This round table is one I am very excited about. As we enter 2011 I wanted to be able to allow you to get to know more about some competitors who I think will have big years and really breakout in the fitness industry. While that is a prediction, one think is not prediction, it is fact. That is that the women presented here are all amazing women who are all a combination of beauty, physique, dedication, and passion. The women are Christine Anderson, Tamara Ashton, Michelle Beck, Heather Grace, Danny Johnson (aka Danny-J), Beth Polisson, Kayte Steenberg, Eryn Strickland, Bethany Tomaszewski, and Patty Wilson. You will see their thoughts on the industry, competitors, respect, and competing, and other things. Each woman is represented by their initials, so it is CA (Christine), TA (Tamara), MB (Michelle), HG (Heather), DJ (Danny), BP (Beth), KS (Kayte), ES (Eryn), BT (Bethany), and PW (Patty).
Part 1: Word Association
MB: Love the rush of being on stage and the look of the completed physique
DJ: Not always what it seems
KS: In my blood
BT: Is something I think everyone should try. Really shows you how structured and disciplined you really are both physically and mentally.
2. Contest Prep
CA: 12 weeks
DJ: The "fun part"
BT: Say good-bye to carbs, bulking and lifting heavy....say hello to cardio..... and lots of it.
CA: 4AM cardio
MB: Becoming an IFBB Figure Pro
HG: Tighter tie-ins
DJ: Needs to be renewed daily
BP: Posing suit
ES: Nay Sayer's
BT: Just to be able to stand there and say I do something that most people wouldn't ever have the dedication or courage to do.
PW: To win
CA: No day off
TA: Never ending
MB: The ability to come back after disappointment and continue after your goals, time and time again. "If you fall, fall on your back. If you can look up, you can get up."
HG: Late night cardio
DJ: The only way to achieve anything
BP: No cheats
KS: Myself, inspiring others
BT: What keeps me dedicated and keeps me going is knowing that I can change myself so drastically in just a few months. To see the progress from week to week keeps me shocked at what the human body can really do with hard work.
PW: Never giving up
CA: Love it/Hate it
TA: Sweating it out
HG: Step mill
DJ: A necessary evil
BP: Unnecessary!! Stop the madness with the 3hrs of daily cardio.
MB: Plain and repetitive, but great results!!!!
DJ: Why does this word make me think of Diet Coke?
BT: Sucks but it is so worth it. If YOU CHEAT ON YOUR DIET YOU CHEAT YOURSELF!
PW: Always cooking
CA: Ava Cowan
TA: Pro card
MB: The ability to wake up every day and create what I want to accomplish in life through the power of my thoughts. "Life has no limitations, except the ones you make."
HG: Valerie Waugaman
DJ: People beating odds
BP: Erin Stern
KS: Other competitors
BT: My inspiration is my coach. She keeps me on track, focused, and most of all....she's honest!
MB: Was my first year competing at the National level, I learned a lot and made some great friends along the way.
HG: Lessons learned
DJ: I'm so over that year!! A roller coaster of events
BP: Just the beginning
BT: Is almost over!!!! Yay to the new year!
PW: Ready for 2011
Part 2: Questions
1. Why did you decide to compete?
CA: I wanted a goal to get my body in better than average shape.
TA: I wanted to push myself to my limits
MB: Back in 2002 my trainer convinced me that I should give it a try, so I started contest prep and 8 weeks later I competed in my first Figure competition at the 2002 NPC John Sherman Classic in Houston, Texas.
HG: I still had the drive to compete after playing basketball and had already built a decent physique training. It seemed natural.
DJ: People told me I should, and I liked the idea of taking my body to a new level.
BP: I was bored with my exercise routine and needed a goal. I saw results quickly and knew I'd make a great Figure competitor.
KS: Loved to change my physique and goal. The fact that it was an independent sport was awesome. Been hooked ever since. The goal to change my physique and to improve it. To show my hard work off and excel to the next level.
ES: I decided that instead of talking about it, I was going to actually do it.
BT: I wanted to try something most people I grew up with don't normally do. I wanted to have a set goal to really be able to push my body and see mentally and physically what I really could do. I never really accomplished many out of the ordinary things in my life so I wanted to start with this.
PW: I needed a hobby and a goal.
2. What was the thing that most surprised you about competing?
CA: It's so damn addicting!
TA: How many sacrifices I would make to achieve my goal.
MB: How addicting it is! The mind wants to keep going no matter what until you reach your goals, but the body needs a break.
