Friday, March 26, 2010

IFBB Pro Zoa Linsey Interview

If you know bodybuilding you surely know Zoa Linsey. Zoa is becoming one of the more popular women in the sport, and it isn't hard to see why. From her amazing physique, to her obvious beauty, to her great attitude towards people. One woman I really wanted to meet at the 2010 Arnold's was Zoa. I knew going in she was beautiful and had one of the best physique's in the sport. However in person she was even more beautiful and her physique was even more impressive. Even though she already agreed to the interview, so we had talked, I was so nervous meeting her, that I didn't even tell her who I was.... I didn't know what to say. Zoa has her IFBB Pro card, so that tells you how good she is, and has also qualified for this year's Olympia, which as you know means, competing with the Elite, which means Zoa is one of the Elite. Zoa is a great spokesperson for the sport too, because you will not find a nicer woman. To show you her popularity, since I announced she was doing an interview, I have ever before received so many messages and emails asking when it would be posted. Zoa is everything that makes you fall in love with the sport, and deserves any praise, respect, and admiration she gets. So here is my interview with IFBB Pro Zoa Linsey.

Q: First, Zoa, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this. It is a real honor for me.
A: It's my pleasure to be on your blog, thank you for asking me.

Q: Can you start out by just telling a little about yourself. Family, where you are from, things like that.
A: I am was born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I didn't even know about bodybuilding growing up, but grew up on healthy and natural foods from the garden and home-made. I still remember the smell of the rye bread my parents baked every week when growing up! My parents were both hard-working people who expressed a lot of love to us and also tried to push us to be our best. To some people we might have seemed very conservative and extreme but my parents just wanted us to commit to doing things and following through. This training has helped me immensely as a bodybuilder. I have had a couple different 'life paths', including working in the business world in marketing and business management but found my niche as a motivator and coach to people who wish to change their lives for the better. In 2005 I married my husband and moved to Japan where I dramatically changed my life. Since then we have moved to Okinawa, Japan which is a tropical island off the mainland of Japan. My husband works for the American military and we enjoy the lifestyle here on the island having access to both an American style life, as well as the variety of living overseas in a foreign culture.

Q: Now, I know when you were young, you studied both classical piano and violin. What got you interested in that?
A: I grew up with music in our house. My grandmother played the violin, my grandpa played the organ, my mother played the church and organ in church, very was a natural progression. I started with piano first then once I reached Grade 8 Royal Conservatory Level in piano at 13, I was allowed to start the instrument I really loved, the violin. In school I also played flute. I loved being able to create something beautiful and at the time that is what music was for me.

Q: Is music still a part of your life?
A: I've intermittently started back at violin but have just found that bodybuilding and the rigors and time demands during prep season have just prevented me from committing too much time. However I still enjoy a wide variety of music and I truly hope that at some point in my life I will have the opportunity to return to my original passion.

Q: Did you play any sports or anything at a young age?
A: We were very active but didn't do any organized sports except for a few years where we trained as figure skaters. This was a fun time and I still enjoy skating. In another life I think I would have enjoyed being a speed skater!

Q: You also battle anorexia and bulemia at one point. What caused that and was it the gym that helped beat it?
A: I believe that my parent's divorce as a teenager contributed to the confusion and feeling of being out of control that caused the eating disorder. It progressed as I entered my early 20's into something more habitual and a part of my life and I'm sure evolved with me into a coping mechanism for stress and confusion (which many young people experience in their 20's). I was always very concerned with excelling and this also is a part of developing eating disorders, this unrealistic expectation of how the body should look. In a surprising way, competing in bodybuilding helped fix this issue by teaching me how to eat properly, with good nutrition as well as putting right in my face the body images I had tried to remain hidden. It was much like being forced to face your own demons and deal with them head on! It also over time gave me the experience of knowing that I was in control of what my body looked like and that how my body looked was completely independent of other stress I may be experiencing in my career, school or personal life. Training also gave me a positive outlet to reduce stress and gave me a focus for all the energy I had. Setting long term goals and following through made me feel organized and helped me free up my mental energy to start healing from the pain and confusion I had felt with my parent's divorce. I was able over time to understand and accept the changes in my life and learn to deal with other stress. I'm very appreciative of all I have gone through as it has made me better equipped to understand and help the women I deal with every day in my coaching business.

