Sunday, October 2, 2011
Jennifer Abrams Interview
Q: First, Jennifer, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you for the opportunity to be featured!
2. Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I am a 36 year old business owner, artist, natural/nationally recognized bodybuilder, wife and mother. I am the owner of Steps To Success Personal Training/Coaching. I hold a bachelor’s degree in my field as well as 15 years of experience in the fitness industry. My husband and I have been together for 17 years. We have been married for 13. We have 3 children and I am currently 6 ½ months pregnant with our 4th! Our daughter is 13 and our sons are 8 and 4. Our new addition is due Christmas Day! I was born in Illinois but moved to California as an infant, where my family and I lived for 9 years. At the age of 11 we moved back to Illinois where I currently reside. I am the oldest child in my family. I have a younger sister and brother. My family is my number one priority!
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I have always been an artist and athlete. I danced, performed and later choreographed from age 3 through my college years. I ran track as a sprinter in the 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, 4x100 meter relay. I had a few years of gymnastics training and a year of cheerleading as well. Creating artistic work has always been my passion. As a teen I auditioned and received a scholarship at the Chicago Academy of the Arts High School. This was a life-changing decision and after a lot of discussion with my parents, turned down the opportunity to have a “normal” high school experience. While doing so I continued my dance training and performances at various studios in the Chicago-land area. The decision was a good one as I feel I received a better education due to our decision and I continued on with my dance career with a dance company in college.
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: I suppose I always knew my athletic capacity was above and beyond the average. I always joke that I was born a size 10. I was always muscular, athletic and lean. I also was well aware how hard I fought to keep that muscularity in my lower body under control. I spent hours stretching those legs of mine every day both in my dance classes as well as the few free hours I had each day. As a young teen in Jr. High School and High School we would be exposed to weight training where we had to test our strength with various lifts. That is where I knew I was different from all the other girls in my classes. I was lifting more than most of the guys in some of those classes but was fearful of that strength equating into larger legs. My passion was dancing, performing and creating and no matter how easily my strength came to me I didn’t want anything to get in the way of what I loved so much! Therefore the lifting I did on a regular basis in high school consisted of very high repetition work. I did take part in some heavier lifting briefly during track season as instructed by my track coach but this was only a few years and seasonal.
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Yes, I was genetically predisposed for it, to say the least. I didn’t start lifting heavier and challenging myself more in depth until my junior year in college. I saw results immediately!
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: I was approached by a graduate student in my junior year of college. He was 6 foot tall and weighed 260 lbs. He was a big, muscular guy to say the least. He said he was training for a bodybuilding competition in Ottawa, IL and was looking for a mixed pairs partner to compete with. He said I had an incredible build for bodybuilding and he proceeded to press me to compete over the next month. At first was very skeptical and told my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, that I was afraid of getting to muscular. He was actually the one who said I should try it and so I decided to give it a shot. My husband and I were very active, athletic people. We traveled the 4 years before we were married and had children. All of our trips included activities such as back country backpacking, rock climbing, river rafting, sky-diving, water skiing, snow skiing, hiking, camping ext. We joked that we were adrenalin junkies. We never walked away from an adventure and I suppose the idea of competing was just one more adventure!
Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: My family and friends support me and therefore support things that are important to me.
Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: That first competition was opening a door to freedom for me in some ways. For the first time my muscular legs were not something to fight. I received so much encouragement and positive feedback for how perfect my physique was for bodybuilding. I had found a place where I was free to perform and choreograph and also embrace my natural genetic structure. The greatest surprise to me within the sport, as the years pressed on, was the amount of drug use in the sport. As a lifetime natural athlete, I could not believe how many used. It would become the topic I would speak out against for many years to come. I have always been and will always be in support of natural bodybuilding and athletics! My goal from the beginning of my bodybuilding career, 15 years ago, was to prove that it could be done without the drugs, and I succeeded in doing that!
Q: Can you share your contest history.
