Thursday, August 15, 2013
Susanna Hand Interview
Photo 1: Orange Photography
Photos 2-4: RX Muscle/Jeff Binns
Photo 5: Doug Smith Photography
Moving up to heavyweight, Susanna Hand brought an incredible physique to USA's in taking fourth place. She really stood out to me for several reasons so I had to approach her for an interview and am glad she agreed. In talking with her, she has the perfect attitude about the sport, her future in it and other things. Susanna Hand is definitely pro card caliber in my opinion.
Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: I had a good attitude about training because my father was a powerlifter and as a police officer he started the P.A.L. weightlifting program in his town and used to bring me to the gym with him. I didn't start training on my own until I lost a lot of weight and I thought that if I reached a certain goal weight that I would look great and I didn't. I realized it was time to incorporate weight training in order to tighten up. I hired a gym trainer and when I started to see results I trained more often and it took of from there.
Q: When you started, was adding the amount of muscle you have added a goal?
A: Not necessarily the amount that I have now. I did want to add some muscle. I am a curvy woman, kind of bottom heavy. I wanted to add some size to my upper body and have a more balanced shape. I wanted an athletic feminine look but at the same time I enjoyed the training and seeing results and being able to lift more, lift harder, lift heavier. It became about doing better than the last time. It is a balance between the two, strength and how I look, both are important to me.
Q: What made you decide to try competing?
A: I had put on a significant amount of muscle. I am not a hard gainer, but the thing is I am not naturally lean person. I see a lot of people that are really lean and look amazing and have trouble putting on size, on the other hand I have trouble getting the fat off. I put on a lot muscle, I felt strong, I felt good, I liked it, but I wanted my outside appearance to reflect how I felt on the inside. I wanted the outside to look good to. I ended up reaching out to someone I knew who was a figure competitor and someone who was a local judge and went to them for a diet. I enjoyed training but needed to learn more about nutrition. My intention in contacting them was just to get a diet. I knew the prepped competitors, but were also just working with athletes in general. I went for a diet and instead he put me on stage in nine weeks.
Q: Were you nervous?
A: I was excited, I was nervous. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have stepped on stage after nine weeks and it stinks cause there are pictures to prove it on-line. That was a girl who prior to that first show, I had taken about six months off from training altogether. I was doing P-90X at home. I had my pull-up bar and did that at home. My plan was to finish graduate school in order to compete. I figured competing was a personal thing, I wanted to do it for me, but I didn't want to start a new hobby or goal until I finished one that was important to me. I finished my degree requirements and started prepping a week after.
Q: You just took fourth at USA's and moved up to heavyweight, was that a goal or just the way it happened?
A: I did want to add some muscle but I didn't know how it would affect the scale. I didn't know I was gonna be one of the heaviest light heavyweights or be a heavyweight. I didn't know what was gonna happen and decided not to stress about the scale and just look the best I could and whatever happens happens. I didn't know if I would be a heavyweight or be right for it cause I am only 5'3". I appear taller, but that is just my proportions. I didn't know if I would look right next to everyone else, but it seemed to work out well.
Q: Overall, how happy were you with what you brought to the stage?
A: I was very happy. I really don't get too hung up on placings. I was happy with my placing because I improved and am very new at the sport. Not to mention, to be on stage in the top five with women who have competed for fourteen years, that was an accomplishment. My first show, I just wanted to look like I belonged there and after that I wanted to improve and did that and this time I think I continued to improve so I can't complain about that.
Q: One thing I liked was your hair and suit and things, you have a style that looks good on you, for those who don't know, can you explain how important those things are?
A: I know that you are a performer. Yes, we are athletes and lifting and training and working on our bodies, but we have to present it well. You need to have good stage presence and pose right. The way you present yourself, having everything on point, taking care of details, gives confidence and the judges see that and it can affect your placing. I have seen competitors that look really good but their tan is a mess and their hair is a mess and their posing is sloppy and it is selling yourself short. Not that my posing is the best, but I feel like you can have better biceps or delts than the person next to you but if you are not showing them properly, the judges aren't seeing that.
Q: Do you know when you want to compete next?
A: I am considering Nationals. I step off stage, I still have the fire in me and I think "what's next?" I want to give myself some time to reflect. I was in Hawaii and had time to separate from the diet and a little less training. I am back on my diet now and am gonna see how my body responds. Sometimes you have a show in mind and your body just doesn't respond how you want and needs a break. I am making observations and listening to my body but with the intentions of doing Nationals.
Q: If you do Nationals, I know it isn't much time, but from USA's is there an area you want to be better?
A: It is definitely a matter of conditioning. Hamstrings and glutes is my challenge. In this amount of time I wont make dramatic changes to my physique in terms of muscle mass. I always want my posing to improve.
Q: Is the pro card a goal for you or more if it happens it happens?
A: I would love it but I don't determine whether I am happy or feel successful based on that. You can look your best and it depends on who shows up. If I look the best I can look and have made improvements, I cant sit there and feel anything but good, even if I don't win and get the pro card. It would be great but I am not too hung up on it. I think some people get so fixed on it and we know if you get a pro card, you are not gonna become rich.
Q: At the local shows there are less and less women doing bodybuilding and less pro shows for female bodybuilding, as a female bodybuilder yourself, does that upset you?
A: It makes me sad because I feel a lot of women who would be interested in bodybuilding and are seeing less shows and are running to physique. I suggested to some people who are thinking about competing "why don't you try both? Don't rule out bodybuilding." It makes me sad because it is sort of killing the sport really. If someone is new, there aren't many options. When I was instructed to compete, it was when physique came out but only at the National level. I thought it might work for me, but I got into bodybuilding because that was all there was at the local level, but I can't see myself doing anything else right now. It doesn't give the sport an opportunity to grow.
Q: When you are at the gym, do you get the stares or attention from people?
A: For the most part, I find the attention to be positive. Sometimes I get stares and am not sure if they are impressed or freaked out. I moved to Los Angels and am surprised with how cool people are about the look. Strangers have nice things to say and people are into health and fitness out here. I have been happy with what I have experienced so far.
Q: If you could spend a day training with someone you have never trained with, who would it be?
A: It would be Melody Spetko. She is a friend that I have never been in the gym with. Some of her pictures in the gym scare the crap out of me, with her hoodie up, she looks intimidating. I would like Melody to kick my ass in the gym.
Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My boyfriend David for being incredibly supportive. From getting me to the gym when I don't have the energy, helping me, prepping meals, doing everything you can imagine. Also, Branden Ray, Robert Samborsky and Melody Spetko.