HG: The necessity to be so strict with my diet.
DJ: How there aren't really any "standards" by which to judge. Two judges can give you completely different scores.
BP: I learned just how much diet is involved when you have physique goals. I figured lifting heavy would give me big muscles, but I quickly learned that you can't get those big coconut shoulders if you're eating garbage. There is a big difference between elan mass and ass mass, your diet has to be right in order to not gain the latter.
ES: How difficult it has been for me to come off a contest diet and into real life.
BT: I was surprised about how many friends wanted to do it after seeing me do it. Also, the diet becomes a habit and it's not as bad as you think it is first going into it.
PW: The commitment you must go through to achieve your best.
3. What is the biggest misconception about female competitors?
CA: That we're all taking "something", "supplements", to compete. Yes, some women are, but I don't worry about what others are doing.
TA: That we don't eat a lot of food to loose weight and to get lean, which couldn't be farther from the truth.
MB: Where to start.... I think the biggest one is that women that have muscles are masculine. So far from the truth, but you would be surprised how many women at my gym still are afraid to lift heavy weights because they think they will get to big and bulky!
HG: That we do not train as hard as men.
DJ: That we;re all divas and/or "don't need to diet".
BP: That they're bitches. A lot of people compare Figure competitions to pageants, and they are an athletic pageant or sorts. But there's no suit-cutting or costume-stealing backstage. If anything, I've noticed all the girls are helpful and willing to assist each other. I've met some really amazing girls backstage and have made some great friendships. I love my fellow sisters of steel! I think there's an incredible amount of respect between all the girls: We know how hard we've worked individually, so we know all the people up on that stage have gone through the exact same thing- interval sprints, morning cardio, weeks of strict dieting. There's no way I could be mean to someone who has just put themselves through such an incredible amount of stress.
KS: How much hard work and dedication you put not only yourself through but family.
ES: That we are all on steroids.
BT: That's a tough question... I don't know really. Probably that female competitors all take "performance enhancers".
PW: That we all take steroids.
4. On a scale of 1-10, how much are female competitors respected as compared to men?
CA: I would rate the respect factor a 5. The prize money for female competitors is still less than male competitors.
TA: I think it's an 8.
MB: Maybe a 4 or 5!?! I think it depends on the division as well.
DJ: Maybe a 5..I think some girls are gaining some more respect.
BP: I think it depends on the division. Overall I'd say about a 5 or 6.
BT: You don't see that many women getting credit for competing like guys do. I would have to give it a 5.... sadly.
5. For people to predict me to have a big year in 2011 means __ to me.
TA: The world, and drives me to achieve all I can.
MB: A lo to me personally, but that doesn't really mean anything. Some girls you will see hyped up all over the web before a show and others you have never heard anything about, but at the end of the day it is all about what is up on stage with you and who the judges want for the win.
HG: I would be extremely honored.
DJ: I would try very hard to make that come true, it means that people see something in me and it would motivate me.
BP: The world
ES: THE WORLD TO ME!
BT: It means a lot to me. With new goals and motivations I plan to do well with everything I try.
PW: A great support group and fan base who believe in me.
6. What will make you consider 2011 a success?
CA: A Pro card damn it! No, really it's a success for me if I walk on stage complete from head to toes AND place in the top five.
TA: Getting positive recognition in the Fitness/Bodybuilding industry. Beating my past placings at shows and moving up. Ideally obtaining my Pro card.
MB: Becoming an IFBB Figure Pro.
HG: An Olympia qualification would make 2011 a success.
DJ: If I can continue to create opportunities for myself, get a few more publications in writing, photos, and also triple my online training business.
BP: Placing top 10 at Team U in July.
KS: Qualify and hit the national stage to TURN PRO BABY
ES: To win at the Arnold Classic and start getting the attention of the National judges. Also, to land a spot with a supplement company and grow my own business.
BT: What will make 2011 a success is by making new gains after seeing my flaws after I compete in April. Moving out of Ohio and getting settled in Florida, getting a new career started. And there's so much more! I just hope for the best!
PW: Earning my Pro card in Figure
7. My highlight of 2010 competing or otherwise was?
CA: Placing better than expected at two National shows: 6th at USA's and 5th at Jr. USA's.
TA: Stepping on stage at the USA's, and being blessed to be sponsored by NorCal Bodybuilding for my next show suit and Roc Body Angel's for the skin care line, and being a sponsored athlete with Dangerously Hardcore.
