Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rachel Greba Interview


This interview is with Rachel Greba the Bikini competitor. In her first show, Rachel looked incredible. In the future, with her taking jiu-jitsu classes, with plans to compete and possible compete in MMA, I may also get to interview Rachel Greba the fighter. Rachel is that rare person who can appeal to both the fitness fans and MMA fans. Whether competing or fighting, no doubt Rachel will be a success.






Q: First, Rachel, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A; Well I’m in college. I plan on studying International Affairs at UC next year. I’m currently at a community college. I live in Northern KY, born in Dover, OH. I’m a HUGE Steelers fan (Dad is from Pittsburgh). I’m Italian/German. Grandmother is from Italy, and my mom’s side is from Germany. I’m about 5’2”.

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: Yeah, I would say I was. I played soccer for my high school. I was a defender. I tried tennis, volleyball, basketball. Practically everything but track or cross country.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: My friend decided she wanted to join and I told her I would do it with her. She did it for maybe a week.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Yeah I had great people who were teaching and helping me out. Started seeing results right off the bat.

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: Actually it was a guy I was seeing who told me he thought I would do well and met some other people who have competed and who had connections.


Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: My family yes, my mom used to compete in bodybuilding. Friends supported but didn’t understand. Probably could say our relationships aren’t as good as they used to be.

Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: It was what I expected for the most part. I didn’t realize how hard dieting was going to be and how much it makes your mood change. But I was informed about everything ahead of time.

Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: Just one so far, Beverly Northern KY, I was 18. Planning on another one soon.

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: Best either shoulders or quads.

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train?
A: Back and glutes

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep ?
A: I isolate all muscles when training. I do morning cardio before breakfast and post workout cardio. I currently taken up Jiujitsu which I do 2 to 3 times a week. My diet is much of a ‘diet’ off season. I don’t want to burn myself out. Maybe to others it would be. Cut calories and cut out the junk. In off season I try to stay away from dairy, sugar, bread and a few other carbs. I try to keep my portion sizes down.

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 guess there usually kind of speechless and positive usually. I don’t pay much attention anymore.


Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: Usually something about the bikini class. They don’t always associate it with bodybuilding, and can’t wrap there heads around it.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: Just because you work out and lift doesn’t mean you’re going to get huge. Oh and also those who think it’s a selfish sport if you turn it around it can be a lonely sport as well.

Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: Best: Seeing how my body changes in a short amount of time. Worst: Dieting.

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: Yes a few of the girls that I competed against.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: A greasy sandwich and peanut butter fudge/ or oreos…mmmm (I’m at fat girl at heart)

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 you like it or not diet is everything

Q: Do you think its becoming more common for women to use the weights as opposed to just doing cardio and things?
A: I sure hope so, having a firm muscular body is beautiful

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A; I took up Jiu jitsu recently and defiantly plan on competing. I’m an aggressive competitor and have a passion for fighting. I have a black belt in taekwondo which I was in for 5 to 6 years.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Rachel Greba.
A: Hmm school, study, work, work out, watch movies and try to hang with friends

Q: Describe Rachel Greba in five words.
A: Determined, genuine, loyal, calm, friendly

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I enjoy reading and fighting obviously. People are surprised when they learn that about me though. I love studying and learning about different cultures. I think it makes you more well rounded and not take things you have for granted.

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: Competing in jiu jitsu, and maybe in the future MMA. Who knows. Looking at the Monster Mash possibly.


Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: Thank you everyone who took the time out of there days to help me get where I’m at today with the diets and appointments. Adam who helped me the most to get there and put up with me.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Rachel Greba the athlete and competitor?
A: Well I don’t know how many competitions I’ll do because of time, age, and how well its going to correspond with my JJ training (jiu jitsu). But they can find me on facebook easily. Contact me through email. I’m easy going, huge competitor and always try my best.

Q: Rachel, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Keep motivated, and put yourself around others who help you stay motivated.
And thank you!

Christina Rico Interview


Recently I asked for more interviews, and to be contacted if anyone wanted to do one. One person who contacted me was Christina Rico. I saw some pictures and was incredibly impressed. Then I found out she was 17, and was even more impressed. At a young age to have that much passion and dedication, and too hear she did it never having a trainer, blew me away. Christina is one of the future stars of this industry.






Q: First, Christina, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: I feel honored to have this opportunity!

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I am originally from Pinetop, Arizona and I recently moved to Tempe to attend school and study Exercise Science/Nutrition at Arizona State University. Pinetop is a tiny town where everyone knows each other and there are not many opportunities. So, I graduated from my high school when I was 16 to get things started! I have 2 loving parents, an older sister (by 1 year) and a brother.

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or
anything?
A: No, I played volleyball and ran track for about 4 years but I never excelled at
either-- I was quite bad. I've always just loved to be active, so I tried to stay
involved in physical activities at school.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: I stopped playing volleyball and track on a team about my sophomore year of high
school and I needed something else to keep me active! So, I hit the gym and began
lifting weights-- I was only about 14 years old. I have loved it ever since!

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to
see results?
A: I picked up on training fairly easy, lifting weights just came naturally to me and I loved doing it! Since I was so young [and a girl] in the weight room, I would often get approached by people talking to me about fitness and showing me different workouts- that's where I learned a lot of different techniques. I've been in the gym for so many years and I have ALWAYS been conscious about my nutrition, but I never saw great results until I tweaked my diet. I started recording my meals in a journal and altering different things to see what worked for me. Then, I started seeing great results!


Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: I've never trained with anyone or worked with a trainer for dieting or workouts,
I've always done my own thing. But everyday in the gym, people would ask "what are you training for?" or "when is your next competition?" . Then, it occurred to me that maybe I should showcase my hard work! So I went for it!

Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: My friends and family think I am a a nutcase for having such a passion for eating
clean and training hard. The decision to compete was so spontaneous that they had no
choice but to go with it! Now all of my friends are asking me how to get fit! :)

Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: The part that surprised me most is that fact that the competition and competitors
are so glamorous-- hair done, shimmery make-up, nails polished, and dark tans-- it seems like the opposite of being rough and tough in the gym!

Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: So far, I have only competed in 2 competitions. I decided to participate literally a week before my first contest. I did the NPC Terminator and NPC Arizona Open. I placed 1st in the Teen Figure Division and 2nd in the Women's Figure Open at both competitions!


Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: I think I have nice shoulders and arms, I like nice round shoulders! I've been told I have a nice back, but I can only see it in pictures. I like what I see!

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: I love the feeling I have after a grueling leg workout. I am sore, sweaty, and feel accomplished as I hobble out of the gym. I also love training shoulders-- lateral dumbbell raises, upright row, shoulder press-- great exercises!


Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for
contest prep?
A: I usually do cardio 4-5x a week, whether it is hiking, incline treadmill, step mill, plyometrics, etc. I also weight train about 5-6 days in the evening. I isolate a major muscle group each day because I feel like that allows you to really focus on growing that muscle. My diet is completely basic-- chicken, fish, tons of vegetables, oats, potatoes, etc.
Competing was a spontaneous decision and the trainers said I was ready to compete without altering any of my training or diet, so I never had to change much about my routine!


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 get a lot of positive responses about my physique, many people ask me for advice and tips and I feel honored to help and inspire others! :)

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are
most sick of hearing?
A: The question I get the most is something like, "what do you do? can you help me
with diets and training?" But I do not get sick of hearing this, I would love to
help others achieve their goals!

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one
thing you wish people understood?
A: Women think that lifting heavy weights like a man will make them big and bulky...IT WON'T! Weightlifting has gotten me better results than cardio ever has. I wish women would understand that dumbbells and barbells help to build lean, strong muscles! And muscles are sexy! I also wish women would realize that protein will not make you fat! Protein is essential!

Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: The best part of training is the feeling of accomplishment I get after working hard and the results of course! I love being in the gym and just focusing on one thing, not having to worry about anything else, and just letting go of all my stress.
The worst part of training is getting bothered in the gym. I do not go to the gym for social hour and some people do not understand that!


Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: When I started getting really serious about my fitness goals and my nutrition, I
looked up to Jamie Eason! But I have done so much research on different competitors, that my list of idols has grown- it could go on and on! There are so many amazing people in the industry that I look up to!

