Thursday, June 14, 2012
Erica Cruikshank Interview
Photos 1-2: Mike Eckstut/HerBiceps
Photos 3-4: Jules Clifford
Photos 5-6: RX Muscle
Practically growing up in a gym, competing is something that seems like it would be natural for Erica Cruikshank. She started out in figure to get used to it, and she did very good at that. Recently she has decided to put her gymnastic ability to use and has had two impressive national showings. Fitness also allows her to have the harder look she prefers. I don't think it would be wrong to predict a pro card in Erica's future.
Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: Our family owns a couple of gyms. I was young starting off. If you remember all the aerobics video tapes, my cousin used to do them all. I had so much fun doing it with her. I was a gymnast so I enjoyed doing it with her. When she got married, her husband started Total Fitness for Women with his mom, which has evolved, they have a business partner and are now World's Gym. So at a young age I was exposed to the gym, from my training for gymnastics and my family getting more into the commercial stuff. Then having my son, I became a runner and I wasn't really pleased with my physique. I was getting that lean stringy look. I like the fuller, curvy, muscular look. So I started hitting the weights again.
Q: At what point did you decide to compete?
A: Well, it was right when I started back in the gym. My son was a couple years old, I was done with the running. I went in and put a program together and got serious about focusing on mind muscle connection. A couple people at the gym asked "what are you getting ready for", and I didn't know much about the industry. Someone said "you would be perfect for NPC, you look like you are only four to six weeks out, you should try it. I went with it from there. I got a program together, picked a show, had a little guidance from some friends. I was kind of on my own my first show. Did research and went with it.
Q: Why figure at that point?
A: Starting with figure was to get my feet wet. See if I could dial my physique in and see how to get myself to look good on stage. Also being comfortable. My nerves sometimes, even with gymnastics, on the beam, it's dead quiet, I would get nervous. I was nervous about going out there in my five inch heals in the spotlight. I wanted to make sure I was comfortable with that and bring my physique the way I wanted it to be. From the start I wanted to do fitness, I did figure till I was comfortable enough.
Q: For some it is an immediate addiction, was that the case with you?
A: It is a rush, it becomes a whole new lifestyle. I don't know if I would go as far as addiction, for the simple fact that if I miss a day cause my son has practice, I don't stress and freak out. my priority is my family. Competing is something fun, a hobby. I'm trying to make sure that that's how I keep things. Sometimes I do get blocked and clouded and lose sight of them. Once you are in, you are in, it's amazing. Being able to bring my son to shows makes it like a family experience. He enjoyed going to Vegas, he got a vacation out of it haha.
Q: Last year, at USA's, in figure you took ninth, what were your thoughts on where you placed?
A: You know what? To tell you the truth, I was thrilled. To be second call-out against an amazing group of physiques, in I think the biggest show in NPC history. When I got called for second call-out I had to look down and make sure it was me. At that point, with all the amazing physiques, we did not get a lot of time on stage because there was so many of us. You had to flaunt it and hope you caught their eye. In my opinion unfortunately, when you have the top ten girls in phenomenal condition, I think it becomes a popularity contest. Like "I remember her from last show", and they kind of remember and see your changes from last show. So to be second call-out against girls who competed way longer than me, I was very pleased. I did smooth out for that show, I had been criticized for being too hard previously. So I took in extra carbs and was happy with the look. I prefer to be harder which is why I love fitness.
Q: At North Americans you had switched to fitness, why at that point did you switch?
A: I had to qualify so I won the Maryland States. I decided even before USA's, I knew I was doing it. I wanted one more national show under my belt. It was my last time doing figure and couldn't pass up the opportunity. I have a friend whose partner is a pilot, so they said "a hundred bucks and you are in" and I said I was in. Plus it was a chance to do some things and fine tune my physique. I couldn't turn it down. All the while I was working on my fitness routine. In the hotel room I was showing off my fitness rooms. In August I won Maryland States and then took that to North Americans.
Q: To take second in your first national fitness show, would you have thought that was possible?
A: Honestly, no. I guess, I don't think like all competitors do. They are like "go out there and own it, you know you will win". I tend to not get my hopes up. It's easier to not be disappointed. That's one of my weaknesses, not being confident in myself. I worked with Jen Henderschott before the last show and we added some neat stuff to it. She said "you gotta own it", and it got my confidence level up.
