Sunday, October 31, 2010

Danny Johnson (AKA Danny-J) Interview

Where do I start talking about Danny-J? I first met her when I randomly offered to help her in last years Spokesmodel contest. In the year since then she has become my trainer. Results speak for themselves. I am down 100lbs and it is because of her. But I am just one small part of the success stories you will find about Danny's clients. She gets that success because she cares. She genuinely wants her clients to succeed. But there is more to Danny than just her personal training. Danny's got so many different parts that are inspiring. You can look up to her for several different reasons. You know someone is special when you mention they are your trainer and so many people tell you how lucky you are to have her. Danny is pretty much universally liked, whether it is Danny the competitor, Danny the trainer, Danny the fitness model, Danny the writer, or Danny the speaker. I am blessed because I have her as a friend, a trainer, and my hero.

Q: First Danny I want to thank you for taking the time to do a second interview.
A: Thanks for asking me again! A lot has changed since my first one... especially the popularity of your site and blog! Congratulations!

Q: For those who may not be familiar, can you tell a little about yourself?
A: My name is Danyell Johnson, though I like to go by Danny-J. I live and was raised in Las Vegas, NV. I am currently a personal trainer, but it wasn't what I "always thought I would be". However, it is exactly what I feel I should be. I love my job and simply calling me a trainer seems... well... I just do so much more. I'll just leave it at that for now. I also competed nationally in the NPC figure and bikini division. I have been married for 3 years now, and I have two dogs. I have a pretty simple life, I can't complain.

Q: Besides being blessed with the chance to become my trainer (LOL), I know you have had some other great things happen since the first interview. Can you share some of the things you have been up to lately.
A: Well, November 2009 was my last NPC show. A few weeks after that I was notified that I was a finalist in the 2010 Bodyspace Spokesmodel Competition. This was a long 3 month process of voting, then making the semi-finals, and then finally being chosen as one of five to go to LA for a live stage competition. It was a rough time in my life personally, but I had a blast at the competition (where I placed 4th) and I made some lifelong friends in the process.
Then in March I worked for a great company, EST Nutrition at the Arnold, which is always a blast, in May I entered a pretty big Crossfit competition where I placed 2nd, and I also went to Boise in May to compete in another bikini competition at the BFE ( Fit Expo) I was in the Top 10.
Then I turned my focus on work and on my clients, and I had some great successes with another client making the Top 10 in Max Muscles' Maxformation Contest this year and too many great transformations to name.
I have been blessed to work with so many motivated people and lucky enough to call my clients my friends.

Q: Recently you became a member of the Vitrix Model Team, with some other amazing women. Can you share what exactly the Vitrix Model Team is and what the plans are for it.
A: The Vitrix Model Team is basically a strategic partnership of 8 women and Nutrex to promote their Vitrix product as well as showcase the 8 models and their different personalities, talents, and endeavors. I was asked to be a part of it a few weeks before the Olympia and was very honored to be chosen. Future plans are to have online contests to add more women to the existing team. We plan on doing appearances, blogging, taking lots more pics, and basically just sharing our lives as fitness models and other aspects of our personalities. I am blessed to be a part of it because it really allows me to show who I am and it is with such a fun, smart, and beautiful group of girls

Q: You again worked the EST booth at the Olympia. What was that like this year?
A: I worked EST at the Arnold and I really enjoyed the team. Keith Thomas and Michael Thomas are great and the booth was very laid back. I actually had quite a lot of offers for booth work at Olympia, which I was able to share with other girls... but I asked Keith if I could work with EST again because I had a great time at the Arnold. The Olympia booth was much smaller and it was in the back near the stage, which was kind of cool because I was able to see a little of the women's prejudging and the FLEX Bikini contest, and I was able to talk to more people because the crowds weren't as bad.

Q: With all the things you have going on, do you ever feel like you have no time for yourself, or wish you had more time?
A: Ahhhhh... yes, of course there never seems to be enough time, and I have learned that sometimes I just need to better prioritize. I never want to complain about it too much though because I'm blessed to be busy.. or at least if I'm busy because I'm helping people. The only thing I really wish is that I could give my best when I don't have a lot of time. I'm working on trying to increase the quality of my time and minimize wasteful things (like playing on Facebook too long) LOL

Q: Maybe I am wrong here, but I sometimes think you don't realize just how popular you are. Do you realize it, and what do you attribute it to?
A: Ha... this actually made me laugh a little bit... Um, I don't really think I am that popular, but I guess I do have a lot of "friends" on Facebook (though, I just attribute that to not being too picky about accepting them... LOL)
Actually, I do make an effort to answer people with questions and to interact with others, so maybe that is why, because people feel that I am approachable and helpful. If I am popular for anything, I hope it is because of my attitude and the fact that I just genuinely enjoy interaction with people.

Q: You are planning to compete in May. What made you decide to get back on stage and why that specific show?
A: Yes I am planning on competing in May. I plan to do the WBFF Show that will be in Kansas City, hosted by Diana Chaloux and Micah LaCerte. I have never met them, but they are actually big inspirations to me because I know they care about their clients the way I do, they have had great success in modeling, and they try to help everyone they meet.
I also am ready to try something new and I have been excited about competing with the WBFF for a long time. I think Paul Dillet is an honorable man, and I can't wait to represent his organization and compete with those athletes.

Q: A lot of competitors tend to bulk up or however else you want to word it in their off season. You are always in shape. Do you think that helps your prep be a little smoother and easier?
A: Prep is always easier when you don't let yourself get too out of shape. However, I have to say, I never had a problem in the off-season until last year. I posted a blog about it on my bodyspace profile; but after nationals last year I started having some major medical issues; which I believe stemmed from metabolic burnout from show prep.
I have been finding out that a LOT of competitors have been dealing with problems similar to mine, putting on 30, 40, or 50 lbs after stepping off stage, and not even really eating "bad" food.
I am still lucky, that it was only a little more than 10 lbs for me (and it also had to do with my own medical issues with a blood disorder and hypothyroid medication)
I never had a problem staying lean before this started and it was very frustrating to me, but it gave me some insight as to what some people are going through and led me to a lot of research on diets and what our bodies can take. I take responsibility for my own choices and unfortunately I did some things in my prep that were counter intuitive to me and what I know my body does, but I did it anyway. (food related, not drugs... just to clarify)
I have learned a lot regarding damage from contest prep and encourage anyone who competes or plans on competing to really do their research, on their trainers and coaches, on basic principles of contest diet and just listen to you body.
You can find articles about this on,, and to read more about what I am talking about

Q: Do you plan to compete more than once in 2011?
A: Most likely. I would love to compete in the WBFF Worlds in Toronto which is held in September. I also **plan*** to be on stage again to redeem myself in the 2011 Bodyspace Spokesmodel Contest at the LA Fit Expo if I am lucky enough to be chosen again. (PS Please vote for me!!)

Q: Last interview you touched on a personal subject, then kind of put the whole thing out there and received a lot of praise for it. Can you talk about it at all and what made you decide to put it all out there?
A: I spoke about my pregnancy at 15 and my decision to place my baby for adoption. One of the big reasons I decided to finally start talking about it, was the comments I would get from people that "once you have kids, you can't have abs" and stuff like that. I am also at the age now where a lot of my peers and friends are having babies and they would say things to be about pregnancy, as if I didn't know... well I did know, and I do have abs after a child. I was just tired of keeping such a big thing a secret, especially because I am actually very proud of my decision. There is a radio interview about it on which was very emotional, you can hear it here:

Q: Now let's talk about the personal training. First, what made you come up with the name No Excuses?
A: That also came from another struggle in my life. At 23, I got e. coli and ended up paralyzed (for a short time) after feeling sorry for myself; I just started to work really hard and give everything I had into coming back 100%. I started to notice other people; who had it worse off than me... Maybe they would never walk again, or they had cancer and still managed to live life fully, or they were 80 years old and running a marathon, or had been addicted to drugs for years and now were millionaires.
I realized that there were NO EXCUSES to getting anything you want... Age is no excuse, disability is not, having alcoholic parents, being raped, being homeless, being a victim... I had let myself believe too many of those things and I realized it was untrue.
I wanted to be one of those people who could say; "Yes bad things happened to me, yes I've struggled, but I'm still here, I still made it, and I'm not going to let anything stop me!" Looking at the some of my answers above, my life sounds pretty good, but it wasn't always that way. From now on I know I have a choice.
Its all about the attitude... No Excuses.

