Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Tracey Rice Interview
Photo 1: Dan Ray
Photos 2-4: David Ford
Photo 5: Pink Elephant Photography
After competing in bodybuilding, Tracey Rice made the switch to figure, and it appears to have been the right choice for her. Most recently at the ABBA Provincials Tracey brought an incredible package combined with great stage presence. She may not have placed where she would have liked, but her attitude and clear passion for what she does will have those placings getting higher and higher with each time on stage.
Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: I started for a couple reasons. I was going on a vacation and wanted to look good. My son is paraplegic and I knew he would be outgrowing me at some point and I needed strength for him to provide what he needed. I started training with a friend who had a gym in her basement. I never struggled with weight, I had a little baby weight, but it was strength and mass that I wanted to build. Two years after that I went to my first bodybuilding show. Two weeks prior to that I had told a friend that I wanted to maybe step on stage prior to my thirtieth birthday which was coming in that October. Seeing my first show in June, my first time traveling out of town with a cooler full of prepped meals and accommodating my diet and training, I realized I could do this. I watched the show and saw the whole sport and fell in love with it. I thought about it for a week wondering how I could get myself there. It was a goal, I really wanted it. It was a difficult prep, it was hard to do the diet and get the training in being a single mom and dealing with other unexpected family issues. It was a part of my life I could control, my food, how hard I trained, the effort I put in, it was all showing in my body. I was a little string bean that stepped on stage at 5'7" and 114LBS, and I came in last place out of four girls. It was o.k., it wasn't about where I placed, it was about reaching a goal I had set out to do. From there it evolved to such a passion, it is accepted by every person in my life. I never have to justify anything. People want to see my improve and do better. I did three bodybuilding shows, each one placing better than before, but last year switched over to figure and found a new passion in that.
Q: When you first decided to compete, did anyone react negative?
A: I think the assumptions were I was gonna get big like the ones on a National stage or the Olympia stage. They didn't want me to look like a man. The assumptions were that I would do drugs to get there, constant questions about how I ate. It was a lot of justification the first year. The second time it became a little less. People wanted to know if I would get tired of it or missed going to bars. I stopped defending it, I didn't ask them to justify there choices, and people now further engage me and ask how things are going. It comes with roadblocks. The hardest one was my son, it took away from time together. All in all he sees how much I love it. Now at fourteen he thinks it is cool that his mom is stronger than everyone elses mom and is excited to see what is next. He is the one who had to sacrifice time with me. When everyone is having parties, we have cake and things and I eat chicken. he felt I was being left out. Now we are good, we coordinate our outings around cheat meals. He reminds me not to cheat and says "you cant eat that", he watches like a little hawk.
Q: What about competing after that first time made it a passion for you?
A: Honestly, the society, the people, the stories, everything about it is so positive and inspiring.
Q: From bodybuilding to figure, did you make any drastic changes to training or diet?
A: Not at all. I still train as hard and heavy as I can. I eat as clean as I can. I screw up on my diet here and there but I believe everything my trainers tell me. I don't feel it has changed. Every two to three months we switch my training, but it wouldn't have changed whether I did bodybuilding or figure, I still strive for those personal bests in what I am lifting. There are days we focus on repping out.
Q: Your last show was the ABBA Provincials, how satisfied were you with how you looked?
A: I was incredibly happy with my physique. Bitter sweet because I placed horribly, tenth place. It set me back emotionally. I crawled under a rock for thirty-six hours. Looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Judges, trainer and people who talked to me, it was the best physique I have had. I worked hard on shoulders and it shows, my back was there. It comes down to conditioning so that is my weakness, I have to focus on that for next season so I come in tighter.
Q: You look really confident on stage, is that accurate?
A: Yeah! It is funny because I am stage shy. When I first stepped on I was shaking and it was so overwhelming. You overcome it because it is a wonderful high and realize "all eyes are on me". As overwhelming as that is, it is your moment to shine. I get feedback, positive feedback from judges and random people, and they say my stage presence and confidence is unbelievable. I hope I get the whole package and it will be another strength.
Q: Do you know when you will compete next?
A: I am hoping to do Provincials again in June of next year. That is my plan. I am going to take it one day at a time. I decided to work on the emotional and metal aspects. Women put a lot of pressure on themselves to go and be judged by people. I decided to work with a sports psychologist this year, so between him and my own goals and my trainers, I will decide what is best for me.
Q: For the next one, physique wise, where would you like to be better?
A: I want to be a little tighter so I need my bottom end to be more conditioned. Other than that, I will keep on par. I liked the leanness. In Canada we have bigger and harder than what you see n an NPC stage. that is frustrating because we never know what they look for each year. Just a matter of tightening up. Not to have the rebound some athletes deal with. Same package as this year, just tighter.
Q: Do you enjoy photo shoots?
A: It is a fear actually. But it keeps my diet and training in check. There is anxiety when you get your picture taken and put it out there for people to provide you feedback on things. Usually the feedback is quite positive. It is more for me, my own progress, my own life and physique through the eyes of a photographer. Having a little money to pay for them is an issue, but it is incentive, I am not going to put money into something that I am not proud of. It keeps everything in check for me. I have a shoot next week that I am getting ready for. My body is fighting me right now, trying to keep leaner and tighter. This is where the mental therapy helps, reminds myself it is nice to look at, but that softer look is what we need to go through to look better on stage.
Q: In the gym, do you get a lot of attention or stares?
A: Yes and I sued to focus on it and it bothered me. You can take it either way, positive or negative. I adapted the mentality that I assume everyone is looking in a positive light. It is hard to focus on training and put your energy into it when you are bombarded with what people are thinking. People come and say nice things, mostly women. They say "I have watched your form, your strength is great, your physique is astounding", that means the world to me. I measure myself up to what the women are lifting and trying to beat them. It is my incentive to push harder. It keeps me going. I am not there to impress but it helps to feel you are motivating someone else.
Q: In public do you cover-up and avoid attention or proud of it and show it off?
A: It is interesting you ask this because I talked about this to my sports psychologist. I always covered it up because I didn't want people to stare at me. I decided this summer that I work hard and have nothing to be ashamed of and positive thinking has changed my mentality. People approach and say I look great. The people who aren't positive, I cant control that and cant focus on that. It has been a huge challenge to come out of the little bubble and wear my workout clothes and tank-tops and be proud of what I have.
Q: If you could spend one day training with anyone, who would it be?
A: I think I would train with Erin Stern.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My trainers for everything they have provided me. They have instilled confidence in me, they are proud of me and that is important. My son is my biggest fan and inspiration in my life. Everyone who has watched me come from a stringy little bodybuilder who they thought would never go beyond that first show to now hoping to step on a National stage again and beyond. People like you Jason who give people a venue to tell their stories, that's awesome.