Q: After that you did Jr. USA's, after those shows, from how you are talking, safe to assume you are sticking with fitness now?
A: Absolutely! I have to pull together and tweak my routine. Hopefully it will be exciting and entertaining. It's a little dramatic, different from the little fast paced dance ones. I am excited to bring it. Fitness is where my heart is. A couple people have approached my about physique, because I have the ability to put on and keep on muscle. I love the routine. I love that two thirds of my score is based on my routine. I feel I am being judged for abilities, which is more rewarding to me.
Q: Do you know what show you are doing next?
A: I wanted to do Team U, because it's local and fun. I don't wanna take my old routine. There is no way my new one will be ready. I have had family stuff lately. I was asked to guest pose at the Virginia Grand Prix. They offered to bring me down. I have something with work so haven't given him a hundred percent yet. I am doing my fair well to my old routine at the Maryland Grand Prix. I cant compete since I won last year. I will be there helping out and working the MET-Rx booth. I do plan on doing North Americans next time.
Q: For the next time, physique wise, what improvements do you want to make?
A: I was a little disappointed looking at my photos. The lighting was not great. I have gotten images that someone else took that look a lot better. My photo shoot pictures show my hardness and lines more. I had a lot going on this winter and trouble putting on some weight. I was below contest weight in December into January before I finally could get weight on. My legs suffered. I was disappointed to see they were smaller, not where they were. In figure girls want to bring legs down, in fitness I can keep my legs hard. I have gone ahead and carb loaded, added forty grams to each meal and focused on nutrition. Added a couple pounds and lifting heavy for legs, so they will be more full.
Q: Besides the routine are there any major differences in how you train or prep for fitness?
A: I would say so. I am a little different. I tell people what I do and there are like "are you kidding me?" With fitness you get a lot of cardio in your routine. I don't do cardio anyway. I did it my first season and got really small and my body doesn't need it. When is tarted fitness I got small fast. I had to up the calories. It got to where my suit was sliding off my hip. You are allowed to eat more carbs and fat than someone doing figure because of those explosive routines. Being completely depleted, you can't do the routine. Cutting water to. I need plenty of water for the routine and afterwords I guzzle water. I don't want to be dehydrated doing the routine. You can be more layed back with the diet. Some girls are different.
Q: Anyone who sees your pictures, will notice your abs, do you do a lot of ab work or are you just lucky?
A: I think genetically I got very lucky. I had abs when I was eight years old. I remember going to pool parties at friends houses and having abs. They were just there. My first season competing I did weighted ab work and it changed the shape and the judges said I didn't need it. So I toned down how much I train them. I train them like every body part. Weighted stuff, burn them out. Do ten minutes non stop and don't do them for four to five days so they can recover. In fact, I don't do abs much the last week before a show because I don't need them bulking out so much. That's whats cool about fitness, getting away with having rock hard abs. I am glad I switched to fitness haha.
Q: In the gym, beautiful girl, great physique, do you get a lot of attention?
A: Everyone is used to me. I wear knee socks to the gym, everyone knows me around town as the girl with bright colored socks. My training, I do explosive rounds of twenty pull-ups, ten body-weight deadlifts and ten hand-stand push-ups or something. People look at me, but they are used to me now. On shoulder day I walk on my hands up and down the track, so people see me upside down more than right side up. I definitely get looks, but not in a bad way. They appreciate it and are interested.
Q: You can spend a day training with anyone you want, who do you pick?
A: I actually got to. The first time I saw Jen Henderschott's routine at the Arnold's, I said "I want to do that". I contacted her and finally got to have her tweak my routine. She was amazing. We spent hours talking and bonding. If there were one person, that dream came true, spending a day with her. I am still overwhelmed. She was amazing. She is good at reading people. She read me like a book in ten minutes. I look forward to going back. This past time we just tweaked my old routine from what she called the elementary level to the wow level.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?A
A: My photographer Jules Clifford has worked with me until I was comfortable. Mike Eckstut from HerBiceps is amazing. I possibly have job opportunity with him. Being able to refer to SiouxCountry at any time I want is amazing. My chairman Rich has been so supportive, always checking in. My sponsor Modern Door Equipment. Marvin Chappelle, for him to ask me to guest pose is an honor. MET-Rx, I have enjoyed working for them. Tamee Marie Suits also. My gym is amazing.