Monday, April 2, 2012

Kate Cooper Interview

Since I myself started bodybuilding, Kate Cooper's physique has been one of the ones I most admired, especially her back. What I also admire is Kate has a passion for bodybuilding that is matched by few. After talking with her to do this interview, I realized just how passionate she is. Kate, as you will read, is driven by her goal of a pro card a pro card, I think she has long deserved. After some impressive finishes, let's hope this year is the year she gets that much deserved pro card. Make sure to visit her website

Q: Can you talk about what initially got you into the gym?
A: Actually, I have always wanted to build muscle from when I was very young. I am not sure why and where it came from, I wasn't athletic. When I finally got the chance to really devote time and energy and effort to building muscle, knowing I had an ability to, I was quick to get into bodybuilding. I was thirty-six at my first competition.

Q: You said the goal was to build muscle, but when you started, if someone told you that you would be at the point you are now, would you have believed it?
A: I don't know. It was certainly a goal of mine, so its not like it happened by mistake. I worked really hard to build the muscle I have and I had a vision in my head of what I wanted to accomplish. Did I think it was possible? Probably not. I started off really small and without much muscle, but I love lifting and lifting heavy. When I was first on stage in 2001 I weighed 112 pounds and my condition was not what it is now. It takes the body awhile to get better at bringing condition in. So when I am on stage now at 140 pounds or over, I am much leaner. So I have put on more than thirty pounds of muscle, and that took quite awhile.

Q: Bodybuilding is not the most common female sport. When you started to get bigger, did friends or family give any negative opinions on it?
A: Yeah, I think some people were probably surprised. When I started I was already starting to work as a trainer. So I was surrounded by people who understood it, even if they weren't bodybuilders themselves. I worked at a Gold's Gym originally so there were a lot of bodybuilders there. My family was supportive, but I think a little curious why I wanted to get bigger and bigger, because it isn't common with women and hadn't been common in my life. Even though it was something I always wanted to do, I didn't share it. My mother has been supportive of my bodybuilding but in the beginning she was a little curious about why I wanted to get considerably larger. People wanted me to continue to compete and enjoy what I do, but stay a lightweight. As I get larger and more successful and make it clear I enjoy this, all my friends and family have come around and been a great support.

Q: Was the goal always to compete or did that come later?
A: My absolute goal was to compete. I started lifting weights in high school, I wasn't into competing then but did wanna build muscle. But when I got back into the gym heavy duty, I knew I wanted to set my sights on getting on a stage and see if I liked it and how far it would go. It took a long time to have the time needed to dedicate to prepare to compete.

Q: I always thought in pictures and then saw in person, is you excel at posing. People with limited knowledge think you just get up there and flex, can you explain the importance of posing?
A: Posing is critical and not nearly as easy as some people make it look. And thank you, I take that as a huge compliment because I don't think of it as one of my forte's. I love to lift, love to build muscle, be in competition with myself. Bodybuilding isn't about being the biggest, its about balance and symmetry and shape, muscle to muscle, top to bottom and front to back. I like that part of it. Building my body in a specific way and trying to see where I need to improve. Posing is all about knowing how to pose your physique to the best of your ability. People have different attributes that are their best. You have to know how to present them and be able to flex everything all at once. For instance if a judge calls for a back double bicep, it isn't just about your biceps, you show everything, shoulders to biceps to forearms to lats to glutes, legs and calves. You have to decide which way to turn your knee and position your legs. There is a lot of consideration in posing. Its not just about lifting and dieting, its about posing posing posing. So when you are on stage you don't have to think, its just second nature. You have to hold a pose for a long time. Its like a workout on stage while depleted and hydrated.

Q: Last year you did Masters Nationals at light heavyweight and took first in over thirty-five and third in over forty-five. How satisfied were you?
A: I was satisfied I guess. I was pleased with my conditioning and changes from the previous year. I was happy with a first place but I believe I deserved one of the pro cards. I was surprised to be third in one class and first in the other since most of the competitors were the same people and I showed myself well. Were I failed myself was my overall conditioning. My legs did not come in how I wanted. My legs are the last to come in and sometimes I struggle with them. It was my second year with George Farah as my conditioning and nutrition coach. It takes a coach time to figure out how you respond to things and we were struggling the last few days as my legs didn't come in as dry as he wanted. We are approaching it different now because he knows better how I respond. At USA's last year a week later, I was a little heavier but my conditioning was better. I was dryer and tighter.

