Many people get into the fitness industry with the goal of being an IFBB Pro. People call it the ultimate. Well if that is the case, then the seven women in this roundtable are all the ultimate. My roundtables got good reviews so I wanted to do an IFBB Pro one. I selected seven women who I respect and are great represntations, now only for their chosen division, not only the IFBB, but for the entire fitness industry. Debbie Fowler (Fitness), Emery Miller (Bodybuilding), Jackie Hoppe (Figure), LeslieRae Newton (Fitness), Mandy Henderson (Figure), Stacy Wright (Fitness), and Victoria larvie (Fitness). Each woman is represented by their initials, so it is DF (Debbie), EM (Emery), JH (Jackie), LN (LeslieRae), MH (Mandy), SW (Stacy), and VL (Victoria).
Part 1: Word Association
DF: The Best there is!
EM: Earned respect
JH: Best of the best
LN: Best in the industry
VL: The best federation to be a part of in the Bodybuilding industry
DF: Top of the sport
JH: Still can't believe I can call myself one
LN: Finally made it
VL: The title that took me five years to get :-)
DF: Can't wait
JH: Me vs me
LN: What it all comes down to
SW: Lifestyle. Passion
VL: To bring the bet to the stage
JH: A journey, mentally and physically
LN: Only part of the game
SW: Loving the process
JH: Support system, husband and family
LN: The reason I compete
SW: Set an example. Be a positive role model
DF: Comes from within
JH: Refusing to fail
LN: Comes from within
SW: Achieving things many thought were never possible
VL: God and family
DF: All the beautiful ladies I get to share the stage with
EM: My loved ones and peers
JH: Competitors who have kids.... I don't know how they do it!
LN: Comes from around
SW: Drive! Always wanting to improve
VL: God and family again
DF: Hard to get off my feet
EM: Nap time!
JH: Worst part of the whole prep process
LN: Is it even?
SW: Wish I were right now! :-)
VL: Sprayed on
DF: You won't make it in this sport without it
EM: Unconditional love
JH: Impossible to make it to the stage without it
LN: Must have
MH: My "Never give up" motto
SW: This is a 24/7 job! You HAVE to love it to survive it!
VL: Setting priorities and following through
Part 2: Questions
1. Why did you decide to compete?
DF: I watched a local show and thought "Hey, I can do that". So I did!
EM: Bodybuilding was the first time I've ever in my life been good at something. I thought I'd see what I could do and I felt that stepping on that stage was something I'd earned after all the weight loss.
JH: I was always in a competitive sport as a kid, so when I got older and all my high school and college sports were over I felt like something was missing in my life since I didn't have a goal to work towards. Is tarted working out and had some of the gym employees tell me I should compete. I didn't know a thing about it, but thought why not? I did my first contest and became totally addicted to it. That was in 2006. I've entered 12 contests since then and can't wait for the next season to roll around.
LN: Someone told me it would be too hard for me to do.
MH: I had to prove to myself that I could do it.
SW: I don't see myself doing anything else! It's in my blood.
VL: Lee Haney is a personal family friend and he suggested it, and then I met Debbie Kruck and she invited me to compete in her show, as she had a Teen division, so I thought it might be fun, and I never regretted it.
2. What was the thing that most surprised you about competing?
DF: How addictive it is.
EM: How incredible nice everyone in the industry is. So much nicer and giving than any group of persons I've met (family included) ever.
JH: Probably how friendly most of the competitors are. I was scared to death when I did my first contest that all the girls were going to be catty and snotty backstage, but it was not like that at all!! I was SO happy to find out that most contests I've done all the competitors are super sweet and helpful to each other.
LN: That everyone is so nice.
MH: How addicting it was to walk on stage.
SW: The fact that I've made is as a Pro! Always knew deep down I would. Just crazy to actually be there!
VL: How tiny the bikini's actually were LOL.
3. What is the biggest misconception about female competitors?
DF: That the fitness girls are naturally gifted. We work our asses off to put together a routine. Some of us have no background in dance, gymnastics or cheer.
EM: That we are only choosing bodybuilding because we want to dominate and/or emasculate all men. That we want to look like men. That we are doing it because we have been somehow emotionally damaged. I love being a woman. I prefer men who like being men and I may have issues but they have nothing to do with why I am a bodybuilder. I just love the way I look and feel.
JH: That we are all bodybuilders. I don't even try to explain the difference when people ask me if I am a bodybuilder LOL
LN: They are all vein.
MH: That most of them are friendly.
SW: That we don't train as hard as the men.
VL: I think all of us are the same. Each of the women's 4 divisions are suppose to have totally different looks, as well as our contest prep is different.
4. On a scale of 1-10, how much are female competitors respected as compared to men?
DF: 5. We don't get the respect even though we work just as hard as the men. I think Fitness girls work even harder! Just look at the way the prize money is distributed.
EM: 3-5 amongst the industry, 8-9 amongst our fans.
