Monday, May 7, 2012

IFBB Pro Michelle Blank Interview

Photo Credits
1: Dan Ray
2: Jeff Binns
3-6: RX

Michelle Blank earned her IFBB Pro card in her second ever fitness competition. Hows that for impressive? In 2011 she competed at the Fitness Olympia and took sixth place. Pretty good for an Olympia debut. Sadly she had to withdraw for the Arnold's this year due to an injury. But she then did the St. Louis Pro in physique and took second place. Michelle Blank is simply an achiever. I don't call her an over achiever because over achiever is defined as perform better or achieve more success than expected. If you know Michelle you know she can't be an over achiever because her doing what she has done is something you actually do expect. On top of that, getting to know Michelle, she is also one of the nicest and most supportive people you will ever come across. All she has achieved and will achieve is something expected, worked for, deserved and makes you very happy for her.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: Well, I really started as a gymnast when I was younger. Then I ended up getting a stress fracture in my back when I was sixteen. I went back to training after being out for six months and I did gymnastics for another year but I was still in a lot of pain because I had lost core strength. After a year I decided to retire and get a job. I didn't work out for several years, my college year. My senior year the lived with told me I was getting flabby. I didn't like that and went back to the gym. One of the first people I met was this little seventy year old name Florence. She was a little spitfire, in there six days a week for an hour and a half. She was such an inspiration and I said "I wanna be like her when I am seventy". I didn't get in really good shape till I got into the government and went to basic training to be a special agent. That was 2004 when I really started t hit the gym hard.

Q: What led to you competing?
A: When I moved to Pennsylvania I found a gymnastics place that had open gym. I started going and tumbling around to have fun. I had my core strength back and my back wasn't bothering me like it used to. I had realized I needed the core strength back after being in a hard plastic back brace. So I started going and over time there was a class that decided do a competition. The coach asked me to do the competition and I had a hard time saying no because there were women in their forties and had six kids and never competed and didn't have much gymnastics talent and they had the guts to do it so how could I sit there and say no. I competed and we had such a blast that we developed a whole team the following year. Two years later we had a new coach and she said "you are really symmetrical, did you ever think about bodybuilding?" and I was like "at one point I thought about fitness years back". She new Tracey Greenwood and said "I know this fitness pro and you should meet her". I met her and decided I wanted to compete in a fitness competition. So in 2009 I started working with her towards my first competition.

Q: You won your pro card at 2010 Jr. Nationals, your second show ever, going in did you think that was possible?
A: Well, when we were deciding with competitions to do, I qualified for Nationals at my first one, which is funny cause I had no competition at my first one haha, we decided on Nationals and see how I did, and then Jr. Nationals, and Team Universe was after that. We were hoping to get my pro card, but also just the experience of being on stage against competitors. But Jr. Nationals couldn't have gone any better other than there was a black-out after warm-ups. I was amazed and happy I got it that quickly.

Q: Some people go years and years without getting a pro card, did you experience anything that could be perceived as jealousy?
A: No, not really. I still went to Team Universe to hang out and get to know more competitors and watch routines cause its hard to watch when you are competing. I roomed with girls who are still trying for a pro card. They were really sweet and didn't really realize I hadn't competed that long. I think its just hard with my personality not to like me haha. I want everyone to do well and improve themselves. When I am doing well I still try and help other people. We all work really hard to get on stage and have different stories and motivations for why we do it. I don't do it just for the placing, I do it for the love of the sport. Also because of the people I get to meet.

Q: Fitness seems to have less girls competing, in that sense, can that make for less jealousy cause the girls all seem to get along and are trying to further the sport?
A: I think its just that everyone knows how much effort it takes. We have to work both a routine and physique. I think that's why there isn't that many people. It takes a lot of work and people don't have the time for that extra work. Fitness competitors respect each other as far as how much work it is to work on a routine and do it on stage.

Q: In 2011 you got to compete at the Olympia, what was it like to be on that stage?
A: It was such an incredible experience. Being on that stage with all those wonderful women, Adela (Garcia), Oksana (Grishina), Tina Durkin and Nicole Duncan, it was a joy. Big shout out to Jodi Boam, we were the newbies, and we spent a lot of time on stage next to each other the whole year and supporting each other. I remember being on stage at the finals looking at the lights and I told Jodi "we are at the Olympia" and she said "I know". It was such an honor to be on that stage.