Q: When you started training, was it something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you saw results?
A: To be honest, I really don't remember any set time that I saw specific results. I have pics from being 19 to now....almost 20 years of training...and there have been gradual changes every year. The biggest change was when I began training 1 bodypart per day and focusing more on my eating, this was about 2 years before my first show in 1998.

Q: You did your first show in 2000. What made you decide to compete?
A: I had wanted to compete for a couple years but lacked the knowledge and perhaps the confidence to go ahead and do it. Also, previous to this I was still finishing university. At the time I began competing I was working in a full-time career and much more able to focus on scheduling as well as having the finances to prepare for competition. I had admired a woman in my gym who I saw training for a show and after watching her prep I decided I would get off my butt and give it a shot. I was already training hard for a few years and was more concerned about the diet and how to prep. When I did my first show however, I had not even yet attended a bodybuilding show before! My first show was truly my first show! (much like my first pro show!)

Q: Was that first show what you expected? Did anything surprise you?
A: I had a lot of fun my first show and while doing my routine on-stage in the evening remember distinctly saying to myself -- THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO!

Q: You recently won your Pro Card at the 2009 North Americans? What did it mean to you to earn it and be recognized as one of the best in the world?
A: Wow, I have never thought of myself as one of the best in the world although I have heard other people say this. And of course this last year, earning an Olympia spot and being invited to the in answer to your question...winning my pro card, particularly at a prestigious show such as the N.A.'s was a dream fulfilled. It was like taking a big step from one country to another...moving into a level that I have always dreamed of being a part of. Bottom line, I was thrilled and happy, it was many years in the making.

Q: Can you share your contest history.
*2000-first show, 1st place Novice
*2001-2003, 6 shows, all top 3, 3 first place and overall (local and regional shows)
*2004 - HW and Overall BC Champion (provincial champion)
*2005- 3rd HW Nationals
*2007-got ill right before the show flying in from Japan, could not compete
*2008 - 3rd HW Nationals
*2009 - 2nd HW Nationals
*2009 - N.A. HW Champion and Overall Champion (pro-card), Masters HW champion and Overall Champion (pro-card)
*2010 - Phoenix Pro show, 3rd place (Olympia Qualified), Ms. International 7th Place

Q: What do you consider your best bodypart or the one that gets the most compliments?
A: It's usually my legs and glutes however I'm always happiest when people compliment me on my smile and personality. I want to be known for more than my physique!

Q: Do you have a favorite part to train or favorite exercise?
A: I have a love/hate relationship with squats and deadlifts. I love the feeling of lifting heavy and feeling like I've put in 100%.

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: I usually train 2 on, 1 off and keep it the same for contest prep but have to add in cardio.

Q: When someone sees your physique for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: I have very rarely had any negative reactions. Maybe 1 in a year. And it's usually from someone online who has never seen me in person. Most people, women and men are very complimentary and like the look of my physique. Perhaps it is my height but at 5'10" I don't really look 'bulky' even off-season.

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: I truly don't get sick of hearing things because I understand that many people do not understand the sport. So I try to put myself in their position and help them understand what I do. I do get a lot of 'how much can you bench press' ...or ... "do you train?"....I try to give each person a good answer and have some fun with them.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about female bodybuilders, or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: Most people think that female bodybuilders are HUGE. They are surprised to learn that so many of the top bodybuilders in the world are actually quite small in person. Photos don't give perspective on size.

Q: Are muscular women more or less accepted by society today than five years ago?
A: I think that a fit woman is more acceptable. The 'gym culture' is more pervasive and many women are able to achieve a physique like the pioneers just through consistent training. As far as bodybuilding, in my opinion it will always be a niche sport and that's OK with me. I enjoy what I do and try to project a positive image of the sport and if that helps the sport, then I'm happy with that.

Q: What is the best and worst part of competing?
A: I enjoy so many parts of it, it's hard to pick a 'best part'. I enjoy the process of change, the commitment to a lifestyle that is challenging, the feeling of success when complete and the HUGE cheat meal afterwards! I have enjoyed more recently meeting some other amazing competitors as I've done the shows in the U.S. This has been a huge part of my enjoyment of competing.

