Friday, August 31, 2012

Amanda Folstad-Ptak Interview

Photo Credits:
Photo 1: Gene X Hwang
Photo 2: Physique Art
Photos 3 and 5: Michael Simon
Photos 4: FT VIdeo

If I were to make a list of the most underrated bodybuilders in the sport, Amanda Folstad-Ptak would definitely be at the top of the list. I always see Amanda as one of the best physiques on the stage but her placings often do not reflect that. Recently Amanda brought that amazing physique to the Arizona Championships, and that physique was probably at its all time best, and she took home first place. Also, if I made a list of the nicest people in the sport, Amanda would be right at the top of that list as well. Always willing to help out-as she did when I started- and give some advice to people. Amanda is definitely a real asset to female bodybuilding.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the sport?
A: When I was eighteen years old, I had graduated high school and was self conscious. I wanted to drop a few pounds so I started working out at that time. It just kind of took off from there. The first year I hated it, but I stuck with it, I had a goal in mind and that is the kind of person I am, if I have a goal I am going to achieve it. So I started seeing some results and looking at the magazines and wishing I could like like the girls in the magazine. I continued to lift and in 2007 I went trough a traumatic experience in my life and needed to direct my energy in a different area to get my mind out of the place it was in. One of my friends at the gym asked if I wanted to do a show and others had said I should. So, I said "I am gonna do it. I am gonna try it and see what happens". I started getting ready in 2007 to do bodybuilding. A friend talked me into doing figure because she thought I had that "All-American Girl" look and would do well in figure. I did not do well, not bad, middle of the pack, so it didn't give me much of a direction on what I should be doing. So I did one more figure show and placed exactly the same. I kept getting told I was too muscular and too lean, too this and too that. So I decided I was gonna go the bodybuilding direction. I won my first show, tied for first with a lady who looked phenomenal in my eyes, so to tie with this woman was huge for me.

Q: When you look back to when you started would you have ever imagined adding the size you are at now?
A: No! I didn't even think about it. I have never wanted to be huge so I don't think about adding size even at this point. I think the size I am now is good and I don't wanna be any bigger. I have never thought of adding size.

Q: A lot of people say competing becomes addicting after that first time, was that the case with you?
A: Yes definitely. It is very addicting. I think that doing USA's and stuff.... it's kind of a knock at my ego haha. It makes me almost upset because I don't do well at USA's cause I'm not big enough but I don't wanna get bigger. I think it is an addiction, you take mental blows and to do it again it has to be like an addiction. I would say I am addicted to competing haha.

Q: Part of society is still not accepting of muscular women, did any family or friends react negative when you started adding size?
A: No, not at all. They have been super supportive of it. A lot of them tell me I am inspiring or motivating. My dad likes for me to be a little softer. He doesn't like when I get shredded for a show, but he is the only one that has told me he prefers me more in my off-season look. I think it's just cause he is my dad.

Q: You mentioned USA's, granted I am biased because you are someone I really look up to....
A: Awww thank you.

Q: You didn't place very well...
A: No!

Q: Maybe you weren't as big, but to me, your physique I thought was one of the best up there...
A: Thank you Jason.

Q: You are welcome. In that case, is it hard when you don't place as well as you feel maybe you should have?
A: Yeah it is definitely hard mentally on anyone who thinks they should have done better. You put so much work into it and your life revolves around getting ready for a show for three to four months. Last year at USA's I knew I didn't look my best, it was my worst I have ever looked. So, I accepted it a little better, but I still don't think I deserved the placing I got, I think I beat at least one person that they placed above me. It is hard to accept but at the same time, when I know I was at my worst it was easier to accept it based on that.

Q: Just recently you won the Arizona Championships. You told me before we started this that you felt it was the best you have ever looked, from USA's till then how were you better?
A: I came in more conditioned. It was the leanest I have ever been. I actually was twelve pounds lighter the day of the show then I normally am at weigh-ins. I don't think I looked like I lost that much size. So coming in more conditioned with a tighter and smaller package, I still looked almost as big as usual but just better. hat's what I think.