JH: I would say about a 5. People don't think we have to work as hard (in my opinion). But a woman's metabolism is MUCH different than a mans. My husband is a competitor as well and I can truly say I work just as hard as he does, our bodies just respond much differently.
MH: I think we are respected a lot more than before. About an 8.
SW: Eh, hard to say. Also depends on who you ask.
VL: I would say probably a 5. It is obvious by the amount of money that paid to Ms. Olympia and what is paid to Mr. Olympia.
5. I won my Pro card at?
DF: Jr. Nationals this year
EM: 2004 NPC Nationals, Dallas, Texas
JH: 2010 Team Universe
LN: Team Universe
MH: The USA's in July 2010
SW: Fitness Nationals (AKA Team Universe)
VL: Jr. nationals, 2009, Chicago, Illinois
6. The first thought that entered my mind when I won my Pro card was?
DF: "Holy cow!! What now??"
EM: Hahahaha, when I stepped off stage I went directly up to Steve Wennerstrom and asked "so that's really it? I've won it? Are you sure I don't have to do ANYTHING else? Wow"
JH: "Am I getting PUNKED?" LOL
LN: "Did they just call my number?"
MH: "Thank you God, we FINALLY did it."
SW: "Thank you Lord for your blessing on me? It couldn't have happened at a better time in my life."
VL: "FINALLY" (I actually said that on stage when they announced my name)
7. It really sunk in that I was an IFBB Pro when?
DF: I got my IFBB card in the mail.
EM: When I paid my $200 annual fee and got my wee little card for my wallet.
JH: I received my official Pro card in the mail....signed by Mr. Manion himself!
LN: I did my first Pro show.
MH: I carried my HUGE trophy through the Las Vegas airport and the flight attendant made me stand at the door so all the passengers could congratulate me :-)
SW: I dropped my Pro card in the mailbox. Literally... when it dropped out of my hand.. my heart sunk and the realization set in! I went straight to the gym from there hahaha!
VL: I was standing on stage, they announced the 2nd place, and my mother begins to scream, my trainer is standing there looking at me, and my legs begin to shake, and then one of my best friends in the industry is the presenter- Jessica Putnam
8. The best thing about being an IFBB Pro is?
DF: Recognition of the years of hard work. And just to know that I'm good enough to be an IFBB Pro.
EM: The fact that I earned the right to the title, especially from where I began and being included amongst a bevy of so many incredibly impressive women.
JH: The feeling of accomplishment that I reached that level! I don't feel as much pressure competing as a Pro because just being considered an IFBB Pro was an accomplishment in itself.
LN: The support from everyone in the industry.
JH: The fact that I never gave up and achieved my goal after 6 years.
SW: Those four letters...I.F.B.B.
VL: I get to compete with some of the most awesome women. Every time I attend an event I feel like I am at a family reunion.
9. Is there more responsibility that goes along with being a Pro? If so, what?
DF: I think so. People look up to the pros, this is the ultimate achievement in our sport. We need to set a good example so our sport continues to grow.
EM: Gosh, I don't think so. The IFBB puts more constraints on us when competing but other than that the only added responsibility is an ethical one which I don't think should be any different fro amateur or pro. my point being that I have a responsibility to fans and new bodybuilders to render information with an informed view and not sugar coat things. We must be good sports, when we don't place where we'd have liked, respectful to our fellow competitors and generous with our assistance, but not allow ourselves to be used by those who are only interested in taking. We must be good custodians of the sport lest we lose it all.
JH: Yes I believe so. Girls look u to you more. They want to know everything about your diet and training... you are just held to a higher standard so I think its important to represent yourself and the sport with class.
LN: Of course, people are looking at the Pros and we create the stereotpye that is carried throughout the community.
JH: I think there is always a lot of responsibility just stepping on stage. I have always had to compete against amazing physiques.
SW: I definitely put the pressure on myself and believe it's a good thing. I want to use my "status" as a way to be a role model and positive inspiration to others.
VL: I believe we have a responsibility to help those coming into the industry and whenever we step on stage to always be at our best.
10. Outside of winning my Pro card, my greatest achievement in the sport is?
DF: Winning it at my age.
EM: The friends I've made. What better thing could there be?
JH: Winning the Alabama State Championship in 2008
LN: Making it back to the stage after my surgeries.
MH: Walking on stage after 3 major back operations and being told I would never live a physically normal life.
SW: My husband and I growing our personal training business together!
VL: Still to come.
11. The Pro I most admire is?
DF: Adela Garcia
EM: So difficult to answer that. I know of many but am too far away to be close with them. I can say whose physiques I admire, but I don't want to just blindly say that I admire someone's life and who they are without knowing enough about them. I will try though. From what I know I would say Lenda Murray, Melody Spetko, Sherry Smith, Lisa Aukland, Toni Newman, and I just love Betty Adkins and Milinda Richardson's physique. There really are so many. My brain is being over loaded here. You are giving me a headache LOL.
JH: Mary Elizabeth Lado... wish she was still competing.
