Saturday, August 7, 2010
Kate Cooper Interview
First thing that comes to mind when I hear the name Kate Cooper is underrated. If there is one woman in bodybuilding who I feel deserves much more credit then she gets, it is Kate Cooper. Kate has an amazing physique, highlighted by one of the best backs ever, and having seen her on stage, she is a great poser and has a great stage presence. I have gotten to know Kate and she also is a really nice woman and a credit to the sport. I hope this allows more people to find out about Kate, because she deserves respect, attention, and support.
Q: First, Kate, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: No problem, Jason! I feel honored just to be asked!
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself. Family, where you are from, things like that.
A: I grew up in the suburbs of Philly, the youngest of 5 siblings. I attended an all-girls college preparatory school from K-12. Then I went to Washington Univ in St Louis & planned on majoring in Art History & Psychology, but after 1 1/2 years I transferred to the Univ of the Arts in Philly & majored in Metals. I was a practicing Silversmith for several years after that. It wasn’t until I was well into my mid-30’s that I returned to school to pursue Exercise Science.
I got married when I was 22 and moved to NM. Thirteen years later I divorced. Now I have settled in N. AZ, living with my boyfriend of over 8 years and my 2 wonderful, indoor cats—Bugg & Apollo!
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: No, in fact I was extremely “non-athletic”! The only sport I excelled at in high school was archery. I have always had Exercise Induced Asthma and I didn’t enjoy team sports. I was always on the D-squad! But I had always envisioned myself as & wanted to be a muscular female! I opted out of school sports to join a small neighborhood gym the last couple of years in high school and discovered weight training for the first time. I loved it! However, when I told the owner that I would like to build big arms I was told, “That’s not for girls!”. That first quick disapproval sent me back into my shell & I didn’t tell anyone else or try to build muscle for many years after that!
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easily? How long before you started to see results?
A: I have to admit that I gave up weight training once I went to college. I had my partying years! I didn’t go back to the gym on a regular basis until my late 20’s. I didn’t attempt to compete until I was 35! I started specifically training for my very 1st competition when I was 34 and then I competed as a Lightweight at 112#. I had always admired the really big girls so, although I was happy just to attempt my 1st competition, I felt I had a really long way to go to build the physique I had envisioned and that I would be proud to present. So, yes, I saw some results rather quickly, but it seemed never-ending to build some large, dense muscle! However, I did hit the national level within 4 years!
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: Although I had always wanted to be big & muscular I had no knowledge of female bodybuilding. Once I discovered it I knew immediately that was something I wanted to do! In fact, something I had to do!
Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time, and how about now?
A: No, I can’t say my family or friends at the time understood bodybuilding or my desire to compete. My now ex-husband didn’t even support me or attend my 1st competition! As you can see from the fact that we are now exes, that never did change!
I did have work friends & gym buddies that attended my 1st competition and yelled & screamed & supported me fully from the get-go! That meant so much to me!!!!
And now my Mom is one of my very biggest fans, as well as 1 brother & 1 sister. My other sibs don’t follow my competitions so closely, but they’re still in my corner! My Mom attends the competitions that she can and even brings friends! One of her senior lady friends even enjoyed watching the young buff guys in their posing suits so much that she decided to keep up with & attend any other bodybuilding competitions that may be in her local area!
Q: Was that first show what you expected or did anything surprise you?
A: I guess what surprised me was how much I actually enjoyed it! And if that first competition had not been a positive experience I’m not sure I would have ever tried it again. I entered my 1st competition as a try-out. I knew I had a long way to go to be a “true” bb’er, but I just wanted to get on stage without embarrassing myself to see if this was something I could truly excel at. I’m actually a pretty shy person so just to get on stage in next-to-nothing was extremely scary!!! My trainer drove me to my competition & I remember I kept trying to convince him to drive the other direction! However, I ended up with 5 trophies that day (1 from each division I entered) and the rest is history, as they say!