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: I love all kinds of food! Although I never really have a desire to "cheat" because I have always loved chicken and vegetables, some of my favorite "cheats" would be sushi and frozen yogurt with all kinds of toppings!

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: I would begin by telling her it takes a lot of dedication, consistency is key, and diet truly does play a huge role in achieving fitness goals! That's three, oops! But these all go hand-in-hand because in order to achieve your goals, you really have to stick to the plan and if you don't stay consistent with your diet, you won't get the desired results!

Q: Do you think its becoming more common for women to use the weights as opposed to
just doing cardio and things?
A: Yes, I think weightlifting was undermined for a while because women thought it would make them bulky, but weightlifting is starting to be promoted and encouraged a lot more through magazines and trainers!

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I am a serious fitness fanatic, I just love doing anything active! My life is
really centered around physical activities! But I also love to shop, get my hair and nails done, relax on the beach, tan, lay out, and just be a girly-girl!

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Christina Rico.
A: I wake up at about 5:30AM, eat a light breakfast or drink some BCAA's, and hit the gym/track/mountain for about 30-60minutes of cardio. Then I will come home and eat breakfast, get my meals prepared for the day, and head to school for a few hours. After school, I head back to the gym for work- at the front desk and smoothie bar where I get to talk to people about supplements, fitness, training, and nutrition! Then I go to a different gym (usually) to get my weightlifting on! After that, it's study study study, sleep, and it's right back to the grind the next day.

Q: Describe Christina Rico in five words.
A: Determined, ambitious, genuine, passionate, enthusiastic

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I graduated high school when I was 16 years old! Also, I never ever worked with a trainer during my fitness journey, I just read a TON of articles about nutrition and training and taught myself everything.

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: Since I "qualified" to compete in a national NPC show, I would like to do
that within the next year. First, I want to do a show or two out of state so I can get a look at the other competitors around the states. Then I plan to compete at a national show! I just have to be patient with my body because my muscles are not as mature as the other women. My goal is to be able to stand my ground when competing against women at the national level!

Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I want to promote Oxygen magazine for really inspiring me, all of the fitness
competitor's fan pages for tips and recipe ideas, and, most of all, I want to promote barbells, dumbbells, and protein! These 3 things will do wonders to your body!


Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they
getting in Christina Rico the athlete and competitor?
A: Yes I am! I would love all the support I can possibly get for anyone that can reach out and help me with the competition process, gaining exposure, or anything at all! I am a truly dedicated young woman, I train hard, and I keep it consistent! I want to inspire people my age (and beyond) to become fit and let everyone know that it is possible to achieve your fitness goals if you truly want it! I will always give 150% and always represent the industry by putting my best foot forward!
I can be contacted through email, christinarico1@gmail.com or my facebook page, Christina Diana Rico. I also have a fitness/nutrition fan page that can be found on my personal page because I have not thought of a good name for it yet :)

Q: Christina, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words
before you go?
A: I want to thank all the supporters and I hope to inspire people to get fit and live a healthy lifestyle! It is never too late to change your habits and get healthy! If anyone needs an extra kick of motivation, come talk to me! I want to help people improve their lives! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

NAAFS War on the Shore 5 Report


July 23 the NAAFS put on War on the Shore 5. The fights were good, until the skies opened up and we got a storm. So the pro bouts and remaining amateur bouts have been moved to Rock N Rumble, making that card a can't miss. While it ended up being an abbreviated card, the fights that did take place were really good, so the night was not a total loss.

1. Amateur Heavyweight
Chris Atkinson (0-0 Independent) vs Brian Lawhead (0-0 Independent)

RD 1: Front kick by Atkinson. Both fighters land hooks. Lawhead then lands a hard hook. They trade shots and then clinch on the cage. The separate and Atkinson lands a hook. Leg kick by Lawhead. They clinch in the center and Atkinson pushes to the cage. Both trade hard hooks. Lawhead lands a cross. They clinch against the cage to close the round.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Lawhead

RD 2: Cross by Lawhead. They clinch in the center and move to the cage. Lawhead lands a knee and then another. Nice spinning backfist by Atkinson. Lawhead gets a takedown and mount. Lands ground and pound till Atkinson holds him close. Lawhead postures up and lands punches.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Lawhead

RD 3: Both fighters look tired and not much action to start the round with lots of feints. Lawhead lands a hook and Atkinson a jab. Lawhead with another hook and Atkinson counters. Lawhead with a nice hook to the body. Leg kick by Atkinson. Jab by Atkinson. Atkinson with a spinning back fist and then a cross. They clinch on the cage as round ends.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Atkinson
My score card: 29-28 Lawhead

Result: Chris Atkinson by Split Decision (30-27/28-29/29-28)

2. Amateur Light Heavyweight (Over 35 Division)
Chris Jones (0-0 S.A.F.E.) vs Jacen Huss (1-0 Independent)

RD 1: Jab by Huss. They clinch and move to the cage. Jones lands punches to the body. They separate and Huss lands a front kick. Huss lands a hook. They clinch on the cage and have a nice battle for position. Knee to the body by Huss. Huss lands more knees to the leg. Jones lands two knees and they separate. They again clinch and Huss lands knees.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Huss

RD 2: Two punch combo by Huss. Leg kick by Jones. Huss lands a jab and then several more punches. Body kick by Huss. Huss lands a push kick. They clinch against the cage and Huss lands knees. Huss with a nice body shot and then a knee. Huss gets his back and takes him down and lands hard shots to the head.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Huss

RD 3: Both fighters land hooks. Clinch on the cage and Huss lands punches to the body. Huss lands a knee to the leg More body shots by Huss. Huss with a knee to the body and then another. Huss gets a takedown. He gets north south position but Jones pulls guard and avoids damage as round ends.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Huss
My score card: 30-27 Huss

Result: Jacen Huss by Unanimous Decision (30-27/30-27/30-27)

3. Amateur Heavyweight
Steve Thom (4-5 Elite Sports Academy) vs Windom Craig (3-2 Strong Style)

RD 1: Two punch combo by Craig. Leg kick by Thom. Thom lands a jab to the body.Craig lands a hook and Thom a hard cross. Craig lands a couple punches. They clinch on the cage and Craig lands knees to the leg. They separate and Thom lands a hard hook. Craig is cut under his eye. Thom lands a hook and then they trade hard shots. Craig lands a hook and then hurts him with more punches. Craig drops him with a hook and lands ground and pound.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Craig

RD 2: Thom is now also cut under his eye. Both land jabs. Craig lands a cross and then a hard hook. They clinch and Craig lands punches to the body. Thom lands a nice shot to the body. Craig with a knee to the leg. They separate and Thom hurts him with punches but Craig comes back with hard shots. Hook by Thom. Hard hook by Craig drops him. Craig gets on top and traps an arm but then gets his back. Craig gets mount and then his back again. Craig decides to stand. Craig drops him with a hard shot and lands ground and pound till the ref stops it.

Result; Windom Craig by TKO at 2:35 of Round 2

4. Amateur Bantamweight
Josh Burr (0-1 Team ATA) vs Jake Peterjohn (0-0 Strong Style)

RD 1: Leg kick by Peterjohn. Burr lands a hook. Peterjohn lads a hook of his own. Both trade shots with Peterjohn getting the advantage. Burr is bleeding from the nose. Peterjohn lands a jab and then another. They both miss punches and then Peterjohn lands a nice jab. Both land nice hooks. Peterjohn with another nice hook.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Peterjohn

RD 2: Burr hurts him with a punch and then drops him with a hook. Burr lands a few more shots and the ref stops it.

Result: Josh Burr by TKO at :28 of Round 2

5. Amateur 165 Pounds
DeDe Justice (1-0 Elite Sports Academy) vs Lalani Malley (4-0 Team 1)

RD 1: Leg kick and a hook by Malley. Malley lands a kick to the body. Malley catches a kick and takes her down. Malley gets her back and gets hooks in working hard for the choke. Justice tries to roll out but Malley hangs on and gets the rear naked for the tap.