Q: I know you pretty well. I have realized just how much you like seeing others succeed. A lot of trainers, view it as a paycheck, but you take a real interest in your clients success. Is that an accurate statement?
A: Absolutely. My first job, I was a gymnastics coach. It was then I realized I actually enjoyed coaching more than I ever did actually being a gymnast. I was pretty good at helping those girls learn new tricks and motivating them to do better and push harder. I think I have a gift, which is seeing the potential in people and getting them to see it in themselves. Of course I have to work and make a living, but I just want to see people make positive change. I have a few clients who I work with financially, and some that I train for free, because I know that they need it and want it. I believe in karma and that life is too short. Besides, if I were all about money I probably could have found a more lucrative job, especially living in Vegas if you know what I mean... LOL

Q: Is there one aspect or one part of training or dieting others that you most enjoy?
A: Yes... I love seeing clients confidence grow with their strength, weight-loss and the things they learn about themselves, when they do things that they never imagined.
I love when they send random texts about how excited they are about their new bodies or their new race times or new relationships. I feel their happiness and love that I get to share so much of other peoples lives and positive changes.
I also enjoy a challenge with a client, when I'm making a meal plan and they are a little "different"; like I had a client who was Vegan, now that was a challenging diet to write!! But it was fun! I also work with people who have diabetes, kidney disease, gout, thyroid conditions, etc. Its fun for me to throw myself into research and come up with the right calories and nutrient breakdowns while still meeting their goals.

Q: If someone hired Danny-J as their trainer or dietitian, what are they getting?
A: Usually someone who hires me will come to me with some kind of goal in mind. (weight loss, contest prep, off-season maintenance, etc.) Sometimes there are deeper issues and I'm good at pulling that out of people. I like to ask a lot of questions and get to know the person and their lifestyle.
After I have a good idea of who I am working with, I will put together a plan for them, but I like to get continual feedback so I know what is working and what isn't so we can make the optimal level of change.

Q: If another woman wanted to start training, what is the most important piece of advice you would want to give her?
A: Training your body will make you feel strong, healthy and confident. The most important thing anyone needs to remember is to be patient. Results come from consistency and time.

Q: What is the biggest or some of the biggest mistakes you see people new to training make?
A: Expecting quick results and giving up too soon. I started implementing a "3 month rule" that you must commit to 3 months training (online or in person) because it takes at least that long to see real results. (of course, you will see results before that, but some people don't think 2 lbs is enough)

Q: When that rare moment comes and you have some free time, how do you like to spend it?
A: Oh wow... its so different now.
I love to read. So, if I have a book on hand, I will do that. Back in the day, I used to love to go hiking and rock climbing, but seems like that just doesn't happen anymore. Also, I try to carve out some time to take my pups to the park with my husband. Those are always fun moments that I need more of in my life.

Q: Are there any people in the fitness industry that you would call yourself a fan of or that you admire?
A: Absolutely. Lately I have been becoming fans of people in the industry, based less on their physiques and more on their work ethic and their actions. I also have become "fans" of some of the photographers and supplement or business owners. In the Bodyspace spokesmodel contest I was able to become friends with Sasha Porshnikoff, she is a National NPC girl, and sponsored by Isoflex. Let me just say that she is one of the most unselfish and generous, loving people in the industry. If you don't know who she is, find out.
I also really admire the DeLuca's (owners of not only for their huge success with their company, but because I was able to see that they really have a family business in Boise, that the staff LOVE their jobs, and they treat their employees as family, they are also very generous and I believe they have a great philosophy.
Jamie Eason, I know a lot of people say her, but I now know why. I'll keep it short and just say she is also a perfect fit and representative of and she takes her role as a role model, very seriously. Jaquelyn Kay, the 2010 Bodyspace spokesmodel, I think she's not as well known as she should or could be, but she is just funny, cool, down to earth and has made a lot of her success "outside" some of the drama of the fitness industry. Nick Scott, you will see him in the wheelchair at the booth. He is a prime example of the No Excuses philosophy. Read his book and you will start to think that you need to stop being so lazy! LOL
I have also had a great opportunity to become good friends with Elaine and Terry Goodlad. They have been in the industry a long, long time and have a true perspective on what is important in life and they have great senses of humor.
Paul Dillet, Micah LaCerte and Diana Chaloux for above mentioned reasons and Danny Fittro of Fit Treasures for being the best networker and dreamer I have ever met.. I could go on and on and I'm certainly missing people... but those are kind of some that you wouldn't normally hear.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Hmmm... I just get on food "kicks" and I have very specific cravings. For my first show, all I really wanted was fruit! Then the next one, I wanted pancakes. I guess if there were anything that I would love to have at anytime, and if calories didn't count, I would eat garlic bread and fettuccine alfredo... but I can't even get myself to eat that now even for a cheat... LOL

Q: Describe Danny-J in five words.
A: Passionate, adventurous, fun-loving, silly, driven

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: That I was totally a hippie in college... I didn't shave my legs or armpits for two years, and I wanted dreadlocks soooo bad!!

Q: Want to give you the address's where people can find you online.
A: I need a new web person to update my site (had some drama with that this year)
but you can get the basic idea at www.dannyjfitness.comprices might not be correct so please email me for specific info>

Q: Anything I missed that you would like to take this time to mention?
A: Check out the November issue of Max Sports and Fitness (the magazine at Max Muscle stores) I wrote an article about body image.
Writing and speaking are something I'd like to do more of this year and I have been lucky to have a few published articles and speaking engagements. I'm always looking for more opportunities for that kind of work.

Q: Anything you want to plug or promote?
A: The Bodyspace Spokesmodel Contest is starting again November 1st, so I'm going to ask for votes again. you can vote once a day, so be on the look out on my FB page and fan page for the link, I would be so grateful for everyone's vote. I really would like a chance to compete again, now that I'm physically doing better.
Also, I'm helping many competitors with offseason eating. Feel free to email me for online training for offseason or anything really!
Keep an eye out for me on stage next year with the WBFF~!
and follow me on twitter @dannyjfitness or my FB page at>
Don't forget to look for me with new pics and blogs on

Q: Are you looking for sponsors at all?
A: I would be open to sponsors of course, but it has to be a good fit, both ways. I love to speak and I actually am looking for more opportunities to give seminars and speak at conferences on a variety of health topics and women's issues. I have also been blessed to work with Nutrex and Vitrix Model Team as a sponsor and I hope to continue that relationship.

Q: Danny, anyone who knows me,knows the role you have played in my success. You are my trainer, but have not only helped me physically, but mentally. My goal when I compete is not to win, but to make you proud. I call you my Hero and I mean it. You are an amazing woman and I am honored to have you leading me and honored to have you as a friend. Thanks so much for everything you do, have done, and will do for me, and thanks for doing this interview. Any last words before you go?
A: Jason, its been awesome to see your growth and confidence since we first met. I am lucky to have such great clients and to have people put their faith in me and trust me with their body and health. I don't take that lightly.
I can't wait to see where we both go from here, and you deserve all the success you have created.