Q: Everyone hopes to win, but sixth place at your first Olympia is outstanding, how satisfied were you with that?
A: I couldn't have asked for more. Of course you wanna win, but just being on that stage is an honor and sixth place was just icing on the cake. The opportunity to stand with the top six was amazing. I was filled with joy and my mom and grandma were in the audience watching me. I still have the flowers from it haha. It was an amazing experience.

Q: This year you had to pull out of the Arnold's due to an injury, how frustrating was that?
A: It was a very frustrating beginning to my year. Going into the Olympia I was dealing with injuries and I thought that was difficult, but it was even harder working towards the Arnold's. I tore my calf muscle and was trying to compete, it was a daily struggle, I had to adjust my diet, I couldn't work my routine. It was a struggle and we added therapy to try and get it to heal. The day we decided to withdraw was very difficult for me. I was lucky to have a friend with me and seeing my family the same day helped.

Q: You were there working, granted part was seeing me and having me as your coffee bitch again....
A: I appreciate that by the way haha.

Q: You're welcome haha. But you seemed fairly upbeat, did you have trouble being there and not competing?
A: I did during pre-judging. Nicole Duncan and I went to the pit area to watch. I had a tear in my eye, but things happen for a reason and that reason came a couple weeks later. I was happy to be there and support the competitors,and I had a great time working with Six Pack Fitness, they are a great company to work for. I had a great time being with everyone and meeting people and seeing people I met the previous year. You saw me, walking around on my hands and things like that. I had a great time, but competing wasn't in the cards. I try and make the best of everything.

Q: At the St. Louis Pro you competed in physique and took second, how did that come about?
A: It is an interesting story. I was supposed to compete in fitness, but couldn't due to my calf. Flights and hotels were scheduled and I wanted to go support Derek, who was the sponsor for fitness and I was kind of the reason he sponsored fitness for the show. I wanted to go support him and Jack and Ann (Titone) and the girls. So I went and it was gonna be like a vacation for me. Thursday night I ran into Bob Chicerillo and told him "I really wish I could compete". He said "you are looking pretty good", cause I was still dieting and training for the Pittsburgh Pro. He said "show me a double bicep" and I did and he said "you can compete in physique this weekend". I said "you are out of your mind". I learned the mandatories Friday and talked to my coach, and decided I was there so why not go for it. I am so glad I did because just being on stage after having such a struggle with the calf and dieting since Christmas and then not knowing if I would be on stage this year at all, it was a relief to be on stage. Taking second was just amazing.

Q: Your posing seemed pretty good for having no experience with it, was the posing hard at all?
A: No, I mean, I practiced as much as I could Friday and Saturday after pre-judge. Sara Hurrle and I practiced Friday, she was new to the division to. We helped each other out. There are only five mandatories, so it wasn't to difficult. I just went out and had fun with it. I need to teak a few things here and there and I will for the next one.

Q: So you are doing more physique?
A: I am competing May nineteenth in New York. I am excited and will be ready for this one. Its my time to shine now. I am excited to get back on stage.

Q: Long term, do you see fitness or physique as your future or can you do both?
A: I say I don't have to decide. Right now my body is deciding for me. So I will go where my body tells me to go right now. There are more physique competitions than fitness. I was hoping to train for Pittsburgh, but even at St. Louis my calf was giving me a hard time. My doctor realized where the problem is and therapy is working now. There are no other fitness shows to be ready for now, so I can focus on physique this year and see where that takes me for next year.

Q: Has doing physique required you to change anything with your training?
A: Well, it has. I have gone from three days to five days a week of lifting. I need some size on my legs, different shaping really. Not having a routine to train for makes it changed as well. I am enjoying it.

Q: Anyone you want to thank or mention or add?
A: I always have to thank family and friends for their love and support. They have helped me through this year. Tracey Greenwood always gets me in the right direction. I cant thank you enough for all your support. I always enjoy staying in contact with you. CJ's Elite, I am excited to get to wear her suits on stage. There are so many people. My website has some of them on there. I also do a blog on RX Muscle Girl every two weeks. I also became an athlete and ambassador for NOW Sports, a great natural product line.

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