Thursday, September 22, 2011
Spotlight interview: Sherri Gray
Back when I first started training and doing my blog and interviews, one of the first people who really stood out to me was Sherri Gray. I was in awe of her physique. I remember wondering why she didn't have her pro card. All this time later, I still wonder why she doesn't, because she should, and she will. Sherri has a great physique, highlighted by amazing shoulders, but there is more to her. She is also very hard working and dedicated, willing to give advice, and very few people I have met, appreciate support as much as she does. Sherri Gray is a perfect example of why I love this sport.
Q: Can you just talk about how you got started competing?
A: I started competing about five years ago. I was really just in the gym working out on a consistent basis. I had people come and approach me and say "Do you compete?" and I said no, I had never competed, thought about it but didn't know what went into it. They said "You should compete and see how you do, see how you like it" and I said "If you don't mind helping me that's fine, cause I don't know what I have to do for diet and things". They decided to help me and I picked my first show, it was four months away. I did that show and placed 4th. I fell in love with the lifestyle, I saw myself change, I liked how I felt when I cleaned up my diet. After that I decided to keep doing it, I was motivated to keep seeing myself change and make improvements. I have always been competitive anyway, all through school and what not. So I had a good drive to keep going.
Q: When you first started training and competing, would you ever have imagined it would get to the point you are now?
A: No, not at all. I thought I would do it one time and be done. But once you start seeing yourself change... it lit a fire in me, pushed me to work harder.
Q: You have a family and full time job. How hard is it to balance all that and still get your workout in?
A: Some days it is more difficult than others, but I am a planner. I will always try and have everything organized to where I have time to fit in everything that is important into my life, so that's what I do. I try not to miss any of the kids games, so that means if I have to be up at 5am to knock out some cardio so I can be home at 8am and go to a soccer game, that's what i do. They are pretty flexible with me as well and let me get done what I need to get done, and I try and get back for all their activities.
Q: You actually started in Figure, was their a specific reason for switching to Bodybuilding?
A: After two shows I went to the judges for feedback, they kept saying I was too muscular and my shoulders were too big. I either needed to tone myself down or switch, they felt being shorter, Bodybuilding would be a better fit for me. I actually enjoy it a lot more, it fits my personality better I think.
Q: I want to go back to the 2010 Arnold's. You finished 2nd, but many felt you could have won. Do you feel 2nd was justified?
A: I will take 2nd at the Arnold's any day. It's all what the judges are looking for. Marina, who won, looked great. I think, in different pictures you get different angles. At one angle I think I looked better and at another she looked better. I think maybe I could have taken 1st but I will settle for 2nd. I was happy with that.
Q: After that you did North Americans and won two 1st place trophies. Till then, was that your biggest accomplishment?
A: I think so. I tightened up a little from the Arnold's and changed a few things up. I felt my conditioning and what I presented was the best I had been. That was a highlight in my career.
Q: This year you did Master's Nationals instead of the Arnold's, was their a reason?
A: I'm trying to get that pro card. I would love to be an IFBB Pro and compete at that level and the Arnold's doesn't give pro cards. It was a great experience and I may do it in the future, but at this point I want to do shows where I can win the overall and get that pro card and advance to the next level.
Q: This year you did North Americans and took 3rd in Masters and 2nd at Middleweight. I felt you looked better there, would you agree?
A: Yes I do agree. We were going for a little fuller look at Master's because we felt that's what they had been rewarding in the past. But, apparently it wasn't what it was. I took the six weeks between shows to tighten up a bit and come down. I felt great at North Americans and felt it was the best I ever looked. I was very happy with my conditioning and overall package.
Q: When you only have six weeks to make changes, do you feel rushed to make them?
A: It depends on how many weeks between shows. Between five and six weeks is plenty of time to make changes, especially if its just tighten up and drop one or two pounds, that's plenty of time if you have your training and diet right.
Q: When you finish 2nd, is it more happy to have 2nd or frustrated to be so close to 1st?
A: Haha, that depends to. If I feel the person who beat me deserved it, I am happy with 2nd. If I feel it was a toss up and luck of the draw, I am disappointed. It's hard to keep a smile when you feel you should have been 1st place.
Q: Any idea when you will compete next?
A: I am looking at next year, I haven't picked a show. I guess they start in July with national shows, so it will be one of those. We will see my progress in the off season and then pick one and focus on my training.
Q: Are there specific improvements you want to make this off season?
A: I am trying to bring my back up, and thickness and width to it and the over all package. I did really well bringing my hamstrings up from last year. My back is my main focus, but I train hard on every part I work so hopefully the overall package will improve.
Q: With the real female bodybuilding fans, you are really popular, does that mean something to you?
A: It does. I love to have people support me, that keeps me motivated to do better. I don't want to disappoint myself or anyone else. Just to have a good fan base means a lot. People who keep up with the sport cause it's popular but yet its not popular. To know you have people who support you and know the mental and physical work, makes you feel good inside.
Q: I was told to specifically ask you what you do for shoulders and delts?
A: Haha, I think i was just genetically blessed with good shoulders, but shoulders are one of my favorite parts to work anyway. I really push myself on that. I do a lot of dumbbell exercises, presses, side laterals, we change things about every week. We may do the same exercise, but in a different order. Right now I am going heavy to build, but later on will do four sets of fifteen. it always includes a press, something for front, for rear, and we take it to fatigue.
Q: Do you have a favorite exercise for them?
A: We do a combo of dumbbells presses with open backs. We superset those two and that will really burn them up and I like that feeling.
Q: I assume in the gym you get a lot of stares, is it easy to block that out?
A: I think I block it out. It is distracting every now and then but I try and stay focused. I have a limited time in the gym so I make the most of it and focus on what I am doing.
Q: Have you watched any of the Physique Division at all?
A: Yes I did. I had a friend compete at North Americans and we watched some of that.
Q: Do you have any opinions on it?
A: I think its a good addition. its still questionable as to what look they want for it. As long as they don't do away with Bodybuilding, I like it. We will see where it goes. Everyone who has won has a different look to them.
Q: You have a new website, do you want to give out the address and tell people whats on there?
A: Sure, its called www.sherrigrayfitness.com. I try and post workout videos to give an idea of what workouts we do, I am going to try and start doing an exercise each month that's different from your typical workout. I have a store and a few pictures on there and am in the process of adding more, online nutrition, online workouts, pre-contest if you are interested in competing, a blog so everyone knows where I am at and so you can get to know me. It's a work in process and the web designer has done a great job with it. Hopefully in the next few weeks we will have new videos.
Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank?
A: My family, my husband John, my kids. My training partner Cord, Mike Davies Fitness Factory, my friends, other competitors, Amanda Braun who won one of the first Physique pro cards, Max Muscle I love their supplements, Champion Nutrition is a great supporter. I am trying to get a few more sponsors for next year, Tamee Marie sponsored m suit and they were beautiful, Iron Militia, anything. Competing is so expensive, but we love it, its our lifestyle, so anyone who donates or sponsors an athlete, its appreciated. Your site, siouxcountry, anyone who supports the sport. its a close knit family.