Q: That leads to my next question. At USA's you were heavyweight. Was that a plan or did it just happen to be what you weighed in at?
A: Basically its just how it turned out. I weighed in at Masters at barely 139 so if I gained a pound I would be heavyweight. We knew my conditioning was off at Master's, meaning I lost some fullness in my muscles so I looked a little soft because I lost muscle size. I needed to refill and not let it bleed over to water retention or bloating. SO I wasn't surprised I was heavyweight but it was only three or four pounds different because I weighed around 143.

Q: Granted I wasn't there, but from pictures, I would have put you first. Is it frustrating to be so close to winning?
A: Yeah its frustrating. For some people it sounds like sour grapes when you say you should have won. But its frustrating when you think you out shown someone else, you put in all the work and your size and shape beat someone else and you didn't get the credit for it. You put in that much time and effort and then have to start all over again for the next one. My dream has been to be a pro in the sport, and I work hard to deserve it. I don't just want the recognition, I want to deserve it. From what I understand from people high in the industry, they were surprised I didn't win last year. Its not just random fans, but people who have an eye and been in the industry a long time who tell me they don't know what happened and they felt I had it. But it happens to us in the sport. Its so subjective so all I can do is bring my best package and hopefully get a pro card.

Q: You kind of just answered this, but, I am no expert but I have a decent knowledge. I have felt you deserved your pro card already. Why is a pro card so important to you?
A: Recognition. Unfortunately in female bodybuilding, there isn't much of a financial pay-off. Even for pros, the pay-ff is small compared to the men side. So the only satisfaction or reward is being recognized for having accomplished something. My reward would be to be recognized as being pro quality and competing at that new level. I would love to be compared with the best and see where I fall. At a National level we are kept back to a degree and can only get to a certain level. BY the time we get to pro, its a different level of size that's accepted or rewarded so I could take my physique to a newer better level and be judged more favorably at the pro level.

Q: One thing I've always loved is your back. Can you describe a typical back workout for you?
A: I don't think I have a typical anything. I like to do different things. This isn't how I would start a beginner, but I am at the level were I try to confuse my system. I use a variety of exercises that work for me and I have gotten results from. I never do anything twice in the same order. Some of my best or favorites would be, partial deadlifts, which I can do heavy or lighter to end a workout to create more definition, I like to do pull downs more than pull ups with a variety of grips. T-bar rows, one arm dumbbell rows. I always liked working back. I can feel it a sense it. It was one of my first parts to develop for me. It came without a lot of conscious effort as opposed to other parts.

Q: Girls your size are rare, in the gym, do you get a lot of unwanted attention?
A: Not to much anymore because I have my own gym. People know me and I am there every day and we are small. I have a small gym in a small town. I do gets looks walking around town, especially as I get closer to competing, as the muscle gets more obvious and the conditioning comes in. I get some positive attention from strangers and some curious attention from people not familiar with female bodybuilders. There aren't many of us so its an unusual site. When I am working out, clients and gym members are used to me.

Q: In public do you dress more to show it off or cover it up?
A: On a daily basis I definitely dress down. I like to be comfy, for me that's jeans and a tank-top. So my upper body tends to show a bit, but its cause I live in Arizona where its warm and dry and I like some air flow. I am not a shorts person. I do it for myself and the sport, not to get attention in public. I like to stay in the background, and its hard enough even in baggy close.

Q: This year are you planning for the same shows as last year?
A: I plan at this point to do USA's. Its closer for me so less stress travel and financial wise. So we are shooting for walking way with one of the two pro cards.

Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: There are a lot of people to thank. People forget or don't know it takes a team to make one good bodybuilder. My nutrition coach George Farah is instrumental in getting me ready and encouraging me. Charles Glass has been an on and off trainer because its long distance, but whenever I need a hands on trainer I can rely on him and consider him a close personal friend. He always encourages me. My boyfriend Larry, if it weren't for him I couldn't do this. For anyone who lives with a bodybuilder, its a difficult lifestyle. We are committed to what we do, so its not a lot of eating out or staying out late, when you have to get up early to train and eat a specific way. He is there to spot me and be a second eye and encourage me. Also my massage therapist and chiropractors. They all pitch in. And my fans, they don't realize how much it means to us and helps motivate us to do what we do.

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