This is the female bodybuilders roundtable. There are two categories. First part is name and word associating and the second part is general questions. It is done by some amazing women, Gail Auerbach, Janelle Gallo, IFBB Pro Michelle Laurin, Michelle Russell, Sheena Hunter, and SHerri Gray. Each woman is represented by their initials, GA (Gail), JG (Janelle), ML (Michelle Laurin), MR (Michelle Russell), SH (Sheena), and SG (Sherri).
Part 1: Name/Word Association
1. Iris Kyle:
JG: Strong and powerful
MR: Currently the best in female bodybuilding
SG: Ms. Olympia
2. Lenda Murray:
GA: 1989 North American Overall
JG: Beautiful, like an art form
SG: 8-Time Olympian
3. Rachel McCLish
GA: First ever Ms. Olympia
JG: Stunning, a legend
4. Cory Everson:
GA: Overcame obstacles
JG: Inspiring, beautiful, a legend
SG: Great physique
5. Pro Card:
GA: Want it!
JG: My ultimate dream
ML: Dream come true
MR: A great accomplishment in the sport
GA: My fans
JG: The drive that keeps me in the sport of bodybuilding
MR: Keeps me going
SG: Seeing change
GA: Love it!
JG: Love-hate relationship; Hate to do it, but feel better when I am done
MR: Used to doing it, it's not all that bad
SG: New shoes!
GA: To everything I do
JG: What you need to succeed in bodybuilding/competition
SG: Desire to be my best
GA: Wish I could go
JG: The highest level of bodybuilding
MR: The best of the best on stage
SG: Awesome event
GA: Yoga, Bath and read
JG: The best day! Time to enjoy hobbies and other things than the gym
MR: RELAXING and catching up
SG: Rest to grow
GA: Wish I could see into their brains
JG: Unpredictable, erratic
GA: Mine is the best!
JG: Coach, inspiring
ML: Hard work
MR: Support and helping you become the best you can be
SG: Mike Davies- the best!
Part 2: General Questions
1: Why bodybuilding?
GA: I love everything about it! Lifting, the lifestyle, training, the way it makes me look and feel.
JG: It helps me in all aspects of my life and it is my passion. I have loved it since I was 15 years old. Makes me feel strong and feel better about myself.
ML: It fits me
MR: It's something I thought was amazing since I was a child. I find it amazing what men and women can do with their body, not to mention it is a healthy lifestyle
SH: Bodybuilding was an accident. I started in powerlifting, but as I adjusted my nutrition, a pretty cool physique began to emerge. I chose the bodybuilding category because I like not having to limit my possibilities for size. I am not that big.... I'm a lightweight, but bodybuilding allows me to embrace the size and shape of my legs, instead of spending the rest of my life worrying that they are too big.
SG: It drives me to be my best. I love the competition, and the whole lifestyle of staying healthy
2. On a scale of 1-10, if ten years ago female bodybuilding's acceptance by society was a 0, what is it today?
ML: In New Zealand, 2
MR: Hmm, it's hard to say. I'd have to say, no more no less. No matter what sport you do someone is going to try and de-value what you do.
SH: Negative 1. I feel like in the beginning, it was so radical that many people didn't know what to think of it. However, as it has gained more exposure, and as women have increased in size, it has also become more subject to scrutiny. While fitness, and later figure, were created for the purpose of giving female bodybuilders a way to compete without feeling pressure to get "really big" or "really masculine", they have evolved to become, in my opinion, categories for the purpose of male entertainment. Now that the more "entertaining" categories of figure, fitness, and bikini exist, female bodybuilding is much less accepted than ever before. Evidence of this trend can be found in the contrast between the way the announcers present female bodybuilders and the way they present the bikini and figure girls. Other evidence can be found in the way that female bodybuilders are generally regarded backstage and by supplement companies.
SG: Between a 5 and 6. I think it is more accepted now maybe, but you will always have skeptics out there who don't want to understand it all
3. What is the biggest misconception about female bodybuilders?
GA: That we aren't sexy and look like men.
