Friday, November 11, 2011

Spotlight Interview: IFBB Pro Shelly Albetta

I have long considered Shelly Albetta and her sister Betsy among the most underrated Figure competitors in the sport. At Team Universe this year Shelly finally got her Pro card and the recognition she deserves. As you will read, Shelly wasn't in this to just get a Pro card, but having said that, it is great to see she was finally given proper recognition. I was very happy Shelly agreed to do a spotlight interview because she is one of the truly good people I have gotten to know in the Fitness industry and this allows me to give her the opportunity to show more people the Shelly Albetta that I have gotten to know.

Q: Can you start out by talking about how you got started with weight training?
A: Sure. In college, my boyfriend at the time was a personal trainer. I always did cardio, but he got me started in wanting to know a little more about weights. He taught me the basics and was my mentor to learning the basics of weight training, each muscle group, basic exercises etc. I was 20 years old. So that gave me the basics and from there it just escalated. I started doing research and talking to people and from there I learned exactly how to hit certain areas, drop sets, super sets, things like that. It's been almost 9 years of training.

Q: What made you decide to compete?
A: In the gym I used to train at I saw a woman in ridiculous shape and I looked at her and said I wanted to look like her. So I approached her, it's Deb Judy, one of my best friends now. She told me about competing and Figure competitions and that started my interest. A week later my sisters now husband, he competes in bodybuilding, I went to his show and that's when I saw Figure competing for the first time and said it was something I wanted to do. So I asked Deb and she hooked me up with Mike Davies and the rest is history.

Q: The prep process is not easy, but is it easier having a sister doing a lot of the same shows and going through it with you?
A: Yeah I think having her to do the process with is a huge benefit for me. Not only cause I have a training partner, but mentally when you have moments where you wanna give up, having someone who is a partner and your biggest supporter. So it makes it more easy and fun at the same time.

Q: You won your Pro card at Team Universe. Whats the first thing that went through your mind?
A: Honestly I was really shocked. The way I compete, I am not on of those competitors who does it just for my Pro card. Being that 2011 is my sixth year competing and Team Universe was my seventeenth show, never was my goal to turn pro. Some people only compete to be a Pro and that's never been my reason. I've done it more for challenging myself, pushing myself, making my physique better each year and inspiring people. So when it happened, certain people say "you knew it was gonna come eventually", but I never made that my focus for any show. I had just come off of Jr. Nationals where I finished eighth, and I knew I could be better than that. I had a goal of top five, after Jr.. Nats, my presentation could have improved, so I was hoping for top five, but never did I expect that. So I was in shock and for a month after that. Excited but surprised.

Q: Was there anything that was the difference about you at Team Universe as opposed to past shows?
A: I think, initially my goal when Is tarted I was a skinny girl without muscle. So going into 2011 I knew I had the size, so it was just maintaining that size for the stage. So I easily get to lean and when i reach that point there is no coming back. Like when my legs get to small I can never fill them out in the same season. This year I only dieted eight weeks for my first show. I did less cardio, I approached it more with more attention to my diet. Did as much as I could to retain my size and stay as full as possible. Other years I lean out and am in shape early and try and maintain it. Always ready three or four weeks early. This year I leaned out more slow and steady and kept my fullness.

Q: Does being a Pro carry any more responsibilities?
A: I know plenty of girls that to them, once they get their Pro card get a sense of entitlement or put themselves above other people. That's not me, it doesn't make me any better than anyone. Its something I am proud of, but I try and carry myself with respect and dignity and help other people. If anything, it helps with my prep service, Peak Performance Preps, we train competitors. It gives me more validity to them and is more appealing. In terms of how I carry myself, no, but makes me more appealing to competitors cause to them it looks more like I know what I am doing. I already did know what I am doing, but it helps in that regard.

