Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Linda Stephens Interview
There is a compliment I give to people. It might not seem like a huge compliment, but it is to me. Because it is my way of saying I respect and admire the person, and think they would be someone who even though I am not new at this, that I could learn from. That compliment is "I would like to train with them one day". I can say I would like to train with Linda Stephens one day. Linda had a great year competing wise in 2010 as I expect an even bigger year in 2011. Linda is someone to watch out for.
Q: First Linda I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: First, Jason, let me say thank you for giving me this opportunity. I’m truly appreciative of your interest in my fitness and competition journey!!
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: To give you a little background on me, I’m originally from Natick, Massachusetts. My entire family still resides there but my husband, Bryan and I currently live in Darien, CT with our two children. My son, Alec is 9 years old and my daughter, Erika is 6.
Q: Growing up were you especially athletic? Play any sports?
A: When I was younger I figure skated competitively for about 5 years. I loved basketball as a child and played throughout grammar school, a little bit in high school and I played Division III basketball at the College of New Rochelle. I also taught aerobics classes in my early twenties for Richard Simmons’ gyms…Anatomy Asylum.
Q: Wat initially led you into the gym?
A: As I mentioned above, I taught aerobics in my early twenties when it was all that anyone did! Cardio till you dropped!!! It was when I met my husband that I decided to venture into the weight room! I was a bit nervous but he showed me some of the basic moves and it just clicked with me. I was hooked once I saw my body change in ways that I LOVED!!! I couldn’t get enough and read everything about weight training that I could find in order to perfect my physique even more!!
Q: Was training something you were able to pick up fairly easy?
A: Training did come very easy to me. I saw results almost immediately. Many trainers have told me that I’ve been blessed with great genetics!!
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: I always wanted to compete in fitness earlier in my career but working full time and then having kids made it difficult. It was just earlier this year that my trainer at the time said, “you should compete”. After he said that it stuck in my head and I said, “Yes, lets go for it at least once!!!” My kids are in school all day and I have the time to train so lets go for it!!! It’s that simple!
Q: Was competing something your family and friends were supportive of?
A: My husband and friends thought it was a great idea. They were and continue to be extremely supportive of my endeavors. They understand how important this is to me and have done everything to help me achieve my goals. My parents have a hard time with my new “hobby”. At one point we couldn’t really even discuss it but since they’ve seen how successful I’ve been they are more interested and supportive.
Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you?
A: Competing totally surprised me in that everyone is so NICE! I thought it might be cut throat and clicky but all of the competitors, women and men are SUPER nice and helpful. Backstage everyone helps each other and is extremely supportive. I’ve made so many friends competing and it’s great to have friends that get what it’s all about. How much hard work and determination goes into this entire experience!
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: My contest history is as follows:
*June 2011 Bev Francis Atlantic States in New York City – I took 2nd in Novice and 6th in Masters out of 16 women – not bad for a first try!
*June 2011 INBF Natural Connecticut in New Haven, CT – I took 2nd in my height class and 2nd in Masters
*July 24, 2011 NPC Empire States, White Plains, NY – I took 1st place in my height class, 1st place in Masters and won the OVERALL!!
*October 30, 2011 NPC Gold’s Classic, Toms River, NJ – I took 1st place in my height class and first place in Masters out of 17 women!
It has been an incredible journey thus far!!!
Q: What would you say is your best bodypart?
A: I feel my legs are my best attribute. I’ve always had strong, defined quadriceps and calf muscles from ice-skating for so many years. I’ve had many men tell me they wished they had my calf muscles! Even at one competition, one of the male bodybuilders came up to me and said how can you be so lean and have legs like that!!!
Q: DO you have a part you most like to train?
A: I love training my glutes and hamstrings. As a woman, that’s an area that requires constant up keep!!! Have to make sure everything is tight back there!!! : )
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: A normal training routine for me can be one body part a day or I may even do a two body part split. I usually do cardio every day to burn fat and calories and keep my head clear!! My normal diet is very clean. Always a protein, carb and some kind of vegetable. Breakfast most days are oats with a scoop of protein powder or egg whites.
As far as competing goes – my diet gets pretty restricted – I have to weigh my food and I’m only eating oats and brown rice for carbs. A lot of fish, chicken, broccoli, asparagus and string beans. I have to eat every two hours religiously because I get REALLY hungry!! I’m training my legs twice a week as well as upper body. Cardio twice a day every day as I get closer to the show. I lean out pretty quickly so I have to carefully monitor my cardio sessions.
Q: When someone sees your physique for the first time whats the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: Most folks that see me in the gym, that don’t know me, will ask me if I’m a bodybuilder or how I am able to get my body in this shape. The feedback is mostly positive. When I tell them that I compete they seem really interested in hearing about it and ask many questions about the experience. People always ask me what I eat and if I eat junk food or drink alcohol. When I tell them I eat clean and don’t drink they say, “I could NEVER be that disciplined!” Everyone that knows me has been extremely supportive.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: I wouldn’t really say I’m sick of hearing this but most ask if I’m a bodybuilder and if I’m taking anything. I pride myself on being totally natural and just plain hard working to get into rocking shape. To have someone ask if you take steroids is insulting. But, then again most have no idea what figure competing is and I cut them some slack!
Q: What is the biggest misconception bout women who compete?
A: Again, I think the biggest misconception is that you have to take steroids to get into great shape. Of course, some do take steroids but a big part of it is genetics. I believe that there are just certain body types that can build muscle easily with heavy weight and a clean diet. I’ve been blessed with great genetics and I’m taking advantage of it!!
Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: The best part of training for me is having a clean, sculpted physique. I love getting dressed because what ever I put on shows my hard work and dedication. It makes me confident and I feel I can deal with whatever life throws at me. Strong body, strong mind. The worst part of training is leg day!!! It has to be the hardest training day for me! You have to be in the zone and willing to dig deep and push yourself that extra mile. After a hard leg workout I am hungry all day – it’s crazy!!!
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: My favorite competitors – there are a few. I’ve always loved Monica Brant. She made this sport feminine. She proved you can be a hard body while still exuding femininity and confidence. Cory Everson too always personified a strong body and beauty. Erin Stern and Nicole Wilkens also prove that a woman can be strong and defined but 100% female. And, of course all female competitors because it takes discipline and determination to train, diet and get you on that stage!!!
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: My favorite cheat meal is cavatelli with broccoli rabe, toasted garlic, spicy sausage and a lot of Romano cheese with red pepper! A slice of focaccia bread and a big glass of red wine!!! I also LOVE ice cream!!
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: When a new client of mine or any one else tells me they want to train and change their body I tell them it can be done but they have to commit to it. Consistency and persistence is key along with a good diet. One day at a time and as the days pass you will see results if you are determined!!
Q: Do you think it is becoming more accepted by society to see women training in the gym as hard as men?
A: Yes, I do think society is more accepting of women with muscle definition. It goes to self-respect and confidence. People stop me all the time and ask how they can get arms like mine. That they don’t like how the skin on their arms shakes around. I think most women would say that they’d like to have a sculpted body if it were easy to attain!
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I enjoy being outside with my kids playing basketball or going to the park. I enjoy quiet time with a good book – but that doesn’t happen much!!! I still enjoy ice-skating on a pond enjoying the outdoors and fresh air!!
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Linda Stephens.
A: A typical day in my world starts at 7:00am with me waking my kids for breakfast and to get ready for the school bus. After they leave at 7:45 I enjoy a quiet cup of coffee while I put together moves for the body sculpting class I’ll teach that day and workouts for my personal training clients. Once that’s completed I’ll pack my gym bag and head to Equinox to get MY workout in first. When I’m done with my routine I’ll head to Stamford to teach and train and then back home by 3:15 to meet the school bus. While my kids do their homework I make their afternoon snack. By now it’s about 4:15 and they are heading outside to play while I think about what they’ll eat for dinner. After dinner it’s reading with the kids and showers then bedtime. By 8 pm I’m enjoying a protein shake with some green tea. I’ll either watch TV or read my latest edition of Oxygen Magazine. By 10pm I’m in bed usually pretty exhausted. I love that I can workout and work but still be home for my kids. They like me home when they get off the bus. The big hugs and kisses I get is proof positive! :-) Oh, and I forgot to mention that somewhere in there is grocery shopping and laundry!!! If it’s competition season add in all my food preparation and extra cardio workouts too.
Q: Describe Linda Stephens in five words.
A: Describe myself in five words… head strong, determined, confident, spontaneous and energetic.
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: One thing that people would be surprised at I think… is that I still cuddle up with my baby blanket from when I was little before I go to bed at night. I can’t sleep without it and it comes on all trips with me too!!!! :)
Q: Any set plans for the future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I am currently prepping for the Arnold Amateur in Columbus, OH this March. I’m extremely excited as I am going with 2 time Ms. Fitness Olympia and 2 time Ms. Fitness International, Jennifer Hendershott. She has a team put together called the PhatGirlz and I’m a member!!! The entire journey will be a memory to last a lifetime for me and I’m so honored I was asked to participate. I also want to obtain my pro card this season and plan on competing in a few shows where that is the prize!!! It’s now or never and I’m pumped and up for the challenge!!!
Q: Anything you want to take this time to plug or promote?
AL I want to say a HUGE thank you to Jen Hendershott and her entire team for helping me since last August. Jen offers boot camps, competition advice and retreats for everyone. Her website is www.getphatonline.com. I also would like to thank my very good friend and employer, Elizabeth DeLuca who runs Fitwell Group, LLC in Stamford, CT. Liz has supported me as a friend and then employed me as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor. If anyone lives in the Fairfield County, CT area and wants to train with me or talk to me they can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My website is still being constructed but watch for it at www.lindastephensfitness.com.
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so, how can they reach you and what are the getting in Linda Stephens?
A: Yes, I am looking for sponsors. I would love to be able to promote a product that I believe in. Before I reinvented myself and became a personal trainer and competitor I worked on Wall Street in sales and trading. I know how to sell a product successfully and would be an asset to a sponsor on many levels. I believe that being 42 and in the shape I’m in I could help a sponsor reach the 40 something demographic. To show that even in your forties or fifties you can be in great shape and look and feel younger. I relate to most because I’m a working mom and a wife – just a regular person running a household but still finding the time to work on my body and have pride in my appearance.
I can be reached at Linda.email@example.com or on Facebook under Linda Massucco Stephens.
Q: Again, Linda thanks so much for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: To sum up how I feel…you are NEVER too old to reinvent yourself! If you have passion and drive anything can be accomplished. Look at me…at 42 I decided to compete and have been very successful. I’m also in school pursuing my master’s degree in clinical nutrition. I won’t always be able to wear the lucites and posing suit but I will always be able to help people learn how to eat properly, exercise and feel better about themselves.
Many thanks again Jason for allowing me to have this opportunity!! Be well!