Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Spotlight Interview: IFBB Pro Jillian Reville

Q: First, can you talk about what initially led you to start training?
A: Well I started training in the gym when I moved to California when I was 25. I wanted to lose weight, everybody in California was pretty fit and in shape. I felt I had a lot of weight gained from college. I started working with a trainer and lost 30 pounds in three months. I kept training and everyone at the gym kept telling me I had the right frame for women's Figure. I thought they were crazy because I had no knowledge of Figure or bodybuilding. So that's how I got my start.

Q: Was there any aspect that was harder for you to learn or pick up?
A: No! I had been a swimmer growing up so I was used to long intense training sessions. In high school I trained before and after school. So I was used to putting in the time into a sport I cared about. Making the transition to lifting, I really was very determined. When I set a goal I reach it, no matter what it takes. At first, I had to learn form and that kind of stuff. But when it came down to it I was determined to reach my goals.

Q: What made you decide to compete?
A: I first decided to compete because when I moved to New York, I trained with a trainer who was a bodybuilder, and I saw him win his first show and I saw the girls that were competing. I felt like I could dominate. I felt I could look as good as them if not better. Something came over me and I wanted to be up there on stage. I told him the next day that I wanted to train for a show, and he was like "Hell yeah I'll train you". So we started training right away. I dieted longer than the average person would for their first show cause I had to build and bulk quickly. I started in June and the first show was the 2007 Eastern's in New York.

Q: I heard many people say when you were still in Figure, that you would be a pro at some point. How does it feel when other competitors say that?
A: I will give you a great example that happened to me this weekend at USA's. I went to support one of my best friends Melissa Di Bernardo, who was in the middleweight class for female Bodybuilding and Juan Morel in men's bodybuilding. The first show I attended as a pro, and I cant even explain how many women came up to me and complimented me on my look, and their coaches had wanted them to try and diet down to have my look on stage, and how I inspired women to try Physique cause if I could do it, they could do it to. It was such a great feeling to know I inspired or helped women that I didn't even know. The sport can be lonely, everybody has friends on Facebook or the boards, but it really is an individual sport. You against the weights, you against your physique. It was really nice to hear that I had made a difference and inspired these women. That was one of the best things that happened over the weekend.

Q: Obviously you switched to physique. Is their a reason you decided to try it?
A: Yeah, I had always done extremely well at the local and regional level. I won the New York Mets, 2nd at Atlantic States, won Connecticut shows, won the Europa last year. But starting in 2009 when I started to do National shows I was told I was too muscular for Figure and would never obtain the look they want. That really made me pissed off. I figured, what they heck, why can't I? I looked at the women turning Pro and thought I looked better than them, or the same. I didn't understand why my physique was not what they wanted. So I kept plugging away and last year I did so many shows. I did the Arnold and did very well, I got 8th, they were International judges, so they like the harder look. I did the New York Mets and got 2nd in my class, so I was like "alright maybe the changes I made are what they want", so I kept training the same way. Then I did Team U, and I came in really lean which was a mistake, but it happens I get very lean and I got last call outs. I was furious.I couldn't believe that I was getting last call out. Not that I believe I should have been 1st, or 2nd, or 3rd, or even 5th. I could not believe I was no placing, and to be called pout last was infuriating. I did the Connecticut Europa and won the overall. So I was like "O.k., back on track, let me do nationals one more time". Showed up, and yet again, last call outs. I walked off stage and was with Melissa Di Bernardo and Laura Bailey and said "That's it, I'm done. I'm not putting myself in the position where I come in softer, I don't like it, and be judged like this." Then I spoke with Dan Ray and he said they were coming out with Physique, in between Figure and Bodybuilding. I didn't want to do it and needed a mental break. Then I had a bunch of people say it sounds like what I am fit for. They said "you come in lean, you come in hard, come in ripped, just soften up and go with the new posing". So I said fine, first show I will see how it goes, give it one more try and at Jr. USA's I got 4th. The feedback was that I was a little too lean, they wanted me to not be so striated in my glutes and shoulders, come in a little more full. I had judges tell me to do Jr. Nationals. So I jumped in, we drove out there, to save money on flights and ended up winning the class.

Q: How hard was it to learn the posing?
A: The posing itself was not hard to learn. I'd been watching and paying attention for years. It really is like bodybuilding, except for the open hand poses. It helps when you get leaner and know where to place your legs so the muscles show correctly, or need hold my arms out or flex more. But the routine was the tough part. Michelle Brent did my routine. I started with her 16 weeks out. We worked together at least once a week. I'm not a dancer, no gymnastics background, so it was hard to pick up. I wanted it to be perfect. I know routines aren't scored, but I wanted it to be perfect. I was very pleased with how it turned out.