*2010 NPC Tri-State Natural Muscle Classic (Guest Poser- "Cat Woman")
*2009 NPC Midwest Open Davenport, Iowa (1st place hvy. wt. & overall winner)
*2009 ABA Natural North American Bolingbrook, IL(Guest Poser- “Cleopatra”)
*2009 NPC Grand Prix Natural Rockford, IL(Guest Poser- “Return of the Lion”)
*2009 ABA Natural North American, Bolingbrook, IL (1st place tall & overall winner) (ABA uses ht. classes for bodybuilders)(Qualified for professional status- I declined the opportunity to continue pusuing my IFBB pro card)
*2006 NPC Team Universe New York, NY (3rd place Heavy wt.) Footage of my preparation for this show is on my dvd!
*2005 NPC Mid-Illinois Muscle Classic Belvedere, IL (Guest Poser- “Wonder Woman”)
*2005 NPC Jr. Nationals Rosemont, IL(4th place Heavy wt.)
*2005 NPC Grand Prix Natural Rockford, IL (1st place Heavy wt./ Best Poser/ Open Overall Winner/ Team Abrams -wins team trophy)
*2005 NPC Mid-Illinois Classic Ottawa, IL
(1st place Heavy wt./ Open Overall Winner)
*2002 NPC Nationals Dallas,TX
*2002 NPC All-Natural Mid-States Muscle Classic Rockford, IL (2nd place Heavy wt. & Best Poser)
*2002 NPC Jr. Nationals Rosemont, IL(9th place Heavy wt.)
*2000 NPC All-Natural Mid-States Muscle Classic Rockford, IL (1st place Heavy wt.)
*2000 NPC Mid-Illinois Classic Ottawa, IL(1st place Heavy wt.)
*2000 NPC All Natural Palos Heights, IL(1st place Heavy wt. & Novice Overall Winner)
*1996 NPC Mid-Illinois Classic Ottawa, IL (4th place Heavy Wt. & 4th place Mixed Pairs)
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: For the sport of bodybuilding my back, shoulder width and lower body muscularity because that is the foundation which you build a competitive physique.
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: Shoulders, back and hamstrings have always been my favorite body parts to train.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: My lifting schedule on and off season is the same. I lift heavy 4 days a week year round. I do a few more detail and a lot more independent exercises during prep that I may not do during the off season. During pregnancy I do not lift heavy but I do continue to exercise, lift and be active. I resumed my heavy training after each pregnancy 6 weeks after delivery. My diet is very different off season than during prep. My calorie intake is much greater off season. Off season is when you build your foundation, it is when your artwork is created. It is during the dieting process that you peel away the layer of fat covering that artwork. Without that foundation and solid off season there will be no progress made to that masterpiece come show day! The name of the game in bodybuilding is to be better than you were before, to keep raising the bar on yourself!
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: People in general are very impressed by my work. Not only with what I have achieved with my natural bodybuilding career but what I have helped all of my clients achieve over the past 15 years!
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: Asking questions is how people learn and I have no problem with questions I only have issues with assumptions people make without asking.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: I honestly don’t feel the need to have everyone understand what I do.
Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: The best part of training for me is the physical, mental and emotional release of stress and the athletic “high” I feel! The most challenging part of bodybuilding training is the soreness required to build a winning physique. I literally spent every day of every week I was not pregnant with extreme muscle soreness. Sore to the point of it being difficult to get up each morning, but THAT is what it takes to achieve what I did, and achieve it naturally!
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: Cory Everson will always be the competitor I most admire. I admire her for what she achieved naturally, going against the grain in a very new sport. I admire her for how she promoted weight training to woman and inspired so many. I most admire her for how she gracefully transitioned her physique and her fitness career when her bodybuilding days were over after retirement. Fun fact too…my daughter’s track coach is related to Cory and shares Thanksgiving dinner with her each year. Small world.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
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: When I begin working with any new client it is first imperative to find out their background. What they have experience doing, what muscle memory they may have, what sports they played, what health issues or injuries they may struggle with ext. This background helps me to guide them to their “beginning”, as everyone’s is different! There are NO cookie cutter recipes and I treat each client as the individual they are! Best overall advice…Listen to your body! It will tell you things no one else can!