Result: Lalani Malley by Tapout (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:45 of Round 1

6. Amateur Welterweight
Aleksey Itunin (Independent) vs Dustin Wolfe (2-0 Strong Style)

RD 1: Kick to the body by Itunin. Jab by Wolfe. Another kick to the body by Itunin. Wolfe gets a takedown and mount. Wolfe lands ground and pound and then gets his back and looks for a rear naked. He had it but Itunin pulls out. Wolfe looks for it again and now lands punches to the head. Itunin manages to get up. Wolfe lands punches and then drops down and gets a takedown. He gets his back and again looks for the rear naked. Wolfe lands head shots.
I scored RD 1: 10-8 Wolfe

RD 2: Kick to the body by Itunin. Wolfe lands a hook. Itunin with a nice kick to the body. They clinch on the cage and Wolfe lands a knee to the body. They separate and Itunin lands a cross and kick to the body. Wolfe gets a takedown and gets his back and looks for the choke. Wolfe begins landing punches till Itunin taps.

Result: Dustin Wolfe by Tapout (Strikes) at 1:48 of Round 2

7. Amateur Lightweight
Kyle Dolan (5-2 Independent) vs Dan Farnworth (4-1 GriffonRawl)

RD 1: Body kick by Dolan. They clinch on the cage and Farnworth gets a takedown. Dolan looks for a guillotine from the bottom, but Farnworth pulls out. Farnworth lands punches to the body. Farnworth tries to get his back but Dolan rolls and gets on top. Farnworth defends well. Dolan begins landing hard punches and gets his back. Dolan stands and lands punches.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Farnworth

RD 2: Leg kick by Farnworth. Farnworth drops for a takedown but Dolan drops punches down on him. Dolan is looking fro the choke. Now he gets mount and lands punches. He gets his back but Farnworth escapes and gets on top to close the round.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Dolan

RD 3: Leg kick by Farnworth. Farnworth hurts him with punches and drops him. Dolan gets on top but Farnworth hooks a triangle for the tap.

Result: Dan Farnworth by Tapout (Triangle Choke) at :30 of Round 3

8. Amateur Welterweight
Dave Vandevelde (5-0-1 Kim's Martial Arts) vs Andrew Law (6-2 Evolve MMA)

RD 1: Body kick by Vandevelde. They clinch on the cage and both lands knees. Rain and thunder stops the fight.

Result: No contest

Submission of the night: Lalani Malley

KO of the Night: Windom Craig

Fight of the Night: Aleksey Itunin vs Dustin Wolfe

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kassandre Harper-Cotton Interview


Usually at this point, I do a nice intro. Describing the person being interviewed and setting the stage for what you will read. I feel I can't do that here. Why? Because with over 400 interviews done, Kassandre Harper-Cotton did one of my five favorite's ever. I want you to do as I did, read it and prepare to become a fan. Kassandre is the type of person we need more of in the industry. She has competed several times and done well, and in 2012 will rock the stage in her first National competition.





Q: First, Kassandre, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you for the opportunity to do the interview. I have been following the blog for some time. And, it is always a pleasure and an inspiration to read about why and how women compete and train they way that they do.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I was born and raised in the Central Valley, more specifically, Stockton, CA. I am so honored and proud to say that my parents have been married for over 35 years. I have a younger sister in North Carolina (who cannot be convinced to move to the East Bay.) I have been married to my wonderfully, supportive husband for ten years. And, we have an inquisitive and humorous seven year old. I am 37 years old. Thanks to weight training and taking better care of myself, I welcome my forties with open arms. I am a middle school English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at a charter school. I always say, "Teaching chose me; I did not chose it." Four years ago, I had to substitute teach and the rest is history. I cannot imagine not being an educator. I have found my calling.

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I was never athlete. I wanted to be. I did not come from an athletic family. We did not participate in sports and we did not watch sports. My dad is 6'4" tall, and people assumed that he just had to play basketball. I never experienced the whole "Super Bowl phenomenon" (you know, those big sporting events when everything stops) until I was with my husband.
In middle school I wanted, so badly, to be an athlete. I saw the camaraderie amongst the athletes, especially the girl. I also admired the physiques that sports built. I secretly wanted a letterman's jacket, something to say that I excelled at something physical.
The first sport that I wanted to try track. I think I was hoping I had some innate ability to kick in. I was long and gangly. I, unknowingly, ended up at cross country try-outs. They ran, and ran, and ran. And, just did not stop. I kept wondering, "When do we get to the track? And, when do we stop running." Needless to say, I did not make the team. The second sport I tried was badminton. Our high school had a team that did really well. In P.E. it was such a delightful game, with the birdie flying slowly through the air. Competitive badminton was a different story. Those "delightful, floating, birdies" became heat-seeking missiles, complete with the whistling sound. I did not make that team, either.


Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: I joined my first gym in college. Well, it came with the tuition. I used it very sporadically. At, 5'8" and 120 pounds, I never felt the "need" to use it. I gained 20 pounds in the my freshman year, but that additional weight made me "look healthier" and I finally had some "curves". So, again, I did not feel inclined. However, fast forward to adulthood, after working, being married, and motherhood I found myself at 185 pounds and feeling increasingly self-conscious about how I looked.
In March 2007, my goal was "be a size 10 and 150 pounds". My only concern was seeing the number on the scale go down and choosing pants that did not read "14/16" on the label. I had made this promise many times before, but something in me was unyielding, this time. I was tired of wearing jeans in the summer. And, I was not going to buy another piece of clothing that I was uncomfortable in physically and emotionally. I wanted to feel and look strong and confident. I desired to be a hero to my daughter and to myself. So, I set upon the task of educating myself on nutrition and training. I made mistakes early on, like, relying on a lot of cardio. But, the reality was, I just was not comfortable in the weight area.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: In March 2007, something in me changed. I wanted to learn and apply what I learned about strength training. I was still married to that goal of "150 pounds and a size 10", though. Instead of focusing on what I was doing, I began to focus on small, daily goals. I realized that I kept quitting after a few weeks. I would declare that I had "done everything" and "nothing" was happening. And, that had to change.
Once I started focusing on my behavior and getting in the gym several times a week, I began to enjoy my time in the gym. I found Bodybuilding.com and became more knowledgeable about strength training. I even caught the attention of my first trainer, who I was with for three years. He helped me accelerate the changes that I made.


Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: I began frequenting message boards, websites, and profiles of women with admirable physiques. I learned that they were not in the gym all-day, they were not all "models", and some did not have trainers--as I had assumed. They had the same responsibilities that I did. I had not excuses. I also began to let go of my "magic number". I no longer wanted to limit myself, as I began to see that my potential was limitless. I told my trainer, at the time, that I was going to compete. Neither of us had experience with competing or knew what to expect. But, he knew that I was serious and we learned as we went.
I had gotten in the habit of taking and posting progress pictures. I remember getting a comment about my shoulders and quads. I was paying so much attention to what I was lacking, that I almost missed the wonderful changes that were happening. I had delts and quads. My body would never be the same. I just had to keep pushing to see what else would develop. My body began to look like an athlete's. And, that made me ecstatic.

Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: Overall, I received a lot of support. There were a few unsavory comments such as, "Why would you want to look like a man?" and "You are getting too skinny." I was even poked in the ribs. These comments did bother me. However, this was my personal challenge. I had the support of the people who were closest to me. And, while preparing to compete, I made very special friendships with women who understood my growing desire to compete--even when I did not understand it, myself.

Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: Competing was exhilarating! I was a painfully shy person. And, the process of getting to the stage to actually standing on stage required me to do things that were completely outside of my comfort zone. I began to blog, extensively, and share my experiences with others. This opened me up to new and beautiful friendships. I had to be structured and diet, consistently. I had to train harder and lift heavier than I believed that could. I was on stage in front of hundreds of strangers in a two-piece and clear heels. And, the photos of these events are online in perpetuity. These things have made me better in other realms of my life. It definitely made me more positive, more patient, and more willing to take risks.