MB: Placing third out of thirty-three women in Figure Class F a the 2010 NPC Jr. Nationals, which was my first National show ever.
HG: Going home and winning the Emerald Cup Overall in front of my family and friends was without a doubt, the highlight of my career to date.
DJ: My highlight of 2010 was competing in my first Crossfit Competition (I came in 2nd, but I BLEW everyone away in the last event).
BP: Placing 5th at Jr. USA's. I had such a great time at this show. It as a wonderful experience for my 1st National show. I will never forget it.
KS: Being able to work with Felicia Romero and Damian Segovia. Learned lots.
ES Learning from my first National show experience and figuring out who my true friends are.
BT: After April I took a year off to enjoy life, food (aka carbs, carbs and more carbs), and to really gain some size. I placed 6th in my show out of 13 in April and was very pleased since I was one of the youngest in the show for Figure. I had surgery soon after that show and I've healed up really well and am still lifting like I was before surgery.
PW: Proving to myself I can push myself to the limit with weight training
8. The biggest improvements I want to make for 2011 are?
CA: I need to continue to chisel and shape the back of my legs.
TA: In my physique I want to improve my v-taper, build my delts, bring up my calves, and round out my glutes more.
MB: Continue to work on making my back and shoulders wider and bringing a different and better physique to the stage in 2011.
HG: I WILL improve my quad sweep and ham development for 2011.
DJ: To improve my overall conditioning and also am always working on more size and shape to my back.
BP: I need to add mass to my upper body, especially my lats and shoulders. I'm almost where I want to be. Almost. I'm also going to switch to Fitness after Team U (I think- it depends on how quickly I can pick it up), so nailing my routine at a state show will also make next year a success for me.
KS: Being leaner on sage...not STRESSING on stage and practice posing!! 100 x more.
ES: Tighter and tinier on stage. More streamlined physique and a nice tight backside! NO SMILIES!!!!
BT: I have definitely widened my lats and shoulders and thickened my back up nicely and want to continue to do so. There's always room for improvement!!!
PW: A tighter, more leaner physique then I ever stepped on stage with.
9. The best and worst parts of competing are?
CA: The best part is seeing your body look better and better. The worst part is not being able to find clothes that fit properly because you're so lean.
TA: Best parts are being able to present your hard work for all to see, and hanging out back stage with all the girls you've made friends with. The worst part is when it's over and having that sense of "now what", also I hate the rebound that I've experienced.
MB: The best thing is the feeling of pride and accomplishment when you reach your goals and having the physique to prove it. The worst thing would be the fact that I am drained of my energy after a long day of work, then training, cardio and dieting.
HG: I personally love the regimentation and structure of competing. I hate the post-show blues.
DJ: The BEST part is meeting new friends from all over and doing something you all enjoy. The worst is the COSTS: travel, suits, hair, tan, make-up...it adds up!! Not a cheap hobby!
BP: Best: Seeing those weekly, exciting physique changes. It is SO rewarding to watch your body change almost daily in those last few weeks. You can literally see your hard work paying off right before your eyes. Worst: I tend to become a recluse at about 3 weeks out. It's just not fun to be around other people and their delicious food at that point.
KS: Judging and what they are looking for.
ES: Best and worst parts are one in the same. To be able to face each challenge everyday and then overcoming it is both the best and the worst. I win long before they hand me that trophy. I win each time I push myself through a brutal set, or a killer craving, or a lazy moment when all I want to do is relax. These moments can really suck sometimes....but the payoff in the end will be priceless.
BT: The best part of competing to me is achieving my goal, knowing I did something so hard and structured within a certain time frame. The worst part is how pricey it is for girls. Those suits are outrageously pricey!
PW: Giving up cookies :-) and the best is the feeling of satisfaction and succeeding.
10. The final thought that goes through my head before I take the stag is?
CA: HAVE FUN WITH IT.
TA: Deep breath, you got this.
MB: "This is it, show them what you've got Pistol Pete!" (Pistol Pete is an old guy that works out at my gym and walks around with his back flared and acts like his arms are so big they can't even touch his sides! It just reminds me to stand up straight and walk with confidence! LOL)
HG: "Dear God, Please give me the strength to glorify you and to inspire others"- (Oh, and not flex too hard! LOL)
DJ: Have fun and smile FOR REAL
BP: It's go time, baby!! Let's do this!
KS: Walk slow!!!
ES: "Come on Eryn.... 20 weeks comes down to this moment. Two minutes to show em' watcha got"
BT: Don't fall!!