Q: When you realize you are winning a show, what goes through your head?
A: Thank God haha. Happiness, pure joy, huge smile on my face. It is exciting, the crowd cheers for you. It is like your hard work paid off, a feeling of accomplishment.

Q: Do you have an idea when you want to compete again?
A: I don't! I wanna compete again, but I am waiting to see what happens with female bodybuilding in 2013. There are the rumors going around and I don't know what to expect. I wanted to do nationals this year but cant. next year my plan would be to shoot for Nationals. Whether it works out is a different story based on my career. That is the show I would like to do but don't know if it will work out.

Q: When you do compete, is there something specific that you want to be better?
A: Everywhere! I can always improve my physique no matter what. The areas I need to pay special attention to would be hamstrings, glutes and calves, which is always my weaker area.

Q: I have said that to me you have the best abs in the sport...
A: Thank you, I think that is one of my better ones to.

Q: Do you do a lot for abs, is it more genetics, or just made in the kitchen?
A: I think it is the genetics and made in the kitchen. I don't do a ton of abs, but I do crunches here and there. I have two exercises I stick to the most that have helped develop my abs. I think it is mostly genetics and diet.

Q: In the gym, do you get a lot of stares or attention?
A: Oh yeah! People do stare a lot. I would think at the gym it wouldn't happen as much, but it happens more often there than anywhere else. That is strange to me.

Q: Is it hard to block out?
A: No, not usually. I can usually pick up on people I feel are looking at me in a negative way. I think it is more positive than negative. If I am working out and have my mind focused on what I am doing, I can block it out pretty good. But I do notice it from time to time.

Q: In public are you more of a dress to cover up and avoid attention or more proud of it and showing it off?
A: I'm proud and showing it off.

Q: It seems that in the off-season you don't go much over your contest weight, is that by design?
A: I try not to. I think the most I have ever been over is twenty pounds which is too much for me. The past two years I watch how I eat in off-season. It is by design. I work hard to stay leaner than I used to. If I let myself go too much then I mentally beat myself up, so I keep it ten to twelve pounds over what I am competing at.

Q: When I got started you were very willing to help and give me advice. Is it accurate to say you like to do that stuff?
A: It is very accurate. I definitely will help anyone who asks me. I have written many diets for friends and given advice to many people I don't even know. I enjoy that part of it. Doing that and being told I am motivation are the two best parts of competing. That is what I like most. It isn't getting on stage and winning, it is inspiring people to better themselves physically.

Q: If you could spend a day training with anyone, who would it be?
A: I would say one of two people. Katka Kyptova, she is one of my all-time favorites. Or Anne Freitas, I think those two women have the most phenomenal physiques and I would love to train with them.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: I wanna thank my husband Mikey. He is my biggest supporter and fan. He supports me know matter what direction I want to go. We train together for over five years. If it wasn't for him I would be where I am at. I have a lot of supporters, anyone who considers themself a fan of mine, I thank you, it is a big part of why I enjoy it so much.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bethany Tomaszewski Interview

Photo Credits:
Photo 2: DSW Photography
Photo 3: Her Biceps
Photo 4: NAAFS

My first introduction to Bethany Tomaszewski was as an MMA ring card girl. Then I learned she also competed in figure. Very few people came met embrace and love the fitness lifestyle as much as Bethany, so it is no surprise how much she constantly looks better and better.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: I was very skinny and started working in the gym. I met a bodybuilder and he kind of did my diet and got me healthy and lifting and into the sport.

Q: How long were you training when you decided to compete and why did you decide to compete?
A: I would say about two years. I only wanted to do one show to say I did it and get on stage and get it off my bucket list. Then it got addicting and saw more progress and changes and it became addictive like a drug.

Q: What about it was addicting?
A: Just seeing progress and seeing what your body can do. Seeing it how your body handles it and how it changes. Seeing how fast your body can grow with changes to the diet and training and cardio and all the good stuff.

Q: The first time, were you nervous?
A: Not really cause I was used to being in front of a bunch of people because of NAAFS. You don't really see anybody on stage, just the judges up front and everyone else is black in the crowd. You cant see them.