Q: Can you share your contest history.
A:
*July 9, 2011-NPC San Jose Championships: 3rd,Class D; 4th, Master's 35+
*October 10, 2009-NPC San Francisco Championships: 3rd Place, Tall; 3rd Place Master's 35+
*Jul 12, 2011: NPC San Jose Bodybuilding Fitness, Figure & Bikini - Placing: 3
*Jul 12, 2011: NPC San Jose Bodybuilding Fitness, Figure & Bikini - Placing: 4
*Oct 10, 2009: NPC San Francisco Championships (Masters 35+) - Placing: 3
*Oct 10, 2009: NPC San Francisco Championships (Tall) - Placing: 3
*Jul 11, 2009: NPC San Jose BB'ing, Figure, and Bikini_Class D - Placing: 1
*Jul 11, 2009: NPC San Jose BB'ing, Figure, and Bikini_Master's 35+ - Placing: 2
*May 09, 2009: NPC The Contra Costa Bodybuilding, Figure, and Bikini - Placing: 15
*Oct 11, 2008: NPC San Francisco Bodybuilding and Figure Championship - Placing: 2


Q: What do you feel is your best body part?
A: My favorite body parts are my shoulders and back. My shoulders changed the entire look of my physique. And, I love that I have a wide back and a narrow waist. I think my v-taper is my strongest attribute. Plus, it is my favorite part to train.

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: My favorite exercises are: seated rows, lat pull downs, and I have a love/hate relationship with squats, lunges, and deadlifts.

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A; Prior to working with my current coach, would have been in the gym 6 times per week, doing two-a-days, reducing carbds, and drastically lowering my calories. Trying to figure out how to train and eat for muscle gain and then for leaning out is such a an art and a science. It was just a skill that I did not possess. Today, I work with Erik Ledin of Lean Bodies Consulting. I have been with him since October 2010. And, the experience (both off-season and pre-contest) has been eye-opening. I lifted heavy, had carb, had salt, and ate well during all phases of my training. I have gotten stronger, leaner, and continue to improve. Under his tutelage, I have done a TOTAL of 90 minutes of steady state cardio since October. And, that was during my peak week over two days!

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: The most memorable reaction was accompanied with a gasp, "But, you are so small!" People have an idea of what they think of woman who lifts weights looks like. Prior to really getting into the sport, I was guilty of this, as well. For the person who said that, she went on to say that I helped to debunk the myth that lifting heavy will make you "look like a man". Usually, reactions are very positive, though. I think it is a great position to be in when you can debunk those myths and pique someone's interest and motivation to adopt some healthier habits.


Q: When they see you that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: The most annoying (and rare) comment can come, unsolicited, from men, "Don't get too big. Men don't like that." The only man I have to impress gave me his name. Secondly, the beauty of bodybuilding and training is that I can transform my body into my ideal. That is so empowering, to me. I will always be a work in progress.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: There are so many misconceptions about women who compete. But, one that stands out is 'vanity'. People believe that dieting and training is all about just "looking good", "showing off", or being "selfish". Looking healthy and feeling confident in my skin is a benefit. However, there is so much more to this. Competing is such a small part of a long process. Competing requires one to practice patience, to be disciplined, to push the body beyond what is comfortable--all year! It is something that gave me an outlet. It is my "me time". It is something that I do for me outside of being a wife, mother, teacher. It is a way that I take care of myself so that I can do my everyday tasks, better.

Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: I enjoy each phase of training. Every phase has its benefits. I love the abundance and strength of the off-season. I love the weekly and, sometimes, daily, changes of preparing for a competition. I enjoy that training is NEVER easy. I am always trying to beat my best.

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: The competitors that I admire, I do so not only because of their physiques, but because of who they are off stage. Christine Anderson is not only has this beautiful, mature, curvaceous physique; she balances being a wife, mother, model, coach, and business owner with grace. You can, indeed, "have it all". Laura Bailey, is funny, savvy, and so grounded. She is a beautiful example of faith and integrity in an industry that can make one forget who they are. Paula Hannah provides me with a daily example of how someone can take fitness and use it as a banner to change the lives of others. She shares her story and her struggles freely so that others have something to hold on to--nothing is impossible. When I think of supportive, positive, and consistently pushing to improve as an athlete and extend herself, especially to those new to the sport, I think of Kia Patrece. Alexandra Porshnikoff was the first figure competitor that I ever met. She took time to explain the ins and outs of the sport and helped me walk in my first set of clear heels. I cannot rattle off shows and placings. But, I do know how they have impacted me.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Lately, I have had cravings for warm cookies. I love the smell, the texture, and the taste. Burgers, fries, and shakes are also another favorite. Oh, you said, "food"--I had to choose just one?

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advise you would most want to give her?
A: Go for it. Start doing research. Surround yourself with positive examples, both virtually and online. Begin logging your work outs and diet. If you can, get a knowledgeable coach to help you come up with a plan. Then, be consistent and committed. And, understand that there are no shortcuts, no magic pills, and no "easy button". If it becomes easy, you are not doing it right!

Q: Do you think its becoming more common for women to use the weights as opposed to just doing cardio and things?
A: Fortunately, in my experience, it has been I am seeing more women using weights. However, that myth of "getting too big" or the goal of "just wanting to tone", prevails. I definitely would like to support more women in feeling confident using heavier weights and not spending so much time doing cardio.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I enjoy blogging. Right now, the bulk of my time is spent studying for my teaching credential and getting ready for the upcoming school year. It sounds like work, but I do enjoy it.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Kassandre Harper-Cotton.
A: Right now, I am on summer break, so it is a luxury to be able to sleep late, and do what I want, at my leisure. But, during the year, my day begins as early at 4:00 a.m. I eat breakfast. Then, I will go to the gym and train until around 6-ish. I work from around 7:45-4:45. My students became very good and telling me when it was time to eat. After, work it is time for family matters. I like training in the morning because once the day is finished, I can just focus on family and relax.

Q: Describe Kassandre Harper-Cotton in five words.
A: Five words that describe me are: determined, open, friendly, creative, and diligent.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: Usually people are surprised by my lack of athletic background. I also enjoy fishing. My sister and I went with my dad as children. And, we introduced our daughter to it some time ago. She did not share the enthusiasm for that activity.

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I am going to do my first national show in approximately, 47 weeks (Jr. Nationals 2012). We know how fast that time can pass. So, I am ready to train hard and make some improvements.


Q: Kassandre, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Thank you for the opportunity, Jason!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

NAAFS Proving Grounds 9 Report


On July 16th NAAFS put on Proving Grounds 9. I believe it was the best Proving Grounds card yet. Some really good match-ups that really delivered. I saw several fighters on this card who have potential to be really good in the near future.

1. Amateur Featherweight
Derek Schultz (0-1 Ohio BJJC) vs Zach Forrester (0-1 PA Brawlers)

RD 1: Jab and uppercut by Forrester. Forrester lands another jab followed by a nice uppercut and kick. Forrester lands a knee to the body. Both land nice jabs. Hard leg kick by Forrester. Both land hard punches. Schultz gets a takedown and lands punches to the body. Forrester does good avoiding damage. Schultz now starts landing punches. The ref stands them up. Leg kick by Forrester who then lands a few punches. Forrester drops him with a hook.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Forrester

RD 2: Two punch combo by Forrester. Jab by Schultz. Forrester lands an uppercut. Schultz gets a takedown. Forrester avoids much damage. Schultz lands some shots to the body. The ref stands them and Forrester lands a two punch combo. Schultz misses a punch and Forrester tries for a guillotine as the round ends.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Forrester

RD 3: Uppercut by Forrester. Takedown by Schultz. Forrester again does a good job avoiding damage. Forrester pushes him off but Schultz gets back on top. Schultz stands and Forrester lands a great punch from the ground. Schultz gets on top in mount. Schultz looks for a choke and then gets side control, then goes back to mount and lands shots to the head. Schultz gets a sweep as the round ends.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Schultz
My score card: 29-28 Schultz

Result: Zach Forrester by Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)

2. Amateur Heavyweight
Alex Schultz (1-1 USA Martial Arts) vs Andi Iftiu (0-1 Brickhouse MMA)

RD 1: Leg kick by Schultz and answered by Iftiu with a leg kick of his own. Schultz shoots and gets stuffed. Iftiu lands punches in north south position. They stand and clinch on the cage. Knee by Schultz. Schultz gets a takedown and mount. Now gets his back and an armbar for the tap.

Result: Alex Schultz by Tapout (Armbar) at 1:49 pf Round 1

3. Amateur Welterweight
Matt Holland (2-1 Demolition Fight Team) vs John Whitten (5-6 CMA)

RD 1: Cross by Holland. hey clinch against the cage and Whitten goes for a guillotine. Holland escapes and Whitten gets a takedown. Holland has guard and holds him close. Holland gets a sweep to get on top and is in half guard. Holland lands body shots and then gets mount. He goes for the guillotine and gets it for the tap.

