Sunday, January 1, 2012
Cherish Hunter Interview
Q: First, Cherish, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you Jason, I appreciate the opportunity!
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I was born and raised in sunny San Diego, where I still reside. I was raised an only child, but I had two older cousins who filled big brother roles to me. I grew up with a tightly knit family unit and I was blessed with grandparents who helped to instill old time values in me.
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I've always been very active from a young age. My mother started me in dance class at the age of 3, and it took off from there. Though the years I danced, played softball, competed in BMX, and was a national level competitive cheerleader. I fell in love with the competitive side of cheer (like the kind shown on ESPN) and ended up doing that for 8 years. I guess you can say I've always been attracted to the bright lights of the stage.
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: My mom was a regular gym-goer from the time I was a child, so that set a good example for me growing up. It was never anything that really had to be learned. Since I had never know any different, it was just second nature. I got my first gym membership at the age of 13 (which, at the time, was the age requirement) and I would go in with my mom and do the machines. I was just naturally drawn to strength training. Then, when I started competing in cheer, strength was vital for stunting, so my time in the gym increased in order to optimize my performance in my sport. I started getting into heavy lifting approximately 6 years ago while working at a gym, and my life has never been the same.
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Honestly, yes, its always come natural to me and the results come rapidly. I just connect to the iron in a way I cant even explain. No matter what kind of day I've been having, I can get to the gym, get into my zone, and all my troubles and worries just melt away. Its just me and the weights. Everything else just kind of fades into the background, as though theres no one else around. I think its important for people to have a constant in their life, a go-to if you will. The weights are my go-to. The iron is my oldest, most loyal friend. Its an equal, balanced relationship where you get out exactly what you put in.
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: I had actually been throwing around the idea of competing back in 2009, before the NPC came out with the Bikini Division, but I just never took the leap. I guess something in the timing just didn't feel right. I ended up getting pregnant in January 2010 and our daughter was born October 8, 2010. During that same year, the NPC came out with Bikini, and I knew I had found my place. I gave my body enough time to recover and started an extended prep in June 2011. Twelve months year after giving birth to our daughter, I made my NPC debut and fell back in love with the stage.
Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: I am so fortunate in the respect that my family and friends have been extraordinarily supportive. No one was very surprised of my decision to compete since I had been living the lifestyle for years, but I was still overwhelmed with the outpour of encouragement. My husband is my biggest fan, and without his help, I never would have been able to make my dream a reality while juggling training, a full time job, and my new fulfilling role as a mommy.
Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: It was everything I expected and more! The feeling of stepping on stage to display the result of months of blood, sweat, and tears is nothing short of electrifying. It makes all the sacrifice worth it tenfold. The only thing that surprised me was how nervous I was during pre-judging. I'm not really a nervous person by nature and I have plenty of experience performing and being on stage, so the nerves were actually really surprising. I remember being on stage during pre-judging and I was shaking so terribly that I was convinced the entire audience (and more importantly the JUDGES) could see it! I just smiled, worked the stage, and prayed they couldn't see me shaking! (Side note: turns out you totally couldn't see me shaking!)
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: I actually just have one show under my belt at this point and just started prep for my next one in March 2012.
*2011 NPC Border States Classic, Bikini Class C: 1st place (3rd Overall)
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: Hmm, that's a tough one. I'm partial to my back, but I get a lot of compliments on my booty, so I think I'm gonna have to go with booty. My husband calls it my GB (Ghetto Booty).
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: Yes, I LOVE training back and delts. Actually, I really like training upper body in general. Training back makes me feel strong. My favorite exercises are pull ups and Romanian Deadlifts. Any movements that make me feel like a beast =)
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: I don't really have an "off season" per say, because I still eat lean & clean outside of prep. I find that I just don't feel quite myself when I'm not eating right. My energy levels tank and you can always see sugar in my complexion. My skin totally rats me out! My training is much different though. Outside of prep, I dive back into my heavy lifting since its what I love, and I don't do any cardio, with the exception of the occasional HIIT or sprint session. Prep training is very high intensity, high volume, low weight, and it consists of lots of giant sets. In other words, it kicks my booty! Literally! I can thank my amazing Coach for that!