Q: Do you think it’s becoming more common for women to use the weights as opposed to just doing cardio and things?
A: Yes I do, and it is a very exciting and healthy shift!
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: With our very busy home life there are always football, soccer, track, martial arts or theater events for our family to attend. There are plenty of school functions and activities as well. We enjoy camping, water sports, sledding, traveling and playing with our children! I treasure my family more than anything and that is where the majority of my time and energy is invested! I personally also love to write, scrapbook, roller blade, rock climb, spending time at the river or the lake and traveling to see new places!
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Jennifer Abrams.
A: Well since I am currently pregnant my training schedule is not what it normally is but when I am not pregnant a typical day looks like this;
-A.M. wake up 7am for the kids- off to school for my daughter and older son.
-Morning errands, house work and breakfast for my 4 year old son and I.
-Off to the gym (play time for my youngest in the playroom)
-Lunch and get my 4 year old ready for preschool
-Afternoon clients and business calls while all the kids are at school
-Kids get home and it’s homework, off to sports, and making dinner for everyone. Some nights an evening client.
-Weekends, I have clients in the morning and the kids have games. There are also 8-12 weekends a year that I am attending or traveling to shows for my clients.
Q: Describe Jennifer Abrams in five words.
A: Intuitive, artistic, driven, focused and positive!
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I enjoy being pregnant just as much as I enjoy competing! I have the greatest respect for the body and it’s capacity! To experience bringing life into the world at 215 lbs. and then compete at 6% body fat at 150 lbs. of dehydrated weight 15 months after having each of my children, has been a gift and an amazingly rewarding life experience!
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: My focus has been shifted over the past few years from building my own bodybuilding career to focusing solely on my clients success! I work with clients with a wide range of goals as well as limitations and enjoy working with those that are competitive athletes as well as those who seek better general health, well being and balance in their lives. Each and every client brings fulfillment to my work and my life. Every encounter is an opportunity for growth, both for the client as well as for myself as a coach and trainer. With that said, at this point I have announced my retirement from the sport to put my passion and focus in my work with others and my incredible family! I find that as my children grow and mature that their needs have become greater and they need more from my husband and I. They are also involved in many sports and activities and their success is our success and greatest gift! Many of my clients and show promoters still feel I will return to the stage after baby #4 arrives…as of now I say I am content. I gave the sport my best and I built my physique to where I feel I reached my natural capacity and that fulfills me and makes me proud. Now I want to help others feel that same sense of pride and fulfillment.
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I would like to take this opportunity to advertise my business, Steps To Success Personal Training/ Coaching. I hold a Bachelors of Science degree in Physical Education with a Corporate Fitness Emphasis. I also have a minor in Nutrition and Dance. In my 15 years of experience in the fitness industry I have worked at various corporate sites in the Chicago-land area, managed a fitness center for one of the top 10 law firms in the country and have grown my own business from my own personal and professional experiences and education. My website demonstrates much of what I have done within the bodybuilding career but there is also the aspect of my career that does not involve the competitive athlete. My website can be found at www.jenniferabrams.net and I can be reached at 630-427-5909 to discuss any interest anyone may have in my personal training/ coaching services. I offer on-line, phone and one on one training services. I also offer buddy and small group training, nutritional consulting, public speaking, choreography, guest appearances and promotional work. I work with both men and woman whether they are seasoned competitors, attempting to compete in their very first competition, pre and post pregnancy training, weight loss or mass building programs. I give my very best to every client I work with. As I previously stated; There are no cookie cutter recipes, I approach each client as the individual that they are!
Q: Are you looking for sponsors. If so how can they reach you?
A: Anyone interested in contacting me may reach me at; firstname.lastname@example.org, www.jenniferabrams.net
Or 630-427-5909 Steps To Success Personal Training/ Coaching.
Q: Jennifer, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: I thank YOU for the opportunity to share a piece of myself and what I do here on your site. For all of you reading this;
“Upward and onward, the sky is NOT the limit!”