Q: Why figure?
A: Not to put down bikini because they are getting up there and doing what they wanna do. I train a different way and diet a certain way. I train like a bodybuilder more or less, a little harder I guess you would say. Not saying that they don't, but sets and reputations are a little different.

Q: You mentioned NAAFS, how did being a ring card girl maybe help you with competing?
A: I don't really know. I was used to being in front of a big crowd, so I guess it got me over that haha.

Q: When are you competing next?
A: Probably late October but I am gonna peak for November 17th. That will be my final show. I will see how my body progresses with my diet and training. Really hit it hard to see what my body can do and pick out a show for October.

Q: I mentioned at the gym that your lats have really improved, is that something you have been working on?
A: Oh yeah! That is my weak area. I am hippy and that is not a good thing for figure, to have hips and curves, it isn't the thing they are going for. I had to make my wings a little bit bigger to make the illusion my hips are smaller. That's my main focus with my shoulders to.

Q: You mentioned being "hippy", you have big legs in a good way...
A: Thank you.

Q: Do you have to be careful not to let them get too big?
A: I have actually brought them down quite a bit since I started. I used to be all legs and no upper body or back. I had to take it down a notch and not train legs so hard. My legs just grow, genetically they are just big and there. I have to watch that.

Q: From last show to the next one is there anywhere specific you want to be better?
A: Oh Yeah! I changed a lot. I took two years off just to see what my body could do and change it as much as I could. So basically I have been on a non-stop diet, off-season and on-season, not drinking or anything to change my body. So probably, my lats and shoulders. Like I said, I am hippy.

Q: In the gym, it's not common to see girls training as hard as the guys, do you get a lot of attention or stares from people?
A: Oh yeah! Really anywhere you go, if you are a girl not doing the normal girl routine just doing cardio and stuff, cause most girls are intimidated by weights and cables. They don't understand the structure of the body and how to work out in certain ways. Doing stuff that guys do, you are gonna get stares and get gawked at. It comes with the sport.

Q: Are you more of a dress to cover-up and avoid attention or dress to show it off person?
A: I don't do either. I just dress comfortably. I usually wear a beater or a local bodybuilding company, and shorts and whatever I am comfortable in.

Q: Is fitness modeling something that interests you?
A: Yeah, when I am doing a show and cut-up. I would like to be in my best shape. I don't wanna go and be out of shape.

Q: If you could spend a day training with any one person, who would it be?
A: That's tough. Locally I definitely wanna train in Columbus with John Meadows or Louie Simmons. Famous wise, either Branch Warren or Larissa Reis.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: Everyone who has pushed me along the way up. Family, friends, bodybuilders locally or even internationally. People who have said some kind words on facebook and stuff.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cara's Corner by Cara Marel

Blog #3
BuRnt OuT!! What now??

Hey guys!

Several weeks have passed since I last wrote a blog…like many of you, I often found myself offering the common “I’m just so busy!” as a viable excuse. For the most part, I actually enjoy being “so busy” and having to meticulously budget my time to squeeze everything in. I get a sense of satisfaction from being “so busy” and “having so much” to do and being “in demand” so to speak ;-) Anyway, as much as I enjoy being a busy bee…sometimes, I just want a break. Here’s the thing: I have been training & competing NON STOP since I started a year and a half ago. I absolutely love the sport, lifestyle, connections, experiences, health and so on…that I have gained throughout my competitive journey. However, I found myself on a ‘see saw’…one side saying “keep going, do another show, train 3 hours a day!!!”…and the other side saying, “I don’t want to do anything! I just want to be “normal” for a little while.” I argued with myself, because I felt guilty for even letting these thoughts creep in to my mind, as if it were some sort of crime to do so. So I let some more time pass, and I did another show (Coastal USA, Atlanta GA). That last week leading up to the show was going to make or break me, literally. I was already hours from home, training 8 hours a day for a new job, all while prepping and training hours a day for the up-coming show. I seriously wanted to JUST QUIT. I was exhausted. Mentally and physically, drained…and the thought of “I’m just not going to do this show” crept in to my mind. After some contemplation, I said: “Cara, you are NOT a quitter. You made a decision and committed do doing this show. This is what YOU wanted. Things get hard, and NOW you want to back out? HOLD THE PHONE…YOU WILL do this show.”…And that I did! I put my big girl pants on, finished what seemed to be the longest week of my life, did the show, and had a BLAST. The gain was greater than the pain!!!  The moral of the story is this: in life, whatever it may be…a competition, a commitment to a friend, etc., you owe it to YOURSELF (and others) to follow through with your commitment. If and when you do this, you will find so much satisfaction in knowing you were true to your word, and that whatever the struggle was that you were going through, was all worth it in the end. Once you’ve completed what you set out to do…then take that break that you deserve!! And that, I did! I took a week off from hard training and a strict diet, and allowed myself to truly miss and long for what I love so much…training, working hard, and sweating like a maniac. I needed to be true to my own word, and then take a break to appreciate the effort I’d been putting forth for so long. I earned this…and so have you.:-)

