Thursday, April 29, 2010

Shawna Mendelson Interview

Shanwa Mendelson is a very accomplished powerlifter. Just look at her lifts. Or consider the fact she is one of the 20 strongest women in the world. But now she has set her sights on bodybuilding. If she is as successful at bodybuilding as she is at powerlifting, then you will be hearing a lot more about Shawna. And there is every reason to believe she will be as successful. Shawna is one of those people who if she sets her mind to something, you can bet she will accomplish it. She recently did the NPC Metropolitan and I was really impressed by what she brought to the stage. So here is an introduction to a woman I expect you are going to hear a lot more about as she continues to get better each time on stage, Shawna Mendelson.

Q: First, Shawna, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: No problem. Thank you for the opportunity.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: Sure, my name is Shawna Mendelson. I am a 14x World powerlifting Champion, I am also a 10x National Champion. I have my MS in Kinesiology/Sports Therapy from NYU. I am certified in Nutrition, and I am a Certified Strength Training and Conditioning coach. I am originally from Los Angeles, California.
I currently reside in New York on Long Island. I come from a family of athletes. My older brother Scott has the biggest bench press in the world. My father was a football player, and my grandfather was a prize fighter in the 30's and 40's.
I currently run my own personal training business.

Q: Before bodybuilding you did powerlifting. What got you interested in that?
A: I am still involved in the sport of powerlifting. I am the NY State APF Chairman, and I coach a team of lifters. My sister-in-law got me interested. It started when my brother started to come up in the sport.

Q: Can you share any accomplishments in the sport or things you are most proud of.
A: My best lifts are Squat 660lbs, Bench 425lbs (on record, gym is 450lbs), Deadlift 520lbs. I am in the top 20 and top 100 strongest women of all-time.
I am also proud to be an NPC athlete.

Q: What got you started in bodybuilding?
A: I have always been interested in the sport. I have always read the magazines, seen the greats. I just wanted to try it. I wanted to see if I could do it. So, I changed my focus and decided to take that challenge.

Q: Was weight training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you saw results?
A: Yes, I have been weight training since I was 14 years old. My body reacts pretty fast. I already had a pretty good base from powerlifting. I love the results. It is amazing to see how your body can change.

Q: How long were you training for bodybuilding when you decided to compete?
A: I only trained and dieted for 3 months before I did my first show. I was a little impulsive, and I would not recommend it. Better to be more prepared.

Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported?
A: Yes, they support me with everything I do. It is really great.

Q: Was the first show what you expected? Did anything surprise you?
A: I went in with no expectations. I was surprised by how nice everyone in my class was. It made my experience much easier. It is totally different than powerlifting. I was surprised how much I liked it.

Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: I have been competing in powerlifting since 2001. Won my first Nationals after 6 months of training.
I just started in this sport. The first show I did was Team Universe in September. I just competed in the NPC Metropolitan and finished 2nd place.

Q: What would you consider your best bodypart or the one that gets the most compliments?
A: It is a toss-up between my arms and my back.

Q: Do you have a favorite part to train or favorite exercise?
A: I love training back. Lat pull downs, deadlifting.

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: I generally try to eat clean. I am not a big junk food eater. I mostly alter my carb intake for contest prep. My normal training routine is 2 super heavy days, then 4 days of bodybuilding training. Meaning, higher reps, a little lighter weight, and cardio, cardio, cardio....

Q: When someone sees your physique for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: They always ask what I do. It is kind of funny. They say I am a pretty big girl. They always say they are surprised I am so feminine with all of the muscle I have. People seem to like what they see.

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: Nothing I am really sick of hearing. I guess the most common I get is "I do not know how to do it", then they ask me for advice. About training, diet, etc.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about female bodybuilders, or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: Biggest misconception I think is that we are unapproachable. I think people are intimidated by us. They do not understand why we do what we do. My answer is "because I can."

Q: Do you feel muscular women are more or less accepted by society today then five years ago?
A: I feel muscular women are always less accepted by normal society. People have a mindset that women should not be big. We can be fit, but having too much muscle is looked down upon. Men are supposed to have muscles. I think it is just small thinking.

Q: Is training for Powerlifting and Bodybuilding at all similar or are they totally different?
A: On a whole, for me, it is not too different. I was always one of the powerlifters who always trained my smaller supporting muscles, besides just training for the big 3 lifts (Squat, Bench, Deadlifts). So, I always trained my biceps, triceps, abs, delts, etc... that is how you get stronger.

Q: What is the best and worst part of competing?
A: The diet!!!! You can train as hard as you want, if your diet is off, then everything is going to be off. I love competing. Just making sure I am on target. I always think I can look better. I guess everyone does. This sport is not easy.

Q: Do you have any favorite bodybuilders?
A: Cathy LeFrancois Priest, Colette Nelson, and Bev Francis.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter, pizza.

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: You need to have dedication and discipline.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I like skiing, white water rafting, the beach, traveling.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Shawna Mendelson.
A: Busy!!! Hahahaha. I run my ow personal training business, I work out of two different gyms. I do home visits, online training, and I coach. Then I have to train myself, and just get some Shawna time in there. It is a lot. I am lucky I love what I do.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: That I am very approachable, easy to talk to.

Q: Describe Shawna Mendelson in five words.
A: Smart, Selfless, Strong, Humble, Sincere.

Q: Yes, thank you. Please look out for my website. Should be up soon. If anyone is looking for training, coaching, modeling, please contact me.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors?
A: I am looking for sponsorship. Contact me and we can talk,, soon through my website

Q: Again Shawna, it has been great to have you do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Thank you again for the opportunity....stay strong, keep a watch out for me. :-)


  1. Just saw this...if you ever get the chance to know her, Shawna is awesome!! ;-)