Sunday, July 11, 2010

PJ Hughes Interview

The biggest reason I started this blog is to help newer competitors get notice. Competitors with a lot of promise and potential. PJ Hughes fits that description. She has only competed once, taking 4th place, but has a clear love for training and a clear desire to be a success at the sport. And there is no reason to believe she won't achieve that success. She is a beautiful woman with a great physique, and as she says at the end of the interview, she is going to be around for a long time. So here is a chance to get to know more about PJ Hughes, a name to remember.

Q: First, PJ, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you for asking Jason, it’s my pleasure.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I grew up in a suburb of Baltimore Maryland, in a town called Reisterstown. I then went to Indiana to attend Purdue University where I graduated with my BS in Chemical Engineering. I currently live in Tempe, AZ with my husband, a local musician. I work in Tempe as an engineer at a local semiconductor manufacturing company.

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: No, actually I was pretty much a nerd when I was growing up. I would have rather been outside under a tree reading a book than climbing it. I did take dance lessons (ballet and jazz) for many years, but I wouldn’t have called myself athletic.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: I had been in and out of gyms and on diet plans since I was in college. My weight fluctuated up and down by 40 pounds. However, it wasn’t until I noted some of my loved ones with failing health, that I took it seriously. My goal was then to find a way to make regular exercise and healthy eating a way of life.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: It wasn’t until I started working out at home that I really started seeing results. It enabled me to really be focused on my work out and having my husband as my trainer has really helped encourage me. Within just a few months I could see muscle development and a decrease in body fat.

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: There were two reasons I decided to compete. The first reason was to have a goal for my workouts. At some point it is useful to have a specific goal instead of just “working out to be healthy”. The second reason is that when searching for methods or advice on workouts and diet plans I saw so many fit and beautiful women who were figure competitors. My husband suggested that I make a competition my goal and we started from there.

Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time?
A: My husband was 100% behind me and was a great source of support. My close friends were also very supportive and stopped inviting me to lunch. Ha-ha!

Q: Was competing what you expected? Did anything surprise you about it?
A: Competing was very much an adventure. It was interesting to see the variety of people and variety of ways that people prepared. There are some competitors who are completely focused before the show and do not socialize, and others who are relaxed and chatting with new friends. The thing I found most surprising was that the most common topic of discussion was food! Everyone was discussing their contest prep diets and what they were looking forward to after the competition.
I definitely learned that preparation was the key to competing. Not just all of the training and dieting, but making sure you’ve thought of tanning and posing. It makes all the difference in how you’re presented on stage. It may be boring but practice, practice, practice your posing!

Q: Can you share your contest history.
A:So far, I’ve competed in one figure competition, the Arizona Copper Classic put on
by the INBA and I took home 4th place, Yay! I’m already looking forward to my next show.

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: I think my best body part would be my arms. They were lagging behind for a while, but we’ve changed my workout and it is so rewarding to see the muscles respond and become more balanced with the rest of my body.

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: I love to train my legs. They have responded well to training and I always feel strong when training them. My favorite exercise is probably the barbell lunge.

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: My regular training routine has 4 days of weight training and 4-6 days of cardio at 30 min. I eat 5 times a day and focus on eating clean unprocessed foods. I eat lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, and tons of fruits and vegetables.

When preparing for competition, I cycle my carbohydrates with 2-3 days low and 1 day high carbs. I focus on vegetable source carbohydrates on the low days and add in some whole grains on the high carb days. I also increase my cardio for contest prep. This will increase depending on my progress, but usually ends up being 6 days at 40 - 45 min each session.

Q: When someone sees your physique or hears you compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: Most reactions to hearing that I compete are positive. I think people are surprised because they’ve never known anyone who’s competed before. They often remark that they thought a woman would have to be bulkier to compete. I don’t think that most realize that figure competitions are not judged like bodybuilding events, but focus more on a feminine level of muscle mass with curves and definition.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: I think the biggest misconception about women who train is that they will become overly muscular and no longer feminine. It is actually too bad that so many women believe this because that is certainly not the case. You can train with heavy weights and develop a sleek, beautiful, feminine physique.

Q: What is the best part of competing?
A: The best part about competing is learning so much about your body and how it responds to food and training. I am continuously learning about myself through this exercise.

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I really admire Lyzabeth Lopez, Alyson Boyd, Gina Aliotti, and Monica Brandt. These are fabulous women at a variety of places in their careers and they inspire me a great deal.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins!!!

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: Get a training partner or trainer. That one thing will keep you training. I know that I need accountability for those days that I don’t want to work out.

Q: Do you get a lot of friends asking for diet tips?
A: People ask me for diet and exercise tips all the time and I love it! I love to encourage other people with their endeavors to be healthy. It also helps me to stay on track when I know people are looking to me for guidance.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I love to cook and am always trying new recipes. I also love spending time with my friends and family, even if it is just getting together for coffee or a phone call.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of PJ Hughes.
A: Most of my days start with cardio, sometimes a run with my dog, sometimes a steep incline on the treadmill. Then I will have breakfast and pack up all my meals for the day. I am lucky to have a fridge at work to keep everything in. At lunch, I may do a little yoga with some friends, and after work, I’ll come home and train if it’s a training day. Then dinner, cook if I need to, and then off to bed. Believe it or not, I do fit in time with my friends, shopping, cleaning, and all the other life necessities.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I love to pole dance! I take and teach dance classes at a local dance fitness studio and really love it. Dance is one of the greatest ways to build strength and endurance, and you have the opportunity to be around other positive women.

Q: Describe PJ Hughes in five words.
A: Caring, Curious, Practical, Sassy, Sincere

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I plan to compete in the Washington Ironman Figure Competition on October 2, 2010 in Snoqualmie, WA.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in PJ Hughes the athlete and competitor?
A: I am always open for the opportunity of sponsorship and I can be reached at . Sponsors will receive a hard working athlete to promote their company and products. They can expect 100% loyalty, honor, and respect, as with anything that I do in my life.

Q: PJ, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Thank you Jason! Remember PJ Hughes, because I am going to be around for a longtime. Ha-ha!

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