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: Mainly positive. I've found people to be generally pretty receptive and encouraging of it actually. Most of the time, if they take the time to inquire, its because something has piqued their interest so if you explain it to them in a manner with which they can relate, they are usually nothing short of positive and even complimentary.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: I'm not one to really take offense to much, but the one comment that has always irked me a little is when someone chalks up achievements and/or progress to nothing more than genetics. I feel it takes away from the hard work and dedication we competitors put into this. Will genetics play a role? Absolutely. But genetics aren't what get me through those grueling weight workouts when I feel like I'm going to throw up, or cardio sessions that feel like they're never going to end. And genetics surely don't get me through that last 2 weeks of prep when I'm exhausted, carb depleted, and cranky. No, those aren't genetics. THAT is dedication.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: I would say one of the misconceptions I run into the most is the belief that competitors starve themselves. It boggles my mind actually. I just wish these people could actually see how much food I eat a day! These muscles are far from starved!
Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: I love everything about weight training. That "runners high" so many people talk about, I get while lifting. It just makes me a happy girl. I guess the "worst" part is the cardio. I am not a cardio fan, but it is a necessary evil during prep.
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I LOVE Jaime Baird! Not only does she have an amazing physique, but she is truly a class act. She is humble, down to earth, and her passion shines through in everything she does.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Oh don't even get me star.I could give you LISTS! I have a horrible sweet tooth and would gladly annihilate anything baked, gooey, or chocolate. True story.
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: To rely on sound training and nutrition over supplements. I feel many people (especially newbies) drastically overload themselves on unnecessary supplements with the misconception that the right supplements will compensate for a poor training and/or nutrition program. Supplements definitely have their place, but only as a supplement to an already effective program.
Q: Do you think its becoming more common for women to use the weights as opposed to just doing cardio and things?
A: I wish I could say yes, but unfortunately, the masses of the general population still seem to favor only cardio, and are convinced that if a female lifts more than a 2lb pink dumbbell, she will surely turn into Arnold overnight.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I get as much family time in as possible and I'm a huge book nerd. Seriously. My husband actually teases me all the time for how much I read. We also love to travel, so were always taking vacations and small weekend getaways for some R&R with our daughter. We both maintain some pretty hectic schedules so its so nice to get some time away to unwind.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Cherish Hunter.
A: During the week, I get up around 5:30am and get ready for my day. I then get my 14 month old daughter up and ready for her day, and we head over to Nana's house where she gets to play while my husband and I are at work. After dropping her off I head to my office where I head the Emergency Services Department for a disaster restoration contractor. I'm off at 5pm and hit the gym before heading home for the evening. Rinse and repeat.
Q: Describe Cherish Hunter in five words.
A: Versatile, communicative, loyal, stubborn, intellectual
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I'm actually a trained ballroom dancer. I started in my teens and fell in love with how much fun it is, specifically West Coast Swing.
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: Yes, as I mentioned above, I actually just started prep for the 2012 San Diego Championships on March 17th, and then I'll be heading to the USA's in Vegas at the end of July to compete in my first national show. The rest of the year is still TBD, but I'm super pumped about all that 2012 will bring!
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: My best friend and I actually recently started a fitness blog that follows our journey through competing while juggling our normal everyday lives. You can find us at www.faithandsweat.net and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/faithandsweat.net
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Cherish Hunter the athlete and competitor?
A: I would love to represent a reputable company with a respected brand. I think its important for competitors to align with a brand they trust and believe in, and do all they can to promote that brand. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cherishfitz
Q: Cherish, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Thanks Jason, it was my pleasure!