Thursday, May 19, 2011

NGA Pro Lani Tamaki Interview

Lani Tamaki clearly takes training and competing very serious. You can see her dedication just by reading her written words. And that dedication obviously paid off in winning her NGA Pro card in her first year competing. She plans to do an NPC show soon and no reason to believe she will not continue getting better.

Q: Lani thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Just won my NGA pro card and overall figure in my show last night!! I'm amped for this interview even more now : )

Q: Can you start out telling a little about yourself.
A: My name is Lani Tamaki, I am 31 years old, and I am a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness at the Sugarhouse gym in Salt Lake City. I am originally from Tokyo, Japan, where I was born and lived there until I was 8 years old. I grew up bilingual (my father is Japanese and my mother is from the US). We moved to Port Angeles, Washington when I was 8. I have two younger sisters, Lisa and Laura. We are a very close family : )

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports?
A: Before the gym, my experience came from formal classical ballet training. i began ballet classes at the age of 5 in Japan, and continued through with Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle until the age of 18. I also studied at San Francisco Ballet School and Central Pennsylvania Ballet School for their summer intensive ballet programs. I rose as high as the Professional Division at Pacific Northwest Ballet which required me to dance all day and do alternative tutoring and early community college for my education in high school. I really feel as though my 13 years of ballet training has helped with my physique and posing for my figure shows.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A; Having been more into ballet and dance, I was always slightly skeptical and weary for the gym growing up. I didn't want to build muscle for fear of "bulking up" and not retaining the "elegant, long lines" which are characteristic of classical ballet. After having quit dance at 18 (I had a series of nagging back and ankle injuries and was burned out), I went to college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and decided to get a Gold's Gym membership a try. I mostly stuck to the treadmills, ellipticals, and occasionally lifted 5 lb dumbbells...ha ha. I still had the mentality that I didn't want to "bulk up." It had been ingrained in me.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy?
A: Training came to me fairly naturally. I already had good body awareness from my years of ballet experience. I began by lifting light and doing a lot of easy upper body free weight movements....I was scared of the machines. : ) through out the years and becoming a certified personal trainer, I began learning and using all kinds of weightlifting techniques to sculpt my physique. I am a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist, and NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist. I am also a Master Trainer with 24 Hour Fitness and have trained there for over 8 years.

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: As for my first time competing, I never thought I would do it!!! ever!!! I consider myself quite the tomboy...Nikes, casual gym attire, lifting heavy, etc. but was intrigued by the physiques of these ladies who competed.Ii wanted to LOOK like a figure competitor, but not do a show with all of the girly heels, make up, hair and earrings. As more and more people at the gym began asking my if I competed in figure shows, it became a large part of my thoughts every day. So I went and talked to my (now) coaches Shane and Tiffany Heugly at Sandy 24 Hour Fitness. They are knows all over Utah and the regional area for being the amazing husband wife team show coaches with great success!! They got me really excited after our initial consultation and told be i had a lot of potential.

Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported?
A: At first my family had no clue what competition was about. My mom thought the ladies looked "scary" with all of that muscle, and my dad still doesn't quite comprehend the idea of personal training as a career....they are from another generation, I guess. My sisters get it a lot more, because they were also into ballet growing up, and are into the gym stuff now. But as everyone in my family was able to attend my first show (except my dad, he had to work), they now understand the sport of figure a great deal more, and are very excited for me.

Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: Was competing what I expected?....hmmm... well yes and no. I really like the competitive aspect of it. I am a very driven person (probably stemming from my ballet experience) and competing against myself through exceeding my own expectations, and against others is really fun. it's addicting too!! All of the pageanty stuff I definitely had to get used to, and the heels, I'm still not a fan of!! But I do love the goal of a show and how it is time bound, the strict diet, and the exercise regimen. I thrive off of those for sure ; )

Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: My contest history is very short but very successful because I've just begun this year. My first show was this April 2011 NGA Utah. I won my class and the figure overall in that show. I am Miss Utah NGA natural figure. Then yesterday I competed in the NGA Mountain States Regional show, where I won my class again AND the figure overall......and my NGA Pro Card!!!! So excited. Only my second show too! I plan on competing in the NPC show in June here in Salt Lake next.