LN: Susie Curry
MH: I admire ALL Fitness competitors. It takes a great deal of dedication, courage, and discipline to get on stage.
SW: I admire many Pros on so many levels for different achievements! I definitely can't single out just one. Each and every one of them has something to offer.
VL: That is difficult, there are soooo many. I will just name a few in Fitness- Adela Garcia, Tanji Johnson, and Carol Semple, but there are many others in Figure, Bikini, and Bodybuilding.
12. If a book is ever written about me it would be called?
DF: "What A Long Strange Trip It's Been"
EM: "Yes She Really Had The Balls TO Say That" LOL or, "She Ate How Many Plates At The Buffet?"
LN: "It's Never Over"
MH: "Mandy Henderson, The Girl Who Never Gave Up"
SW: "God, Love, Fitness And Family...The Wright Way"
VL: "Victoria A.K.A. Supergirl (that was my nickname in high school, so the best I could come up with :-)
13. In five years I will be?
DF: A happy wife and mom, with two kids in college and one to go.
EM: Oh wow, I have so many hopes and dreams, but my life is so up in the air now. I'm hoping to move to Tampa, Florida in April but it scared the crap out of me when I moved from Los Angeles County to Riverside County. It's a huge step! I want to make it to the top five consistantly in my sport, and maybe someday qualify for the O. I want to get my doctorate in Physical Therapy so I can have a regular job that is NOT effected by the economy and there is something else that I REALLY want but right now that is only a beautiful dream that I will keep to myself so I don't jinx it.
JH: Who knows!! Isn't that the beauty of life?
LN: Better than I am today
MH: Setting new goals and loving life with my family
SW: Working my way up the Pro ranks
VL: I hope to be Ms. Fitness Olympia
14. If they ever make a buddy cop comedy with competitors, the two best to star in it would be?
DF: Adela Garcia and Iris Kyle
EM: Toni Norman and Jana Linke Sippl (hehehehe picturing the paring. Too funny!)
JH: My girl Valerie Haines ( <3 her!) and lil Shala Singer
LN: Adela and Nita
MH: Jeanne Nimmer and Holly Powell
SW: I have no idea!
VL: Not sure
15. One competitor who should wirte an autobiography is?
DF: Suzie Curry, she's a pioneer.
EM: Gosh, I don't know anyone's background story enough to harbour a guess. Zoa Linsey?
JH: All of them! Everyone has a story to share
LN: Nita Wilson
MH: Monica Brant
SW: I'd love to read an autobiography about ANY competitor! We all have such different and amazing stories of overcoming obstales and achieving greatness!
VL: Adela Garcia
16. One competitor who does not get the coverage she deserves is?
DF: Mindi O'Brien, her routines blow me away. Hopefully with the new judging criteria she will place higher.
EM: None of us do Jason :-(
JH: I really like Huong Arcinas and the look she brings
LN: Couldn't name just one
MH: Heather Mae French
SW: Any Fitness girl! I'm all for seeing MUCH more exposure in the magazines and such for Fitness
VL: Tanji Johnson
17. One actor whose movies I always need to see is?
DF: I don't have a favorite actor. I like to see movies based on books I really like.
EM: Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Tim Roth
JH: I love Denzel Washington and Leonardo DiCaprio. I usually make it a must to see their movies.
LN: Angelina Jolie
MH: Brad Pitt
SW: Will Ferrell
VL: Jude Law
18. The sports team whose games I always need to see are?
DF: I will watch anything competitive. I'll watch a spelling bee, doesn't matter. I do like the San Diego Chargers.
EM: Anything boxing or UFC
JH: Hmm... sometiems I watch Alabama football, but I'm not fanatical
LN: Florida Gators
MH: Pittsburgh Steelers
SW: West Virginia University MOUNTAINEERS!!!!!
VL: UGA Bulldogs
19. If I could spend one day training with someone it would be?
DF: Well since I do get to train with Adela already, I'll say Stacy Hilton.
EM: Charles Glass
JH: Erin Stern
LN: Jen H.
MH: My husband
SW: My husband :-)
VL: Adela Garcia
20. Anything you want to plug or promote?
DF: I'd love a sponsor if anyone's looking.
EM: Just the whole sport Jason. We need people to actually come to the shows. They hold low ticket slaes against us.
VL: I am currently working with a new company, Fitness Pro lab, they are fairly new and have some great products and even a women' line of vitamins
21. My goals for 2011 are?
DF: Just get on stage and show them what I can do! And have a blast doing it.
EM: Moving, starting school, competing in 2 shows, top 5, and my dream wish..... :-)
JH: I want to try and do at least 2 or 3 Pro shows....of course I'd LOVE to qualify for the Olympia, but cracking the top 5 is the first goal.
LN: Get back on stage after my third and fourth knee surgeries....planning on Orlando Europa
MH: To enjoy the competition season, get an Arnold invite and of course qualify for the Olmypia
SW: Make my PRO DEBUT!!! And whether I place well or not... be someone remembered and hear the words..."she's the one to watch"
VL: To place top 5 in a Pro show