Ana Tigre Interview

For a long time I have been aware of and impressed by Ana Tigre. Clearly she is beautiful, clearly she is and has been a great competitor, and her attitude about fitness and competing is very admirable. Luckily I was able to use a friendship to get to know Ana and get an interview with her. I am now even more impressed. Ana is an amazing woman. Between her competing, modeling, clothing, training, and now being a member of the Vitrix Model Team, Ana is going to continue to do big things.

Q: First, Ana, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you Jason.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I was born and raised in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in the land of cowboys near
Argentina and Uruguay.
I moved to the United States by myself when I turned 20 years old to follow my
dreams and go to Fashion Design School.

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or
A: I grew up very active. I was a competitive equestrian and I won many tittles
from the time I was 8 years old until I moved to the US at 20 years old.
I also used to danced ballet, play tennis, swim, play soccer, anything other
than sit at home. But I never stepped into a gym or lifted weights until I was living in the US.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: After moving to America, I starting Fashion School full time and was working as
a food runner at a Japanese restaurant full time. The busy schedule combined with the new American body started to take a toll on my body.
I wanted my body back so I joined a gym and started learning about weight
training and nutrition.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you
started to see results?
A: Once I started to lift weights I was hooked.I loved the feeling it gave me of
strength and power. I build muscle easily, but it took me a while to figure out the diet part, I followed too many crash diets until I learned what worked for me... that's when my body really changed.

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: Once I transformed my body with training, I started to get a lot of questions
from friends and even random strangers about how to train and eat. I have a passion for helping people, so I became a certified Personal Trainer. Being in that environment and working as a role model inspired me to push myself harder and towards new goals. That's when I found out about a new division called Figure and was intrigued... I decided to compete for the first time in 2002 and have competed in over 20 shows since.

Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time?
A: Not at all, my family did not supported me competing. They came to accept and
respect my lifestyle but they still don't understand it.
A lot of my friends from when I first got started were not comfortable with the
lifestyle either. and were quick to criticize. I had to leave a lot of negative people in the past.
The people I have in my life now understand and support what I do.

Q: Was competing what you expected? Did anything surprise you about it?
A: Competing was not at all what I expected. I had always competed on performance
based competitions, so being on a subjective sport at first messed with my head.
After I competed a few times, I realized that I was not competing against others
but against myself, and that made me enjoy the experience regardless of how I placed. I still enjoy it... bettering myself and getting on stage to present my hard work.

Q: Can you share your contest history
A: I have competed in over 20 NPC Figure shows over the last 8 years, with many top
National Level Finishes. In 2009 I decided to retire from Figure competitions and
mainstream my physique to focus on my modeling career.
A year later I found out about WBFF's Fitness Model division and it was exactly
the kind of physique I was working towards, so going back on stage was an easy decision to make.
I competed at the WBFF World's Championship September 2010... I am back on stage
and feels great.

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: My think my best body part is my legs, I have strong legs from being an
equestrian for so many years, and it just happens to be my favorite body part to train.

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: I absolutely love to train legs, specially glutes and hamstrings. I have MANY
favorite exercises, one of them is Smith Machine Reverse Lunges.

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter
it for contest prep?
A: I worked very hard for the muscle I have, I am at a point where not only I am
not building more muscle but since I switched form Figure to Fitness Model I have been streamlining my physique (and getting rid of some muscle) without starving the muscle (keeping them full.
I train 5 times a week, legs once a week and shoulders/abs once a week, the
other 3 days I train intense conditioning circuits that are a mix of fight training,
kettlebells, plyometrics and sprint work. Contest prep is very similar, I just add 2 more days of conditioning and clean up my diet.

Q: When someone sees your physique or hears you compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: Very positive. It is actually different from when I first started. I think the
Fit look has also became more mainstream. I usually get a positive feedback and questions about training and nutrition.

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment
you are most sick of hearing?
A: "Do you workout?"

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or
the one thing you wish people understood?
A: That we are obsessed with our bodies, have no balance in our lives and do not
"enjoy" life. If you live a healthy lifestyle and take care of your body while
watching what you eat... you can have fun once in a while and still be healthy.

Q: What is the best and worst part of competing?
A: The best part of competing is working towards and achieving a goal. The worst
part of competing is learning how to deal with the post competition blues ... missing the goal. It took me a while to learn how to be just as happy off season.

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I admire Monica Brant for having such an amazing career on and off the stage,
and always presenting herself with class no matter how the judging went.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Pancakes. A second choice would be sushi.

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one
piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: Take your time learning proper weight training and diet. Embrace the lifestyle
and new habits. Don't rush to the destination, build a strong foundation. You will enjoy the results for many years to come.

Q: Is fitness modeling something that interests you?
A: Modeling is my passion. I am an artist at heart and everything creative and
artistic fascinates me.
Modeling is one outlet where I create art. Every picture has a meaning and a
story,feelings and emotions expressed in a snapshot, like a movie.
Modeling is a release for me, a place where I get to be vulnerable while safe.
There are no walls when I model, I will allow all facets of my personality to come out. It is also a little tough sometimes to see my pictures out there. I am a private person.

Q: You are also part of an amazing group of women on the Vitrix Model Team.
Can you explain what that is for those who may not know.
A: Nutrex research has offered each of us on the team a tremendous opportunity to promote ourselves and promote the group in a multi dimensional way using images, audio interviews, written articles and video. It is an unique concept where we control the information we put out there about ourselves so we can portray ourselves as the real people we are and not just what a company or publication wants us to be.
We each have creative input with all the content that goes on the website which is unprecedented in the fitness industry. Although the Vitrix Model Team is very new, we have generated far more interest than anyone ever anticipated. Of course Nutrex and the Vitrix Brand benefits as well from this exposure, as they should as they are a great company.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I recently went camping for the first time and I love it! I love nature and
The beach is a sanctuary for me and if I am near it, it is my favorite place to
spend time.
I enjoy live music, I am not a club kind of girl, I prefer a place where I can
talk to my date.
I love to travel...anywhere.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Ana Tigre.
A: Wake up and every morning I make my breakfast of scrambled egg whites, oats and
coffee (my favorite way to start the day). Tackle emails, texts, updates on the website, and train. That's a typical start of the day... after that EVERY DAY is different...
I work for myself and I do many different jobs: I might be working on my Sweet
Revenge clothing line ( training clients, teaching posing classes, taping radio shows for or writing articles.
I am a personal stylist for makeovers and photoshoots, and some days my job is
to go shopping or to style a client for her photoshoot or for a brand new wardrobe.. I also do make up and hair for photoshoots and stage...
Not 2 days are alike.

Q: Describe Ana Tigre in five words.
A: Patient, Reliable, Warmhearted, Loving, and Determined

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you
A: I speak fluently 3 languages, English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I recently competed in the WBFF World's Championship in the Pro Fitness Model
category, and it was a great experience. My plan is to train and go back to compete in the 2011 World's Championship.

Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I would like to promote a new project I was invited to be a part of: The Vitrix
Model Team ( ), sponsored by Nutrex Research. It is an amazing project that built a platform for athletes/models to present themselves and what they do in more ways than just pictures, we also get to show our personalities by writing blogs doing video,radio shows etc.
I also would like to plug, a women's online Fitness magazine, and a project close to my heart.
I have been working with Bodysport for over 2 years now. mission
statement is to educate, motivate, promote and inspire a healthy and fit lifestyle for women, and we are committed to helping individuals reach their potential.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors?
A: I am so honored to have been invited by Nutrex Research to be a member of the
Vitrix Model Team. It has been a wonderful experience working with Nutrex, they are an amazing company and treats all of their athletes with a lot of respect, I am looking forward to what we can do together in the future.

