Monday, October 1, 2012

McKenzie Walter Interview

In 2010 I went to the Master's, Teen, Collegiate Nationals. I went mainly to see some of the competitors in Master's, the ones who had been competing for a while. But one of the people who stole the show for me, was not a Master, it was a young woman named McKenzie Walter. I was really impressed with her physique and the dedication she had at such a young age. While most people her age were out partying she was living a healthy lifestyle, while most people were sleeping till they had to get up for school, she was getting her workout in before school. McKenzie then did Jr. USA's, and finished an incredibly impressive fifth place. An injury kept her off the stage for some time until she recently returned, this time in the bikini division, and took second place at the Ohio State Championships. Being only twenty-one years old, McKenzie has such a bright future in the sport and is someone I fully expect to one day own a pro card.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: Growing up I was always super athletic, I was in to almost every sport, basketball, volleyball, track, softball at one point. I really started to get into the gym my sophomore year of high school. I would actually go to the gym every morning before school with my dad, I would get up at five to get my lift in before school because I had practice afterwords. Then starting around that time is when my dad, my brother and I would go to the Arnold Classic every year because I am super close to it. We would go every year and I was fascinated with all these fitness models and figure competitors. It took off from there when I started doing my research and everything. I became more curious about it.

Q: What made you decide to compete?
A: My first show, I did it myself, I didn't have a coach or anything. I was clueless, it was like "I am eating healthy and working out and doing cardio". I just jumped into it my junior year of high school, I weighed like ninety-eight pounds at the time of the show, I was a little string bean. I decided to compete based on how it took over my life. I loved everything. I was reading articles on Oxygen and Women's Fitness and That is what really got me started.

Q: A lot of people say after they compete the first time that it becomes like an addiction, was that the case for you?
A: For sure! After that I was like "I am hooked". I learned a lot going into that show. I was only a junior in high school and did my prep myself. I was only ninety-eight pounds, a little tiny thing. That is when I started looking around about coaches. I knew I needed to put size one. I did my off-season myself and took the time to put on size and then ended up contacting Mike Davies and started with him at the beginning of 2010. From there it took off.

Q: At that age, most of your friends are probably going out and partying, did you get any negativity towards you not being able to do that?
A: I didn't get negative comments. I definitely lived a totally different lifestyle. I am twenty-one right now and can count on one hand how many times I have drank in my life, it's just not me. I didn't get negative comments, I think they knew how much I was into it. It was a little hard at that age, it is much easier now, all my friends still party, but they know how much this is my lifestyle. You can make it work as far as still being close to your friends and competing, you just have to have a balance.

Q: In 2011 you took fifth at Jr. USA's, a National show against the best, how happy were you with that?
A: Oh my gosh, I was ecstatic. I had a really rough year. I got with Mike in the beginning of 2010 and had a really successful year. I placed first in novice at the Julie Palmer show, second in overall Open. Then I went to Teen and Collegiate Nationals and won the overall in both divisions. Mike gave me my game-plan for 2011 and at the end of July I started my off-season, we trained hard, my whole mind-set was on that show. Then in the beginning of my prep in 2011, I started having bad knee issues. My right knee started to swell up real bad and it was hurting. I thought I tore something. I went and got MRI's done and they couldn't find anything. Once I had it in my mind nothing was torn, I ignored the warning signs and wrapped my knee so tight I couldn't feel anything. I did this for four months straight. I was rough the whole prep. So it was amazing, I just wanted to get my feet wet, placing fifth I was ecstatic. After the show I was happy, but then things took a downfall. I had to take off from the gym doing legs and cardio for eight months. Now it was both knees. They thought I had rheumatoid arthritis and that was scary. I couldn't do what I loved to do. All the tests kept coming up negative. After seeing six different doctors they finally went in and scoped my knee out. I had really bad arthritis and cartilage floating around. They cleaned that out and I went back to it. It was just a struggle trying to figure out what was going on. It was a rough year, but with all that, taking fifth, that show meant so much to me.

Q: Last week you took second at the Ohio State, how did you feel about that show?
A: Honestly, that was by far my favorite show I have ever done, my best prep. After Jr. USA's I thought I was done competing. I am not even going into detail how bad it was, I thought I was done. After I had surgery, I was expecting to get it cleaned out and do every day things. I had a hard time getting around, but after a month and the surgery, I started with light cardio and leg training and got the itch to compete again. I contacted Mike and he gave me the go. Because of the size of my legs he asked about bikini and I figured I would try it out. I learned to listen to my body on this prep. If I had trouble, I knew when to back off. I really appreciated every little thing and took nothing for granted thinking I could never do this again and then come back and place second. It was by far my best show and most fun. I took nothing for granted.

Q: Obviously now you are happy, but at the moment you hear second place, are you more happy or more "oh so close"?
A: Honestly, I was happy. Everyone wants to place first, but this was my first bikini show, it is so much different from figure. I was going in thinking I would like to be top ten, but no matter what I would be happy. It was a blessing to get on stage again, it meant so much to me. I was hoping for top ten, so second shocked me. Those girls were beautiful, we were backstage and I was like "wow, they have such tiny waists and their legs look great". So I was thrilled.

Q: When would you like to compete again?
A: I am on my off-season plan right now. I am working on my off-season with Mike. I am seeing him to train Saturday and will talk to him. I always like to have a game-plan, I don't like not knowing what I am doing next year. I will talk to him about what shows he thinks will be a good idea, but definitely next year. I didn't really have an off-season this show. I went from taking off eight months to knee surgery to jumping into a prep. My legs are a little smaller, need to bring those up and work on some lagging body parts.

Q: Are you staying with bikini?
A: I initially thought that after this show I would go back to figure, that was my love, but I had so much fun I am sticking with bikini. I have so much fun with it. I also think with my knee problems, they are fine now, but I worry about my training, I think this is right for me. Not saying bikini training is easier, but I don't have to worry as much about building up my quads. I stick with non weight barring cardio and don't train as heavy, it is smarter and allows me to do what I love to do. I really have so much fun, you can put so much personality into it.

Q: For the next show, where do you want to improve?
A: I definitely need to improve my legs. I also am not blessed with the smallest waist, I am kind of straight up and down, so I wanna build up my legs and give the illusion of a smaller waist. I am hoping to have a smaller waist next year and my legs a little fuller.

Q: At the gym, not a lot of girls training that hard, do you get a lot of the attention or stares from people?
A: No, I am from a small town so a lot of people know I compete. So no, not really. I train at a smaller gym.

Q: In public are you more of a show it off or cover up and avoid attention type person?
A: I guess I don't really show it off.

Q: If you could spend one day training with any person who you have never trained with, who would it be?
A: I have always loved Nicole Wilkins. I know I am in bikini now but I have always loved her. So I would say Nicole. I always love her interviews on the Internet. She is one of my idols. I will say, I train with Mike on the weekends and you would be amazed at all the beautiful women who come into that gym. They come across states to train . So many pros, Chelsey Morgenstern came in, I see all these pros, and Julie Palmer I see very weekend and she is beautiful. I am definitely motivated seeing all these girls at pro levels. I am very lucky to train with people like that.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: Definitely Mike Davies, he has been great. I really want to thank my brother Josh Walter. He is a bodybuilder as well. We have a little house together. He is with Mike as well and placed second at Collegiate Nationals this year. He is definitely on his way, he is a big guy. It is nice to have that close tight-knit relationship with your brother. He is my best friend. There is a lot of support, we like to train together. I am lucky to have him, we know how we are when we diet haha.

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