Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Nichole Moran Cruz Interview
Q: First, Nichole, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Absolutely! I appreciate the opportunity to let people know a little bit about me.
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: Sure. I’m a former athlete, basketball and collegiate track & field. I was married at 21, and had 3 children by the age of 24. My marriage was riddled with domestic violence and I began to lose my confidence and sense of self. In order to begin to rebuild myself physically, emotionally and spiritually, I began to reach back to my athletic roots and get back into the gym. The stronger I became on the outside, I began to gain strength on the inside. I eventually rediscovered myself and found the strength to leave the marriage. I have looked forward ever since and never looked back. My children are now 18, 17 and 15 and are 3 of my best achievements in life!
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I’ve actually been an athlete from as long as I can remember. I played basketball in high school, however track was my passion. I began to develop craft, running on a track team in the summer, participating in the Junior Olympics in 1989. I also attended Colorado State University on a track scholarship. I truly believe sports keep you motivated. It teaches the value of hard work, perseverance and a healthy lifestyle.
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: The gym has been a constant throughout my lifetime. From high school, college, during all pregnancies and post pregnancy. My life could be chaotic and constantly changing, however they gym has kept me grounded in every point of my life. It’s become somewhat of a comfort blanket. I can be stressed and emotional, however once I step into the gym, put my hat on and earphones in, nothing else matters but me and the iron.
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Training for me started in high school. My basketball coach had training techniques that were advanced for the time: plyometrics, cardio conditioning, weight training, were all part of our weekly regimen. Because his training was so tough, I have always been prepared to work hard. Training as a Competitive Fitness Athlete is definitely not easy, however I am always eager to learn new techniques and always prepared to work hard.
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: I was actually working as a Personal Trainer for a large gym when another trainer planted the seed to compete. I was also looking for a new challenge to push myself. Making the decision to actually train for it was the toughest part as it was uncharted territory for me. It was also a little scary thinking about getting on stage and being vulnerable enough to be judged by others. Being a competitive person, I eagerly accepted the challenge and the rest is history!
Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: Initially I was on my own. The sport of Competitive Fitness is very time consuming, demanding and a bit narcissistic. You have to take time away from family, friends and “normal” life to train. I am the athletic one in my family, therefore they really didn’t understand the “why.” They would see me tired, grumpy, carb deprived and somewhat disengaged. There was some negativity and I had to separate myself during my training. It wasn’t until my parents came to my first show and could actually see what the sport was about and the results of my efforts, that they were able to be on board with my chosen sport.
Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: I don’t think you can actually grasp what it’s like until you step on stage for the first time. It was more exhilarating and rewarding than I had anticipating. I was actually surprised that there were not many women of color competing. It was at that time that I developed a Facebook page: Figure Competitors of Color which is a group that supports and encourages the women of color in the sport of Competitive Fitness. I now have over 700 page members across the globe. I also developed CFAA – Competitive Fitness Athletes Association which is an organization that promotes and supports Competitive Fitness Athletes and the sport of Competitive Fitness.
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: Absolutely: 2006 NPC Novice 5th place; 2009 NPC Novice 6th place; 2010 NPC Masters 5th place: 2010 Masters 3rd place. I’m particularly proud of myself for getting back on stage in 2010 after a major surgery in December of 2009 which had me out of commission for almost 12 weeks. I had another major surgery in April of 2011 and am equally as proud of my hard work for my national qualifying 3rd place in November of this year.
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: My body is still under construction, however I’ve grown quite fond of my quads and triceps. They are always the easiest to develop.
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: I love to train legs. When you involve all of the muscles within the leg during your workout, it feels more challenging in terms of cardio. I always feel like I’ve achieved something when I burn out my legs. I actually don’t really have a favorite exercise as I’m always looking for variations to hit muscles differently.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: I’m still fine tuning my training schedule, however I typically will get my cardio done in the morning before work. I work at a desk during the day, therefore I’m ready to get up and move some iron by the end of the day. Last year I incorporated Muay Thai and TRX training within my schedule which propelled me out of that 5th place category to qualify for nationals. This year I’m going to continue with the fight training 2-3 times per week as well as weight training to develop those areas that were underdeveloped for the last show. This year, I am also working with the authors of the book Turbocharged to trial their fat burning techniques as it pertains to extreme athletes such as myself. I will be blogging about my results, so stay tuned!