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: In a nutshell, I earned a Top 5 placing in each of the regionals I competed in so I now have a total of 15 trophies. I chose to compete in some of the more recognized & tough regional competitions in NM, NV and particularly CA. I’ve competed at the national level since 2005 and have been ranked within the Top 10 in the country as a Middleweight, Light heavyweight and a Heavyweight. I am struggling to get recognition and finally get my Top 5 placing at the nationals.
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: Certainly my back, and also my biceps.
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: Luckily, I really enjoy training most body parts, but if I had to choose I’d have to say I most enjoy training back (& I guess it shows)! And triceps!
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: The only major difference in my training offseason is that I don’t do nearly the amount of cardio that I do pre-contest. I do try to keep up with it, but I tend to slack off!
I do enjoy some “garbage” food when offseason, but compared with the majority of the American public, I still eat pretty clean & regimented most days. I really enjoy good, clean food & get so much more good energy from it, which I require to train hard & get the results I need in the offseason. I’ve also gotten much better at staying within 20# of contest weight in the offseason which is so much better for my health, metabolism and for getting ready for the next competition!
Q: When someone sees your physique for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: I’m not sure what is most common. The reactions really vary and, unfortunately, I think people in general mostly remember getting negative comments & insults because they affect us & stick with us so much more. But, in truth, I get a good amount of positive feedback, as well. I’ve had women approach me in the gym and tell me that I motivate them because they witness my commitment and drive which inspires them to stick to their personal goals of health & fitness. I like it when women, in particular, feel comfortable enough to come up to me in a Walmart, for instance, just to tell me they think I look great & to keep it up!
But I do get more than my fair share of negative reactions & it gets really old!!! I’m still trying to figure out the best way to respond. I don’t want to give people even more reason to have a bad impression of fbb’s! I mostly try to ignore it and walk around with my head up & a smile on my face! I’ve worked hard for what I have achieved & I’m proud of the physique I have built! But nasty looks, snickers & harsh comments are still hurtful.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: "How much do you bench?" And my answer is, “I don’t bench”. Technically, I really don’t. Every once in a while I’ll do a freebar incline bench press, but I have shoulder problems so I stick with all sorts of other exercises other than an actual bench press.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about female bodybuilders or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: I wish the general public understood that we do NOT want to be men, that we are 100% female and enjoy all the things that other women do! I’m a little bit more of a tomboy, not really into purses, shoes, getting my nails done & shopping, but I do love to wear make-up, dress up and be told that I’m pretty from time to time! I do not, nor have I ever, wanted to be a man! I think muscle is beautiful and feminine!
Q: What is the best and worst part of competing?
A: For me, the best part is actually the preparation. I like working hard towards a deadline & watching all of the changes that happen as competition approaches! We work so hard to build muscle & make changes to the physique in the offseason. Not until we start to diet & take off the layers of fat over top do we get the satisfaction of seeing what we actually created!
And I guess the worst part of competing is the nerves and the HARSH diet! Once I’m only a few days out from competition and in the competition host city do the nerves really kick in! Then I’m just ready to get the whole thing on & over and see how I fare! And at some point the starvation hunger sets in which can be overwhelming! The diet saps your energy and demands all of your concentration to work around & stick with. Your brain says “Eat!”, but you have to stop yourself and still think straight to get your work done & be available for clients & others in your life. Sometimes you just don’t feel like you have enough to give!
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: Well, that could be a very long list and I’m sure I’ll leave some great ones out, but a few of my favorites would be Andrulla Blanchette, Heather Armbrust, Tazzie Colomb, Annie Rivecchio, Christa Bauch, Nicki Fuller, Colette Guimond, and Elena Seiple.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: I can crave different things depending on the day & the type of diet I’m on. But I love a good burger & fries and cheesecake!
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: Don’t let anybody stop you! You can achieve anything you set your mind to! Just go do it and remember to enjoy the whole process!
Q: You also have a great website. Can you give out the address and tell people what they can find there.