Result: Matt Holland by Tapout (Guillotine) at 2:04 of Round 1

4. Amateur Welterweight
Emmanuel Kangah (0-0 Shaolin Kung Fu) vs Will Johnson (0-0 Brickhouse MMA)

RD 1: Jab by Johnson. Leg kick by Kangah who then lands a hard leg kick. Both land leg kicks and hard punches. Kangah misses a back fist and Johnson gets a takedown. Kangah lands a leg kick. Johnson gets a takedown and gets mount and lands punches.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Johnson

RD 2: Leg kick by Kangah. Kangah tries for a takedown but can't get it. Two jabs by Johnson. Kangah lands a cross. Kangah hurts him with punches but Johnson gets a beautiful takedown and gets mount. He lands hard punches then moves to side control. He tries for an arm but cant get it. They stand but drop back down. Johnson gets mount but the round ends.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Johnson

RD 3: Johnson ducks a punch and gets a takedown into side control. Now in half guard he lands punches. Kangah gets up. Two hard jabs by Johnson and they clinch on the cage. Johnson is trying to get a takedown and finally gets it. The ref stands them. Kangah looks real tired. Johnson lands shots as Kangah moves away. Johnson shoots and gets a takedown to close the round.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Johnson
My score card: 30-27 Johnson

Result: Will Johnson by Split Decision (30-27/28-29/29-28)

5. Amateur Lightweight
Danny Doverspike (1-0 Evolve MMA) vs John Rodriguez (1-2 Fight Fit)

RD 1: Rodriguez lands punches and Doverspike clinches. Rodriguez takes it down and looks for a choke. Doverspike escapes and gets mount. Rodriguez lands from the bottom. Doverspike lands a nice punch from the top to end the round.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Rodriguez

RD 2: Takedown by Doverspike. Doverspike lands body shots, but Rodriguez defends well. Not much action here. The ref stands them. Leg kick by Doverspike followed by a real nice second leg kick. Rodriguez lands two kicks and Doverspike lands a nice cross.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Doverspike

RD 3: Spinning back fist by Rodriguez and Doverspike takes him down. Doverspike gets side control and then mount. He lands punches to the head and then the body. He continues landing even more to the head, then more to the body. He takes a second and then lands more head shots. He goes for an arm as the round ends.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Doverspike
My score card: 29-28 Doverspike

Result: Danny Doverspike by Unanimous Decision(30-27/30-27/30-27)

6. Amateur Bantamweight

Jordan Espinosa (3-0 Demolition Fight Team) vs Aaron Aravantis (2-0 USA Martial Arts)

RD 1: Aravantis charges in and Espinosa throws him down and lands punches. He gets up and Espinosa lands more punches. Leg kick by Aravantis. Two punches by Espinosa. They clinch against the cage and Espinosa lands punches in the clinch. Espinosa lands a knee and takes it down, but lets him up. Both land kicks. Espinosa lands a jab. Both land leg kicks and a jab by Espinosa. Body kick by Espinosaa. Espinosa lands a nice push kick.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Espinosa

RD 2: Two leg kicks by Aravantis. Nice cross by Espinosa. Leg kick by Espinosa. Jab by Aravantis. Front kick by Espinosa answered by Aravantis with a hook. Espinosa lands a kick low stopping action. They resume and Espinosa lands a jab answered by Aravantis with a cross. Aravantis lands a leg kick. Leg kick by Espinosa. Nice two kick combo by Espinosa. Another leg kick by Espinosa followed by a jab. Aravantis tries for a takedown but Espinosa gets on top and lands punches.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Espinosa

RD 3: Jab by Espinosa. Leg kick by Espinosa. Two more leg kicks by Espinosa. Espinosa lands a jab and Aravantis lands a kick low stopping the action. They resume and and Espinosa lands a jab and uppercut. Espinosa lands a knee to the body and then a hook. Body kick by Espinosa. Two punch combo by Espinosa.
I scored RD 3:1-9 Espinosa
My score card: 30-27 Espinosa

Result: Jordan Espinosa by Unanimous Decision (30-27/30-27/30-27)

7. Amateur 140 Pound
Emily Easton (0-1 Independent) vs Ashley Hawkins (1-1 Team Bundy)

RD 1: Both land punches. Easton takes it down. Hawkins pulls guard. Hawkins does a great job avoiding any damage. Hawkins lands punches from the bottom. Easton lands shots to the body. Hawkins gets up and then gets on top. Easton holds her close. Hawkins lands body shots. Hawkins stands and throws kicks. Hawkins gets back on top and lands body shots. Hawkins postures up and lands more shots.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Hawkins

RD 2: Leg kick by Hawkins. They clinch on the cage. Nice uppercut by Hawkins. Knee to the body by Hawkins. Easton gets a takedown and side control. Easton not active from top while Hawkins works hard for a sweep. Easton lands a hard punch but Hawkins lands more from bottom.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Hawkins

RD 3: Cross by Hawkins. Body kick by Hawkins. Hawkins hurts her with punches. Easton shoots by nice sprawl by Hawkins. Hawkins gets side control and lands punches and knees to the body. Hawkins tries for the mount but gets blocked. Hawkins lands more shots. The ref stands them. Leg kick by Hawkins to end the round.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Hawkins
My score card: 30-27 Hawkins

Result: Ashley Hawkins by Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)

8. Amateur Light Heavyweight
O.J. Vickers (5-10 AMS) vs Ryan Walls (5-3 Central Block MMA)

RD 1: They clinch and Walls gets a takedown. Vickers gets on top. Great grappling and battling for position here. Walls goes for and gets the rear naked choke forcing Vickers to tap.

Result: Ryan Walls by Tapout (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:59 of Round 1

9. Amateur Featherweight
Russ Brletrick (5-4 Independent Crew) vs Mike Velasquez (3-0 USA Martial Arts)

RD 1: Two jabs by Brletrick. They clinch on the cage and Brletrick gets a takedown. Velasquez goes for a heel hook but Brletrick pulls out. They stand and clinch and quickly separate. Leg kick by Brletrick followed by a knee to the body. They clinch and both land knees. They separate and Velazquez lands a jab. They clinch against the cage and Velasquez lands a knee. They separate and Velasquez lands a jab and leg kick.. Brletrick lands two punches and gets a takedown and gets his back as round ends.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Brletrick

RD 2: They clinch against the cage and quickly separate. Brletrick lands two punches and Velasquez gets a takedown. Brletrick gets up and lands a leg kick. Brletrick lands a nice cross. Brletrick throws him down and lands kicks to the leg. He lets him up. Velasquez is cut under the eye. More punches by Brletrick and then a leg kick. Brletrick lands a jab and two more punches. They clinch on the cage and Brletrick lands punches.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Brletrick

RD 3: Cross by Brletrick. Velasquez shoots but gets stuffed. Uppercut by Velasquez. They clinch on the cage and quickly separate. Two punch combo by Velasquez. Leg kick by Velasquez. Brletrick hurts him with a punch. Brletrick lands a jab and Velasquez a hook. Brletrick lands an uppercut and gets a takedown. He lets him up. Velasquez drops him with a punch. Brletrick gets up and shoots and takes it down.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Velasquez
My score card: 29-28 Brletrick

Result: Russ Brletrick by Unanimous Decision (29-28/30-27/30-27)

10. Amateur Bantamweight
Jordan Baldwin (1-0 Evolve MMA) vs Jerrell Hodge (1-0 Brickhouse MMA)

RD 1: Hodge drops him with a cross. Baldwin gets up quick. The clinch and Hodge takes him down. Good grappling here. Baldwin avoids damage. Hodge stands and they clinch on the cage. Hodge trying for a single leg and gets it. Hodge is in side control. Baldwin pulls guard. Baldwin tries for a triangle and Hodge lands punches to the body.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Hodge

RD 2: Baldwin drops him with a leg kick. Hodge gets up and lands a leg kick and cross. Baldwin is bleeding from the nose. Baldwin hurts him with punches. They clinch against the cage and Baldwin lands a knee to the body. Hodge drops him with a hook and gets his back and the rear naked for the tap.