JG: That we all look like me and all we do is bodybuild. We are people too and there are other interests in life that we like to do.
ML: That we are masculine
MR: I'd have to say, people think we are tough on the inside and outside. Or it makes us less of a woman
SH: We are unsexy, manly, or unfeminine. For instance, I saw a flier for a show that awarded a big bulky ring to winners of the female bodybuilding category (the same ring that male bodybuilders would win), but a dainty little necklace to winners of figure and bikini. I would have wanted the damn necklace!
SG: It's hard to say really, but I know a lot of people wonder why we want to have a lot of muscle and think it isn't feminine. I think being feminine also includes being strong and carrying yourself with confidence
4. How can we make it so the prize money is more even between men and women?
GA: Make female bodybuilding more popular.
JG: Strength in numbers. We must all unite and speak up to make it happen. Just sitting and bitching and moaning about it on forums doesn't work. Talk to athlete representatives and higher ups to tell them as competitors how we feel. We need to get as much people as possible to join the movement.
ML: More sponsors from large nutrition companies
MR: I'm a far step out of the loop with the politics. But I'd have to say "Is it so hard to divide winnings more evenly?"
SH: On the one hand, I do see their perspective- Female bodybuilding sells fewer tickets, so sponsors provide less money for their prizes. On the other hand, it is frustrating to see the difference in prize money. It is up to us- female bodybuilders- to present ourselves in a way that is entertaining. I think a lot of female bodybuilders have dropped the ball in this area. It is frustrating to compete next to a woman who clearly didn't put in the effort, or who shows up with double digit bodyfat. It is also up to the leaders of the NPC to return to the nature of the sport and value us more- we are athletes, not strippers.
SG: Publicize the women as much as the men. We work just as hard as they do and I feel the sponsors should award the women the same way they do the men. I think it is up to the sponsors and promoters to increase the awareness of the sport and highlight the women more.
5. My greatest achievement in the sport so far is?
GA: Competing while single and doing everything on my own with no help.
JG: Placing 2nd in a National show. Never thought that I would make it to this level.
ML: Ms. New Zealand, Arnold Amateur 3rd Middleweights, Pro card
MR: I've done three shows and have come top 3 and won best poser at all three shows. I'm proud of that. I continue to better my physique and that is all part of great achievements for the sport.
SH: Honestly, while I have won my weight class twice, and I really feel that I deserved to, I do not see these as my greatest accomplishment. My achievements show up in the gym or in the eyes of other women- when I stand up under a squat bar so heavy that I can't see for a few minutes, or when I receive dozens of emails from women who've read my column or who are inspired by something I've done.
SG: Every season is an achievement for me. I try to improve my physique with every show and it's more than the placing at the shows, it's how I become more comfortable and confident each time. Placing high is just the icing on the cake.
6. Train alone of with a partner, and why?
GA: With a trainer, you get pushed harder.
JG: Alone. My time is limited and I want to come and go as I please to get workouts done and so I can focus better. Waiting for a partner to show up is more time consuming. However, having a partner helps you push a little bit further but I don't have a problem with that by myself.
ML: Alone. Hard to find people with the same dedication
MR: I train alone, I'm in a gym with all men who offer to train but when it comes down to it, it's a no show. Most training partners come and go. So I'm better off alone and just stay focused.
SH: It depends. I tend to cycle my workouts, moving between heavy and low rep exercises, and high rep intensity. In my off season, I love heavy lifts, and I always work out with my fiance. During contest prep, training is a time for intense solitude.
SG: I train with 2 partners. I have 2 guys I workout with. They push me to challenge myself and I hope I push them the same way. I can train heavier and they are there to spot me if I need to get those last few reps in. They don't let me quit- plus I feel that I need to keep up with them- I can't let them out do me!! LOL. Plus, having a consistent partner is key. Showing up is half the battle and usually if one is out there other is there. I think very highly of them both and appreciate them being there and putting up with me when I am close to contest date. Not that I get cranky but, the would hang in there if I did :-)
7. What is the most ridiculous comment or question you have heard from someone the first time they saw your physique?
GA: "Do you lift weights?"
