Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Melissa Naegeli Interview
A self described over-achiever, Melissa Naegeli is a perfect example of what the sport can be like for some. A busy woman, she find time to do what she loves in training and competing and just by looking at the pictures you can see she does very well at it. She knows it takes hard work, and shows how while some are busy they find the time. Melissa recently joined Team lean and is prepping for a show in May, where she will no doubt excel.
Q: First Melissa I want to thank you for doing this.
A: Thank you for asking me.
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: My name is Melissa Naegeli. I am married to Mike and the mother to Stephen (13), Daniel (9) and Andrew (7). I will be 45 years old in a couple of days and feel pretty good about that (looking forward to being a Grand Master. Hahahaha). I am from a very small town in Upstate New York – our population is around 2100. I grew up here, went to school and here and we live in my grandparents’ former house.
I am the elected Town Clerk and Tax Collector for the Town, the Secretary & Treasurer for the local Fire District, the manager of a local gym – the Finnish Line Fitness Center in Valatie, and work part-time as a banquet waitress. I have studied Uechi Ryu karate for about 8 years and am working toward a black belt. I also sit on the Steward’s Council for the karate dojo and voluntarily teach beginner classes in the summer for a neighboring town. I am also the Race Director for our Town’s Annual 5K Race to raise money for local organizations.
Q: Growing up were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports?
A: When I was in school I did gymnastics for several years – from a very young age. In high school I did a year of cheerleading and some bowling.
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: I’ve always enjoyed exercising. About 2 years after the birth of my 1st son we were planning to go on our first vacation to the beach in many years. I realized that I was still carrying a lot of the 80lbs that I had gained during my pregnancy. I started doing some aerobics (on video) and light weights with a friend in her basement. My in-laws gave my husband and I gift certificates to the local gym for a Christmas present – that was 11 years ago.
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy?
A: I loved going to the gym. We went all of the time and I started to take some organized classes – I really enjoyed the boot camp classes. Then I moved into the free weights area and never looked back.
The way my body responded to the weights was incredible. We went on vacation the following June and I was able to wear a bikini (for the first time in many years). We we returned home, I kept going to the gym.
During the summer before I was pregnant with my 2nd son, I was asked to start teaching some of the boot camp classes as a substitute and to join the staff at the Finnish Line (the gym). It was during this time that I got my first Personal Trainer Certification – with the help of Bruce Finn, my boss & the owner of the Finnish Line Fitness Centers.
Soon after, I found out I was pregnant. The condition I had gotten my body into made the delivery of my 2nd son much easier than my 1st. After Daniel was born in 2001, I went back to work at the gym and stayed there until about May 2003.
I returned to the gym a little over 2 years ago. My youngest son was going to school and I was going back to work. I got re certified as a Personal Trainer and decided that I better start looking the part. The manager rehired me as floor staff, I started working out and started getting clients again.
I was promoted this past December to Manager and am loving every minute of it.
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: My interest in competing had started around the end of 2002. I started looking into it and there was “Figure” at that time. I signed up to compete in a Fitness contest and started working on a routine. Then I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd son and the competition plans were put away.
Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported?
A: At first my husband was a little surprised that I wanted to compete because it’s very out of character for me. I’m very body conscious and shy about being the “center of attention” so for me to get on a stage in front of strangers in a little tiny bikini was a little out there. However, my family has really gotten behind it and are very supportive. Mike helps pick out music, pushes me when I don’t feel like working out and does my pro tan staining. The kids like to sit on my back while I’m doing planks and get down on the floor and do crunches along side of me. My mother comes and stays with the kids – even on those show days that we have to be out of the house by 5:30am and Stephen likes to come to the shows with us (although I don’t really think that’s for me…)
Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you?
A: I really didn’t know what to expect. I think I was most surprised at how nice and helpful everyone was backstage. I am constantly amazed at how much of a family it seems to be backstage. Although, I suppose it makes sense – these are truly the only people that can understand fully what you’ve gone through to be where you are, doing what you do.
I remember at my very first show – just before I stepped on stage for the first time ever, I was on the verge of tears – eyes welling up and everything. I was terrified. The expediter (who’s name I never knew) put his hand on my shoulder and told me to relax. He said “You look great and you’ll do great. Go out and just have a good time.” I really appreciated that. I also met a woman who has become a good friend – Vanessa C. who was so very helpful and supportive. We just did a show together last Fall and it was the first time we’ve seen each other since that show in April of 2009.
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: My first show was the OCB Tri Cities Classic in West Nyack, NY in the Spring of 2009. I was hooked immediately. I went on to do a show in June then another in October. In 2010, I did 3 shows again – in June, September and November. I’ve placed in every show I’ve done except for one. I use that feeling as motivation toward preparing for shows. I always want to do the absolute best that I can and I remember that I was not that confident going into one particular show. I know I will not make that mistake again.
Q: What would you say is your best body part?
A: I’m often told that my legs and butt are my best body parts. It’s hard for me to say because I always see the flaws before anything else.
Q: Do you have a favorite part to train?
A: My favorite body part to train would have to be legs. It’s more like a love/hate thing – I love to feel the power of moving very heavy weights but those workouts are usually my toughest.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like?