Result: Jerrell Hodge by Tapout (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:51 of Round 2

11. Amateur Bantamweight
Brett Gruber (4-3 Ohio BJJC) vs Nate Mango (12-6 Independent)

RD 1: Body kick by Mango. Jab by Mango. Gruber shoots in but eats two punches, Body kick by Gruber. Gruber tries to get his back but gets taken down. They stand back up. Body kick by Mango and Gruber answers with one of his own. Leg kick by Gruber. Gruber takes him down will a guillotine for the tap.

Result: Brett Gruber by Tapout (Guillotine) at 1:23 of Round 1

12. Amateur 120 Pound
Rachel Sazoff (1-1 Ricardo Almeida) vs Rebecca Gruitza (1-1 Team Bundy)

RD 1: Leg kick by Gruitza. Sazoff clinches on the cage. Knee to the leg by Sazoff and Gruitza lands one of her own.Gruitza lands punches. They separate and clinch again. Knee to the leg by Gruitza. The ref separates them. Both land leg kicks. Jab by Gruitza. Leg kick by Gruitza and then one to the body. Sazoff lands a cross and gets a takedown. Gruitza defending well. Sazoff postures up and lands a punch.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Gruitza

RD 2: Jab by Gruitza. Cross by Sazoff and then a body kick. Gruitza lands several punches. Gruitza lands a jab and Sazoff charges in but misses. Leg kick by Gruitza. Both land leg kicks. Gruitza lands a jab and Sazoff lands a cross. Sazoff clinches and Gruitza lands good punches. They separate and Gruitza lands a jab. Sazoff clinches and Gruitza lands a kick to push her away. Sazoff lands a jab. Gruitza hurts her with punches to close the round.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Gruitza

RD 3: Leg kick by Gruitza. Two punches by Gruitza. Body kick by Sazoff and then a leg kick. Gruitza lands a jab and body kick. Sazoff lands a body kick. Gruitza lands two kicks to the body and then several hard punches. Both are now landing hard shots. Sazoff with a nice jab to the body. Gruitza lands to leg kicks. Sazoff with a kick to the body and Gruitza answers with a kick to the body. Both trade hard shots and they clinch on the cage.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Gruitza
My score card: 30-27 Gruitza

Result: Rebecca Gruitza by Split Decision (29-28/28-29/29-28)

13. Amateur Lightweight
Bob Tipinski (5-5 Independent Crew) vs Dave Graf (3-3 Brickhouse MMA)

RD 1: Lots of feints by both. Both land a cross. Slam by Graf. Graf lands punches from the top. Tipinski looks for a triangle but Graf pulls out and lands a punch. Graf tries for mount but can't get it. More punches from Graf. Tipinski gets up and drops a couple punches. Graf lands an up kick to the head and pokes him in the eye.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Graf
Tipinski says he can't continue, so since it was ruled from an illegal blow, it is called a no contest.

Result: No Contest

14. Amateur Welterweight
Zac Gobel (6-3 Dragons Den MMA) vs Nick Kilian (6-2 Relson Gracie Cleveland)

RD 1: Leg kick by Gobel. Gobel gets a takedown. He looks for a choke but Kilian defending well. Kilian gets up and takes Gobel down. Kilian drops hard punches. He then lands more hard shots. Gobel looks for a triangle but Kilian moves to side control. Kilian lands punches and moves to mount and lands more punches. Kilian gets his back and the rear naked for the tap.

Result: Nick Kilian by Tapout (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:33 of Round 1

Submission of the Night: Brett Gruber

Knockout of the Night: No knockouts

Fight of the Night: Emmanuel Kangah vs Will Johnson

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Patricia Vidonic Interview


I have long been familiar with Patricia Vidonic, but somehow I never asked her for an interview. Don't know how I went so long before asking her, as Patricia is a great representative of women's MMA and a talented fighter as well. After her recent title win for Beatdown MMA I asked her and am happy she said yes. I know if you find out a little about Patricia, you will be a fan to.



Q: First, Patricia I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you for asking me.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself?
A: I am a wife, mom and all around down to earth person. I grew up in Oregon, but we moved to Farmington, NM back in December 2010.

Q: Were you especially athletic growing up? Play any sports?
A: Yeah, I was pretty athletic, I rode horses, played softball and was a tomboy. In high school I played softball and was on the Olympic style weight lifting team.

Q: What initially got you started training for MMA?
A: My husband, back when we were still only friends, he told me he was going to be training some other girl in our town, so I asked if I could try it out too. After a few times training I was hooked and just wanted to learn more.


Q: Was the training something you picked up fairly easy?
A: Some of it, but hard work, dedication and drive are what make it fairly easy in the long run. I had some natural abilities, but "You get out what you put into it."

Q: How long did you train before your first fight?
A: That was a mistake on my part by confirming a fight with out my coach (I do not recommend this), my coach had 3 weeks to prep me for my first fight.

Q: Was fighting something your family and friends supported?
A: My Grandma Selda, Grandpa Bud , and Uncle Mike are my biggest supporters besides my awesome husband Jason and our boy Marky. Everyone in my life knows that if you aren't supportive of me, that's your loss.

Q: Where do you train at now?
A: In Farmington New Mexico.

Q: Can you give your overall record so far?
A: As an amateur I was 4-1. Pro I am 4-1, I just won the Beatdown MMA 110lb Title. I also was a participant on the Ultimate Women's Challenge reality show.

Q: Is there one fight you would say you are most proud of?
A: Definitely, my last fight. June 25th vs. Lacey Schuckman for the Beatdown MMA 110lb Pro Title. I was very happy with my performance, and most of all the outcome. I am looking forward to defending my title =)


Q: What would you say is your biggest strength and the one thing you most
want to improve?
A: My work ethic is my biggest asset. I want to improve on anything we see is necessary, I don't think there is ever just one thing to improve on. Just sayin' ;-)

Q: Are there any fighters you are a fan of or love to watch?
A: Yes, Cris Cyborg Santos is my Favorite, she isn't just a fighter, she is also a wife and mother. She is recognized for her fighting skills and I have a lot of respect for her classiness as well as Marloes Conen. Love those ladies!

Q: Do you ever see a major U.S. women's only company being viable?
A: Sure it could, but I like to watch guys fight too. I think it's nice to have co-ed cards.


Q: Often you watch a show that has one women's fight. Somehow that fight always turns out to be the most exciting fight on the card. Why do you think that is?
A: Because girls ROCK!! =)

Q: What is the biggest misconception about female fighters?
A: That we are less skilled, or not as strong as the guys. Well that's why you should never judge a book by it's cover.

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to train for the sport, whats the biggest piece of advice you would give her?
A: Get to the gym!

Q: Outside of training and fighting, any other hobbies or activities you
enjoy?
A: I like hiking or doing anything with my guys (Jason my hubby and Marky our son)

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Patricia Vidonic?
A: I get up, go running. Train, then rest. Later in the day I do some more cardio and conditioning, then train again. That just about sums it up.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: That I can bake like Betty Crocker =)

Q: Describe Patricia Vidonic in five words.
A: Dedicated, focused, determined, strong, humble.

Q: So whats next for you? Any idea when you will be fighting again?
A: Like always, lots of offers, nothing confirmed; however, I will keep everyone posted......

Q: Anything you want to take this time to plug or promote?
A; I want to thank ~ Failures No Option ~ Damage Control Mouthguards ~ Fight Soap ~ Kingdom Connection Ministries ~ I also want to thank my coach, my fans, family and friends who follow my career and support me.


Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so, how can they reach you and what are
they getting in Patricia Vidonic the fighter and person?
A: Yes, I am always looking for sponsors. I am a very active fighter with growing exposure; I will always represent my sponsors in a professional manner. If you are interested please contact us at mailto:TeamVidonic@live.com

Q: Patricia, I want to thank you for doing this. Any last words before you
go?
A: I want to thank you for this interview, I want to thank everyone at Rough House MMA in Colorado Springs for inviting us in to finish up my training camp for my last fight. I appreciate everyones support of my career and WMMA. If you want to follow my career please go to my Fan Page on Facebook.