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors?
A: I have always looked up to Kim Chizevsky as she is tall and competed successfully as Ms. Olympia at approximately my size. I admire many of the other women who have laid out a path for us to follow as well. It was very cool to meet Lenda Murray at the Ms. I last month!

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Frozen low-fat ice-cream, white chocolate covered pretzels, steak, Mexican food.....the list goes on!

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start bodybuilding, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: Make sure you understand the time and money commitment and if possible have a strong support network around you. It's not easy to do this if you have to fight others as well as diet! In addition, always remain thankful the chance to compete, no one is making us do this so don't allow yourself to get grumpy and take out your diet-induced crankiness on others! Stay grateful!

Q: You also have a great website, can you give the address out and tell people what they can find there.
A: Thanks! My web-site is and my facebook fanpage is!/pages/ZOA-LINSE Y/108919095811?ref=ts
On my website you will find out more about me, what is going on in my life and competition plans as well as the services I provide to clients.

Q: You also do personal training. What got you interested in that and how can people contact you to find out more?
A: I began training in 2001 and have enjoyed being part of the changes in hundred's of peoples' lives. I am ISSA certified and believe that my experiences have helped me understand and connect with my clients in a more real way. If anyone has questions they can email me at

Q: What is the benefit in being trained by Zoa Linsey?
A: I am a certified trainer with many years of experience in both nutrition and detailed physiological issues, including injury rehab and weight-loss. I enjoy solving issues and believe that a good coach will empower and push the client to become their best. I believe I do this for my clients, as well as giving them detailed help with improving their own personal life and removing obstacles that they may have created over many years. To me, fitness and well-being is a holistic's not just about the muscles, it's about creating a better life.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: My husband and I enjoy travelling and experiencing the beautiful island we live on. Off-season we like to go out and try out different restaurants and I also love to cook and bake.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Zoa Linsey.
A: I begin my day with about an hour of email work then head to the Air Force gym where I am a contracted trainer. I work there at my own schedule for 1/2 the day, then return home for a couple more hours of work before I head over to the Army gym where I train with my husband. He is Sports Director there. In the evening I cook us dinner, get organized for the next day and often watch movies and relax with my husband while he updates and works on his websites. Most days are enjoyable and relaxing, although busy!

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: Not sure.........I'm pretty much an open book on most things!

Q: Describe Zoa Linsey in five words.
A: Happy, Passionate, Intense, Hungry, and Loyal.

Q: Any set plans coming up as far as competing or anything else?
A: I am thinking about doing the Olympia as I earned my qualification at the Phoenix Pro.

Q: Anything you want to take the opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I'd like to thank Marilyn of Liquid Sun Rayz who offers a great competition colour, as well as Amy from who makes all my suits.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? IF so, how can they contact you and what are they getting in Zoa Linsye the athlete and competitor?
A: I would like to work with a supplement sponsor. It is a unique opportunity here with the over 50,000 overseas Americans who train, eat and work here. The military community that I am very well-known within is a phenomenal opportunity for a supplement company who wants to extend their marketing into an area with major purchase power.

Q: Zoa, again, thanks so much for doing this. Any last words before you go?
A: Thank you to everyone who continually supports me and sends emails or notes...I appreciate each of you and hope to continue to meet many of you!


  1. Great interview! I saw Zoa win her Pro card last year at the North Americans. She's awesome!!

  2. Zoa is an amazing and special woman. I was very honored to have her agree to do this

  3. My boyfriend and I were killing ourselves on the elliptical and treadmill daily at the Zama gym in Japan. Unfortunately, I was seeing no weight loss results. There was this beautiful sculpted woman who I admired at the gym and I thought, she knows what she is doing, I am going to introduce myself and see if she has any advice. Wow! What a personality - warm/friendly/funny/smart/encouraging and instantly wanted to help. My life changed from that day forward. I am not a body builder, but I learned how to eat and exercise the right way for me. Zoa is not only an amazing body builder, but an incredible life coach and motivator. She is very passionate in everything she does. Trust me when I say that this world is definitely a better place with her in it. It has been years since I have seen Zoa (since I left Japan), but she left a lasting impression on me. I hope she does compete in the Olympia. She is one special unique lady! ~thanks Zoa! Shari (ps. Great interview!)