Ilona Kovacs is new to competing, but beginning with the Arnold's she has big plans for 2011, or as she says, she will "be everywhere". She began competing in order to set a goal for herself. Well that goal has been achieved, now we get to watch as she makes that goal bigger and bigger. Look for big things from Ilona this year.
Q: First, Ilona, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: First off, I want to thank you for interviewing me. I am really flattered and really appreciate you taking your time to do this interview !
So lets see, I am from NJ originally. I am a 1st generation American, which in my case means my parents are from Hungary. I am the older of 2, I have a brother that lives in Houston, TX whose married and I have 2 beautiful nieces.
I currently live and work in Manhattan. I live with my wonderful boyfriend and have lots of great friends and family around me. Academically, I have a BS degree in biology and used to work as a personal trainer.
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: Yes I was always athletic. My parents instilled a lot of great values and beliefs about staying in shape and eating healthy. My Mom ran track & field, hurdles, in particular and my dad was a professional soccer player in Hungary.
I was fortunate enough to start ballet when I was 5 years old. I went on to take jazz and gymnastics lessons when I got older and then in high school I played softball and field hockey. All the while, I always worked out as well and went running, swimming, and took tennis lessons in my spare time.
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: That's a very good question. I remember first going to the gym because of the classes that the gyms were offering. First it was just cardio classes and then sculpting classes. Then I got into using the machines at the gym, which is what I do now for my training.
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Well, since I have a degree in biology and used to train others, I knew the basics of training, the physiology and anatomy. I ended up recently, however, hiring a coach and a trainer to get me over my plateaus in training and push me a bit harder.
When I first started training for competitions, I started seeing results in about a month. Everything started to get tighter and I got leaner. It truly is a combination of diet and training to really get the results you are looking to achieve.
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: I think it was a combination of me turning 40 this year (2011) and setting a goal for myself. I also have always been on the shy side when I was a kid, so I do things that challenge me to be in front of people,like acting, modeling and now competing !
Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: Yes absolutely. My boyfriend has been very supportive and so has my family
Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it
A: Well, my 1st competition was this past October 2010. I thought I was in pretty good shape but I was definitely blown away by the other girls ! Which prompted me to hire a coach and a trainer for my next competition, which is this March.
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: Sure, I literally just started competing this past year. I did an NPC regional show in Oct 2010 and a Fitness Universe show at the end of Oct 2010.
I am currently getting ready for the Arnolds, which I am really excited to do !
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: I feel that my legs are my best part. I train them the hardest and I have always had good tonality because of my ballet training.
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: I have a love/hate relationship with training my legs and butt. I love the way they look and feel after the workout but when I do work them, its tough ! I do like doing walking lunges. I feel like I am going somewhere, literally, when I do them.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: Normally, I don't eat as much as when I train. When I train, I eat about 5-6 times a day, mostly protein and low glycemic carbohydrates. I eat very healthy usually anyways, but it is more controlled when I train. As for training, I go to the gym more often as well and train heavier when I am prepping for a contest. I hired a trainer this time around because I want to push myself a little more this time.
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: Its been very positive. When I tell people that I am doing it, first off, I have to tell them what exactly I am doing. Most people I talk to don't know competing even exists. But after I tell them what I am doing, they start to feel motivated to work out more and ask me for advice about routines and nutrition.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: I think a lot of people assume that when a woman lifts weights, they become these huge bodybuilders or sometimes people don't even think women train at all, except for cardio. I wish people, both men and women, would understand that it takes a lot of time and dedication to train. A woman actually has to lift weights to look the way she does on stage. Its funny though, because I do realize that when I go to the gym, I am in the minority in the weight room but I am starting to see more and more women lifting weights. I think some women are afraid of lifting weights for fear of becoming too big, but its simply not true.
Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: The best part is the way it makes me look and feel.
The worst part is, well, I wish I had more time in the day to work out as much as I would like...sometimes pesky things like work get in the way...lol
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: There are so many competitors out there that I admire, too many to list!
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: I love guacamole and chips
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: Don't be afraid to lift weights ! A lot of women are afraid they will get too big or look masculine. It's just not so.. all your clothes will fit better and nothing will jiggle :)
Q: Do you think it is becoming more common to see women working in the gym with the weights and not just doing cardio and things?
A: Yes, I am starting to see more women lifting weights. Mostly with trainers I see them but its good to see that it is increasing.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I love to travel. I try to go somewhere every year, whether it be the Caribbean or somewhere in Europe, or both !
I also love watch old movies with my bf. That is what I call our downtime where we can unwind.
I love to read as well, mostly fiction but sometimes I read some non fiction as well.
I also just started writing fitness and nutrition articles. Which I really like. People ask me advice about diets, recipes and working out. So I have decided to start writing about all these topics.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Ilona Kovacs.
A: Well let's see. From Monday to Friday, I do work 9-5 pm at my job. I work as IT administrator for a email marketing firm down near Wall Street in Manhattan. Each day there is different and I work with a lot great people, so I am always very busy. Usually sometime during the day, I get my workouts in, I go to the gym for about an hour everyday depending on whether or not I work out with my trainer or by myself, unless its my rest day. I eat about 5-6 times a day, so I am always making sure the night before I cook my food and then warm up at work.
Q: Describe Ilona Kovacs in five words.
A: Dedicated, friendly, attractive, intelligent, and considerate
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: That I speak, read and write Hungarian
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: Yes, absolutely ! I am competing at the Arnold's and then I going to start competing at regional NPC shows, as well WBFF and Fitness Universe shows. I plan to be everywhere in 2011 :)
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I would like to shamelessly promote myself to magazines both as a fitness model and writer :) I promise you won't be disappointed :)
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Ilona Kovacs the athlete and competitor?
A: Yes, I am looking for sponsors. Thanks for asking !
I am very easily reachable via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always checking email and always get back to people within 24 hrs. What a sponsor would get from me ? Professionalism, marketability, loyalty, intelligence and trustworthiness.
Q: Ilona, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words
before you go?
A: Just wanted to thank you again for interviewing me !