Q: Ana , again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words
before you go?
A: Being a part of a physique sport presents its challenges since it is a
subjective sport and a sport you are not being judge on your skills but instead you are being judged on your flaws.
In my mind, every athlete that has the focus, determination and discipline to
get themselves on a stage has already won. Nobody can take away your accomplishments. I work very hard for a physique that suits me, that makes me proud and that I can present proudly.
The most important thing I have learned during my journey for the last 10 years
is to stay true to myself. I train, eat, and compete for me, for the gratification of achieving a goal, the adrenaline of being on stage and the goal that makes me push myself to the next level as an athlete and as a person. I refuse to train or compete to please a trainer, a panel of judges or my friends and family.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Trisha Barr Story

I went to a show put on by the NAAFS. An all women's show. Considering what I do, this was a show I had to see. I saw several really good fights and several really talented fighters. One fighter stood out to me. Trisha Barr. Trisha fought Shannon Floyd. Shannon had a size advantage and used it really well in pushing Trisha against the cage and getting takedowns. Shannon won the first round and there was a close second round that could have been scored either way. But as I wrote in my notes, I was so impressed with Trisha. On the bottom she kept looking for submissions, ways to finish the fight. I even wrote "Trisha is going to catch her in one of those". Sure enough, in round three, Trisha caught her and finished her. I was impressed with Trisha Barr the fighter. Then she did her post fight interview and I became impressed with Trisha Barr the woman. After the show on the drive home I was thinking of my love of writing and my desire to do a real story on a fighter, and knew right away Trisha was the fighter I wanted to do a story on.

A day or two after the fight I found Trisha on Facebook and first asked her to do an interview. She was all for it. Since I had opened the lines of communication I then informed her f my desire to do a story. Again, she was all for it. As luck would have it, she had been booked for another fight against Marsha May on October 22nd. Great, that means I can cover the fight as part of the story. She allowed me to come to her home, where her and her husband Ray also teach classes, to talk to her and watch the classes. So a few days before the fight, I was on my way.

Trisha had said before I got there, that their facility is just a little garage behind their house, almost as if she was telling me "don't expect to be impressed". When I got there Trisha was not yet in the garage, only her husband, three young girls and one boy were. Yes it was just what she said, a little garage. But I was actually impressed. I liked it. This was old school almost. This is what MMA was, before the rise of the UFC after Dana White and the Fertita's popularized the sport, before there was seemingly a gym that taught BJJ on every street corner, before every karate studio and dojo started teaching every other form of combat sport. Before it became glamorous. Now don't get the wrong idea. This isn't some crap dojo. Small in size, it has all the things a good school needs. All the equipment, heavy bag, mats, and of course great teachers.

Before the small first class began, Trisha showed she is good with kids, as two of the students had trouble with their belts, and she took them through the process of getting it on properly. Trisha was actually the teacher of this class, and Ray teaches the others. As she took them through the warm up, I was impressed with her ability to have to use few words to get her explanations and instructions out, and the students ability to quickly know what they were doing, as they were always focused on her. The mood was both light and serious at the same time.

As I was watching this, I remembered how Trisha said she wasn't always he polite person she is now. How she was different before religion became a big part of her life, and she became a Christian 2 years ago, a member of a Pentecostal church. She explained to me that people used to try and push religion on her but she resisted, but now she "Gives all glory to God". Now to say MMA and religion are at odds, is not at all true. There is no contradiction in being religious and being a fighter. However, that does not mean members of a church would understand or agree with a member being a fighter. I asked her what the other church members thought of her fighting, and was pleasantly surprised when she said "My pastor supports my fighting". I realized, not only is there no contradiction, but I believe her faith is actually a very big tool in her fighting career.

As the class continued I became more impressed with Trisha the teacher. She was harder on the boy in the class, because he has been with them longer and should know what he is doing more than the girls. A good trainer usually has to learn from a good trainer, so I became more interested in seeing her husband Ray teach. I learned that Trisha met Ray when she was one of his students. After some time she began helping with his kids classes I would soon see him teaching class and learn he is big on concepts and theories, and yes, he is a great teacher. But before we got to that, Trisha continued with this class. Trisha took them through many different strikes and blocks. I remembered Trisha saying she was working on improving her striking. Well, her striking looked pretty good to me. Trisha ended the class by working on some Japanese language with them, with the boy eager to answer every question he could.

As we waited for the next class to start I took the opportunity to ask Trisha about her upcoming opponent, Marsha May. She felt Marsha's striking and BJJ was good, but that her conditioning could be an issue. That made me right away think of the girl I saw her fight, Shannon Floyd. Perhaps this would have the same result. She was aware that this was a step up in opponents for her and that this would be a big test for her. She had come a long way from the girl who was so nervous for her first fight and got submitted in under a minute. She cried for a week after that fight.

The next class came. Again, a small class, one of he girls from the previous class staying for this. I asked if that was common and Trisha said "We encourage them to take as many of our classes as they can". This was a class teaching striking. Ray was teaching this class, and I was very impressed. Easy to see where Trisha got her teaching style. He too was able to teach and explain using few words. Trisha took part in the class to. I learned that the week before a fight, this is a chance for Trisha to get some training in as well. Wondering if they like the small classes, Trisha said she does, but that Ray would like bigger classes. However in this setting it allows them to be selective in who they accept.

As the night wore on I enjoyed just sitting and watching. When it was time to be serious, they were serious, when it was time for a little fun, they were fun. I knew then, that weeks earlier, when there were so many different women to choose from, I had picked the right person to want to write about. That the story of Trisha Barr is not just the story of an MMA fighter. After the final class we talked for a short while about the sport and Trisha's fighting. Wondering if it was hard for a husband to sit at the cage and watch his wife getting hit, Ray simply nodded his head to imply, that yes, it is hard. I left, even more excited to cover the fight

The day of the fight I arrived at the building. As for my question earlier when she said her Pastor supports her fighting, well that was verified by him being there. Marsha May kind of being the "hometown fighter" I was proud to be in the small group there to support Trisha. In talking with Trisha, Ray, and her little team of supporters, I was noticing Trisha seemed really calm and relaxed. But she says " I've been a nervous wreck before every one of my fights." But she continued "With experience I've gotten calmer and more relaxed prior to fights. BY the time I enter the cage, I'm ready to fight". I learned Trisha hates fighting late in the card, a problem since she was the semi main event tonight. "The longer I wait, the more time I have to feel butterflies in my stomach...... I like to get in there, fight my heart out and then relax and watch the rest of the fights". Funny thing happened. I went to cover the fights. But I actually began getting very nervous, weird for me. I couldn't write about the other fights because I was nervous. I guess in a way I think of Trisha as a friend now, and it is different watching a fight when a friend is in there.

The fights went by, some good, some not as exciting. And it was time for Trisha's fight. The crowd seemed very excited for it, although the crowd was very pro Marsha May. The game plan going in was " Keep a high left cover to avoid her right cross... work body shots to set up head shots.... maintain head movement.... don't get caught in her signature guillotine". After the introductions, it was time. They both came out ready to strike, and Trisha appeared to have hurt her with some good punches. Did Trisha realize Marsha was rocked? "I do know that I was landing punches and backing her up" Then Trisha "got over-zealous and clinched with her". Was the clinch a bad thing? "Not necessarily a bad thing in the sense that I was still dominating from the clinch landing knees to the leg's and body..... however I regret the clinch because I was winning the striking game". Trish got "careless" going for a takedown and got caught in that guillotine she wanted to avoid. After holding on as long as she could, Trisha was forced to tap. Asked what she takes away from this fight she said she needs to "continue working on submission defense, takedowns, and maintaining striking distance". Did Marsha fight as expected? "For the most part, yes..... she was a little like me..... she doesn't come out super aggressive....she circles and waits for her opening." She added, "congratulations to my opponent for overcoming and doing what she needed to do to win".

