Sunday, December 9, 2012

IFBB Pro Tiani Norman Interview

Photo Credits: Photos 1 and 3: Dan Ray
Photo 2: Adrienne Irizarry
Photos 4-5: RX Muscle

In 2012 Tiani Norman made the switch from figure to physique. It was obviously a wise switch as she wasted no time in earning her IFBB pro card Team Universe. She made her pro debut at the Tampa Pro to "establish herself on the pro circuit" and definitely looked like she belonged on that pro stage. In the coming years Tiani should be really doing big things on the pro stage and can be one of the elite in the division.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: I actually started in high school. I was on a competition cheerleading squad. It was not the kind of cheerleading you do at games, it was a lot of gymnastics and jumping. Instead of gym class we were sent to the weight room and instructed with the trainer there.That was were I got my first experience and I loved it.

Q: So it sort of became something you loved and progressed from there?
A: It was! After high school I went to college and we had a nice weight room there and I was active working out. I didn't study Exercise Physiology but had some friends who did and they sued me as their test subject. I was always being run through different types of workouts. I wish I knew then what I know now, I would have probably switched my major. From there, I stuck with it. I always loved the weights, never cared for the cardio end of it.

Q: What led to you competing?
A: I used to box. That was the only kind of cardio I enjoyed. I had a bit of a run-in in the ring and required some surgery. I didn't block very well and had a bone come out of my forehead and my nose basically caved into my sinus cavity. After that experience my coach suggested I do something non-contact and was pointing me in the direction of figure. It hadn't been around long and he felt I would be a perfect fit. I never went to a show, did all my homework on line and decided to compete. Ever since then I have never looked back.

Q: So was it like a lot of girls tell me, an addiction after that show?
A: I would say it was an addiction before I even hit the stage. Kind of like you, you work so hard for something, you set that goal. My intention that first show as to come in the top five. Since I had never been in a show I didn't know that when I got moved to the center that I was winning. When that happened I realized I have a shot and want to keep going and see how far I could take it.

Q: In 2011 at Team Universe you didn't place...
A: That is a sore subject haha.

Q: Was that what led you to physique?
A: The story behind that show was that two weeks prior I met with John Kemper and he told me I was perfect for physique and I should cross over. I told him I was going to give figure one last effort and see how I placed. He look at me with this look like "are you serious", and said "you do that and see how well you do." When I walked on stage he looked at me like "what are you doing?" I was not surprised after that experience. Someone came up to me and said "if you had listened to him you would be a pro tonight." It was a tough pill to swallow, not taking the advice I was actually seeking. It was not what I wanted to hear, but after that advice I realized I had to give it a shot and I am glad I did.

Q: That show, to me, you had the best physique package on stage except you weren't in physique....
A: Haha

Q: Were you frustrated after that?
A: I would be lying if I said I wasn't upset. More with myself. Two weeks out being told to come up with a routine, these new poses, I never considered it. If I could rewind I would have taken the blinders off and tried. He told me that day "this is a new division, no one knows what they are doing, you aren't going out there and embarrassing yourself, there are no guidelines yet". I try now not to look back and be hard on myself, I hope to take it better.

Q: In switching did you make an major changes to your training or diet?
A: I got to go back to training. I had cut way back. I hadn't put weights on my leg for a year. Every time on stage they said "you are too this you are too that", so my legs always were bigger than they wanted and my upper body was lacking. I got to go back to heavy weights instead of plyo. I eat a lot it helps build the muscle so it is more enjoyable. My goals are always the same, bring up the upper body and tighten the legs and glutes.

Q: Was it weird being on stage and posing as opposed to quarter turns?
A: I was nervous backstage but as soon as I got out it was so much fun. It was a blast. I wasn't nervous once I was out there. You get to show off your physique instead of trying to hide everything. You get to be yourself.

Q: This year at Team Universe you won your pro card, do you remember what went through your head?
A: Not really, there were no real thoughts. I was just so excited and happy. It was a dream come true. An overwhelming feeling and pure excitement. When you work that hard for so many years and it comes true, it is like "wow", there are no real words.

Q: Does the pro card carry an responsibility for how you represent yourself to fans of the sport?
A: I think so. I am trying to do more for different types of charities. I am trying to give back as much as I can. I don't want to be one of those people that is stuck up and not there to help others. I always want to be accessible. When people have questions I try and answer. I just wanna help anyone cause I know how good it feels to accomplish.

Q: In August you did the Tampa Pro, how did you feel about that show?
A: I went just to try and establish myself on the pro circuit. I didn't want to end with Team Universe. It wasn't enough time to make improvements so the overall experience was awesome. It was incredible to be backstage with all the pros. It was amazing. I wanted some feedback and then hit the ground running and have a full off-season for improvements. I knew it could be better, but I also knew I would rather come in like I did at Team Universe and see where the judges felt I could improve.

Q: Do you know when you want to compete next?
A: That is a really good question haha. P.J. Braun is my coach and we have gone back and fourth about shows for me because looking at what they are choosing, it seems the go for more muscle on the east coast and he feels I am a better fit on the west coast. I would like to be on stage in the spring or early summer. I want to do new York Pro but don't think I am. As of now, it is between Culver City and Orlando.

Q: Where do you want to improve?
A: With Tampa pictures, I really like my presentation but I could have come in a lot fuller and harder. I think I am still juggling with that part of it. I am very critical of myself, I don't look at the good things, I look at what needs improved. I don't think I will ever be satisfied haha. I think a lot of us are like that in the sport.

Q: When you are in the gym, beautiful girl with not the most common physique, do you get attention or stares from people?
A: Well, the nice thing for me is I work at the gym I workout at. I get attention but I turn it around to picking up more clients which so far has worked. I have gotten snooty comments here and there but for the most part everyone is encouraging and positive. I workout with the guy trainers, I haven't found girls around me who work out at my intensity level.

Q: If you could spend one day training with anyone you have never trained with, who is it?
A: For me, Erin Stern. I have admired her physique and athleticism for a long time. I love that she trains like an athlete not a bodybuilder. We would have fun doing bleacher runs and sprints, I would enjoy that.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: I have to thank Species Nutrition. They take great care of me and are so supportive. Their supplements have helped get me to the level that I am now. My coach P.J. Braun, I would not have made it this far without him. My husband for putting up with my dieting and moodiness. He is not involved in the sport so he steps up to the plate for that. I have close friends who have my back and we lean on each other, Tammy Patnode and Melissa Di Bernardo.

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