Q: What do you feel is your best body pat?
A: My best body parts....hmm....I definitely have very muscular and dominating legs from my ballet history. I was a very good jumper, which has helped me with my heavy leg exercises. My quads and hams are pretty built. But if you ask most people, they will tell you my best asset is my back!! I always get compliments on my wide, defined back, but I can't just turn around and see it!! ha ha : ) I work it just as often as any other body part. I just think I have good body awareness of my muscles. I also work my shoulders a lot, to get that good V taper : )

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train?
A: Parts I like to train most then, are shoulders and legs. Legs are tough but so rewarding! I love heavy bar squats, bar deadlifts, lunges, leg presses, etc. but I also love the look of athletic round shoulders to create an even greater illusion of a small waits and a nice V taper. I work them from all different angles anterior, lateral and posterior...because you judged from all sides!

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like?
A: My normal work outs revolve around a 4 day split. I like working opposing muscle groups so as to not fatigue the muscles too quickly, and do shoulders and legs on their own usually twice a week each : ) I enjoy giant circuits and try to do abs in between a lot of exercises. As for cardio I really enjoy HIIT. I do the stationary bike a lot on a very high level with hill intervals, treadmill sprints, stairmill, etc. As for diet, I eat clean all year round. I don't let myself get around "bad" foods, and so I don't crave them anymore. I love high healthy fats like avocado, nuts, nut butters, salmon, olive oils, and fat free dairy like cottage cheese and greek yogurt. I am also definitely a carnivore, so bring on the meat!! Veggies are a HUGE staple for me as well. Love them. Around contest time, I continue to eat very frequent meals, and just eat cleaner and cleaner closer to the show. Shane and Tiffany Heugly are amazing diet coaches too. They make fantastic personalized meal plans for me to they are realistic for me to stick to! I love my meal plan : )

QL When someone hears you train and compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: When someone hears I compete or sees my physique for the first time, they are usually positive and very complimentary. A lot of strangers stop me in the gym while I am working or during my work outs to ask me questions (which can get really annoying...haha) but people are very curious about the dieting and the physical rigors of prepping for a show. only a couple of people have expressed to me that they think it is not so feminine and "over the top" but screw them! They don't get it .....ha ha. At least that's how I feel, because I love it : )

Q: What is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: What I'm most sick of hearing from people? Hmmm.....probably those people who have never done shows, but have unjustified opinions about your diet and your exercise regimen and your physique. All talk but no walk. You have to earn your opinions in this sport, as far as I'm concerned. Doing a show is much tougher than anyone thinks who hasn't done one.

Q: What is the biggest misconception bout women who compete?
A: I wish people understood that figure is the entire package.....symmetry, leanness, stage presence, your confidence, your walk, shoulder to waist ratio, etc. how hard the dieting is, how little fuel you work out on daily towards the end. How carb depleted and stupid your brain feels some times, but how worth it it is in the end!!!

Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: Best part of training for me is the immediate rewards I see from the hard work I put in. No one else does it for me,....I do it!! It takes discipline, daily effort, mental focus, all the way. As for the worst part? Probably just the last couple weeks of dieting and increased cardio at the end. You're running on very little, are very irritable, and very tired most of the time.

Q: Are there any competitors you admire or are a fan of?
A: My first and favorite competitor was Ava Cowan. I read her exercise routines and diet in magazines and was willing to do whatever she did!!! I tried all of her Gaspari products and I love all of them so much! Throughout my contest I used Gaspari Myofusion protein daily. It is sooo tasty and feels like I'm cheating on my diet!! My favorite are milk chocolate and chocolate peanut butter. If it wasn't for Gaspari Myofusion, I wouldn't have been able to conquer my sweet tooth and stick to my diet! I also tried her Gaspari pre contest Size On Creatine for a month and saw great result strength, and muscle growth wise. I would really recommend that too. In addition, I tried Gaspari SuperPump as my pre work out. Loved it. I now try less to rely on pre work out powders and drinks, but i used all Gaspari products to help me get there. I also really admire Jamie Eason, Tanji Johnson (she's from Seattle!!), Khay Rosemond, Phil Heath, Erin Stern, and Nicole Wilkins-Lee. I think Kim Oddo is also the most amazing trainer ever!!! I was so stoked to meet him more than any other athlete at the Olympia last year. He is a genius!!

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Favorite cheat food?....hmmm I don't really cheat, because if I go there, I feel that it would get the ball rolling in the wrong direction. But I of course love a couple bites of an indulgence once in a while. Maybe a hot donut, cheesecake, or a yummy homemade lean burger : ) I love to cook healthy. It's fun. My ultimate favorite food is fish tho. Salmon, and straight up raw sashimi of yellowtail, salmon, albacore, and scallop. I am half Japanese after all!

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: If any other woman wanted to begin training, I would tell her not to be afraid to lift heavy!! You have to lift heavy to build muscle, which in turn, builds your metabolism! Quit doing so much cardio and wasting that precious muscle and lift lift lift!! Also you need to stop dieting so much and eat!! Eat a lot of green veggies, and high lean protein. You have to eat to build too : ) Stick with a clean diet!!

