Tuesday, May 29, 2012

IFPA Pro Nicole Gray Interview

Pro. The word Pro attached to you in whatever field you are involved in, carries a certain status. A status that says you have achieved something, that you are among the elite in your field. Needless to say, if you know me, I was ecstatic when, in 2010, at the OCB Battle of the Belt, Nicole Gray earned her IFPA Pro card. It was something she deserved and worked hard for. n this interview, you will hear that Nicole herself didn't expect it to happen, but to those who know Nicole, it was no surprise. After taking time off, Nicole made her pro debut recently with an impressive fourth place finish and weeks later competed in Physique in an NPC show. Nicole is an example of why I love the sport and why I do what I do. So I am very excited to present this interview with Nicole Gray.

Q: Can you start out by talking about how you got started in the gym?
A: I was never athletic or anything like that. I got started wanting to lose weight because I was fat and miserable. I started doing my own diet and trying to outrun my diet doing hours and hours of cardio. Eventually, after doing research I started hitting the weight room and it took off from there.

Q: What made you decide to compete?
A: It is something I always kind of followed but never thought I could actually do it. I have never been competitive, never played sports, never been on stage a day in my life. People kept pushing me saying "what do you have to lose? You don't wanna wonder". So I said "o.k., I will do it once, just to say I did it, if I hate it, I know, if I suck at it, I know." The second I stepped on stage I fell in love.

Q: A lot of people say after they compete it becomes an addiction, so that was the case with you then?
A: Yes, you either love it or hate it, and I love it. Taking time off is hard, but necessary haha.

Q: As you started adding size, were any family or friends negative towards it?
A: Yeah! I mean, I come from a long line of people who say "live a little", and that's aggravating to hear because I am. I am very happy and love what I do. You don't like it, too bad. When I am really lean I hear "you're too skinny", which to someone trying to get lean, that's an insult. I'm like "no I'm lean not skinny". You are told veins are disgusting and muslces are disgusting. That's fine, don't look, I love who I am and what I do. Other peoples opinions have no impact on me whatsoever.

Q: In 2010 at the Battle of the Belt you won your IFPA pro card, when you first found out, what went through your head?
A: Shock, I didn't believe it. I laughed, I was like "no freaking way". I was absolutely shocked. Just the fact the word pro was next to my name was mind blowing. It's something you work so hard for and when you get it, you want it but don't believe it will happen, it's mind blowing.

Q: Does having the word pro next to your name carry any extra responsibility as far as how you portray yourself?
A: I wouldn't say as far as portraying myself. When it comes to being competitive, I did my first pro show this year, and it's like you have to step your game up. Every girl on that stage will be phenomenal, there isn't going to be that sloppy girl. This is pro, a whole new level and I wanna hold my own. So in that manor I felt I needed to bring something.

Q: This year you did the Pro Bowl and took fourth, which is outstanding for a pro debut, how satisfied were you?
A: I was shocked. In the back of my head, I had the whole "it's an honor to be there" thing. The fact I placed and competed with women on the amateur level and am now sharing a pro stage with them, it's rewarding and something I will never forget. To place was phenomenal. I look at my medal and am like "wow, I really did it". I took off after 2010, and all that time was hard, but so worth it.

Q: Were you any extra nervous for a pro show?
A: I was leading up to it. The caliber of competition is different, women I look up to. I know I am little so I knew would be the littlest girl out there. But it was a blast, just fun.

Q: For a pro show, did prep change at all?
A: I usually start eighteen weeks out. That was no different this time. I leave all that to my trainer Joe Franco, that's his job. Ido no thinking, I do what I'm told. This prep was different than any prep I have done. I ate more food and did less cardio, so in that respect it was easier. I was able to bring it down without killing myself.

Q: Just recently you tried physique at the NPC Lehigh Valley, why did you try that?
A: When they first introduced the division, I was hooked immediately. I followed it relentlessly. Again, it was "can I do it, do I have the guts to do it?" I am not a performer, so doing a routine was terrifying. I talked to some friends, one being Jillian Reville who made the switch from figure to physique and she encouraged me that I could do it, to stop doubting myself. It was three weeks after the Pro Bowl, so I was already in shape, I wouldn't have to prep for it, just hold my conditioning. It was local, so I did it to see if I liked it. I was scared to death but fell in love with it.

Q: So how happy were you with your performance?
A: I didn't put together a routine ahead of time haha. I threw it all together in three weeks and put the routine together between pre--judge and finals. I was nervous and worried I would be a deer in headlights. A friend videotaped it, and I was really proud of myself and how I performed.

Q: Was the posing any harder or easier than you expected?
A: It was harder. I think figure girls take quarter turns to the right for granted haha. It's harder to hold poses, smile, breath, stay tight. It is part of why I love it though.

Q: So will you do more?
A: It is absolutely were I am heading. I am putting the figure heels away haha.

Q: You actually looked happy and comfortable, is it a reflexion of your personality, always happy?
A: That is what everyone said when I was practicing, I looked like I enjoyed it. I have been doing bodybuilding poses for years in the gym and home. I love it. The posing is beautiful and I enjoy doing it.

Q: Any set competing plans?
A: I am taking off the rest of this year. In physique I qualified nationally, so that's my next goal. Taking off the rest of the year to grow and train. My symmetry is good, I need size and thickness.

Q: I don't know if you agree, but to me, your biggest improvement has been your back....
A: Absolutely!

Q: Can you give an idea of your typical back day?
A: It kind of depends. Last year I was injured a bit so I had to back off deadlifts. If healthy I always start with heavy deadlifts, never exceeding six reps. The rest is some kind of cables, some lat pull-downs, straight arm pull-downs, again within six to eight reps. T-bar rows for thickness and maybe burn it out with super-setting some back and shoulder for rear delts. Super-set with rows and straight arms, ten to twelve rep range, all heavy weight.

Q: In the gym, beautiful girl, great physique, do you get unwanted attention or stares?
A: No, everyone in my gym knows me. They call me "bitch face", I am told I am not very approachable. There is a method to that, I wanna be left alone, I am there to train. If people compliment me, that's fine. Nobody really bothers me. I love when women approach though, they can do that anytime, cause it's so rare for women to compliment other women like that.

Q: In public, do you dress to show it off, or cover up to avoid attention?
A: It depends where I am going. If it's hot I wear a tank top. I don't dress up often, I am lazy and in gym clothes all the time. If it's hot I am in shorts and a tank top, I don't care, stare all you want, I am comfortable, and that's what matters.

Q: If you could train one day with any one person, who would it be?
A: For males, Flex Lewis, I love him, he is amazing and well representing the 202 class. Female, my new obsession would be Julianna Malacarne for winning the New York Pro, that is what the division should be.

Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank?
A: My trainer and coach, Joe Franco, there is no way I am where I am mentally and physically without him. Everyone at Champion Nutrition, they have supported me through my off season, all the way to the Pro Bowl and swithc to physique. They are a wonderful company and great products.


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