After the fight Trisha came out and talked with us. It looked as if she felt she let people down. Hardly the case. Those of us there to support her were proud. She came in fought her heart out, and simply got caught. Happens to everyone. With her blackening eye, she seemed in good spirits but obviously a little disappointed. She said "You still want to do a story on me?" Actually I did, now more than ever.

The drive home I went over things in my head. The story, how to write it, what to say, the usual things. Yes, I still did want to do a story on her. But the week leading up to this night, I realized this was becoming, not the story of Trisha Barr the MMA fighter, but Trisha Barr, the woman. I wanted to do a story on an MMA fighter, but instead I was doing a story on a woman who happens to be an MMA fighter. I firmly believe Trisha has the tools to keep improving and really become a big name fighter in this sport. I believe that, and I learned from short conversations with Trisha, belief is an important tool to making thing reality. But even if by some chance it doesn't happen, it won't make me think any less of her. Because Trisha Barr is still an inspirational woman, a woman young girls can look up to, a woman who is going to do great things in whatever she does.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nichole Long Interview

I knew of Nichole Long, but didn't really know anything about her till I covered the NAAFS Eve Of Destruction all female MMA card. At that point I realized how incredible she is. Nichole makes the amateur and female fights for this great MMA company. Needless to say she does a great job at it, because the NAAFS puts on some great shows. I enjoy watching the shows in part just to see Nichole. She is always running around always busy and it amazes me because she seems to be doing ten things at once and doing them all great. Nichole is a real asset to a great mixed martial arts promotion and this interview is an honor for me to post.

Q: First Nichole, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Anytime, thank you for asking me.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I work for the NAAFS at the Amateur Series and Female Series Matchmaker. I also am a full time mother of two wonderful kids and I model and work out for fun in my spare time.

Q: Now you are the amateur matchmaker for the NAAFS. How did you get involved with that?
A: I started in the MMA business back in 2005 with a very small promotion in Ohio. I've done a little bit of everything from design work for posters and tickets, being an event coordinator, managing fighters, announcing fights, being a ring girl, judging fights and my specialty....matching fights.

Q: Were you interested in the sport before you got involved with the NAAFS?
A: Well my first official fight with the NAAFS was June 2008, but I had been around doing the same job for 3 years prior to that so I had the experience behind me and Greg took the leap of faith to hire me into his organization. I grew up watching boxing with my father as a child so when MMA came on the scene I was of course interested in learning about every aspect.

Q: Have you done any training yourself?
A: Funny you ask this question, I just started last week. Though my brain comprehends on what I should do from years of researching and watching the sport.....lets just say my body does not listen lol. In my eyes training can only make me better at my job and get in better shape, so why not do it!

Q: What all does the job of matchmaker entail?
A: More than most people can imagine. Your literally building the event from the ground up one bout at a time until you get a finished product that your audience can enjoy.

Q: What would you say is the best part of the job and the worst?
A: I would say the best part of the job is getting to see all my hard work come to life every event. That and the fact that I have met so many amazing people throughout the years thru my work. The worst part of the job I would have to say is definitely collecting contracts and replacing injured fighters or fighters that merely just back out with zero notice.

Q: I know during shows you are always running around staying busy. Do you ever wish you could just sit and enjoy the show?
A: I do get to sit and enjoy the last couple bouts of every show, which is very nice. I used to think that I would love to go to a show and just relax. Well I did that not too long ago and all I wanted to do is get up and help I guess it's a sickness and I love my job and wouldn't change the things I do at every event for all the relaxation in the world.

Q: Recently the NAAFS put on Eve of Destruction. Ohio's first ever all women's MMA show. I know you took a lot of pride in that show. Why was it so important to you? A: Eve of Destruction was my baby. It was my dream card that I had asked Greg to do about a year before we actually did. He finally told me that if I thought I could pull it off....lets do it! It was the hardest card I have ever matched both being time consuming and also getting enough fighters for the card....our female fights here at NAAFS are not a novelty. The girls are all legit!

Q: Would you like to make it an at least annual event?
A: Greg and I discussed it being an annual of now look for EOD 2011 :)

Q: What were the major differences between putting together and running an all women's show versus any other show?
A: There are barely any local fighters on an all female event compared to the regular NAAFS events. So arranging travel and hotel for every fighter and also selling the show to an audience who doesn't know most of the girls was really a difference. But I would have to say the funniest difference is the fact that I learned that we need to start fighter physicals earlier....26 pregnancy tests took a long time!

Q: DO you ever see a major women's only company being a viable option in the U.S.? A: I see that it is a possibility but I also hope that if it ever does happen that it is being run for the rite reasons, to promote the women in MMA and not for the it's a hot trend and someone is trying to make a quick buck and do not care about the fighters.

Q: Are there any fighters you are a fan of or enjoy watching?
A: I am a fan of soooo many fighters but instead of naming all of them I will tell you that my favorite fighters go into the cage aggressive and push the pace....they come to fight each and every showing.

Q: There are a lot of good fighters fighting for the NAAFS, but since this blog is mainly about females, I want to mention, Jessica Eye. How good can she eventually be?
A: Jessica Eye has the potential to take her career as far as she wants in this business. Lets be brutally honest shes got the tri-fecta of a powerhouse career in woman's mma.....she is pretty, talented and well spoken. She is definitely not just the hometown girl from Ohio. She is the real deal, mark my words and remember her name because you will be seeing it a lot in the years to come at the top of this sport.

Q: Male or female, who are some of the the fighters fighting for you that you think fans should keep an eye on?
A: As stated above Jessica Eye is one for sure. Also, her teammate Chris Lozano had an impressive win over Jason Dent and then most recently won his Bellator debut. I've always been a fan of watching Victor O'Donnell and Sean Loeffler, both very exciting fighters to watch who I think we will be seeing a lot of in the next year. There are so many other fighters I can list but they are all at the beginning of their pro careers and it would definitely be a long list.

Q: When you actually have free time, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy? A: What's free time? lol....honestly in my free time I enjoy hanging out with my kids and friends, working out and doing an occasional photoshoot.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Nichole Long?
A: Wow, it would bore you to death. My life other than on fight weekends is much like the movie "Groundhog Day". Kids to school, me to work, homework, cook dinner, go to gym, with the day concluding with the ringing of my phone about fights at about midnight....wake up and repeat lol

Q: Describe Nichole Long in five words.
A: Outspoken, Blunt, Honest, Real, Outgoing

Q: Do you ever see a point where you say "I have accomplished all I can as an amateur fight maker, I want to do more"?
A: I already do more. I also match the pro females and anytime a bout falls through at the last minute I pitch in to help Greg. We are a team and a family and I always help out however necessary. I will never say I have accomplished it all when it comes to my job or my life....I will always want more and will go out and get what I want because nothing is handed to you in is earned!

Q: Where can people find out more about the NAAFS?
A: Log onto for more info on our company and the fights. You can also follow us on facebook, myspace and twitter under NAAFS Cage Fighting.

Q: Any shows coming up you want to take the time to mention?
A: We have several shows remaining in the 2010 series. Naafs Kickboxing (a show we put on once a year) is November 13. Then we have shows November 20th in Akron, Ohio. November 24th in East Liverpool, Ohio. And Night of Champions, a night of fights that you will not want to miss because it concludes the 2010 season and we have title fights at every weight class in the amateur divisions and also feature a full pro card!!!

Q: Any company sponsors or anything else you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I'd like to thank everyone who supports the NAAFS and also my group of pros who fight. You are all very appreciated. AKI, Intimidation, Cage Walker, and Clinch Gear have all been really good to my fighters so I needed to mention them for sure.