Q: Do you think its becoming more common to see women lifting and not just doing cardio?
A: I definitely love seeing more women lifting these days. Cardio queens are taking a step down!! Muscle wasting is not in style, building and eating is....thanks to magazines like Oxygen and Muscle and Fitness Hers, and websites like yours! Love all of that stuff!! Get the word out : )

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: Outside of training, I love to cook really healthy, watch movies and shows (Family Guy, Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, Modern Family). I'm a huge baseball and basketball fan so I love watching MLB and NBA games. I love to travel so I always try to go watch a game when I'm visiting. Ive seen the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, NY Yankees play at their stadiums. I really want to see the Boston Red Sox now at Fenway Park!!!

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Lani Tamaki.
A: A typical day I wake up around 830 (need my sleep to grow my muscles!), get ready and head to 24 Hour Fitness in Sugarhouse SLC to train about 4 clients. I then come home to nap, eat, and work out for about 2.5 hours. Then I train another 4 to 5 people, then come home, cook my meal plan food then sleep! pretty simple : ) Weekends I try to do something outdoors if the weather is nice : )

Q: Describe lanai Tamaki in five words.
A: Describe me in 5 words?..... Disciplined, Genuine, Driven, Unique, and Caring.

Q; What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: Something people would be surprised to know about me,....hmmm that I was born in Japan and speak Japanese fluently : ) Love my culture : )

Q: Any set plans for the future as far as competing or anything?
A: My future plans for take one show at a time, and try to win every one of them! : ) Optimistic, huh? My NPC June 18th show is next, so we will see how that goes. I want to keep riding this streak for as long as I can. What a fun journey it's been so far! I want to maybe make some money with my fitness endeavors, maybe winning shows now that I have my NGA pro card, getting sponsors, fitness photo shoots I have lined up, and getting to travel more and see the world!!

Q; Anything you want to plug or promote?
A: I would love to "plug" and promote my awesome coaches!!! Shane and Tiffany Heugly (a husband and wife team). They are amazing coaches and have helped me win my titles!! They work out of the Sandy 24 hour fitness gym and are extremely knowledgeable and encouraging. Their customized meal plans, posing coaching, show prep, etc is the best around. And they are wonderful wonderful people!! I always feel like I'm trying to make mom and dad happy when I'm on stage : ) I also want to promote my personal training business. I work out of sugarhouse 24 hour fitness in Salt Lake City, Utah. I'm a Master Trainer and hold a national certification, two advanced ones, and now Ms NGA natural Figure Utah, NGA Mountain states Overall Figure winner, and have my NGA pro card as well : ) I want sponsorships for anything because competing is expensive!!

Q: Looking for sponsors?
A: I am definitely looking for sponsors!!! Competing is pricey but I want to continue winning shows and challenging myself day to day! I love and use all Gaspari products especially, but protein and work out supplements would be great! Also work out wear like Zobha, Nike or Lululemon I wear every day, spray tans, hair and make up, jewelry, any and all competitor gear and competition suits!!! I would love to have a suit sponsorship so i can wear different styles and colors for different shows, because they are very very pricey!!! : ) I am also interested in booking photoshoots for different fitness related shots. People can reach me at or friend me on facebook: Lani Tamaki What are they getting as an athlete and competitor? A driven, focused, knowledgeable, well-rounded, personal individual who gives 110 percent and is completely enthralled by the figure competition sport. I want opporunities to see where this all goes, but need help doing it!

Q: Thanks so much for doing this. Any last words before you go?
A: Any last words? This is kind of my mantra lately .......Stop worrying about what every one else is doing, and start focusing on what you're doing! You are the only person who can make your dreams come true. Go out and do what you never thought was possible, because in the end, you'll always regret not trying. You have one life to live, and if I'm making it happen, so can you! Believe in yourself first! : )


  1. way to go lani!!! you look amazing!

  2. Lani your description of yourself is spot on! It's that drive, and genuine love of people and life which myself and everyone around you admires... I will be there at your next show to see u win!

  3. Woot Woot!!! It has been an absolute pleasure training with you!! You have totally motivated me to continue on this fitness show craziness! ;-) I am honored to call you my trainer! Not one person deserves this recognition more! You are so dedicated and disciplined to your craft! There was NO competition on that stage girl! When you walked out, the audience gasped...they all knew! Congratulations!!! Well deserved!!!

  4. very impressive, lani... all my best for continued success! well-deserved! look forward to following your journey to the top ;)

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