I hope this hits home for some of you, just a little personal story…hope you enjoyed! Have a great and productive week everyone!

Cara Marel
NPC Bikini Athlete, Team Bombshell
Fitness Columnist

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tamikka Brents Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1 and 3: Hex Linc Photos
Photo 4: Tuff-N-Uff
Photo 5: Ray Kasprowicz

Tamikka Brents will take her unbeaten amateur record into her pro debut when she faces Olympic wrestling Bronze medalist Randi Miller on September 8th. Brents has been waiting a long time to make her pro debut but has had trouble getting a fight. Miller herself recently made her MMA debut a successful one and will pose a tough test against Brents.

Q: You have been waiting since forever to make your pro debut and have not fought since January, how frustrating has the wait been?
A: I hate waiting. I would rather have a fight once a month. But it is finally here so I am not gonna complain about it anymore.

Q: Could your record play a part in having trouble finding opponents?
A: Maybe, I don't know. Maybe it is my intimidating stare-down haha. A lot of girls see my record and see I haven't been beat and get a little intimidated and don't wanna take the fight anymore. I hope that's what it is and it's not just people trying to pick and choose who they fight.

Q: You are fighting Randi Miller, most see this as the wrestler against the striker, would you agree with that?
A: I think I am a pretty decent wrestler myself. I don't have the accolades that Randi Miller has but most of my fights have been won by TKO on the ground with ground and pound. I think it will be good, it will be interesting. I wanna put it on the table that if I out wrestle her, I get a piece of her Bronze medal but I don't know if she would take that.

Q: She has only had the one fight, what did you think of her performance?
A: I thought she kept her power, she had power for all three rounds. I thought she lost the first two rounds decisively. I watched the fight closely. She didn't gas out and was pushing the pace and grinding. I was impressed for it to be her first fight. I know she probably would have liked some ammy fights to get experience but am sure she couldn't find any cause of her Olympic background. That is where my experience will come in.

Q: You have been training with pro rules forever, how excited are you to finally get to use them?
A: I am definitely excited. I am throwing elbows and knees to the head everywhere. Doing ground and pound drills and using elbows like the are a second set of hands. I might as well have four hands.

Q: You mentioned it already, but you have shown you are good on the ground, if she tries to make it a wrestling match, you are confident you can hang there?
A: Oh yeah! I think my scrambling ability is up there. It wont be the first Olympic caliber wrestler I've gone against. I just think my scrambling is better and even if she does out-wrestle me, my Jiu-Jitsu is gonna be above hers for the simple fact I have way more experience training full on MMA. I think I can hold my own. I'm still putting it out there that if I out-wrestle her, I want a piece of that bronze medal.

Q: If it does stay standing and you are beating her, does she get desperate for the takedowns or is she able to stay composed?
A: I think she is just gonna try and grind it out. Keep going for her takedowns. In her first fight she wasn't going for the takedown right of the bat but she kept going and kept going. If she doesn't get it she wont quit, she wont get frustrated, she is gonna keep on charging. I think I have more power than Estes did and that I can cause problems if she charges at me. My striking has gotten better and people will be pleasantly surprised.