A: My training routine right now – courtesy of John Yobst at Lean Physique (Go Team Lean!) is 6 days of cardio & weights and 1 day of rest. John also is doing my contest prep nutrition plans. I am also a member of Sparkpeople.com and use that to track my daily caloric intake and workouts.
Q: When people see your physique for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: Well, I guess it depends on the time of year. If it’s “off-prep” people are usually “really?” On the average, I think the reactions are positive.
Q: When they see it that firs time what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: The one question I get sick of hearing is “How do you fit it all in?” I’m never sure how to answer that question other than “I just do”. If there is something you want badly enough – you figure out how to make it happen and to make it all work.
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 – and not just about women – is that bodybuilders in general are stupid. That they are just muscle head jerks that only know how to pick stuff up and put it down. In reality, to understand the physiology of exercise and nuances of how nutrition affects everything about you takes a lot of education. Whether that is school-work education or just practical experience educations, the bodybuilders (men and women) that I’ve met are very smart.
For women specifically, I think it would have to be that if a woman has a lot of muscles she must be less-than-feminine or anorexic. I don’t think that could further from the truth. The pictures in magazines mislead people into that mindset, in my opinion. The models in the magazines go through a similar peak week prep and are in top condition when those pictures are taken. When the more muscular women are photographed, it’s usually after a peak week and a workout so they’re pumped. I don’t think most people realize or understand that those women don’t look like that when they get out of bed in the morning.
Q: What is best and worst part of training?
A: The best of working out for me would be the feeling of accomplishment. Whether it’s because I was able to increase my weights, my reps, the distance I went, the amount of time I was able to run vs. walk, or the resistance level on the elliptical. I like the challenges each time I step into the gym (when I’m not on the clock). The worse part of training for me is that it does sometimes take away from the time I can spend at home.
Q: Are there any competitors you are a fan of or admire?
A: I really admire Theresa Evans. I have been fortunate enough to meet her and she is just a very nice person. She was awarded “most improved” by the OCB at one of my early shows and she was so generous with her time to answer questions and chat.
I also admire the women who have had to overcome great hardships to succeed in this sport.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: My favorite cheat food? I don’t really have one – maybe cookie dough. I would rather eat the dough than the cookie.
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: The advice I would give to another woman would be to find someone she could trust explicitly and do what they tell her to do. I would tell her to start out slowly and find her way.
Q: Do you think it is becoming more common to see women using the weights?
A: Not necessarily in my gym. We have a very diverse population of people but not a lot of women who are serious in the weight room. From the friends I have on Facebook, it would certainly seem that way though.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: As I said earlier, I’ve been studying karate for several years and really enjoy that. I like biking with the kids and playing at the playground.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Melissa Naegeli.
A: A typical day for me? My longest day is Wednesday. My alarm goes off about 4:40am and I get up and head to the gym so I can do my 45 mins of cardio before I open the door at 5:30. I work until 9:30 then I either have a client or do my own workout. Then I have a first-time bikini competitor that I’m helping with some posing at 11:00-11:30 then I head to my Town Office at Noon. I’m there until 3:00 and the kids get home from school. Then it’s homework, dinner and back out to karate class for 6pm. My class goes to 8:30. I come home, read to the kids and go to bed to start over in the morning.
Q: Describe Melissa Naegeli in five words.
A: Mother, Wife, over-achiever, perfectionist and less-than-confident.
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I think most people would be surprised to know that I’m actually pretty shy (especially the people who really know me). I find it difficult to talk to people I don’t really know and am often thought of as standoffish.
Q: Any plans for competing in the near future?
A: I am currently training for the USBF Clash in the Capital on May 7th in Albany, NY.
Q: Anything you want to take this time to plug or promote?
A: I would love to take this opportunity to plug my sponsor – Lean & Mean Ice Cream. It’s a high protein – low fat/carb ice cream made with whey protein and actually tastes great. The flavors are coffee, chocolate, coconut, peanut butter, and chocolate/peanut butter twist. There is a link on my facebook page.
I would also like to plug my suit sponsor – V Taper Designs and Nicole Weeks, Figure Pro (her link is also on my facebook page). I have to mention my gym – the Finnish Line Fitness Center and my boss, Bruce Finn for his support. I also want to thank the members at my gym, they are all so supportive and enthusiastic about watching my progress.
Also I want to thank and recommend John Yobst, my coach and the owner of Lean Physiques, LLC. A personal training Studio. I am a member of Team Lean and while I've only been with them a few weeks, I have found them to be very supportive and helpful. Thanks everyone.
Q: Are you looking for sponsors. If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Melissa Naegeli the athlete and competitor?
A: I am always looking for sponsors, this can become a very expensive sport to be a part of. In me that would get my best effort to promote their product or company every chance I get. Since I have many diverse jobs, I have a lot of contacts in all areas of life. I can be reached at the Finnish Line Fitness Center (518-758-BODY) or through Facebook.
Q: Melissa, again, thanks for doing this. Any last words before you go?
A: I would like to thank you and the others at Promoting Women in Bodybuilding for not only asking me to participate in this interview, but for sharing the other women’s stories with all of us. They are all so inspiring