Thursday, April 1, 2010
Amanda Cumberbatch Interview
There are some people I am truly a fan of and want badly to do an interview, but hesitate to ask them. Let's face it, some women are going to be freaked out if some random guy emails them and asks them to do an interview, especially if you never heard of the site or blog he does them interviews for. Such was the case with Amanda Cumberbatch. I was and am fan but hesitated to ask her. Finally after realizing we had mutual friends I took a shot and asked her, and not only did she say yes, but she did one of my favorite interviews. Amanda is a beautiful woman with a great physique (check out that back), and such a great representative for the sport and women in fitness. Kind, intelligent, hard working, and so many more great qualities. I have heard some competitors talk negative about an experience with other competitors and things, but ever once I have I ever heard anyone have a bad word to say about Amanda, nor do I think I ever will. She is the kind of person you have to like and root for. Amanda is special, and I am honored to present this interview with her.
Q: First, Amanda, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: No problem! I love doing interviews and answering questions, especially if it will help or inspire someone.
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself. Family, where you are from, things like that.
A: I am a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts. I'm very much into academics and researching racial theories and I have a huge interest in social behaviors. I can be very nerdy at times. I became a mother while an undergraduate student and I am now the proud parent of 2 wonderful children, Jamal, who will be 14 this year and Stephanie, who will be 12. They inspire me and push me in every way imaginable to be a better person and to achieve more every day.
Q: Before the gym, were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports?
A: I was actually. I ran track and played volleyball in high school. Despite my short height I was pretty strong with hitting that ball. I wasn't that great at track, but hey, at least I tried. But I had a huge problem with participating ins ports- my parents were very much against it because it wasn't "feminine" or "girly". Sports were for boys. But once I left for college and was on my own, I joined various intra-mural volleyball teams and even facilitated a volleyball class!
Q: What initially led you to the gym?
A: Like mentioned above, once I went to college and was on my own I was all about fulfilling my life by being athletic and working out. I remember being the only girl at the gym in my school most of the time. Once life took it's course and I had my children, I naturally gained a few pounds. I always had a petite frame so the weight I gained didn't sit well with me. I also found myself browsing Muscle & Fitness magazines and saying to myself that I wanted a body like Monica Brandt's or Adela Garcia's. So after I had my kids and saw how much those lovely women hormones changed my body, I decided that I would fight them and get my body back. That's when I joined a gym.
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Training for me was like second nature. I picked it up very easily. I went a little overboard and was working out 7 days a week, doing tons of cardio, etc. It wasn't until I took a 2 week break that I saw the results I wanted. So from the beginning of my journey to get my body back to when I noticed the biggest weight change I'd say it took about 4-5 months of being extremely diligent and consistent. Mind you, my diet wasn't even good...I was just working my ass off!
Q: Your first competition experience was the 2003 Fitness America. What made you decide to compete?
A: Again, my ultimate goal was to look like the girls in those muscle magazine. I approached my current trainer, Garrett Shepherd, who owned a local supplement store, for advice. He knew all about competing since he had competed himself. I was very grateful to have his guidance and advice. he put me on a plan and I was very good at following it.
Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time, and how about now?
A: I'd say yes and no. It was very difficult to achieve my goals without the support of my loved ones and those who were close to me. It wasn't until I'd say, couple of years ago that some family members finally saw that this is something I was actually okay at. They still hate to see me all dehydrated and leaned out, but they also understand that it's just a process and that soon after I return back to my fluffy and more "normal" looking self.
Q: Was the first competition what you expected? Did anything surprise you?
A: My first competition was with the Fitness America Pageant. I was a nervous wreck and you could tell with my stage presence. I learned a lot though. I am a sponge. I placed 2nd to last, which wasn't what I expected, but it was what I needed to push me further.
Q; Did you know then, that this was something you wanted to keep doing?
A: Absolutely. I knew that the ideal physique I had in mind did not necessarily fit the criteria of the FAP so I also knew that I needed to move more towards the national Physique Committee (NPC) and I have never looked back.
Q: Can you share your contest history.
*2003- Fitness America Pageant- 19th
*2004- New England Bodybuilding, Fitness, and Figure- 3rd place Class A
*2005- New England Bodybuilding, Fitness, and Figure- 1st place Class A and Overall
*2007- Empire States- 2nd place
*2007- Team Universe- 16th place
*2009- Atlantic States- 4th place
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: My back. I don't know how or why, but it's the fastest responding one.
Q: Do you have a favorite part to train?
A: Love training shoulders and biceps! Also starting to appreciate leg days more.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: I keep my weight training pretty much the same year round, whether I'm competing or not, with only minor changes. I add a lot more cardio during contest prep time, naturally. Also up until the 6 weeks out mark, I usually do an additional day consisting of just ham/glute workouts, which I then cut out at around 6 weeks out. My body does best by gradually increasing my cardio weekly, and never doing too much of it. My body is small so when I do too much cardio, I just disappear! My diet...well, when I'm not competing I eat what I like WITH a conscious mind. I don't like to put on too much fat because it's double the work to get it off, especially now that I'm getting old! Garrett knows my body better than I do when it comes to playing around with my diet and he does it really well for contest prep. He increases/decreases protein/carbs/fat intake as well as calories as needed. It's what has worked for me and I have no complaints!