Q: I often say your sister Betsy is among the sports most underrated competitors. Do you think she is sometimes a victim of judges not wanting to place you two close together?
A: Yeah I definitely think that's it. I think when we compete together, we are automatically compared to each other before we are compared to other people. I think they automatically look at who looks better between the two of us and place that person and undermine the other one. She was nothing but happy for me that I turned pro, but if she competes again it will be good for her. She can stand alone and shine without being compared to me cause I have always been a little bigger than her and a little more shape. We are each others biggest fans and we want each other to do well. When we don't place near each other its mind boggling cause we are virtually the same, just a couple pound difference. I would love her to get a Pro card, and now the pressure is off us competing together and she can shine and I can support her?

Q: Is there any improvements you need to make for the Pro stage?
A: Yeah, I always want to improve. Every year my goal is to put on more muscle. I am always told I have the shape and look but am not big enough. This year I think my size is where I want it, but I want to bring up my legs, especially my hamstrings and glutes, and even my quads. I would like to work on my back. I always nail my shoulders because you can never have to good shoulders. My shoulders, legs and back are my main focus, which I guess is my whole physique haha.

Q: Does this give you a chance to share the stage with anyone you have wanted to be on stage with?
A: Yeah, I look forward to sharing a stage with Felicia Romero. I've always liked her attitude and how she stays humble. I always liked Felicia's physique and she has become a good friend. Also Jelena Abbou as well. Another Jersey girl I admire as a pro. She is another one I look forward to.

Q: When you are in the gym, with your looks and physique, do you get much unwanted attention?
A: You know what, that's gonna happen. Luckily in the gym I train at, I have been there a long time, like any gym, you learn the people there, and everyone knows who my sister and I are. There are a lot of competitors there and its kind of like home turf. Initially there was that attention, but after years and years of competing, people respect what we do, and I have friends there, so its not like that there. Anywhere else I go, you get people making comments or staring, but I am good at blocking that out. But my gym is my second home and I feel comfortable there.

Q: One of the reasons I am a fan is because you are always friendly and approachable. Is that important for you?
A: Thank you for saying that Jason. The funny thing is I have heard I am arrogant and stuck up. But that's not the case at all. What it is is, I am confident, and everyone gets a fair shot with me, I am friendly off the bat. If someone betrays that, they see the other side of me, I don't have room for that in my life. If you are respectful to me, I am respectful to you. If you betray that, you are written off and that's that. I am a forgiving person, but I learned the hard way that I have to tighten up on how much I let people in because I used to let everyone in and in the end I get burned. I am happy with who is in my life right now. I am always willing to make a new friend. That's my personality and I will never change that.

Q: You do a lot with your sister, but do you ever get sick of being the "twins who compete" and just wanna be known for yourself?
A: Yeah, I think I am used to it cause its been my whole life. But I do think we are having our own identities now. I am a Pro now and she is national level, and she is supportive of that. But it is nice to now have my own identity. Now I will because I am doing shows without her. But, in terms of being referenced as "The twins" I don't mind that, it gives us exposure, so on that level it doesn't bother me.

Q: You always look confident in photo shoots, do you enjoy them, or does it just go along with what you do?
A: I love doing photo shoots. The funny thing is, I do them when prepping when I am most tired. Next year I wanna do as many as I can, but prep time I am tired but they are grueling like a workout. When its over I am always glad I did it, but the days leading up I dread getting ready for them. I wanna look the best I can and over stress it. Sometimes I postpone them cause I am a couple weeks out and kind of hibernate. But I really like them and plan to do more next year.

Q: Have you given any thought of when you want to compete next?
A: Everyone always asks me that, when I wanna debut. They said "You gonna do the Europa in Connecticut". I knew no matter what Happened at Team Universe that was the end of my season. I told myself no decisions till after the new year. So just relaxing and enjoying down time. Come 2012 I will pick my schedule. Ideally the New York Pro is home, so I would like to start there, but it depends on what part of the season I wanna compete at. I cant say anything for certain. Come January I will figure it out.

Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: Yeah, I would like to thank sister for being there for me, my family, my boyfriend Nick Freglette who is also part of Peak Performance Prep Service. Mike Davies who I have been with for six years. Anyone who has supported me and helped me push. And people like you who help us, spotlight us, and let people know more about us.

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