Friday, September 30, 2011

Kristen Chanaiwa Interview

Q: First, Kristen, thanks for taking the time to do this.
A: Thanks for inviting me to interview with you.

Q: Can you tell a little about yourself.
A: I'm a 25 year old group fitness instructor and physique competitor from California. I'm from a diverse blended family of 5 kids ranging in ages from 22- 42. My family moved around quite a bit while I was growing up, but most recently I'm living on the Central Coast of California.

Q: Growing up, were you especially athletic? Play any sports?
A: I've always been physically active and very fit. I was a dedicated competitive gymnast from a young age. In junior high I found my love for dance and choreography, which carried me on to dancing and cheerleading through high school and making the decision to choose dance as my major at California State University, Long Beach with a focus in ballet and modern dance.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: At the end of my sophomore year at Long Beach I became ill and had to leave school. I worked hard all summer long to recover and rehab chronic issues with my knees, hips, and low back but found that I wasn't able to return to the same rigorous 7-8 hour dance day I turned my focus to a career in makeup artistry. I backed way off on the physical activity for a few years mostly due to the fact that I really didn't know how to train outside of the ballet or pilates studio. I moved back to the Central Coast from Los Angeles and in 2008 I found myself with a free pass to the gym. I decided to use it.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy?
A: When I first started working out at the gym I had a few appointments with a personal trainer who showed me around the machines and gave me general ideas about what to do in term circuits. It wasn't long until I got bored and started peaking over at the free weights area. Soon I picked up my first copy of Oxygen Magazine and realized I could make weight training my new sport. I discovered a way to learn self discipline while enjoying the physical challenge that I had been missing since leaving dance. I recognized positive changes in my mental well being and my health within just a few weeks.

Q: What made you decide to compete?
A: About a year after I started weight training I found myself completely obsessed with all things fitness and nutrition which led me to clean eating. I learned to enjoy cooking and baking and successfully completed a 21 day clean eating challenge. My physique changed in that month so much someone at the gym asked me if I was going to compete. I admitted I'd been stalking the internet recently trying to figure out what it was all about; that I'd been reading about the newly introduced Bikini division. He introduced me to his friend Lisa who was a competitive Bodybuilder. She convinced me that I was in great shape and that I would do well in Bikini. She suggested I go for it right away and 3 weeks later I found my self at my first competition. I placed first in my class!

Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported?
A: My family didn't really know what I was talking about when I told them I was going to be competing. They've yet to see me on the stage but they always support me and cheer me on. Most everyone has been supportive, especially my boyfriend. Surprisingly a really good friend of mine didn't have anything positive to say when I first started and the support from her has been lacking since. At first my feelings were really hurt, but I hit the gym, ran it off, and it was no sweat. I do it for me anyway.

Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you?
A: I can say that I was really surprised by tiny those bikini bottoms were(!) and by how nice everyone was. It was such a shock to see so many beautiful women all in one place, who also happened to be intelligent, motivated, disciplined, and genuinely nice. Its so nice to be surrounded by confident people who share the camaraderie of having a common goal.

Q: Can you share your contest history.
*2010 NPC Orange County Muscle Classic 1st Place Bikini C
*2010 NPC Tournament of Champions 4th Place Bikini C
*2011 NPC Orange County Muscle Classic 9th Place Bikini C
*2011 NPC Pacific USA's 1st Place Overall, 1st Place Bikini C
*2011 NPC Tournament of Champions 1st Place Bikini C

Q: What do you feel is your best body part?
A: I tend to come by my upper body pretty naturally. It doesn't take much work for me to make gains in my arms and once I met my goal of adding muscle to my back, it's been fairly easy to maintain. I used to be shy about my arms. I thought they made me look like a boy. Now I'm proud of them. I really love my shoulders.

Q: Do you have a favorite part to train?
A: Recently I'm really enjoying training chest. It's not a part I really focus on, but I love the way it feels to get a good pump. I feel strong!

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: This off season I'm focusing on bringing up my legs and carving out some abs. I do a three day split working lower body twice (heavy Monday, light Friday) and upper body once (Wednesday). I hit abs three times a week as well as cardio. Carbs make up the bulk of my diet and I eat tons of veggies to meet the need. I hit about 1.6g/kg protein per day and get around 25% of my calories from fat. During contest prep I use carb cycling to burn fat. I also work circuits and just about double my cardio. I like high intensity interval training.

Q: When people see or hear you compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: Most people are positive. If they aren't into it no one says anything to my face, which I appreciate.

Q: What is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: People who've known me for a while but haven't seen my physique typically say something like "whoa! you're buff." It doesn't bother me but it does remind me of my goals. I find it interesting that no one ever asks me what I eat to look like this, they just want to know how long they should workout and on which machines.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete?
A: I think the biggest misconception people have about women who train is that in order to achieve their physiques they under eat processed junk and stick to light weights, high reps and pour on the cardio. Ah! I wish people new that it starts with diet and ends with resistance training and cardio. They all work together.

Q: What is the best and worst part of training?
A: The worst part of training for me is that I wish I had a custom home gym. I love to work out in an empty club. Just me, my music, and the iron; no distractions. The best part is the endorphins. I love the way I feel after a good workout. I live for a good sweat.

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I have tons of favorites, but to keep the list short I'll say Amanda Latona, Nicole Wilkins, Ava Cowan and Erin Stern. I'm also crazy for Jamie Eason and Alicia Marie.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat meal?
A: Favorite cheat meal is probably Mexican food due to the fact that my homemade guacamole is fantastic and I love me some tortilla chips. :)

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what advice would you give her?
A: If you're thinking about competing, DO IT! It's so worth it.

Q: Do you think its more common these days for women to use the weights as opposed to just cardio and things?
A: I don't know if it's more common yet, but I think the interest is growing. I have women stop me at the gym all the time and ask questions about training. They want to know. Maybe their a little intimidated but they see that it works and they're curious.

Q: Outside of training any hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: Outside of training, I'm a big reader. I also love to cook and bake.

Q: Can you describe a typical day is the life of Kristen Chanaiwa.
A: My typical day starts early at the restaurant I work at. Breakfast starts at 6:30am so I'm there as early as 5:30. The good thing about an early start is that I'm off by about noon usually. Then I hit the gym and run any errands I might need to do. I teach cycle and Zumba at my health club a few nights a week, so sometimes I'm off to work again, or I'm at home making dinner, studying for my upcoming personal training certification test, or catching up on my DVR episodes before bed.

Q: Describe Kristen Chanaiwa in five words.
A: Smart, funny, loyal, honest, and passionate.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: People might be surprised to know that despite my ability to turn it on in a pinch, I often feel shy/awkward/nervous when in front of a group.

Q: Any set plans as far as competing or anything?
A: I don't plan on competing again until next year. I'm hoping to make some improvements before I try for my pro card.

Q: Anything you want to plug or promote?
A: Yes! Please check out and like my Facebook Fan Page. I update it daily with recipes, motivational quotes, tips about health and fitness, and updates on class schedules and upcoming contests.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so, how can they reach you and what are they getting in Kristen Chanaiwa?
A: I am looking for a sponsor! The best way to reach me is through e-mail at or my Facebook page. I'm a dedicated, disciplined, excited and eager athlete and model. I love to be challenged and I don't know how to be anything but the best I can be at all times and I love to learn. My eyes and ears are open so I can gather everything I need to know to succeed.

Q: Kristen,a gain, thanks for doing this. Any last words before you go?
A: Thanks for the opportunity to chat and for opening your door to me. Cheers to a fit life!


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