Sunday, October 2, 2011
Tera Kropf Interview
Q: First, Tera, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: I appreciate the opportunity to offer my story, knowledge, insite, and love for my sports.
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I grew up in a fairly confusing way. When I was with my mother (I never knew my father), I lived in the inner city of grand Rapids, mi. and went to some schools that most would be afraid of. Most of my early years were spent with my Grandparents, who live/d in Lowell, Mi. on Murray Lake. This was my home, my safe place and where I would learn to work hard, be the best in everything I do, and to know that family is first no matter what. I moved in with my grandparents full time when I was 14 and went to high school in Lowell. I was in basketball and track and field all four years, was a captain in both (two years in basketball and four in track). I won many medals (too many to count) and in both sports went to conferences, regionals, and state in track. I did very well academically, as well, and won medals in art and journalism. I started working out long before high school but stepped up my game while there. I also was involved in a professional water ski team (kind of like sea world) for many years. My family is no longer tight and my grandfather has passed on recently. Those two things hurt me in my endeavors for a little bit but I'm back on track. I was in the United States Navy from 2005-2007 where I was a Gunner's Mate and in Search and Rescue. I was asked to try the Seals out, however, I broke my back and was Honorably Discharged.
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: Ive always been athletic. When I was very young I would do push ups, sit ups, and jumping jacks and drink tons of water because I thought it would make me strong. Lol. I also asked for only one thing for my birthday one year and that was water weights (the ones that you could fill with water or sand). I got them and spent a lot of time in my bedroom working out. I started playing basketball when I was in 4th grade and lead the team in speed, points and rebounds. In track and field I was unbeatable and have a hundred blue ribbons to prove it. As I've said before, I was a water skier. I started when I was 5 years old and still enjoy all of this to this day.
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: Even as a young child I thought of bodybuilding as an art and I am an artist. I was always told I was strong and had a lot of muscle and I wanted to be stronger and wanted more muscle. I wanted the hour glass symmetry mixed with raw power. It became an obsession.
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: It was very easy for me. I had perfect form from day one. As far as results...I swear every time I went to the gym I saw them. Serious striations and vascularity came with age and maturity but it all happened quickly for me.
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: I would say that the thousands of muscle magazines that I read and the results I was seeing in myself and the countless people who told me I should compete made me decide. I always had a desire to be in the spot light and I was there as much as I could be.
Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: No! Most of my family hated that I competed. I was told I was ugly and looked like a man. I laughed it off and said, "at least I don't have a donut around my waste and look good in a bikini!" My grandfather could have cared less about bodybuilding but he went to every powerlifting competition I was in. There were a few people that decided to go to a bodybuilding competition (finally) and told me how beautiful I was. Funny how things change.
Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: It was exactly what I expected. I had many people in the gyms backing me up and telling me what to expect. There were no surprises.
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: I don't think I could list all of the contests I've been in. With bodybuilding and powerlifting, I would say its been around 200 competitions. I have never been defeated in powerlifting and hold two state records (in two weight classes). In bodybuilding, I was Nationally qualified a few times won first most of the time and had some seconds and thirds. All in all, I've done well but haven't quite done everything I want to do yet.
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: Well, I think my back is awesome but also think my shoulders and chest are pretty good. My legs are big (always have been) but not as defined as I'd like.
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train?
A: I love working biceps, triceps, chest and shoulders. I get a bit crazy and have been told I scare people in the gym when I train.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: A normal routine for me would be two a days. I don't like to take rest days unless it's really necessary. I do a lot of circuits and super sets. I don't like to talk and I don't like to be disturbed. My split is chest, bis, and tris one day, legs, back, and then bis, tris and shoulders. My training tends to against what most believe to be safe but I might hit the same muscle two days in a row because of my two a day training. I do a lot of cardio, as well. My diet is pretty healthy at all times, as it makes it easier come contest time. I don't worry as much about diet for powerlifting.
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 seem to get many positive reactions and words from people I've trained or who have known me throughout the different gyms I've been in. Many people remember me and talk about the old days (lol) and give me kudos for still being competitive after a long run. I mean, I'm not getting any younger (I'm 39 now). My family doesn't seem real happy when I say I'm going to do a bodybuilding thing but don't seem upset about the powerlifting.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: One thing I hate is when people hear I'm a bodybuilder and ask how much I can lift. Now, I personally don't feel that that's what bodybuilding is about. It's an art...the art of sculpting you body into the most perfect creation you can. I tell them that since I'm a powerlifter, as well, I lift this much. It's usually guys who ask this question and when I answer, they go on to say they lift some crazy amount. The funny thing is that when they get on the bench, they come no where near what I lift. I don't like bragging but I lift more than most men and all women I've come across.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: Many people seem to think that women with muscle are ugly or look like men or want to look like men. This is so wrong. This sport is a thing of beauty and there is a huge difference in the way a man and a woman look on stage. People don't like or are scared of what they don't understand and that's whats wrong with this country in general. As, a personal trainer, I have worked with many women who think that if they lift a weight, they will bulk up. This is shear stupidity and/or lack of knowledge.
Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: The best part of training are the advantages mentally, physically and emotionally. There are no worsts!
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I admire anyone who can put themselves through the training and diet and then get on that stage. I love all of the Olympia competitors (all of them, women and men). It takes strength, courage, and passion to be in these sports, as they are not always the most popular in the general population.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Hmmm, this is a hard one. I love food. The cooler that waits for me off stage usually has protein bars, shakes, banana bread, etc. As far as a meal I would have to say swiss steak, potatoes, french bread, green bean casserole, etc. I of course love the all time favorite...pizza!!!!
Q: Do you think its becoming more common for women to use the weights as opposed to just doing cardio and things?
A:Not where I'm from. Its not normal to see a woman in the free weight area. I always hear that they are intimidated. Its sad really. I tend to see more after they've seen me in there for a while.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I do a lot of woodworking. I build many things (birdhouses, feeders, furniture,etc.). I repair a lot of things too. I am now a 100% disabled veteran and that's a hobby that I use to raise money for animal shelters. I was given all of my grandfathers tools from his work shop and this is kind of my way of keeping him alive and helping animals. I also write, draw, paint, enjoy photography and many other things.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Tera Kropf.
A: Upon waking, I get my dogs (Tedi and Tucker) up and around and we have our breakfast. I go to the gym, come home, eat, play with my dogs, work in my shop or some other hobby, eat, go to the gym, play with my dogs, feed them their dinner, some internet time, maybe a movie and once a week I play pool in a league. There are usually many doctor appointments thrown in here and there.
Q: Describe Tera Kropf in five words.
A: Strong, independent, competitive, giving, motivating.
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: There aren't too many things people don't know about me. I guess when people get to know me they find it surprising that I am a big teddy bear. I love deeply and care. They generally think I'm mean looking and intimidating until they get to know me.
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I don't have anything set in stone at this time. I'm always looking for new endeavors. I would like to compete (powerlifting) at the Olympia, if I can ok it through the Veterans Affairs.
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I wouldn't mind promoting my hobby in building items to raise money for animal shelters. TLK Unique Designs. I can build anything, any style, and with any decoration. There are many of my items on my facebook page under kropf tera in my albums. Every cent made on every item goes towards items for the animals who sit alone in a cage with no one to love them and no home to call their own. Thank you for that.
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you?
A: I would love some sponsorship. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or I can be found in Facebook (kropf tera)
Q: Tera, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: I truly appreciate this opportunity and want to thank you for what you are doing for women in these sports.