curls
* 30 sumo squats or 30 stiff-legged dead lifts or walls sits or lunges
Diets change. I have tried different ones throughout the years.
Q: When someone sees your physique for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: Usually when people find out that I am an armwrestler, they tend to look at my biceps. It's funny that most people just assume that the strength comes solely from a person's bicep.
I usually get a positive reaction because I am not what most people perceive. I also don't go around flaunting my physique; so, when people see me in pictures or at a contest, they are shocked.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: "How much can you bench press?" Really? I usually respond by telling them that I don't know because my focus is not mainly on my chest; it's on a symmetrical, proportionate physique that is feminine.
Q: Have you ever, or would you ever consider bodybuilding instead of Figure?
A: I probably wouldn't do Bodybuilding. I just don't think that it is right for me. I also like the softer side for me. That's a lot of muscle to maintain, and I don't know how much dedication in the gym I can put forth to that kind of training. However, I can certainly admire them.
Q: What is the best and worst part of competing in both Figure and armwrestling?
A: The diet and making weight is the worst aspect of both sports. The best is the camaraderie that they offer.
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors, or any you admire?
A: In armwrestling, I really admire Margie Ciacco and Nicole Cisco. Both of these women are incredible people. They are strong, dedicated, and just overly nice. They exude confidence without arrogance.
In Figure, I really admire Monica Brant, of course. I see her as one that stands strong in her faith and one that doesn't let others keep her down. When she doesn't win a competition, you never hear of her beating down the system. It's almost as though she embraces it and let's people know that. I would love to be able to train with her. I know that I could learn so much from her. I also admire Elaine Goodland. She has inspired me because she started later than many women in Figure and still turned Pro. That gives me hope.
Q: Armwrestling or weight training, which one is farther ahead in terms of being accepted as something women can be good at by society?
A: By far in the United States, Figure has been accepted more so than armwrestling. Armwrestling has a stereotype that seems to be attached to it. Most people hear "armwrestling" and think that we are all beer drinking , bar bashing, oil gulping individuals that don't care how they look. This is so far from the truth! It is a strength sport. In many European countries, it is highly revered to a point that it is being taught in schools. As a matter of fact, some of the countries' governments back their teams and pay for a lot of costs to attend the World events. It's also seen on the sports stations quite often as well. My husband travels overseas often to compete. He is typically paid to go. Shoot! He has even had trading cards made! Furthermore, women aren't looked at in the same aspect. People assume that armwrestling is a "man's" sport. Basically, armwrestling doesn't offer the same support in the United States. It's crazy because there are so many people that armwrestled as a child or adult. It wasn't looked at as a "sport" but a pastime. People don't realize that it's not about strength; there are a lot of technical aspects as well.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: I like so many kinds of food! Typically, we will eat pizza, ice cream, pasta, and cheesecake.
Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start weight training or getting involved in armwrestling, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: Make sure you have your priorities in order so that you can dedicate your all to achieve your goal. I am her to guide you to success.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I really enjoy travelling and watching movies.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Tonya Todd.
A: My day begins at 4:20am. I fix my husband his first four meals, make coffee, take supplements, wash a load of clothes, and check email. I train my first client beginning at 5am. When I get a break, I do cardio, eat, plan meals, finish laundry, clean house, watch a little TV and get ready for the day. Go back to training at 8am. After morning sessions are finished, I run errands and complete what I didn't finish earlier and sometimes do a second cardio session. I begin my afternoon sessions and take a break so that I can train myself, followed by fixing dinner. I try to go to bed around 8pm. I have insomnia, so sometimes it's a bit later.
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I would really like to write a book.
Q: Favorite actor, movie, TV show, and musician?
A: Actor- None
Movie- Back To The Future
TV show: I really enjoy The Amazing Race and would love to get on that show! I also like Big Bang Theory, Desperate Housewives, and The Mentalist.
Musician- I really don't have a favorite. I like all kinds of music.
Q: Describe Tonya Todd in five words.
A: Loyal, Outgoing, Competitive, Caring, and Considerate.
Q: Any set plans for the near future for either of the two sports?
A: I hope to attend as many National shows this year for Figure. I will be competing at the Arnold for armwrestling, Nationals in June and hopefully, Worlds in December. Other than these, I am not sure where I will be.
Q: Anything you want to take the time to plug or promote?
A: I am very blessed to have been given the opportunity to work with some wonderful people and train at our personal training studio, Complete Physique. I would also like to thank Met RX/Worldwide Nutrition for all their support!
Be sure to check out these events:
*August 5-8, 2010- Billings, Montana- USAF Unified Armwrestling Nationals- the ONLY qualifier to be a part of Team USA's Armwrestling team.
*December 4-11, 2010- WAF World Armwrestling Championships- Mesquite, Nevada. Teams from all over the world competing for the gold to take home.
Q: Are you looking for sponsors, and if so, what are they getting in Tonya Todd the athlete and competitor?
A: I am always looking for sponsors! These two sports are expensive. A sponsor will receive all the publicity that I can give from the media to word of mouth. There's not a lot that I wouldn't do within reason. I also have given award recognition, photos, etc. I try not to let a sponsor down. I try to proved a positive role model, which will only give positive results.
Q: Tonya, again, thanks so much for doing this. I am a big fan, and it was an honor. Anything you want to add before you go?
A: Of course, thank you for this opportunity, and I always like to thank my husband for his support. Thank God for being who he is.