Q: With her being the Olympic medalist and the notoriety that comes with that, how big is a win over her for you?
A: It's huge! She represented our country against the world. She is basically the third best wrestler on the planet. So a win over her would be huge. This isn't wrestling, it's MMA and anything can happen. I respect her for what she did and am impressed with her wrestling accolades, but we are both gonna try and tear each others heads off and see who comes out on top.

Q: Is there a key for you to win this fight?
A: The key for me for this fight and all my previous and future fights is to punch her in the face and if that doesn't work, kick them in the face and knee and elbow in the face.

Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: I predict someone is getting punched in the face.

Q: Any idea what you want next or taking it one at a time?
A: We have some dealings with Canada, supposed to fight there in December. They called to see if I wanted to replace Taylor Stratford, but it was too close to this fight. That kinda sucks but hopefully I can get on Invicta 4, that would be nice. I just wanna fight period.

Q: Now the important stuff. You are stuck on an island, what are the three things you need with you?
A: My girlfriend, baby making music, and food.

Q: Also on that island is Pee Wee Herman, David Hasselhoff and Paris Hilton, who do you throw in the water first?
A: That is a tough one. I have to go with Paris Hilton because she is dumb and she will get us killed.

Q: When you die, what animal will you be re-born as?
A: A honey badger.

Q: What is your favorite flavor popsicle?
A: Red haha.

Q: Who wins a fight Jay Leno or Conan O'Brien?
A: Jay Leno, he has that chin.

Q: Justin Beiber or Brittney Spears?
A: Justin Beiber, how dare you ask me that question haha.

Q: I knew you would say that. Rocky or Rambo?
A: Rambo has weapons so I go with him.

Q: Pamela Anderson or Carmen Electra?
A: I think Carmen Electra is disease free so I go with her haha.

Q: The cast of Friends or the cast of The Brady Bunch?
A: The cast of friends cause I like Jennifer Aniston's boobs.

Q: Buggs Bunny or Daffy Duck?
A: Buggs Bunny.

Q: Han Solo or Indiana Jones?
A: I will go with Indiana Jones because he has a whip and I feel like he is a freak.

Q: Knowing you like to punch people in the face, if you can punch anyone in the world in the face, who would it be?
A: I will have to go with Ronda Rousey.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My teammates and gym family at Team Warrior Concepts, my second set of parents, head coach Scott Ward and his wife Jenn, my awesome training partners and coaches Trevor Ward, Frank Sloan, Evva Johnson, Morgan Becker, Lex James, Curt Bee, Jared Rusk and Hunter Ansell, my massage therapist Renee "Magic Hands" Dean, my amazing sponsors Complete Nutrition, AMB Construction, Keppler Environmental Management, Alliance Apparel, and JuS TeeZn RaZor ART Salon. My beautiful girlfriend Andrea AKA Scoops, my supportive friends and family and The A-Team. And special thanks to Jason Adams for continuing to interview me no matter how random I am.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Showdown Fights Burkman vs Yager Report

On August 25th Showdown fights presented their Burkman vs Yager card. It was my first experience viewing Showdown Fights. They had evenly matched fights with some good fighters and really seemed to put on a good show as far as production goes.

1. Amateur Lightweight
Brad Darrington (1-0) vs Tanner Cowan (3-1)

RD 1: Takedown by Cowan and he gets his back. Cowan looks for the choke and lands head shots. Cowan now lands hammer fist and then body shots. Again Cowan looks for the rear naked. More head shot by Cowan. Barrington tries to stand but can't.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Cowan

RD 2: Cowan shoots and gets a takedown. Cowan lands head shots. Cowan tries for an arm but Barrington pulls the arm out. Cowan gets his back and lands punches. More head shots by Cowan. Cowan looks for the rear naked but Barrington defends it. More head shots by Cowan.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Cowan

RD 3: They trade punches. Cowan shoots in and gets the takedown into half guard. Cowan tries for an arm but nice job by Barrington to stand. Cowan takes him right back down and is in guard. Cowan gets his back and looks for a rear naked. Head shots by Cowan. Hammer fists now by Cowan. Barrington is working hard to stand and does but Cowan drags him right back down.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Cowan

Result: Tanner Cowan by Unanimous Decision (30-27/30-27/30-27)

