Friday, September 3, 2010
Beth Polisson Interview
Let me apologize to Beth Polisson for taking so long in getting this interview posted. It was conducted before she competed at Jr. USA's, but at that show Beth looked incredible. Only her second show, after winning her first show, Beth showed she is someone destined for huge things in the fitness industry both competing wise and modeling wise. This is actually one of the best interviews I have done and am honored to present it to you.
Q: First, Beth, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you so much for interviewing me - it's really quite an honor to be among so many other well-respected and successful women in this industry!
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I was born in Boston, MA, moved to Chapel Hill, NC when I was 12 days old and stayed in the South until I was 8. I moved back up to Boston in 1990 and stayed up there until 2004. After I graduated from college I, once again, moved BACK to North Carolina. I've always had an affinity for the South and I am so happy to be back down here. The weather, the people............the FOOD!!
I went to Tufts University in Medford, MA and got my BS in Biopsychology. I love the brain and the body, so I figured it was a good combination. I really wanted to follow in my father's footsteps and become a doctor, but I ultimately decided against it and went into the Pharma industry, instead. Currently, I am a Project Manager for a Pharma company in Durham, NC. Previous to that, I was an auditor and traveled about 80%. Competition prep was such a struggle, but I did it, and it IS doable while on the road.
I have 1 older brother who is currently in England getting his PhD from Oxford in Econ. Needless to say, 1 of us has to be the brains, and 1 has to be the brawn! My parents still live up in Boston - my father is a doctor and my mother is a nutritionist, so healthy living has been a part of my life since I was very young.
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: Oh my lord, what sport HAVEN'T I played?? I have played soccer since I was 3, basketball since I was 8, and softball since I was 10. I've also tried my hand at field hockey, lacrosse, and I used to be a sprinter on the track team, as well. I played sports all the way through college - competing is something that I LOVE to do, and I love the camaraderie that team sports fosters. Sports have always been a MAJOR part of my life, and figure competitions have allowed me to continue this endeavor into my adult life. I will always consider myself to be an athlete.
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: In college, I HAD to lift for my sports teams. After I graduated, I lifted just to keep general tone, but I didn't really have a defined goal for my lifting. That is, until I met my 1st trainer, Leigh Ann Yeager I saw her looking fabulous and took a shot in the dark and sent her an email. She started training me and I started to put on mass QUICKLY. Eventually, we both decided a figure competition would be right up my alley. We were right!
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Yes - since I've been playing sports for so long, I have great body awareness and muscle memory. I put on mass within a matter of weeks, and I dropped weight and bodyfat in the 1st month that I was lifting.
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: I saw how quickly I was getting results and I started to get curious. My trainer, Leigh Ann, is an NPC fitness competitor, and she told me that she thought I'd do well if I ever decided to compete. Because I'm so competitive and always need a fitness goal, I set my sights on an upcoming state figure show. Once I have a goal, I stay incredibly focused, and will stop at nothing until I've accomplished that goal.
Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time?
A: My friends, yes. My family, no. My family still doesn't really support it - they find the diet to be "extreme" and the dry out week to be "dangerous." They don't really see muscle on women to be sexy like I do. I understand that it's a difference in opinion and I'm fine with that. I love the way I look, which is what's really important. My boyfriend and friends here in North Carolina are SO incredibly supportive - I'm very lucky to have them in my life. I always have friends telling me that I inspire them, that they want to look like me, and that they're proud of me. That keeps me going - always.
Q: Was competing what you expected? Did anything surprise you about it?
A: It was what I expected - difficult, both mentally and physically, yet incredibly rewarding. Nothing really surprised me, truthfully. I knew the last month of the diet was going to be very difficult, and I knew that the last week would be like "Invasion of the Body-Snatchers." And boy, was it ever! I also knew I was going to be nervous getting up on that stage, but I felt very at ease once I got up there. It felt good to show off all of my hard work. It also felt good to eat that entire bag of Sweet 16 doughnuts afterward!
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: I've only done 1 show, but I'm going to be competing at Jr. USAs in August NOTE: Beth has since done this show and finished 5th place and looked amazing). My 1st and only show was the NC State Championships. I came in 1st place in Figure Class C.
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: The booty - I've got a big ol' onion and I know it!! Actually, I don't have a leg day anymore. My new trainer is trying to decrease the mass in my butt/quads. I can thank 18+ years of soccer for that!! I love my butt, though, and wouldn't trade it for anything. It's by best asset..........pun intended!
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: I love working my shoulders - seated OH press on the Smith Machine or upright row/OH press combo with the Olympic bar are my 2 favorite moves. I am a fan of anything that hits the medial delts.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: My training split is 4 days on, 1 day off. I have 2 workouts for each group listed below - 1 heavy, 1 light - I alternate each week.
Day 1: chest/shoulders
Day 2: back
Day 3: bis/tris
Day 4: combo cardio
At 6-7 weeks out from Jr. USAs my cardio just got increased - now instead of doing just 1 day a week for 45 mins, I'm doing 60 mins, 6x/wk. I hate cardio! Luckily I am a spin instructor, so my 3 weekly classes give me an hour of fun cardio. I cannot stand feeling like a gerbil on the treadmill.
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: Mostly positive. Women always come up to me and tell me they love my shoulders. Most guys are usually impressed by the amount that I can lift and the amount of definition that I have. It intimidates some, but mostly it gains respect!
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: "Do you workout???" Seriously?