Q: Nichole, thank you so much for doing this. I think you are amazing at what you do, and you are a real asset to a great MMA company. Any last words before you go? A: Anytime....and remember...."Life is a fight, you can tap out or kick its ass!!!!!" If anyone would like to fight for the NAAFS please contact me at or call me at 330-979-0234.

IFBB Pro Mandy Henderson Interview

The word inspiration gets thrown out a lot. Few people are as deserving of that word as Mandy Henderson is. As you will read, after 6 years, 17 shows and medical issues, Mandy earned her IFBB Pro card at USA's. Count me as one of the many who felt she deserved it before that, but she has it and Mandy is going to keep getting better and do some incredible things as an IFBB Figure Pro.

Q: First, Mandy, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you for being interested.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I was born and raised in Newark, CA and just moved to Morgan Hill. I am married and have a 12 year old son. I also have 2 Yorkies. So, I basically have 4 kids:)

Q: Before you started training, were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports?
A: I never really played any sports other than cheerleading. I was a cheerleader all four years of high school. I was always the one who got thrown up in the air because of my size. Being the flier meant I got dropped a lot!

Q: What initially led you to the gym?
A: I always thought women with muscles looked amazing. Up until my junior year in high school, I thought I was in good shape. I could eat anything I wanted and stayed tiny. Then, I gained 8 lbs over one summer. That's a lot of weight when you're only 4'11". When people started singing "Baby Got Back" to me, I decided it was time to go to the gym.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: I was pretty strong when I started lifting, but I didn't see results until I focused on my diet. Once I started eating clean, it took about 3 months to notice a change.

Q: How long were you training before you decided to compete and what made you decide to compete?
A: I trained for about 8 years before I decided to compete. I had always wanted to compete but was too chicken. My husband was the one who encouraged me to do my first show.

Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time,and how about now?
A: My husband and son supported me every step of the way. When I felt like quitting, they were right behind me motivating me to keep going. The motto in our house is to never give up. My husband didn't want me to regret not living out my dream of competing. Six years later, they are still my biggest fans.

Q: Was that first show what you expected? Did anything surprise you?
A: The first time I stepped on stage, I was hooked. The show was so much more than I expected. I was surprised at how addicting it would become. Every show was my last show until this last season.

Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: I competed in about three amateur shows until I actually placed. I placed 2nd at the San Jose Bodybuilding Championships in 2007 (I think) qualifying for nationals. I competed and did not place in the top ten for almost two entire seasons. Both years, I competed at Team Universe, USA and Nationals. Then, finally, I took 2nd place at National in 2008. I had a great season in 2009. I took 2nd place at Jr. Nationals and USA. I also placed 4th at Team Universe and Nationals. 2010 didn't start out quite as well. I took 6th at Jr Nationals but then placed 3rd at Team Universe. Then, FINALLY, I took 1st place at the USA's on July 31, 2010. My height class win made me eligible for my PRO CARD. I am now and official IFBB Figure Pro!!! Woohoo!

Q: What would you consider your best body part or the one that gets the most compliments?
A: I get the most compliments on my legs.

Q: Do you have a favorite part to train or favorite exercise?
A: I love training back because I can do a lot of pull-ups:)

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: I workout 6-7 days a week on and off-season. I eat clean 80% of the time when I'm off-season. When I'm on-season, I eat 98% clean and double my cardio time.

Q: When someone sees or hears you training and compete for the first time, what is the most common response? More negative or positive?
A: Most people have positive comments when they learn I compete. There are also some people that can't understand why I compete. They constantly ask when I'm going to be done with all the dieting. They make it seem like it affects them in some way. That gets a little old and frustrating but most people are very interested and ask a lot of questions. I think people are fascinated with fitness and appreciate the discipline that competitors have.

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question you are sick of hearing?
A: "How can I lose weight if I don't have time to exercise?" I tell them that I get up at 3 a.m. That usually ends the conversation.

Q: Are there any misconceptions about women who train and compete or anything you wish people understood?
A: A lot of people think all women who compete don't work or have families. I would say at least 85% of competitors have full time jobs and are moms.

16. Do you think women who have the kind of body you have are becoming more accepted and respected instead of the skinny Paris Hilton type figure?
A: I think it's getting better but I think there are still people who think skinny is more attractive.

Q: What is the best and worst part of competing?
A: The best part of competing is making life-long friends in the industry. The worst part of competing is spending more time at the gym than home with the family.

Q: Do you have any competitors you are a fan of or admire?
A: I admire every single competitor who has dedicated themselves to this amazing sport. Whether they compete at one show or 50 shows, every one of them is a champion and has achieved a true accomplishment!

Q: If someone told you that they wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give them?
A: I would encourage them to never give up. It took me 6 years and 17 National Level Shows to achieve my goal of getting my Pro Card. I've had 3 major back surgeries and still never gave up. Whether they want to get on stage or just look their personal best, just do it! Don't make excuses.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Anything chocolate! Or, McDonald's Fries

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I enjoy doing anything with my family!

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Mandy Henderson.
A: The alarm goes off at 300 AM, coffee and internet time, gym by 345 AM, cardio, weights, home to shower, start work at 630 AM, home to cook for family by 5 PM, ALWAYS eat and talk about the day with husband and son at the dinner table, more cardio (if competition coming up), shower and in bed with hubby by 8 PM. Wow, I'm tired just thinking about it:)

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I have had medical problems my entire life... BUT, this 4'11" itty bitty person has overcome 3 major back surgeries and is now an IFBB Figure Pro!

Q: Describe Mandy Henderson in five words
A: Maybe six? Mandy Henderson: mighty, determined, motivated, passionate, mother...and very blessed

Q: Any set plans as far as competing or any other projects?
A: Possibly make my Pro Debut at Jon Lindsay's Border States Pro. Not set in stone yet. I'm planning on enjoying the family for a little while (and yummy food).

Q: Is there anything you want to take the opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I want to thank my husband Ken for putting up with my crankiness and never giving up on me. My son Jeff for inspiring me when he became a Black Belt, my mom for always being there, my trainer Mike Davies who always knew how hard to push me, Jon Lindsay for being a great mentor and friend and to all of my friends (and fans...surreal to think I have fans) who supported me whether I won or lost. Last but definitely not least, the Big Guy Upstairs who guided me every step of the way! I am very blessed!

Q: Are you looking for any sponsors? If so, how can they reach you, and what are they getting in Mandy Henderson the athlete and competitor?
A: I am ABSOLUTELY looking for sponsors! They are getting a motivated, passionate athletic role model that has never given up. I promise to give 110% of myself to promote the company! My email address is

Q: Mandy, again, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am truly thankful for the opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who took the time to get to know me a little better. I would be honored to hear from anyone with questions or
Thank you so much!

Mind and Matter by Sheena Hunter

I sat down to write this column about an amazing personal breakthrough, but in light of the recently disclosed addition of the Women's Physique Division (WPD), it seems that my recent breakthroughs require either reconsideration or abandonment. Those of you who have been following my column might recall one of my first posts, in which I discussed the incredibly frustrating mental challenges facing me as a female bodybuilder (and in which I professed my hatred for skinny jeans...ah yes, now you remember...). I wrote of the challenges facing us as female athletes pursuing a body ideal which is constantly under the judgment and scrutiny of others. We are constantly the subject of controversy within the industry, while those outside of the industry also feel entitled to impose their ideals upon us. We are “too pretty” for bodybuilding, “too hard” for figure, “too masculine” to be women. After several months of soul-searching, I have decided that I am completely comfortable with embracing the bodybuilding physique, and the all of the criticism that comes with it. Ironically, I came to terms with my choice just as it is becoming clear that the female bodybuilding physique, as we know it, may not exist by the time my daughter reaches adulthood. This angers me.