2. Pro Bantamweight
Alexis Burkman (1-1) vs Mark Nay (1-4)

RD 1: Jab by Burkman. Lots of circling by both fighters. Nay lands hard shots and has Burkman backing up. Burkman lands a hook and another. Several punches land for Nay. Leg kick by Nay. Jab by Burkman. Hook by Nay. Nay rushes in and lands two knees. Jab to the body by Burkman. Hard hook lands for Burkman and another. Leg kick by Nay. Hook by Burkman and another. Uppercut by Nay. Knee to the head by Nay drops him. Nay drops down punches. Nay lands a kick to the head of a downed Burkman and gets a warning. The doctor comes in to check Burkman and the fight is stopped.

Result: Alexis Burkman by Disqualification at 4:27 of Round 1

3. Pro Middleweight
Cisco Alcantara (6-6) vs Eric Wahlin (4-1)

RD 1: Leg kick by Wahlin. Hook by Alcantara. Leg kick by Wahlin. They clinch in the center of the care and Wahlin lands a punch.They separate and Wahlin lands two hooks. They clinch on the cage. Knee to the body by Wahlin and then they separate. Jab by Alcantara. Wahlin shoots but nice sprawl by Alcantara. Wahlin tries again and gets the takedown and goes for a calf slicer and gets it for the tap.

Result: Eric Wahlin by Tapout (Calf Slicer) at 2:05 of Round 1

4. Pro Bantamweight
Jordan Chandler (4-5) vs Craig Ross (9-7)

RD 1: Leg kick by Chandler. Jab by Ross. Ross shoots in and they clinch against the cage. Knee to the leg by Ross. Knee to the body by Ross. Ross gets a takedown into half guard. Elbow to the head by Ross. Elbows to the leg from the bottom by Chandler. Chandler tries to wall walk but can't. Chandler gets full guard. Chandler tries for an arm but Ross escapes and ends up getting his back. Ross flattens him and lands punches. Ross gets mount and lands elbows to the head. Now Ross has his back and lands punches. Ross looks for the rear naked and lands more punches. Nice scramble by Chandler and he gets on top in guard. Punches to the head by Chandler. Ross is able to stand and they are clinched on the cage. Knees to the body by Ross.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Ross

RD 2: Body kick by Chandler. Nice slam by Ross but Chandler gets a guillotine for the tap.

Result: Jordan Chandler by Tapout (Guillotine) at :24 of Round 2

5. Pro Featherweight
Daniel Goode (7-2) vs Mike Gahan (3-0)

RD 1: Head kick by Gahan. Takedown by Goode but they are up quick. Goode has his back standing and gets a takedown. Goode has his back but Gahan gets up with Goode still having his back. Knee to the leg by Goode. Gahan escapes. Cross by Goode. Hook by Gahan. Goode shoots in but can't get the takedown. Hook by Goode. They trade shots. Nice hook by Gahan. Uppercut by Gahan. Hook by Gahan. Goode gets a takedown but Gahan is right back up. They clinch against the cage and Goode tries for s single leg. Knee to the body by Goode. They separate and Gahan lands a jab. Hook by Gooode. Goode catches a kick and takes him down but Gahan is right back up. They trade punches. Hook by Goode. Spinning back kick by Gahan.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Goode

RD 2: Hook by Gahan. Hook to the body by Gahan. They trade punches. Cross by Gahan. Hook by Gahan. Goode shoots in but Gahan shrugs him off. Jab by Gahan. Goode looks real tired now. Jab by Gahan. Goode tries for a takedown but eats a hook. Jab by Gahan. Hook to the body by Gahan. Goode shoots but Gahan sprawls. Goode shoots again but still can't get the takedown. Hook by Gahan. Goode shots in but Gahan is on top landing punches till the ref stops it.

Result: Mike Gahan by TKO at 3:29 of Round 2

6. Pro Heavyweight
Clifton Bishop (3-1) vs Jan Jorgensen (3-0)

RD 1: Leg kick by Bishop. Lots of circling by both fighters. Leg kick by Bishop. Hook by Bishop. Jab by Jorgensen. Hook to the body by Jorgensen. Leg kick by Bishop and another. Hook by Jorgensen. Leg kick by Jorgensen. Leg kick by Bishop. Jorgensen hurts him with punches. Bishop tries to drop down but Jorgensen gets his back and lands punches till the ref stops it. Seemed like a premature stoppage to me.