Nikki Lowe Interview


I admit I have yet to see Nikki Lowe fight. But I have heard great things about her. But without seeing her fight, reading her interview has made me a fan. MMA is my passion, and I cover women's MMA, and I love that there are people like Nikki in it. Sometimes you can tell just by hearing or reading about someone that they are going to be great. I can tell just from reading Nikki's words she has the heart, passion and dedication to be great in this sport.



Q: First, Nikki I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you for contacting me and asking me for the interview.. I'm excited about it.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I'm 26 Years old and as of right now am a single mother of two. I work as a corrections officer here in Albuquerque.

Q: Were you especially athletic growing up? Play any sports?
A: I played basketball through out Middle school and high school.


Q: What initially got you started training for MMA?
A: I got started in MMA a few months after I lost my older brother. It helped me with my grief and my anger.

Q: Was the training something you picked up fairly easy?
A: Training did come easy because I'm a very competitive and strong hearted person.

Q: How long did you train before your first fight?
A: I trained about five months before my first fight which I won TKO in the third round.

Q: Was fighting something your family and friends supported?
A: My friends definitely supported me and one of my older brothers for sure but my mom on the other hand wasn't and still isn't so happy or supportive of it.

Q: Where do you train at now?
A: I'm training with Albuquerque Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Q: Can you give your overall record so far.
A: I am 2-1 TKO, TKO by doctor stoppage and loss by decision.


Q: Is there one fight you would say you are most proud of?
A: I would say I'm proud of my second fight which is the one I lost. It was against a girl who comes from a wrestling family and cut a lot of weight to fight me. we went all three rounds and ended in decision. We got fight of the night. I broke my hand on her head and broke her nose. It was so much fun. I tried to pull out of that fight because I wasn't mentally ready. I had so much going on months before the fight and told them I wasn't going to take it but they didn't have anyone to replace me so I moved on with it. That made me realize that you come first in this sport and if you're not ready then don't take it. I know I could have had that fight but my head just wasn't there.

Q: What would you say is your biggest strength and the one thing you most want to improve?
A: My biggest strength is how much heart I put into it. I would love to improve in everything. There's really not just one thing I want to improve.

Q: Name the one fight you have seen that you will always remember?
A: I will always remember the Cyborg vs Corano fight because they are two of my biggest inspirations.


Q: Are there any fighters you are a fan of or love to watch?
A: I am a fan of my brother Scott Lowe and I love to watch him fight. Also my friend Rudy Morales out of Las Vegas.

Q: In your opinion, who are the top five female fighters in the sport pound for pound?
A: Cyborg for sure, Gina Corano, Meisha Tate, Julie Kedzie and Kaitlin Young

Q: Do you ever see a major U.S. women's only company being viable?
A: I do.. Hopefully someone will step it up and do it.

Q: Often you watch a show that has one women's fight. Somehow that fight always turns out to be the most exciting fight on the card. Why do you think that is?
A: I was just talking about this to a friend. I really don't know. I think that maybe cause we want people to see that we train and fight just as hard as the guys do and we want to show that we have what it takes. I know when I'm out there I'm fighting my hardest and so is the other woman. We don't waste time and handle business.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about female fighters?
A: The biggest hmmm I think that we don't train as hard as the men..

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to train for the sport, whats the biggest piece of advice you would give her?
A: Don't be scared to get hit in the face.

Q: Outside of training and fighting, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: Just hanging with my kiddos and spending as much time as I can with them.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Nikki Lowe.
A: Wake up, Make the kids some food, watch a little t.v then head to the gym. Leave the gym around 1230 head home, clean up, make lunch, take the kids to the sitter then head to work until 11 at night. Then on my days of just do whatever the kids want to do and also take care of what I got to do too.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: That I had surgery to have a pituitary tumor removed from my head in 2008.. My doctor told me I was walking around half dead and that I should have been blind.

Q: Describe Nikki Lowe in five words.
A: Outgoing, Caring, Loving, Tough and Silly

Q: So whats next for you? Any idea when you will be fighting again?
A: I was supposed to fight July 8th here in Albuquerque but can't because of separated ribs. So I hope to go back to Las Vegas in August and fight for Tuff N Nuff..

Q: Anything you want to take this time to plug or promote?
A: I want to thank everyone that has supported me and is proud of me. My sponsor R&D Entertainment, Black Diamond Screen Printing, Mike Chu, 5 Star, my co-workers, my coach William Carpenter and everyone at the gym, My brother Scott Lowe and My brother Thomas (may he rest in peace). Most of all my kids, Nokose and Mvhayv. The loves of my life.


Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so, how can they reach you and what are they getting in Nikki Lowe the fighter and person?
A: Yes I am looking for sponsors and would be honored if anyone would be interested. With me you get a very real and honest person kind and strong hearted. I also fight for my native peoples. Love being a role model to them and all youth. You can reach me on facebook, Nikki Lowe (Albuquerque, NM) or through e-mail... nikkirlowe@yahoo.com

Q: Nikki, I want to thank you for doing this. Any last words before you go?
A: Would just like to thank you for taking the time and interest in doing this interview with me and wish you well and good health.. Ta Ta for now.... MVTO!!!! (thank you)

Laurie Poole Interview


Once in awhile you will see may say something about how I was unfamiliar with a competitor but quickly became very impressed. That applies to Laurie Poole. Whats not to be impressed with? Great physique, in two shows a 2nd place and a 1st place, and a love and dedication to the gym and improving her physique. I expect to hear the name Laurie Poole a lot more in this sport.





Q: First, Laurie, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I have been married for 11 years and have 2 sons. My husband (Jonathan) and the boys are very special to me! I grew up in Western Maryland...a little town called Gilmore. When I graduated from college, I loaded up my car and headed south to Charlotte, NC and fell in love with it there.

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: In high school I ran track for 2 years and my sister and I exercised quite a bit. We would take walks and do stretching exercises almost every night. I wouldn't say I was especially athletic though.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: In college (17 years ago) I had to take physical education classes for my major, so I joined "fitness center." They had a variety of weight machines and cardio equipment and to get an "A" in the class you had to sign in 3 times a week and work out for 30 minutes. I took the class initially just to get the grade, then I signed up a few more semesters just to have access to the class. That was my first real introduction into the gym. I did join the YMCA in college too and worked out with my boyfriend at the time who "guided" me on the equipment...lol. When I moved to Charlotte I joined a large gym right away, but mostly hung out in the cardio section. I used to do a variety of classes, step, bodypump, whatever they had and continued these through both pregnancies. I stayed in fairly decent shape and started to venture out into the land of weights from time to time. Then a few years ago I finally hired a trainer because I wanted to see some real results...a few weeks into the training I found out I was pregnant for a 3rd time (unplanned), so that changed my workouts. 12 weeks into the pregnancy I found out I had miscarried....that was really hard. I didn't know what to feel or do at the time. The summer following that is when I decided I wanted to get serious and really change my life.


Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: I enjoyed lifting weights right away, so much more than doing any type of cardio. When I started lifting I saw results in my upper body and arms right away because for me that area responds quickly. It literally has taken years though to get my legs to respond and I have to credit having trainers for that. I never lifted heavy or hard enough before to stimulate my lower body.

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: When I was a kid my sister and I would watch bodybuilding competitions on TV (they are never televised now). I remember watching Cory Everson! So, I always admired that physique. I have always wanted to be in great shape and have really muscular legs. I tend to carry extra fat weight in my thighs and glutes. I started looking up trainers on the internet and looking at women who gave testimonials and thought....if they can do it, so can I. In 2009 my husband and I took a beach vacation and in one of our conversations I told him I wanted to start seriously training and do a bodybuilding show. Plus by this point, my weight had started to creep upward....a pound here, a pound there. I felt so out of shape although I was in the gym regularly.

Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: Uh, my husband and friends yes...my immediate family no. They just don't really get it. They especially didn't get it the first time, they are a little better now.


Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: Well, I had no idea what to expect. I thought I would be eating like crazy to gain a bunch of size and then dieting to get ripped! Not so, my trainers have kept the diet pretty moderate...no large swings in calories. It was just a lot harder than I thought to get ready, especially the first time. I was surprised by how hard it was...and finally realized that after all these years of working out, it is just too soooo much more work than I ever thought.

Q: Can you share your contest history?
A: I competed 1st in June of 2010 in a U.S.B.F. show in York, PA and placed 2nd in the Novice Bodybuilding. My most recent competition was June 4, 2011 in Greensboro, NC and I placed first in the Open Middleweight. That was an N.G.A. show.