PW: I did it and I am gonna rock this competition with my all!
11. The competitor I most admire is?
CA: I really admire Kassandre Harper Cotton. She wears so many different hats (mother, wife, athlete) like I do and it's good to not feel alone.
TA: Ava Cowan
MB: Wow, there are so many, I can't pick just one!
HG: Monica Brant without a doubt. She just keeps coming back, better and better (although, Valerie Waugaman is my all-time favorite Figure athlete)
DJ: She doesn't compete anymore, but Valerie Waugaman....she had her OWN style, posing, and attitude. I think she was a really cool chick and I miss her in the industry. I also admire Monica for her longevity (I don't know if I could compete for that long) and for moving this year to bigger and better things for herself.
BP: Erin Stern
KS: Oh my, SO many. Erin Stern
ES: Mandy Blank and Monica Brant. Both are such icons and have met life's adversity head on and overcome it with flying colors to be two of the most sought after women in our sport. They don't let people dictate to them how it's going to go and they live their lives with such faith, beauty and grace. They are amazing souls with a passion for fitness and helping others. Both have taught me so much.
BT: Trish Warren, she has shoulders I would kill for! And also Cory Everson has the most impressive set of quads a gal could ever have! And with her epic life story really makes me believe you can do anything you set your mind to.
BT: I love Ava Cowan
12. If a book is ever written about me, it would be called?
CA: Don't know what I would call it!
TA: The Face of Determination
MB: It would be called "I AM"... that's it! I believe whatever you put the words "I AM" to, you become.
HG: Hmmm... tough one...I'll get back to you!
DJ: Try Everything Once
BP: Cleats to Heels: A Soccer Girl's Rise to the Fitness Pros
ES: The Fabulous Life and Times of Eryn Strickland
BT: Bitty 101
PW: Wonder Woman!
13. In five years I will be?
CA: Happier than a clam!
TA: A successful Bodybuilder Figure Pro, doing something that I enjoy and that helps others achieve their goals.
MB: An IFBB Figure Pro, won a Pro contest and have competed on the Olympia stage.
HG: Living on a beach, training hard, raising my lovely children (that have yet to e conceived), and running my company.
DJ: Trending more towards online training, publishing my 1st or 2nd book, possibly still competing, because I **want** to.
BP: Married (hopefully-God, how long does it take you people to put a ring on someones finger!!)
KS: Pfff! Easy! IFBB Pro!!!
ES: A Figure Pro, A Fitness personality, an accomplished businesswoman, a good wife and mother, and a damn good cook :-)
BT: In five years I'll be 27 years young. Hopefully still living in Florida, still competing and dieting year round to make proper gains. I hope to be walking and strutting y stuff on an IFBB stage with the big shots. I dream to be sponsored by that time also.
PW: A Pro Figure competitor and a successful fitness icon.
14. If they ever make a buddy cop comedy with competitors the two best to star in it would be?
CA: Me and Adriana Sanchez, yin and yang.
TA: Well, I'd have to say me as one since I do have a background in being a police officer, and my side kick would have to be Charise Parker.
MB: Kayde Puckett and Beth Polisson
HG: Not sure about that one either.
DJ: Erin Stern and Mike O'Hearn. The two of them are pretty funny people.
BP: Kayde Puckett and Sandi Stuart (I have seen them together in person- they're like Thelma and Louise)
15. One competitor who should write an autobiography is?
CA: Ava Cowan
TA: Mandy Henderson
MB: I just heard the story of IFBB Pro Tonya Knight and thought it would make a good book.
HG: Tanji Johnson- such an inspiration!
DJ: Monica Brant or Elaine Goodlad...except I want ALL the REAL juicy details of the IFBB, photographers, judging, etc. They've been around to see a lot of stuff.... so I think it would be a great gossipy trash novel...LOL
BP: Tanji Johnson. Words cannot describe how amazing I think she is. I'd love to know what's going on in that brain of hers. She brings such athleticism and energy to the stage. I have nothing but respect and admiration for what she does. She's part of the reason I switched to Fitness.
KS: Monica Brant fo sho
ES: ME :-) People wouldn't believe my story.
BT: Frank Zane and Trish Warren
16. One competitor who doesn't get the coverage she deserves is?
CA: Alicia Harris
TA: Wendy Fortino
MB: If I were to have to choose one then I would have to say myself, LOL! Just kidding.... I can't pick one, but I do think FBB should get more coverage than they get for all of the hard work and dedication they put into their bodies and this sport.