Q: When someone sees or hears you compete for the first time what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: I have some issues because most people don't understand or know exactly what FIGURE is, so I', always stuck with what to say. When I say "bodybuilder" they look at me and comment on how small I am (petite) and wonder why I don't look huge. But for the most part I get really positive feedback. Over the past 2 years I'm getting more and more comments on my shoulders and arms, something that I rarely heard in the past.
Q: When they see or hear it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: "What do you eat?" "How much do you bench?" and "How often do you work out?" These are classic lines I'm sure most of us who compete hear all the time. And I wish people would stop asking me to tell them what to eat!
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: People need to understand that I didn't wake up one day and look stage-ready in a week. It has taken so much time, energy, hard work, and discipline. The diet alone is very hard. So may folks out there think that there is a magic pill or something that makes you look the way I look overnight. it isn't so.
Q: What is the best and worst part of competing?
A: For me personally I love how focused and disciplined I become during my contest prep time. I feel like all aspects of my life come to order and I seem to get more done and achieve more. I am more driven to make things happen, in the fitness world and otherwise. Then there is that rush you get when you are on stage and they call out your name when you didn't expect it!
The worst part for me would be the cost. I get made fun of by some family members about how come I didn't pick a "cheaper" hobby.LOL. The cost of food, suits, etc., alone gets rather high!
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I honestly admire all my friends who compete at the Regional, National, or Pro level. The work we put in is nothing but commendable.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Cheeseburger and fries. OMG I LOVE FRIES. I also adore Chex Trail Mix and love Planter's Trail Mix.
Q: Is fitness modeling something that interests you?
A: It never really did but I keep hearing I should give it a try.
Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: Oh man, I actually do take in a few clients and the first thing I saw is to stay true to themselves. The fitness industry can get a little crazy and some people start operating on their alter-egos and other aspects of their lives start getting off balance. So I always start off by emphasizing being a balanced woman.
Q: You are also a trainer. What got you interested in that and what do you enjoy about it?
A: I offer prep services for one- getting women ready for that one special contest day. I got into it because I felt like I had so much to share- if I knew then what I know now about my first time on stage, then things would have been a little different. It's not just about working out and dieting, women have to think about makeup, suits, shoes, tanning, etc. It's like a beauty pageant! I love seeing the women I've helped achieve THEIR goals. I also do workshops for career women, who have a family and tons of things going on. I love being an inspiration to women who have a similar lifestyle to mine because what I've learned from experiences is that we often forget about ourselves in order to take care of others. My motto is to learn to take care of yourself as well and live a balanced, happy, and fulfilling life.
Q: You also have a great website. Can you give out the address and tell people what they can find there.
A: My website is www.sweetcapri.com. Lots of information about me but I'm moving the website more to showcase people I've met who inspire me. For that I've created a section called "spotlight" where I plan on featuring people from my gym, random people I meet outside the gym, other competitors, etc. I just find inspiration from so many people that I thought it would only be fair to share! I also have a list of my training services, including my very popular contest prep makeup applications. I am a freelance MAC makeup employee so I've got a good set of makeup application skills. I've also started blogging to talk about very day life stuff and update on my training and diet. The address to that is www.amandasweetcapri.blogspot.com.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: Like I mentioned earlier, I'm a geek at heart. So I like to do research on my topics of interest. I also love having down time and just chilling at home under a warm blanket watching movies with my kids.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Amanda Cumberbatch.
A: I wake up between 5:30 and 6:00am and get ready for cardio. But before heading to the gym, I read/answer emails, and get my kids up and ready for school. If I didn't cook my meals the night before, I would also do this now.
On days that I have to be in my office early, I go from the gym directly to work. On the days that I don't have to be in my office I run errands, do laundry, catch up on house work, and work on any of my unfinished academic work.
I go back to the gym to lift or do my second cardio session around 6pm or so. Dinner for my kids is usually done before or after, depending on how much activity and hungry they are!
I try to go to bed by 10pm, but that's almost impossible. It may seem like little but my day feels packed and like there aren't enough hours.
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: That ironically, I'm very shy. Also that I started college at 16.
Q: Describe Amanda Cumberbatch in five words.
A: Loving, Crazy, Cool, Non-judgemental, and Compassionate.
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I am competing in a few Regional shows in order to requalify for nationals. I hope to do one of the National level competitions this year, if not next.
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I'm really into helping other women achieve their physique goals while maintaining a balanced life. If anyone is interested in learning more about my training philosophy and life in general, they can check out my website at www.sweetcapri.com
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Amanda Cumberbatch the athlete and competitor?
A: I am always looking for sponsors, whether it be local businesses or larger supplement companies. I provide a wealth of knowledge and can assist with any of their marketing needs. I love the camera (despite being shy) and know that I can provide a good image to promote and market any product.
Q: Amanda, again thanks for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Yes, the name SWEETCAPRI means "Sweet Capricorn", my zodiac sign. I adapted this name back in 2003 and it has stuck to me like glue. Some people don't even know my real name and just call me SweetCapri. I think a trademark is in order.