A: Yes, please check out my site at Kate-CooperFBB.com. There are TONS of galleries for members including professional shoots, offseason & at competition time, personal shots from my competitions & events, as well as photos of my prep up to several competitions and regular monthly updates. Once a month I post pics from my workouts of the previous month. There is also even more bio info and a behind-the-scenes accounting of each of my competitions & several videos. The slight membership fee helps to offset all of the costs associated with competing.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: Honestly, these days I don’t have much time for any outside activities, but I do enjoy hiking and being outside, traveling, and movies. I have a HUGE passion for all animals and miss having time to donate for animal causes. Most recently I was able to volunteer 1 morning a week to walk dogs at the local animal control. I really miss being able to do that! I loved meeting all the different personalities and giving them something to look forward to in their otherwise dull & nerve-wracked daily life.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Kate Cooper.
A: Seeing as how I run my own small business (gym/sports supplements store) and perform any & all tasks associated with it, each day is very different. But in general, I get up anywhere between 4:30-6:00am, train clients, workout myself, go home briefly to wash up & eat then get back to work to do personal training, nutrition consultations, sell supplements, take prospective members on tours of the gym, order products, pay bills, clean equipment & bathrooms, vacuum, get home after 8:00pm and prepare my meals for the next day. I’ll watch a little t.v. to unwind then generally go to bed around 9:30-10:00pm so that I can get up & do all of that over again. I only have 1 full day off each week!
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I can think of at least a few things that may surprise people, but I guess one of the most unusual things is that I’m a Quaker, born & raised! My Quaker roots go back to the time before William Penn so not only am I a birthright, but my ancestors were among the very 1st Quakers! I don’t attend meeting since there isn’t one anywhere close to me and, fortunately, that is not a requirement. I do try to live what I consider a Quaker lifestyle, which is much different than what most people would probably think. In a nutshell, I believe all disputes can be resolved without resorting to violence. I try to find the good in all people & never judge on outward appearance. I don’t believe there is any benefit in flashing material wealth. I believe we should all do our best to help our fellow man and find true purpose in our existence on the planet. Quakerism gets a little more in-depth than that, but those are some of the basic concepts.
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I’m right in the middle of competition prep for the 2010 Master’s Nationals. They’ll be in Pittsburgh on Saturday, July 24. (NOTE: Kate has since competed at and did very well at this Show). I’m working for the first time with George Farah as my diet consultant and am really enjoying the plan and the results, so far!
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: Not exactly, but I would love to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge & truly thank Charles Glass, Dave Palumbo and George Farah - just part of the team behind the bodybuilder! Charles has been a huge inspiration, incredible teacher and dear friend since he started working with me in 2006. Dave Palumbo helped me reach a conditioning level I never thought would be possible & was always so readily available to answer my questions! And now George Farah is coaching me to reach a new level of conditioning without sacrificing any of the size I have worked so hard to build! I’m really looking forward to seeing how I’ll look by competition time with George’s help this year!
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Kate Cooper the athlete and competitor?
A: I’m always open to sponsors of all kinds - big or small! Some individuals can “sponsor” an fbb by offering free product or paying for a specific necessity of competition (like a posing suit). And we fbb’s could always use the help!!!
As a competitor I’m hard-working, diligent and focused! I honor the sport by always trying my very best and taking competition seriously. I don’t want to get on stage unless I believe I have done everything I could to present my best package. And I always try to represent myself & the sport with full respect! I think of myself as an athlete, not a T&A model! We do show skin as bodybuilders, but I draw the line at doing anything I wouldn’t want a young girl to see & aspire to!
I can always be reached through my website: Kate-CooperFBB.com.
Q: Kate , again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: I’d like to thank you, Jason, for this opportunity to answer so many questions fully so people may get to know me even better. I really appreciate all of my fans!!! They are my major inspiration for continuing to compete! I’m afraid I’m still waiting for more approval from the judges. I’m not quite getting the placings I think I’m capable of, but the fans remind me there is appreciation out there and they’re a major reason for me to keep plugging away at this!