Thursday, November 4, 2010

Teresa Stramandinoli Interview

After in her words, getting into the gym for the wrong reason, Teresa Stramandinoli learned the right reasons, and has never looked back. She has been on stage three times, making a great showing each time. Her dedication is something that will help her be successful in her goal of an IFPA Pro card. This is one of those occasions where I feel I am introducing a future star to fans of the sport.

Q: First, Teresa, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Happy to do it Jason! Thank you so much for asking me.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I am passionate about three very simple things in life: family, training, and food. My parents are from Calabria, Italy. Thirty years ago, they immigrated to New Jersey, where I was born and raised along with my three siblings. I have spent most of my adult life working in the NYC fashion industry but recently decided to focus on new interests and opportunities. I have a very tight circle of friends because I believe there is no better place to apply the principle of quality v. quantity than to the people you surround yourself with. My best friend and biggest fan is my sister Erminia. I do not have any pets but I would really like a French Bulldog. My favorite places to spend time other than the gym are the outdoors, the kitchen, and my bed. I love all things related to baking, party planning, and scary movies.

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: No, I was the complete opposite. I played soccer my freshman year of High School but I was so bad my father told me to get a job instead. I can't say he was wrong in giving me that advice. I took it, started working at the age of 14, and made my own money instead of warming the bench at soccer games. It was a good choice. Although there were times I hated being the only one of my friends that had an after-school job, it taught me to work hard for what I want at a young age and this mentality would later help me in my training.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: It makes me cringe to say this now but I'll be honest. What initially led me to the gym was the desire to look good. Like I said, I was far from athletic and I was actually scared to step foot in a gym for many years. It took a lot for me to finally start training in college but once I started, I was hooked and my reasons for training would eventually change.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: No, I didn't pick it up easily at all. I didn't have a clue! I was totally misinformed in the beginning and had the same fears that many women still have today. I laugh about it now that I know better but I was the girl that was afraid to lift weights. I stuck to cardio and abs at first. As time went on, I started to become more serious about my training. I dated someone who introduced me to lifting and that is when I started to really see results. I was amazed at how much you could transform your body by lifting weights but more importantly, this is when it really started to go beyond looking good for me. I never felt better and I loved the feeling of getting stronger through consistent training. But I still wasn't there yet. I learned enough to get me started but I plateaued after 3 months. I still was not training my whole body and gave my favorites all the attention. It wouldn't be until I decided to compete that I would take my training to the next level. I was always committed and consistent with my training but I wasn't training smart.

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: The women featured in Oxygen magazine first inspired me. Every time I got that new issue in the mail I was in awe over the cover models. They didn't look like the skinny fashion models you see in most other women's fitness magazines. They were strong and powerful looking, each one was unique from the other, and just knowing that they got to where they were, not because they were born looking that way, but because they worked really hard at it inspired the hell out of me. I wanted to be that girl. I had no idea that the sport of figure even existed until I started reading about the cover models and learned that many of them were competitors. Once I learned about the sport I knew right away I wanted to compete. At that point it became that thing I wanted to do "someday". Then I suffered a very bad back injury that put me out of the gym for months. I didn't know how to live without the gym but I wasn't "allowed" to do much of anything. I was in tremendous physical pain and it was one of the most miserable times of my life but I am now thankful that it happened because it made me realize how much training meant to me. Having it taken away made me realize how much a part of me it was. I was no longer myself during that time. On top of that, I felt so much regret! The doctors would keep telling me all of the things I could no longer do and I thought I blew it. I kept thinking, "Now I may never have the chance to train for that competition."In my opinion, regret is one of the worst feelings you can have. Thankfully, after about 6 months, I was able to start training the way I wanted again and I felt like I got a second chance. That was when I decided, "Someday is today."I hit the ground running and never looked back!

Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time?
A: I didn't tell my friends and family I was planning to compete until 8 months after I made the decision and had a show picked out. It was difficult because my parents especially did not understand the sport. Well, they still don't but at least they are more supportive now that they see how much it means to me. Food is a major part of Italian culture. Besides the fact that it just tastes amazing, sitting down together for a huge meal is how we connect as a family. Eating clean and training made it difficult to keep up my relationships with everyone. You never realize how much social activity revolves around eating and drinking until you commit yourself to the bodybuilding lifestyle. That being said, anyone who didn't support me from the beginning has either grown to support me or has been cut out of my life so I am in a pretty good place now. My advice to anyone just starting out is to stay true to what you want even when the people around you are being difficult. If they truly love and care about you, they will eventually come around and if they don't, they have no place in your life.

Q: Was competing what you expected? Did anything surprise you about it?
A: I dreamed about being on that stage for so long that when it finally happened it didn't even feel real! Even the day after my 1st show I kept thinking, "Was that real!" It was so much more than I expected. I knew it was going to be awesome but I had no idea I could ever feel that much pride in something I did. It was a great feeling and I could not wait to feel that again.