Q: You kind of addressed this, but after Jr. USA's were you able to figure out what improvements you needed?
A: I actually felt very confident that my physique was what they wanted. With the feedback I got, I was too lean, and I went up to Jim Manion to thank him for putting the division together and he was like "were you in the tall class?" I said "Yeah, Jillian Reville", he was like "Yes, the girl with the delts." I was like "Oh God", cause that's what everyone always told me. They were too big and dominant. I was like "not again". Cause the last year I didn't train shoulders so it was awesome to train shoulders again. But it was funny to be called the girl with the delts. So I knew I needed to tone down the striations in my shoulders. It was the thing I could see sticking out compared to the other girls.

Q: You won your pro card at Jr. Nationals. Whats the first thing that went through your head?
A: Oh my God. I still get chills thinking about it. It was kind of like, such an amazing feeling for after two really really hard depressing years in Figure, all the stress, the times I was told I would never turn pro, or my look wasn't what they wanted. Then to finally be rewarded and finally stand up there with the caliber of women that was up there. Everybody up there was happy with their physiques and to train a different way. It was like a new group of friends meeting. Some of us new each other from the year before. When they called Nola to be 2nd and I was gonna win, I wanted to cry. Tears of happiness and shock. Every time I think about it I smile.

Q: Does having the pro card carry more responsibility?
A: That's a good question. I think it means different things to different people. To me, I am proud of where I came from, to now be a part of the IFBB. It makes me proud and humble to be part of such a small group of athletes that worked so hard from all over the world. Especially with the new division. I feel pros should have a certain presence or quality about them. I feel I have been a good representative of the sport. I am educated, I held a job on Wall Street while doing this, till last year when I quit to go back and get my Masters. I have made so many friends in the industry, if someone asks me for advice I never turn them away, someone needs help with diet or posing, I am more than happy to help them. I think that's what the pros should be about. helping each other, respecting everyone, friend or not because we are all competitors who work hard. I think helping each other and being positive towards everyone is so important.

Q: Do you foresee more Figure competitors trying Physique?
A: I do. Most of the women that have crossed over have been Figure competitors. There is a handful of bodybuilders. It is going to depend in the future on if any pros move over next year. I heard there are a few who are going to downsize and try. It will be interesting because the pros have so much dense muscle and I don't know how that will look softer and down sized. I know a few amateurs who moved over, I talked to a few and they said "I thought I could come in soft and not diet for this." I was like "what?". I had never dieted harder and trained harder in my life than for this show. So for anyone to think they don't need to train or diet is insane to me, and it shows in their placing. I've heard Tammy might move over and Lori Steele has thought about it. I would love to stand next to them and compete, that would be amazing cause I love both women. I haven't heard any Pro Figure competitors are moving over. I am excited for next year, it will be interesting.

Q: If another Figure competitor asked for advice on switching over, what advice would you give her?
A: Oh my gosh. I would tell them give it a try. Especially if they have been told they are too muscular or wont do well at the national level. I say the sky is the limit. There is nothing holding you back. If I can learn a routine anyone can. There are so many resources out there. I am helping girls with their posing, Michelle Brent does posing routines for women. I think its so much more fun. You get to show off your physique, not just quarter turn, quarter turn, quarter turn, model turn, model turn, your done off the stage. You are getting up there and presenting your muscle and structure in the best way possible. Now I know what the bodybuilders have been talking about. I have to say, I would never go back to Figure. A lot of people ask me if I will compete in Pro Figure, and I will never go back.

Q: Any idea whats next for you?
A: Yes. I heard Jon Lindsay is doing the first Physique show in February. It says on his website April, but I was told it will probably be February. So whatever the first show, I will b there. And will be doing the New York Pro in April or May, whenever it falls.

Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank?
A: I want to thank my parents. They are amazingly supportive and I love them very much. My boyfriend Donny, he's been extremely supportive and I couldn't have done it without him and his help. Of course, Melissa, Kat and Juan, my three best friends. I cant thank them enough for helping me this year. Especially because I did my own diet and training. Also I want to thank Gold's Gym in New Haven. I love Jerry the owner, and Rich, they are so welcoming and embraced me. Kenny, who is the head trainer, without his support I couldn't have made it. Also Evan Centopani for his words of wisdom. I had a lot of support this year.

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