HG: Erin Stern
DJ: Alicia Harris...LOVE HER!!! She is competing more though, and she'll rise to the top.
BP: Jackie Hoppe. I first noticed her when I was at Jr. Nationals watching my friend compete in Fitness. Jackie's physique is so amazing-perfect symmetry and well-balanced. I don't see NY flaws in her physique at all. She seems very humble and grateful as well, which makes her even more likeable. Also, so many competitors complain during contest prep, as if it's their cross to bear. I don't understand that. Sure, the diet sucks, the cardio sucks, but we CHOOSE to do this. I've never seen Jackie complain on a public forum- ever. She's not a martyr and I respect the hell out of that.
ES: Heather Grace
BT: Trish Warren
17. One actor whose movies I always need to see is?
CA: Jet Li, he's so unassuming yet he can kick some serious ass.
TA: Will Ferrell, he is hilarious!
MB: Tyler Perry movies, I love them!
HG: Denzel, BABY!!!MUAH :-) LOL
DJ: Will Ferrell I guess. I'm a sucker for really bad comedy. I LOVE Anchorman and Step Brothers.
BP: Will Ferrell
KS: Not too picky. If the line up is good and reviews I go to see it. But Gerard Butler is sexy as hell.
ES: Johnny Depp
BT: Arnold and Rachel McAdams
PW: Will Ferrell
18. The sports team whose games I always need to see is?
CA: TEXANS, yes I said it.
MB: I don't watch "normal" sports. I really only like the UFC, boxing, and bodybuilding.
HG: I don't know about always...back in the day, I was a Pistons fan- all the way. These days, I try to catch the occasional Nuggets game.
DJ: Steelers because my hubby is a fan.
BP: Patriots, baby!!!!
ES: REDSKINS and RAVENS
BT: Ehh I rather play it than watch it.
19. If I could spend one day training with someone it would be?
CA: I would love to train glutes/hamstrings with Heather Grace!!!!
TA: Ava Cowan. Her determination and drive to push herself to the limits is motivating.
MB: To many choices again, and all for different reasons. But a few would be Charles Glass, Kai Greene, Erin Stern and Zoa Linsey.
HG: Charles Poliquin without a doubt... The man has trained hundreds of Olympic athletes.
DJ: I would love to train with Erin Stern because I'm sure she'd have some kick ass running drills to put me through and maybe she could teach me how to pole vault.
BP: Erin Stern- I love her athletic track workouts. They remind me of my old soccer workouts from college. I LOVE working out like an animal.
KS: Ava Cowan, Erin Stern
ES: Mandy Blank
BT: Flex Lewis....have you seen him! Hellllllllllo hottie and his accent will make you melt. Bu on a professional level including Flex, the Warren couple probably takes the cake for me. Yates is up there also. Just too many to choose from!
PW: Ava Cowan
20. Anything you want to plug or promote?
TA: I'd like to promote NorCal Bodybuilding, they have a great clothing line, and beautiful posing suits, Roc Body Angels the skin care line is like no other, it is truly a great product and made will all natural ingredients. Team Dangerously Hardcore, and Team Quest Nutrition. I'd also like to let anyone know they can check out my website at tamaraashton.com
MB: A big thanks to my trainer IFBB Pro Abdul Sharif for all of his help, USPlabs for believing in me and my husband and parents for all of their love and support!
HG: Please visit my new site: heathergracefitness.com
DJ: Check out my new project www.vitrixmodelteam.com. This is a cool collaboration with Nutrex and 7 strong women who model, work, train, etc. Updates on blogs and pics all the time!
BP: I'm actively seeking sponsorship! I have a great portfolio and could offer a lot to any company seeking athletes. I think my cooking background could be tapped into quite easily, and I bake with protein powder on a daily basis. I'm eager to share my recipes!
ES: I am now the spokesmodel and East Coast Rep for Karmma Fight Gear, a clothing company for all who have "fought the good fight", whether it be in life, love, fitness or MMA. Please contact me if you would like info on how to purchase yours today. www.karmmafightgear.com. My trainer is Mandy Blank. She can transform you just like she is transforming me. If you would like to become a member of our tribe and evolve your mind, body and spirit please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. It's the best decision I have ever made
BT: www.builtathlete.com... Best couple to work with when it comes to diets and training for ANY TYPE OF ATHLETE. They go out of there way to help their client get to their goals. Not only are they professional and have super low rates, they are awesome people in general.
PW: My website www.pattywilsonfitness.com which will have upcoming events.