Tuesday, August 20, 2013

IFBB Pro Ryan Behr Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1-5: Muscular Development/Dan Ray

At USA's on July, Ryan Behr won her IFBB pro card making her one of the elite. She wasted no time in jumping on the pro stage competing at both the Tampa Pro and Europa Super Show. While she didn't place where she would like, she showed she truly belongs on a pro stage. Knowing where she needs to improve, if Ryan does make those improvements, she could have a very successful 2014, and there is no doubt those improvements will be made.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: I started training in 2008. I was a competitive figure skater growing up, so I have always had competition in my life and needed some motivation. There was a girl at the gym who had just earned her pro card and she was what motivated me to enter a figure competition for the first time.

Q: Did having that figure skating background make it easier to not have the nerves that some have?
A: It did! Having that experience at a young age and being so solo and on your own and not having a team that shares responsibility, that helped. Even with stage presence and posture. People always ask if I had been a dancer growing up, like ballet or classical dance, and it was the figure skating background because I did have to have dance lessons as well. That experience carried over to the stage.

Q: A lot of people I interview say that after the first show, competing becomes addicting, was that the case with you?
A: It was, because I knew how much more my body was capable of with the right training and nutrition. I took a year between 2008 and 2009 and focused and stepped on stage a little less than a year after my first experience.

Q: You won your pro card at USA's, when you first realized you were now a pro, what went through your head?
A: It actually happened at my first pro show, that is when I realized I was a pro. When I was on stage and they started doing awards for fifth, fourth and third, I remember looking at the crowd and having that nervous excited feeling in my stomach and thinking when they were getting ready to call third place"don't call my number for third". They announced my name for second which meant a pro card, my husband has pictures that capture the moment and my ear to ear grin that I had. I smile now just thinking about it. It is an honor.

Q: Did you think going in that the pro card was a realistic possibility?
A: My expectation for myself was just to bring an improved package to the stage and improving on fifth at Jr. Nationals. Going into USA's I had gotten feedback from judges at the National qualifier in June and Jr. Nationals as well, and so I made the changes they suggested. I felt I was bringing the best package I could to the stage, but looking around, there are amazing physiques. My goal was top five but I felt that winning my pro card was also realistic.

Q: You jumped right on to the pro stage doing the Tampa Pro and Europa, did you consider waiting till next year for your pro debut?
A: We had already talked about shows after Jr. Nationals in the event I earned my pro card in Vegas. I felt it was a good transition, it was so close to winning my pro card that I competed in Tampa and Dallas. Conditioning-wise I felt like my body was already there. There are areas I need to improve on in the future and I continue to get feedback. I have always been encouraged to jump in the deep end, to compete at the highest level possible. When you compete with great athletes, in encourages you to be great.

Q: When you were at Tampa, backstage, seeing the best of the best, was there any moment where you are intimidated?
A: It wasn't so much intimidation as "holy cow, these people I have looked up to, I have the honor of sharing a stage with them now." It was physiques I have seen in magazines and on-line and at the Olympia. It was very surreal seeing them up-close. In my head I was like "holy crap, you are a pro. You are actually competing with them now, they are your peers now."

Q: You mentioned they are the people you have been following and looking up to, has it sunk in that now you are one of the people that others will be looking up to?
A: It hasn't because I still consider myself such a fan. Especially Candice Keene, I met her at the Europa and had to get a photo and talk with her. To think that now there are people who look up to me, it makes me want to improve my physique every time I get on stage, also be a good ambassador of the sport, not just my time in the gym or the kitchen, but making a bigger impact on women's life and help them realize there are healthier ways to do contest prep then the old-school ways they have been subjected to.

Q: Right before you got on stage in Tampa, where there any more nerves as compared to previously?
A: It was more excitement than anything else. A culmination of the training I had gone through the last couple years. This time a year ago we hadn't even talked about me competing. We were just gonna see how training went. Standing there getting ready to go on stage, I was so excited to get up there and have a little more time and do a few more poses. In my mind, it seemed a lot different than an NPC show where they rush you off stage pretty quickly. I wanted to soak up every second and display the physique I had been working so hard on the past few years.

Q: Does the pro card carry any more responsibility as far as how you portray yourself to fans?
A: I think being mindful of social media posts. I want to be a good ambassador of the sport and that means win with humility and lose with dignity. I think that there are so many women who want to become IFBB figure pros or fitness, or bikini or bodybuilding and this is a huge honor. I am honored to share that stage and want to conduct myself as a professional off the stage and outside the venue. If I am traveling to a show with a client or in the gym, conduct myself with the utmost professionalism because I am a representation of the IFBB. It is not my identity, it is something I do, but it is an honor and I want to treat it as such.

Q: Do you know when you want to compete next?
A: 2014

Q: From this past show to the next one, is there any specific area where you want to be better?
A: I think overall, I need more muscle mass. There is a level of muscle maturity that I have not achieved yet. Make my back a little thicker, glutes rounder, shoulders fuller. Conditioning-wise I was at the best level I ever had and that is due in large part to my coach. Building more muscle is always a goal. I am waiting for judges feedback cause I like to email them and include pictures and thank them for their time and taking the time to provide feedback.

Q: When you are at the gym do you get the stares or attention from people?
A: Yes, it is sort of mixed. I typically train with my husband but if I am not with him, it is a mix of people who think it is awesome a girl trains as hard as I do and has a physique that I obviously work hard on, then there are the people who think it's gross and that women shouldn't have that much muscle. I have gotten those looks this summer because between June 8th and last weekend I did five shows, so it was peak week to peak week and I was lean all summer. There is a level of conditioning that people are not used to seeing. It is usually the women who are grossed out and not used to seeing women with muscles.

Q: If you could spend a day training with someone you have never trained with, who would it be?
A: Candice Keene if it was another female competitor. If it were a bodybuilder, Juan Morel because he has such epic meals leading up to a show and I can smash some food like nobodies business.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: Thank you for considering me to interview, it is an honor. I have followed your blog and know how big of an advocate you are for female competitors and how respectful you are of us as women and competitors and what you have done for the sport and helping us be presented in a respectful light. My husband for being not just my training partner but my biggest fan and advocate. I couldn't do this without him. My family for supporting my goals even if they didn't understand them and my coach Matt Jansen and his wife Jordan who have traveled to several shows are are also our business partners and best friends. I wouldn't have stepped on stage again if not for Matt investing his time and dedication and belief in me as an athlete.

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