I submit that the bodybuilding industry has made itself the standard of measure that is imposed upon all women in general. From every angle of our personal and political lives, women are pressured to perform and conform to someone else's interpretation of how we should look. I used to make a joke about some distant Board of Men Who Meet at a Big Round Table to discuss the criteria that make a perfect woman's body. It's really not that funny, if you think about it. The IFBB introduces the ideal feminine physique in progressive degrees: Bikini, Fitness/Figure, Bodybuilding. If you look closely at the posters on which competitors represent their divisions to advertise NPC events, several progressions are implied: accompanying the progression of size and muscular development is also a progression of age, normative femininity, ability, and in many cases, race. It appears that a board of men really does sit at a big round table to decide what criteria make up the perfect female body. Luckily for women in America, the men couldn't come to a unanimous decision: after all, there are “ass guys,” “boob guys,” “leg guys,” and the infamous “couch-wrestling-fanatic guys” (just take my word for it), guys who prefer younger thinner girls, guys who prefer curvy the board gave us varying categories of measure.

The IFBB has caught onto the curiosity and contempt with which the general public regards female bodybuilders. In response, the bikini division was born, the figure category got softer and smaller, and as supplement companies found advertising gold in these two categories, the female bodybuilding category declined dramatically due to the loss in sponsorship opportunities. To solidify its position as judge and jury of the female body, the IFBB is now introducing the Physique category, which is clearly designed (and predicts, no less!) to make female bodybuilding obsolete within the space of just a few years. The Men Who Meet at the Big Round Table have finally drawn the line for femininity, and huge muscular development is on the wrong side. According to one male bodybuilder who will go unnamed, “nobody wants to look at manly women onstage.” It doesn't seem to matter that we don't stand on stage and ask to be viewed as objects of sexual desire. The bottom line: women who are not pleasing to the male gaze will no longer be invited to participate in physique-related sports.

Until now, I have participated in bodybuilding specifically with the intention of acting out another possibility for the feminine physique. I was done being one of those girls who felt “too big,” or “too unfeminine,” and I was done starving my mesomorph body in hopes of becoming an ectomorph. I thought I had found a world in which a woman could be as big or as muscular as she wanted to be, judgement free. After my second show, I realized that it would never be free of judgement, but I decided to keep going. And just when I learned to embrace the funny looks and rude comments, my category has been ripped away from me. Perhaps I should say instead, my ideal has been buried and erased. Truthfully, the Physique division makes a pro card so much more achievable by me, as I will probably never be even a light-heavy; but that part of me that has chosen Nicole Krane's size over Jamie Eason's femininity is pretty pissed.

I want to conclude by articulating my own mixed feelings over this new Physique category. People have been asking me what I think, especially because of the fact that I may benefit from this category. To answer the questions: I am angry. Clearly, I'm not huge and this won't have a negative effect on me. Technically it does nothing to dampen my own physique goals, and in fact works as an advantage to me. Under the parameters of Physique, I may actually stop getting beat by women twice my size. I may even have the opportunity to compete against more than four women at a time. But it's the basic point of the matter that I find so offensive. After the YEARS that Iris Kyle has put into crafting and building her physique, some Board of Men at a Big Round Table can just decide that she no longer has a place in the industry. I am angry that the female physique is still the subject of male critique, and that in 2011 women are still fighting to define our own femininities. I am angry that women are still so dependent on male privilege that they don't even see that their own attitudes have made them complicit in our confinement. I am angry, and I am still trying to decide what to do about it. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Michelle DeLeo Interview

Michelle DeLeo competed for the first time at the INBF Hercules taking 3rd in both Novice and Masters. Pretty good for a debut show I would say. She says she wants to represent the 40 year old mom's and show they can look just as good as the 20 and 30 year olds. She definitely does that, but I believe Michelle is the kind of woman who also can be very inspiring to those 20 and 30 year olds. Putting family first, there is no timetable for her return to the stage, but hopefully it won't be too long because Michelle is someone who has the ability to keep getting better and replace that 3rd place with a few 1st places.

Q: First, Michelle, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A:Thank you so much for asking me for this interview, I am honored.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I grew up in New City, Rockland County, NY and still reside here although I now live in Valley Cottage. I have 1 brother and the greatest parents anyone could hope for. I am married to a wonderful man, Tony and have 4 kids, Anthony 13, Samantha 10, Vincent 6 and James 3.

Q:Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I have never played any sports growing up and into the present

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: I always worked out but only at a level that really just maintained myself without ever losing any significant weight or building any muscle. After I had my youngest child I joined the gym and worked hard to shed the baby weight and began to results that I liked. I challenge myself to lift harder and heavier.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Training was something I definitely picked up easily, within the first year of working out I began to see the results I had hoped for.

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: I had gone to a show to see someone I knew of and became intrigued of the competing world

Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time?
A: NO. Unless you go through the training and show I don't think you can understand why. They just felt it was crazy sticking to such a strict diet and training schedule. They thought that it was going to be unhealthy and to have the "look of muscles" was not going to be feminine, but the day of my show they were all in awe how beautiful the competition was and were very proud of me.

Q: Was competing what you expected? Did anything surprise you about it?
A: I really didn't know what to expect. I was so afraid I would not have the guts to get out there.

Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: I have only competed in one contest to date, it was the INBF Hercules Competition on June 26, 2010 and I placed 3rd in both the Novice and Masters categories.

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: I really don't think I have a best body part. When I diet down I would say my legs but I don't think they are in the off season. I guess I would say my arms.

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: I really don't. I LOVE weight training and HATE cardio!

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: My normal training is 40-45 min of cardio a day with about 45 minutes of weight training a different body part each day 6 days a week. I have been mixing up my contest prep weight training routines and eating my clean meals with some cheats.

Q: When someone sees your physique or hears you compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: It is really mixed, alot of people automatically think I am aiming to be a big bodybuilder, some people think I am crazy for the strict diet others are really interested and encouraging.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: That we are going to look manly.

Q: What is the best and worst part of competing?
A: Of course the best part is show day and the worst is the diet and double cardio.

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I admire so many but the one that sticks out is Erin Stern

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Pizza

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: Be strong, set your mind and your goals and you can do it. I would tell her that she needs to find that support and encouragement from friends and family to get through the prep.

Q: Do you think it s becoming more common to see women in the gym training and lifting as hard as men?
A: I think it is, I think more women who are interested in the gym know how important it is to develop muscle.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I love the beach, it is just so relaxing.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Michelle DeLeo.
A: My day usually starts at 7 when the kids start to get up one by one. So its breakfast and getting myself and them ready and then off to bring 3 out of 4 to school. I get to the gym at 8:45 with my 3 year old in tow and since I work there I either have clients or I work out. I am usually there till 12:00. Errands and house duties take up my time all afternoon and then when the kids come home its homework, dinner and sports. I usually go to sleep past 11:00 p.m. and then the day starts over. Doing competition training for the most part it stays the same only I get up before the kids and do my morning cardio and then go back to the gym later in the day for the secong round.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I am shy

Q: Describe Michelle DeLeo in five words.
A: Mother, Wife, Daughter, Friend, and Sister (Its all about my family)

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I have to wait until the spring, my daughter competition season for cheerleading is all fall and I help coach. Practices are every night and competitions are on most weekends the shows are scheduled for, so It was nearly impossible to do both. I would never let my competing come in the way of my children.

Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: My Trainer PJ Braun is the best, he is so knowledgeable and supportive, he amazes me all the time. Allison Frahn is my posing coach, she is such a beautiful woman inside and out and taught me so much. Jill Crean was my backstage girl, she tanned me and supported me every step of the way.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Michelle DeLeo the athlete and competitor?
A: I would love to get sponsored, ultimately that is my goal. I would hope to them that I can represent the 40 something mom out there that can look just as good as a 20 or 30 year old all while juggling kid, a house, being a wife, and working. Proving that with hard work and dedication you can achieve anything.