JG: "Do you workout?" That is a stupid question. I always reply "No, I was born like this."
ML: "Why would you choose to do that to your body?"
MR: There are too many to mention
SH: Oh God, I wrote a whole blog on this one. To pick just one is difficult.... but I hate when old men tell me I will never meet a man and get married looking like this.
SG: "Do you workout?" Really....If half the people that ask that question knew what hard work and dedication it takes to look the way we do, they would refrain from asking that. It's pretty ridiculous.
8. My favorite part to train is__, but my least favorite is__?
GA: Favorite: Arms, Least favorite: Legs
JG: Favorite: Legs, Least favorite: Shoulders
ML: Favorite: Chest, Least favorite: Arms
MR: Favorite: Arms and Shoulders, Least favorite: Back
SH: I have a love/hate relationship with all of my body parts, and which ones I love and hate at the moment sort of depend on what kind of training I'm doing. However, I tend to dread training shoulders.
SG: I really don't have a favorite part to train. Every day I focus on one main muscle group. TO make improvements, I totally focus on that part, that day. I may have a few favorite or least favorite exercises, but as far as favorite muscle groups, I love training each one
9. Who is the most underrated female bodybuilder right now?
JG: Not sure. There are a few that get overlooked
ML: Me LOL
SH: Iris Kyle. Despite her multiple Ms. Olympia titles and international accolades, where the hell are her sponsors? She gets a lot of criticism for her look.... people say she's too masculine or too big. But ultimately, she's amazing. She has chosen a look that some of us might not want for ourselves and which most of us could never achieve, but there is an unforgivable lack of respect for the amazing physique she has built.
SG: Hard to say because I believe all the female bodybuilders are underrated. There are so many who look amazing! It all comes down to judging and what they are looking for. All you can do is bring your own personal best and feel good about the physique you present.
10. Someone says "Women should not be that muscular." How do you respond?
GA: Men should not be that skeptical.
JG: That is your opinion, but I happen to like having muscle on my body and you need to respect that.
ML: I don't. Ridiculous statement
MR: I use to get upset, but everyone has their own "view" how women should present themselves. A muscular woman shows not only her outer strength but her inner strength also!
SH: You don't have to like it. You don't have to accept it. You don't have to look at it or look like that. But it's not your job to decide what a woman should or should not look like. Girls starve themselves to look small, frail, weak, and helpless.... and you have a problem with muscle? Many people have an ideal male physique in mind, but how often do you hear people criticize men for their size or lack thereof?
SG: I am happy with the way I look and that is what matters, being happy with yourself. Most people that share that opinion are not happy with themselves. Actually, I feel the best I ever have. I am confident in how I look and feel inside and out. I think muscle on a woman is beautiful
11. The best thing about the sport is?
GA: Transforming your body and competing.
JG: Competing. Love being on stage in the spotlight
ML: The camaraderie
MR: Teaches you strength, drive, organization and determination. It helps you become a stronger person.
HS: Knowing my body. I know exactly how, and how long, my body will respond to certain foods when I'm lean and dry. I know which foods make me bloat, and which foods make me full the longest. I know what it feels like to finish a workout when I feel like giving up. I know the difference between being hungry and just wanting food, and the difference between being hurt and being injured. Nothing feels better than knowing that much about my body.
SG: It teaches mental focus and drive to be your best. It promote self confidence and body awareness. Mainly, it teaches a healthy lifestyle through eating and exercise
12. In the movie of my life __ would play me?
GA: Sarah Jessica Parker
JG: Not sure about that one
SH: I hate this question. The handful of female actors I have the most respect for are all older women who have aged gracefully and who are comfortable in their own skin. SO ask me again when I'm much older!