Q: Can you share your contest history
*08.28.10 - OCB Mid-Atlantic Battle for the Belt- Burlington, NJ - 4th Figure A
*05.29.10 - NPC Long Island Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure, & Bikini Championships
West Babylon, NY - 2nd Figure A
*11.07.09 - NPC East Coast Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure, & Bikini Championships
Paterson, NJ - 5th Figure Novice, 6th Figure A

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: My quads.

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: Legs, legs, and more legs! Squats, deads, and pretty much any leg exercise there is. I could train legs every day and be happy.

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: My "normal" routine isn't drastically different from prep. As far as lifting is concerned, I have been following a program that consists of powerlifting days and bodybuilding style days and it has been working well for me so I am sticking with it in the off season. My diet is still clean and I still make sure to hit my numbers every day. The biggest difference is the amount of cardio I do and the amount of calories I consume. Obviously, in the off-season I'm doing a lot less cardio and taking in more calories.

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: The reactions are usually positive. People seem to really respect and admire the amount of dedication it takes to compete. They usually want to hear what type of exercises I do for specific body parts, which I am happy to share with them, but I always make sure to stress the importance of your diet. The diet part is usually the part they don't want to hear but I keep telling them anyway because it's the truth.

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: "So, what do you eat? Chicken and broccoli?"

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 people have about competitors, male and female, is that we don't like to have fun! Just because our lifestyle is not what you would define as fun, doesn't mean that we don't enjoy our lives. Yes, it can be difficult at times but at the end of the day I'm sure most competitors would tell you, there is no other way they would rather live! No, I don't party on weekends, I don't drink, and I don't eat whatever I want, whenever I want but the experience of competing is more fun than a thousand of those little "fun" experiences combined for me. Yes, there are times when competitors can do the things that most people would define as "fun" and we do enjoy those times but we have different priorities. Mine is to be the best I can be in the sport of figure and that always comes first.

Q: What is the best and worst part of competing?
A: I'll start with the worst part! The worst part of competing for me is having to be selfish during prep. I was not raised to be selfish and it is completely against my nature. I absolutely hate sometimes having to decline invitations to events and things, not because I feel like I am missing out on anything but because I hate to disappoint someone I care about. I want to make my family and friends happy and I do my best when I can but there are times where there is just no getting around it. During prep, your training must always come first. The best part of competing is waking up everyday and knowing you are on a mission. It gives me purpose and a sense of accomplishment every day.

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: There are so many competitors I admire. All of my competitor friends on facebook inspire me everyday, especially the competitors that are also mothers. I really respect them because it's hard enough to compete when you only have yourself to worry about! A few of my favorite competitors are Ava Cowan, Erin Stern, Theresa Evans, and last but not least, my coach Adam Signoretta.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Anything sweet and my mom's eggplant parm! She makes the best eggplant parm in the world. If you don't believe me, come over for Sunday dinner.

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: That anyone can compete so long as they want it bad enough.

Q: Do you think it is becoming more common to see women in the gym training as hard as men?
A: I guess it is becoming more common but not common enough in my opinion. Ladies, step off the treadmill and out of that group fitness classroom and come over to the weight rack! Let's show these boys how it's done!

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: My second love after bodybuilding is most definitely baking! Cupcakes, cakes, cookies, pies, I love it all! I enjoy everything about baking- the care you need to put into the process, the tasting, the presentation, and seeing other people react when they take a bite of your creations. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends. They are everything to me.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Teresa Stramandinoli.
A: A typical day for me always starts with my training. That is my top priority so I like to get that done first. Whatever is going on in my life, I will get up at whatever time necessary to accomplish that. Honestly, a typical day for me is doing what I HAVE to do all the while thinking about that next training session, the next meal, the next contest. If that sounds obsessive than ok but its the truth. I eat, sleep, and breathe this. Everything else is a bonus.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I think people would be surprised to know that I take an ipod full of heavy metal music to the gym. I like music that involves lots of screaming, preferably violent screaming, for my training. Especially when it comes to lifting and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sessions.

Q: Describe Teresa Stramandinoli in five words.
A: Loyal, Passionate, Generous, Tenacious, Silly

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: The next show I am planning to do is the OCB Tri-Cities on May 14th, 2011 in New York, which is an IFPA Pro Qualifier.

Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I would like to take this opportunity to thank my coach, Adam Signoretta, owner of Conquest Kettlebell in Bayonne, NJ. I have made tremendous progress in a relatively short period of time under his guidance and look forward to his continued support as I work towards my goal of becoming an IFPA pro.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Teresa Stramandinoli the athlete and competitor?
A: Anyone looking to sponsor a truly passionate figure competitor who is committed to representing the sport of figure with class can contact me via email:

Q: Teresa, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Jason, I'd just like to thank you again for your interest in me and also say you are doing a wonderful job in supporting all the hard-working women in the bodybuilding and MMA world. I wish you all the best in reaching your own goals and look forward to continue watching your progress along the way.

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