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: That women who lift are "manly" and that lifting makes you bulky. Good grief. I'm so sick of that. I'm trying, via my photoshoots, to prove to women that muscles can be sexy, classy, and feminine. I have so many female friends who tell me that they don't lift because they're afraid they're going to get "massive." In actuality, if they picked up some weights, they'd lose body fat and get toned and tightened. Too much cardio can turn you into the typical "skinny fat" body that we see on TV and in magazines. REAL women have muscles and are much healthier for it.
Q: What is the best and worst part of competing?
A: The best part has to be all the girls I meet. There seems to be a quiet understanding and respect for each other. There's no suit-cutting or stealing of things like you might think (as occurs in beauty contests). Rather, the girls backstage will help pump you up, apply bikini bite, or help you fix your makeup. They'll take funny pictures with you and wish you luck before you go on stage. I love the girls I met at my state show, and I can't wait to meet more at Jr. USAs.
Other than giving up junk food, the worst part has GOT to be the spray tanning - I'm serious!! It's worse than the carb-depletion. It smells TERRIBLE, gets all over everything, and ends up a splotchy mess. Not to mention that you can't sleep the night before the show because you're covered in it. I hate it.
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I love my girls, Kisha Wilson and Stephanie Toomey (fellow North Carolina NPC Figure Competitors), and of course my good friends Desiree Walker and Leigh Ann Yeager, and Melanie Roth (fitness gals). On the pro level, I truly admire Kayde Puckett, Tanji Johnson, and Ava Cowan. Kayde lives close to me in Raleigh and has lifted with me, helped me with posing, and has really been such an amazing support system for me. She's full of great advice and tips and she's such a genuine person. I cannot thank her enough for taking me under her wing!! Ava I love because she is the perfect example of what I'm trying to prove - you can be beautiful and have muscles. She's absolutely gorgeous and has been successful, both as a competitor and as a model. I can only hope to follow in her footsteps. And Tanji - Tanji is just incredible. I love her routines, her character, and her class.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Hostess Sweet 16 powdered doughnuts. I would move heaven and earth for those things. I normally eat an entire bag on my cheat days, and I finished a whole bag in under 3 minutes after my show in April. Do not stand between me and a Sweet 16, because you will go down quickly. Ghiradelli brownies are also on my list - my boyfriend and I split a batch on cheat days, typically.
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: Be ready to really WORK - you can't half ass this. You have to adhere to the diet 100%, you can't miss days in the gym, and you need to be ready to make sacrifices in your personal life. It's all totally worth it, though - this is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. I have told a few girls that unless they're really 100% ready to give their all, don't compete.
Q: Do you think it is becoming more common to see women in the gym working as hard as men?
A: I'm seeing a gradual shift in my gym, but I still think that women have this cardio bug in their brains. They think that doing 3 hours on the elliptical is going to make them thin, when, in fact, it's most likely doing just the opposite. I know a lot of girls who now have metabolic damage because they do too much cardio, starve themselves, and don't lift weights. What they don't realize is that they've forced their bodies into starvation mode, and will only continue to store fat instead of burn it.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I LOVE cooking and have been cooking with my mother since I was a child. I make the best chicken pot pie that you'll ever eat - I swear. Ask my friends!
I have a dog, and my boyfriend and I love taking him for walks or to the beach on the weekend.
I mentioned above that I teach spin - my friends opened a cycling and yoga studio in Durham called SyncStudio, and I teach there 3 times a week. The style of cycle we teach is a bit different than your traditional spin class. We move around on the bike - front to back, side to side, corner to corner - it's almost like dancing on top of the bike. It's completely addictive, and it burns WAY more calories than your normal spin class. I've had people in my class burn upwards of 1100 calories before, according to their HR monitor. I am totally hooked on spinning and I love what it does for my legs in the off season, especially since I don't have a leg day.
Lastly, I have recently become a personal trainer. Fitness is truly my passion, and it is so rewarding to help others change their bodies and their lives.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Beth Polisson.
A: 5am wakeup, gym by 530 for 60 mins of BORING cardio!! Then it's home for breakfast, coffee, and a shower, then off to work until 5 or so. Back to the gym to lift, go home, eat my last 2 meals, then hit the sack!!
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I used to travel 80% for work, and have done competition prep during that time. It IS possible, people.
Another thing that you'd never know is that I had a total knee replacement when I was 18. I had a horrendous soccer injury and had to have a TKR about 10 years ago. I have no knee issues, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before it catches up to me.
Q: Describe Beth Polisson in five words.
A: Smart, Funny, Athletic, Passionate, Assertive
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I'll be doing Jr. USAs in August in Houston (NOTE: As previously mentioned, Beth did this show and looked amazing in taking 5th place), and I might do Figure Nationals in Atlanta, depending on how I place in Houston. Ideally, though, I'd enter a long off season after USAs and then compete back at the state level next April. I know I need more mass and am willing to take some time to put it on. Plus............I really want my Sweet 16s!!!
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: SyncStudio in Durham, NC!!!!! www.syncstudio.net.
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Beth Polisson the athlete and competitor?
A: I would love to be sponsored and am actively looking for sponsorship. As an athlete and competitor, a potential sponsor would get someone who is hard-working, who would take the sponsorship seriously, and who would do everything in her power to achieve her goal of becoming an IFBB Figure Pro. They would also get someone who is passionate about inspiring women to better their lives and to achieve their fitness goals. I'm also very serious about expanding my fitness modeling portfolio and would be a great addition to any team looking for a face to put with their products. Anyone who is interested can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Beth, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Wish me luck in August! Eeeek!! Thank you again for letting me do this interview!!