SG: Hillary Swank. She was in such good shape for the movie "Million Dollar Baby". She really had to focus on her training to play that role and transform herself
13. In five years I will be?
GA: In a serious relationship and in love.
JG: Hopefully a pro bodybuilder with a supplement contract
ML: Hopefully at the Olympia competing
MR: Anything I wish to be that makes me happy
SH: Who really knows? I have learned to embrace the unpredictability of my life. But I will still be working hard to provide an example of what it looks like to be in control of who you are, take risks to follow a dream, and learn to love your own body enough to push it to it's personal best.
SG: Personal training full time and competing as an IFBB Pro bodybuilder with my husband and children in the audience cheering me on@
14. If I could trade body parts with another competitor I would want the __ of __?
GA: Legs of Iris Kyle
JG: Abs of Iris Kyle
ML: Grace and beauty of Anja Langer
MR: Legs of Iris Kyle
SH: I don't know if I'd trade, but I'd love to make my legs look like Lori Steele's
SG: I am happy with myself and wouldn't trade anything. I enjoy making improvements- that is what drives me. Nothing worth having comes easy. I wouldn't want to take the easy route. Not that it would be possible to trade but you get the idea
15. My dream sponsor would be?
GA: Species Nutrition or Gaspari
JG: Gaspari Nutrition. Love the products!
ML: Nutri Genix or Species or GNC
MR: I would have to say a sponsor would be a great help and I would be grateful to have that offer
SH: This is a tough question to answer. At this point any sponsorship is good sponsorship, not just for my own benefit, but because it would be one more door open for female bodybuilders in general. Half of me is screaming inside, "sponsor me! Sponsor me!" But when I look around to get an idea of what sponsorships are out there for female bodybuilders, I find myself just hoping ANY one of us could land that big sponsorship.
SG: Gaspari- I love all of their products and they are a respected company who keeps improving every year.
16. Favorite movie?
GA: TONS! Rocky for sure!
JG: Depends on the genre of movie. Too many to choose from.
ML: The Proposal
MR: Pretty in Pink or Pretty Woman
SH: Bigger, Stronger, Faster
SG: Shawshank Redemption
17. The songs that must be on my IPOD are?
GA: Anything by Dave Matthews
JG: Too many to choose from. Songs of Metallica, Pantera, and Slayer are always good. Yes, I am a metal chick.
ML: Evanescence, Eminem, Kings of Leon, Nickleback, Pink
MR: Hmm, all kinds, country, rock, metal, you name it and I'll like it.
SH: "Till I Collapse" by Eminem, "I Stand Alone" by Godsmack, "Big Truck" by Coal Chamber, "Tear Away" by Drowning Pool, and "Space Lord" by Monster Magnet
SG: "Planet Rock", "Rhythm is a Dancer", "Back in Black", "Boom Boom Pow", and "Freak-a-zoid"
18. If there is ever a female bodybuilding Hall of Fame, the first inductee will be?
JG: Rachel McClish, Lenda Murray, Cory Everson. They are legends who had people recognize the sport and that having muscle can be feminine.
ML: Iris Kyle
SH: Lenda Murray of course, followed by Iris Kyle
SG: Cory Everson- I feel she represents the sport in such a positive way. Strong and feminine.
19. If I could spend the day training with someone it would be?
GA: Charles Glass!
JG: Cathy LeFrancois. Love her physique and great personality
ML: Iris Kyle
SH: I'm not sure about bodybuilders. I have never seen another bodybuilder train. I've always been around powerlifters, and have adapted workouts to suit my needs. I like it this way. I train with a really intense powerlifter named Jon Grove, and it;s been pretty amazing.
SG: Zoa Linsey
20. Anything you want to plug or promote?
JG: Check out my weekly column on promotingwomen.blogspot.com
ML: Me looking for a sponsor LOL
SG: I am currently putting together a website for myself. I would love for everyone to check it out once I have it up and running. www.sherrigrayfitness.com and to visit my Fan Page on Facebook- Sherri Gray-NPC Bodybuilder. I love to get feedback from everyone!