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 think people are inspired by my drive and commitment to fitness. As a 39 year old woman, maintaining a fit physique encourages many to aspire for ultimate fitness. Many women approach me in the gym and ask “how can I have arms like you?!” I like to think that my story and seeing me in action, sparks a sense of hope within the average woman.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: I honestly never tire of hearing comments or receiving questions. I typically hear “I could NEVER do that!” I like to take that as a challenge to prove that I’ve been through the depths of despair and have come back stronger and more confident than ever before. If I can do it yes, YOU can do it!
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: I believe people look at the sport as somewhat of a beauty pageant. My goal is to really educate the sporting community that Competitive Fitness is a legitimate sport with devoted, committed athletes. If you watch a Figure competitor train, you will never view her as anything other than an athlete.
Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: The best part of training is seeing the end result and staying youthful. The worst part of training, the exhaustion that sometimes comes with it when holding down a full-time job. I would love the opportunity to train freely without the corporate commitments. Until then, I do what is necessary to train hard every day!
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I have an admiration for all competitors. A number of us are mothers, wives, girlfriends bosses, and hold down a 9 to 5 job. It says a lot about woman’s character that she can juggle so many titles and responsibilities with grace and strength.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: We have a place called Wing Stop here in Colorado that has the most amazing garlic parmesan wings. Besides that, anything that’s NOT on the competition diet is my 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: I would say visit a show first. If you can’t visit a show, conduct your own research to become educated on the sport itself and the demands it requires. Once you’re comfortable with what you’ve learned, set a date, put it on the calendar and find a trainer or a friend who competes to guide you. Train hard, and don’t let anything stop you from attaining your competition goals!
Q: Do you think its becoming more common for women to use the weights as opposed to just doing cardio and things?
A: I think we still have a long way to go in convincing women that weight training is almost necessary to incorporate into regular fitness routines. I still do not see enough women in the weight room. I do hear a number of times from women in the gym that they would like to lift weights, however they don’t know what to do. We’re coming up in the weight training game, but still have work to do to make it more mainstream amongst women especially as we get older.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I love Fight training: Muay Thai and boxing. This is my second passion. I love the sense of empowerment it develops and how it shapes my body. I created Fyter Fitness to promote Fighter Intense Training as a tool to develop mental, spiritual and physical fitness and empowerment. I also enjoy anything athletic and being outside.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Nichole Moran Cruz.
A: My day starts early: 5am – cardio time, off to work by 8am until 5pm, back to the gym for more cardio and weight training or muay thai class, home to cook and spend time with kids, working on Fyter Fitness or CFAA – Competitive Fitness Athletes Association projects, packing food for the next day and then off to bed by 12 hopefully. Days are long during the competition season.
Q: Describe Nichole Moran Cruz in five words.
A: Resilient, Relentless, Committed, Determined, Evolving
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I absolutely love monstrous pickup trucks. I’m only 5’5 ½”, but my next dream vehicle is either an F150, Dodge Ram or Toyota Tundra. Orange, big and powerful!
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I intend to compete as much as I can this year. I will definitely hit the USAs in Vegas, possibly Figure Masters and Nationals in Atlanta. My first show of the year has yet to be determined. I will also be hosting the first conference for CFAA – Competitive Fitness Athletes Association this year date yet to be determined. I will be training with various MMA fighters throughout the year, conducting interviews and blogging about my experiences in order to provide an inside view as to what it truly means to be a Fighter and how to spark the Fyter within.
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I have a couple of ventures being developed right now: CFAA – Competitive Fitness Athletes Association which promotes the sport of Competitive Fitness and its athletes. This website can be found at: www.cfathletes.com . My other venture is Fyter Fitness which promotes empowerment: mind, body and spirit, through Fighter Intense Training. Information about Fyter Fitness can be found at: www.fyterfitness.com
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so what are they getting in Nichole Moran Cruz the athlete and competitor?
A: I am looking for sponsors for myself and many other phenomenal athletes. I am the ultimate athlete: I have overcome domestic violence, being a single parent, and have always kept myself grounded and excelled as an athlete regardless of my circumstances. I am a role model to many who have survived trauma and utilized those battles as a springboard for achievement and greatness. I train hard, work hard, and always strive for the Ultimate fitness and personal success.
Q: Nichole, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: You bet! Thank you for such a great interview. I look forward to many accomplishments in 2012!