Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Leah Graham Interview
Often I think people loose sight of why they train and then compete. They don't consider it a success unless they win. Not realizing just being in shape and on stage is a huge victory. Leah Graham did her first show and knew that just being where she was was a victory. But then she topped off that victory with another one. She won her class at her first show. That is a huge accomplishment. With more competitions planned, it Leah keeps that same thought process I can see some big things in her future.
Q: First, Leah, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Absolutely! I look forward to sharing my journey as it has developed so far.
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I was born in Miami, I married my High School sweetheart Casey my husband of now 10 years we have 2 mini dachshunds who we call our children, we now live in North Georgia. Straight out of college I worked in IT but lost my job after a short while, did a few years in retail sales and started teaching classes part time. I lost my most recent sales job 2 years ago and today I am a fitness instructor and I work at a variety of clubs and programs in the area.
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: Yes, I was always active in dance, gymnastics and played a little soccer when I was a kid. Ballet was always my first love though I have the wrong body type for it, I was way too short and had too much muscle and it always frustrated my teachers. Still, I gave it my all and enjoyed it even though I knew I would never be a prima ballerina!
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: I was always there, just didn't really realize what I was capable of until I tried!
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: After making up my mind to compete and choosing my coach, and having a definite plan, yes I actually started seeing results right away and continue to see improvements every week!
Q: You just competed for the first time. What show did you do and how did you do? A: SNBF Georgia Championships, Suwanee GA, I earned First Place in Novice Figure Short! In this contest I was required to participate in two rounds, bikini and theme. Video of those segments both during pre-judging and finals as well as the awards are available to view at http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=8DB759CF41464026
Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: My husband was one of the ones who suggested it, he is my biggest supporter. Friends & family yes, they supported me, though most weren't quite sure what I was doing :)
Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: I found it similar to dance performances I have done and I expected it would be similar. Though it was different in the sense that I was relying on me alone!
Q: Did you have any expectations going in? Was 1st place something you thought was possible?
A: Even if I had not won it, I still consider what I did a victory. I stepped way out of my comfort zone, transformed into the best version of myself so far and inspired others around me to take on goals of their own. But to answer most directly I knew that it was possible, in fact I visualized that first place trophy in my little hand every time I did my workouts and practiced my posing. I said over and over again to the people around me that I would be taking home first place. I really feel like if you want something badly enough and are willing to do the work that you should ask for it, over and over again until you get it!!
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: Not really, I just the variety of workouts my coach has me do.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: My coach started me off with a very clean eating plan which as contest time approached became more restrictive allowing me to maintain the muscle have developed while leaning out for contest. As with diet my training started out with the basics, gradually leading to increased reps at high weight with little rest. As far as cardio, my coach had me work mostly with intervals, again increasing in sessions as contest date approached.
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: I would say surprise more than anything, when I am not posing I look rather tiny! After that, the questions begin, mostly people want to know how to get a tight and little middle section...my answer....eat clean and lift heavy :)
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: "You look great but I can't get in shape because"....fill in the blank with any excuse!
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: That girls who are strong are on something that makes us look the way we do. I am working hard to show that you can achieve a fit and lean body naturally, through the use of food and good habits, steroids and fat burners are not only not necessary but are not natural. I will always be a natural athlete
Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: The worst part would have to be getting ready to go to the gym since it takes me a while to get out the door, the best part has to be seeing myself get stronger!
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: Erin Stern, she is a fellow Gator Alumni and also a Jewish girl like me
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Frozen Yogurt!
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: If she really wants to compete I say choose a coach to guide you and be on purpose with your choice.
Q: Do you think its becoming more common to see women using the weights in the gym as opposed to just doing cardio and things?
A: Not yet, but I am working to change that! As a fitness instructor I get to give tips as I teach. I am working on instructional videos to publish on my youtube channel, women will be able to learn more about using weights to help them with their goals.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?A
A: Its' goofy but other than spend time with my husband and pups, I like to play Farmville!
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Leah Graham.
A: Wake up, eat, teach a class or two, eat, workout, eat, do errands or housework, eat, possibly teach again or spend time with my husband and doggies, eat, sleep :)
Q: Describe Leah Graham in five words.
A: Dedicated, Motivating, Thoughtful, Passionate, Performer
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I once performed live on stage with the band Weezer, I entered a contest to play an instrument in a live Hootenany during their concert. I don't actually play an instrument but I do tap dance so that is what I did and I made it! My audition video and live performance are available to view on my youtube channel!
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: Yes, at a minimum I will do more SNBF shows in the area, my goal is to earn my pro card at my next show and to complete as an SNBF Pro for the rest of the year!
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: If I have inspired or interested anyone reading, please subscribe to my youtube channel, in addition to contest footage, I plan to post instructional and motivation videos as time goes by http://www.youtube.com/user/orchidalive?feature=mhum and follow my blog http://leahgraham-allnaturalfigurecompetitor.blogspot.com/ , also if you are ready and need non-nonsense plan, learn more about my coach http://www.herbcables.com
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Leah Graham the athlete and competitor?
A: Absolutely, I lost my full time job 2 years ago and rely on teaching fitness classes part time and on my husband to finance my journey. In exchange for sponsorship I would be happy to represent my sponsor. I would also be interested in passing along my inspiration and fitness knowledge by leading on site training or other creative events that will also benefit my sponsor.
Q: Leah, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: My journey has only just begun and when I made my decision to train as an all natural Figure Athlete and to compete I did so with the hope of expanding my reach in the world of fitness. Now that I am transforming myself into a fit role model I plan on teaching and inspiring on a larger and larger scale and would love to do a follow up with you again as my journey continues to develop