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: I have always felt my chest is my best body part. It responds quickly, gets striated, and is easy to get a pump in the gym.

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: I love to train my back. Any type of row or pulling motion is good, and I am starting to love pull ups now that I can do them!


Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: I like to be on a 4 day split...something like Chest/Back, Shoulders/Traps, Legs, Biceps/Triceps. I do mix that up occasionally, and am thinking of splitting my legs this year and see what kind of results I get. In the off season my diet is still clean with a cheat meal once a week, but the carbs are moderate and consistent. When I start dieting at about 12 weeks out I cut out most cheat meals, and at about 6 weeks out cut out bread and dairy, and start carb cycling.

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: Most people have a positive reaction when they find out I compete. It feels good to have positive affirmation. It really gets on my nerves though when I get comments like "please don't get all hulked out and manly like those women I saw at (insert a show here)....." I hate that people have a negative connotation of women bodybuilders.

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: I don't ever really get sick of any questions....it just gets tiring explaining to people what I do. A lot of people want suggestions on their own diets, etc...but I feel like it's a waste of my breath most of the time because they are not going to do what I say! Everyone has to find something they can live with and enjoy fitness-wise...that's what I tell them.


Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: Women think that lifting heavy is going to make them big. You hear it all the time "If I lift too heavy my legs are going to get big so I am going to do light weight, high rep".....Hey..already been there and bought into that thinking...it's a lie! I wish women would not be afraid to lift heavy and hard.

Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: The best part is the results I get, I love feeling strong and changing my body. The worst part is fitting it all into a work schedule and finding the time to be a good mom. It's very emotional too to be in contest prep mode for 12-16 weeks...compete...and then it's like "now what?" The weeks after a show are very hard emotionally...to not get down and worry about gaining weight.

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I pretty much admire anyone who is willing to get out there and compete. I know it's alot of hard work and dedication.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Mexican food....love it! Cheesecake, brownies....

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: Lift heavy and hard, eat clean, and stay positive.

Q: Do you think its becoming more common for women to use the weights as opposed to just doing cardio and things?
A: Not in my experience....most women stick to aerobics classes and the cardio room.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I love the beach...sun and sand are two of my favorite things. Ironically I love to cook! I am addicted to collecting recipes. I also like to read.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Laurie Poole.
A: It's pretty normal....get up early, help get kids ready for school, then head to the gym! In the evenings we sometimes take the boys out to throw baseballs or play tennis (well, TRY) to play anyway!

Q: Describe Laurie Poole in five words.
A: Honest, Trustworthy, Strong, Happy, and Healthy

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I think most people are just surprised to find out that I compete in bodybuilding. I secretly want a tattoo someday, and I once considered joining a roller derby league.

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I plan on competing again later this year in another natural show. Next year I may take a year off and really focus on gaining some strength so that I can enter some weightlifting competitions.

Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: As far as products, I have used some really good ones, but I don't have any official sponsors. I would like to give a plug to my former trainer, Karen Sessions. She really knows her stuff!

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Laurie Poole the athlete and competitor?
A: I would love to have some sponsors! They can email me at laurielpoole@gmail.com I can say that if anyone would sponsor me I would definitely give them the credit where it's due! I work hard and am very passionate about my workouts and physique.


Q: Laurie, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: I just wanted to say thanks for allowing me to do this interview and encourage women to get in the gym and lift heavy and hard! I love what you are doing with promoting women in the sport and giving us a voice!

Diane's Diary by Diane Mueller


Inspiration comes in many forms and from many different sources. Sometimes being in a certain place motivates us, seeing a movie, reading a book and sometimes we are motivated by associating with a particular person. What motivates you? What things in your life make you train heavier and push harder than you normally do with your own methods? Admittedly physique competitors, meaning bodybuilders, figure or fitness competitors need to be self-motivated. There has to be a desire from deep within to create the best physique possible. Without the internal drive to become the best you possibly can be, a competitor would never follow a strict contest diet for months or make daily dates with the gym for years on end, all the while attempting to maintain as normal of a social life as possible. However, living the life of a competitor and having a social life are two terms that don’t really go together. I can recall numerous family functions, gatherings of friends and many other fun events that I’ve had to pass the opportunity to go to simply because I was prepping for a show and it wouldn’t have been in my best interest to attend. That doesn’t make me special, it simply makes me dedicated to a goal. The same can be said for practically every competitor I know. As competitors, we all recognize that for us to have the best chance of accomplishing our goal there are certain things we must do for us to have the best opportunity at success. Success is never a given, but one thing that is a given is; without discipline there will be no success as a competitor. This brings me back to the original question I posed, “What motivates you?”



Many people find motivation from conversing with other competitors, people who share the same goals and disciplines. There’s a kindred spirit quality amongst competitors that most non-competitors don’t understand. The only people who can honestly understand the sacrifices that a competitor must make are other competitors. Closely related to conversing with other competitors for motivation is working with and training with a mentor. Training with someone you admire can inspire a newfound passion and confidence than you ever thought possible. This is something I discovered last year, when I began training with the natural female bodybuilder I admired the most, and my current Coach, Jennifer Abrams. Jennifer’s massive physique was ingrained in my mind from the very first moment I saw her compete. After observing her stage presence, poise, confidence, and posing routines, it was clear to me that the woman was an artist. Artistry in her ability to perfectly sculpt her physique, to the grace in which she performs her guest posing routines, I knew she was the ideal person to help me make the necessary improvements to my own stage presence and posing concerns. Her assistance grew from working with me on my posing and routine, to helping me with my weight training. Ultimately I became a member of Team Abrams, a group of individuals that she personally prepares for their competition experience. I competed in 3 shows last year under her guidance and I had never been better prepared, more confident or more motivated to succeed in any of my previous years of competing combined. When you find the person who inspires you and is able to bring out the very best in you, then you have found your mentor. My competition life and bodybuilding career has skyrocketed since finding my mentor. Jennifer makes me believe there are no limits and that my potential is endless. Now that’s what I call: Inspiration.





Another shining example of creating motivation through working with someone you admire was evidenced by my friend, and Big Rig Supplements teammate, Jeanette Samuelson. Jeanette is currently putting the finishing touches on her prep-work for the NPC Southern States Championships. She is a veteran figure competitor who has more than enough self-motivation to compete and be successful in this show on her own accord. However, even she knows, there’s no substitute for a dose of last minute inspiration. And inspiration is exactly what she received, when she had a posing practice session with IFBB professional, Ava Cowan. A private session with an industry superstar like Ms Cowan would certainly make any amateur competitor green with envy, but for Jeanette, it was the final piece of prep-work to push her to the top. Jeanette describes the session as an amazing and extremely beneficial experience. Not only did Ava work with her to perfect her t-walk and posing, but she went so far as to practice a pose down with her. Jeanette says she was on cloud 9 the remainder of the day, and has her stage smile and signature poses ready to go. There’s no doubt in my mind that Jeanette will be a huge force to be reckoned with July 8th and 9th in Ft. Lauderdale.


Wherever your goals and passions lie, make sure you push as hard as you can and strive to be your absolute best. Always follow the dream that’s in your heart and delight in every stepping stone you cross along the way. Remember, the smallest stepping stone could turn out to be the catalyst that catapults you to the next level. Success doesn’t happen over night, it comes from years of hard work and taking advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. The simplest opportunity can yield career altering effects on your ability to reach your goals. My opportunity came from meeting and training with my mentor. Once my confidence level had improved, my entire outlook on the bodybuilding and fitness industry as a whole has improved. Now that my vision has cleared, I can see that even the sky is NOT the limit. Onward and upward.

Thank you to my sponsors: 911Strong.com and Big Rig Supplements for your support of me and my bodybuilding goals. I would also like to thank my Coach and my mentor, Jennifer Abrams. My life has changed for the better since the day I met you and it is my pleasure to help pay your kindness forward. If you or anyone you know is interested in competing for the first time, or are already a competitor looking to take your physique to the next level or in perfecting your stage presence, please contact Jennifer at: Jenniferlynnabrams@yahoo.com or look her up at www.jenniferabrams.net.





Until next time, train heavy, train hard, and train NATURAL!!
~Diane