Q: Michelle, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Follow your dreams because when you do accomplish all you dream of there is no better way to great about yourself!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Meredith Miller Interview

From gymnastics to Fitness, Meredith Miller is a born competitor. Getting into Fitness to feed her competitive desire, she has made a great showing of herself so far. Meredith is the kind of woman you need to get behind because she does it for all the right reasons. 2010 was a great year for her on stage and I expect 2011 to be even better. Meredith falls into that category of the most underrated and deserving of a lot more attention category and as she continues to get even better I am positive she will be getting much more attention.

Q: First, Meredith, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself?
A: I was born in Sandusky, home of Cedar Point, but pretty much grew up in Westerville Ohio. My mom and dad have been married for almost 35 years and are a wonderful example of what a true Godly marriage should be like. I have an older sister, Stephanie, who lives in Delaware with her hubby and 3 wonderful kids and I have a younger brother, Andrew, who is pursuing his dreams in L.A. I am a competitive gymnastics coach and personal trainer
I had moved to Charlotte NC over 4 years ago and just recently moved back to Ohio with my 2 doggies, Pudd and Elvis. They are the loves of my life.

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: Honestly, I don’t know anything but the gym! My mom was a dance and gymnastics teacher when I was growing up so my sister and I were always flipping all over the place so they finally decided to put us in a competitive gymnastics program and the rest is history. I started competing in gymnastics at 7 and don’t think I took a break until I was 17. I was competing internationally at 13 so I definitely didn’t have much of a life outside of gymnastics.
I have always been naturally athletic but never really got to see if I was good at anything besides gymnastics like soccer or softball because I was in the gym 25 hours a week.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: Lol, well when you go from working out 25 hours a week to 0 you realize what it does to your body. I definitely started to gain some weight after I quit gymnastics so that is what first got me into the gym but all I was doing was cardio. I was hooked to weight training the minute I started.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: I have never really been out of shape. People used to stop my parents at the pool when I was little and ask them why I had a 6 pack!:) My problem is a lot different from most women. I tend to build muscle so fast that I really had to be careful with what kind of training I did. I would just read magazines and mimic the workouts I saw in there but it wasn’t I met Mike Davies and started following his workouts that I noticed a huge change, especially in my legs

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: I’m such a competitive person and I needed an outlet for my competitive energy after I quit gymnastics. There really isn’t all that much out there for retired gymnasts so this was just kind of the next step for me.

Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time?
A: Um, I’m not sure my friends understand what I do to this day. They have kind of accepted it because they love me and support me unconditionally and know that its something that I have wanted for a long time, but I’m not sure if anyone really “gets it.”

Q: Was competing what you expected? Did anything surprise you about it?
A: Going into my first show I was completely naive when it came to what the judges were looking for. I thought it was more of a gymnastics competition rather than a fitness competition. I didn’t pay attention to my posing or my hair or makeup because that is something I never had to do. My first backstage experience was quite the eye-opener for me especially since I grew up a tomboy. There was makeup and curling irons and fake boobs flying everywhere and girls just standing there pretty much naked and I then realized that I was out of my element. That is the one thing that I have had to work on the most. I have to turn off the tomboy and turn on the feminine side when I’m competing. I just recently had my first experience with fake eyelashes, and I hate them!:)

Q: Can you share your contest history
*2007 Ohio State Bodybuilding and Fitness championships: 1st place
*2009 Arnold Classic Amateur: 1st place Class B
*2010 Jr. Nationals: 3rd
*2010 Nationals: 3rd
*2010 North Americans: 2nd

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: I’ve always liked my abs, I never really train them but they are by far my most defining feature.

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: I love to train legs and shoulders but recently I have been a cardio freak and I have grown to really enjoy running. There are times when I will get on the treadmill and just run until my ipod dies. I kind of feel like Forrest Gump sometimes :-)

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: I like to stay within 5-8lbs of my competition weight all year so I never stop working out or training. I have some work to do on my legs so I’m going to concentrate on that during the off season but I eat fairly healthy throughout the year but I have a weakness for peanut butter so I have to watch that. I think that Tosca Renos’ book The EAT CLEAN DIET is the best book ever written, besides the Bible. It completely changed my perspective on healthy eating.

Q: When someone sees your physique or hears you compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: People ask me if I’m a bodybuilder all the time so I have to explain to them the difference between fitness, figure, and bodybuilding, but the response I get is usually extremely positive.

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing.\?
A: I would be loaded if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if I worked out or how much I can bench. The question that gets on my nerves more than anything is when someone asks me to flex. I was walking in the grocery store the other day and some random person just asks me if I would flex for him. Really? Like I'm going to just stop dead in my tracks and bust out with a back double bicep shot. It’s just so odd to me.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: I don’t think anyone who doesn’t compete can truly comprehend the sacrifice that goes into preparing for a show. It’s not just working out twice a day; it’s the diet, the money, the emotional highs and lows. There are days when I don’t want to get up at 5am to do my cardio and wonder if it worth it, but you know that you have to. Or when your friends are going out for the night and you can’t because you have to be up early for your workout. It’s a sacrifice in every aspect of your life.

Q: What is the best and worst part of competing/
A: I’m an all or nothing person so when I train for a show I pretty much give up my social life completely. It can take a toll on a relationship unless the person your with understands it and supports it but it’s still hard. But it’s all worth it to stand up on stage for those few minutes knowing that you have done something that very few people can do. It’s an amazing feeling.

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: She no longer competes but she’s a good friend of mine and probably the person I look up to most in this sport. She’s gorgeous and has an amazing physique but that’s not the reason that I have so much respect for her. April Carpenter (Peterson) was the one that pretty much got me into the sport and I remember her sitting me down at her kitchen table after my first show and told me to never let this sport define who I was as a person. She pretty much threatened to kill me if she ever found out that I had compromised my beliefs or standards in order to move up in the sport.
Just recently I have had the opportunity to work with and get to know Julie Palmer a little better and I realized what a strong person and amazing athlete she truly is. She is honestly in the sport because of her love for it and nothing else and has stayed true to who she is despite of everything she has faced.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: I would be completely content if I could eat peanut butter for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Actually, I’m eating peanut butter out of the jar as I’m typing this!!!. :-)

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: To make sure that your are competing for the right reasons and your heart is in the right place. You need to do it because you love it and have a firm foundation in who you are and not to let a placing define you.

Q: Is fitness modeling something that interests you?
A: I’ve done a little modeling but first and foremost, I am a competitor. I guess I just don’t see myself in that way because I always have been such a tomboy and it’s strange to me that people would want to take pictures of me. And not the kind I’m used to taking like ones with my finger up my nose or sticking my tongue out but actual real pictures!

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: Since I’ve been dieting since April and I finally get a break I have been enjoying sleeping and eating a lot. I love spending time with my 2 doggies, Pudd and Elvis.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Meredith Miller.
A: I get up around 6am and get my workout in first thing than I take my dogs for a three mile run. They are crazy so if they don’t run in the morning and evening they will eat the house. Next, I get ready to work and get my lesson plans done for work in the evening. I have been coaching competitive gymnastics for years

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: Um, I think Elvis and Tupac are still alive!:)

Q: Describe Meredith Miller in five words.
A: Determined, Competitive, Honest, Outspoken, Loyal

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I’m taking a little time off right now but we see about next year!

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Meredith Miller the athlete and competitor?
A: I would definitely be interested in finding a sponsor and can be contacted at with me you will get the competitive, determined, and grateful person you will ever find.

Q: Meredith, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Put God first and never give up on your dreams