Result: Jan Jorgensen by TKO at 2:38 of Round 1

7. Pro Lightweight
Clay Collard (9-3) vs Justin Buchholz (12-7)

RD 1: Collard catches a kick and takes him down but lets him right back up. They clinch but quickly separate. Hook and uppercuts by Collard. Jab by Buchholz. Leg kick by Collard. Clinch and move to the cage. Knee to the body by Buchholz. Elbow to the head by Collard. Elbows to the head by Buchholz. They separate and trade punches. They clinch and move to the cage but quickly separate. Hook by Buchholz. They clinch against the cage and Buchholz lands a knee to the body. They separate and Collard lands a hook and another. Hard hook by Buchholz. Jab by Collard. They clinch and move to the cage. Three nice elbows by Collard. They separate and trade punches. Buchholz shoots in but Collard sprawls. Hard punches by Collard. Jab and hook by Collard. Collard lands hard punches against the cage and has him hurt. Knee to the body by Buchholz. Hook by Collard. They clinch and Collard gets a takedown.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Collard

RD 2: Takedown by Buchholz. Elbow to the head by Buchholz. More short elbows by Buchholz. Collard manages to stand. Hook by Buchholz. Uppercut by Buchholz. Jab and uppercut by Collard drops him. Collard goes down after him and lands punches. Collard drops more and more punches. Buchholz pulls him down and goes for a guillotine. Collard escapes and lands hard punches. Collard drops down but Buchholz gets his back. Collard pulls guard. Collard trying to stand and Buchholz gets north south looking for a choke. Buchholz lets him up and lands two elbows. Collard drops him with a hook and gets his back and lands more punches. Collard moves to side control and lands punches. Buchholz gets guard.
I scored RD 2: 10-8 Collard

RD 3: Buchholz has a bad cut on his head. Jab by Collard. Head kick by Buchholz. They clinch and Collard lands a knee to the body. Collard tries for and gets a takedown but they are up quick. Hook by Collard. Nice head kick by Buchholz and he goes for a guillotine. Collard escapes but Buchholz goes for it again and gets it for the tap.

Result: Just Buchholz by Tapout (Guillotine) at 1:35 of Round 3

8. Pro Lightweight
Gordon Bell (7-0) vs Dave Castillo (15-4)

RD 1: They trade punches. Hook by Castillo. Castillo catches a kick and lands punches before taking him down. Bell works his way up. They clinch on the cage and Bell lands a knee. They separate and Castillo lands a hook. Leg kick by Bell. They clinch in the center and move to the cage but quickly separate. Hook by Castillo. Hook by Bell. Jab by Castillo. They clinch and Bell gets a takedown. Nice sweep by Castillo to get on top. Bell tries for an arm but Castillo pulls out. Castillo lets him up. Cross by Castillo. Castillo drops him with a hook and lands a punch and the ref stops it. Premature stoppage in my opinion.

Result: Dave Castillo by KO at 2:39 of Round 1

9. Pro Welterweight
Josh Burkman (22-9) vs Jamie Yager (6-2)

RD 1: Leg kick by Burkman. Leg kick by Burkman. A third leg kick by Burkman. Burkman rushes in but Yager gets the takedown. Burkman hold him close to avoid damage. Body shots by Yager. Short body shots now by Yager. Yager goes for a guillotine but Burkman escapes and they stand. They clinch on the cage. Knee to the body by Yager. They separate and Yager shoots in but can't get the takedown. Leg kick by Yager. They clinch and quickly separate.
I scored RD 1: 10-10 Even

RD 2: Leg kick by Burkman. Body kick by Yager. Yager goes for a takedown but Burkman sprawls and lands a knee to the body. They clinch and drop down. Knee to the body by Burkman. Burkman tries to get his back. Knee to the body by Burkman. They stand and Yager tries for a single leg. They drop down with Burkman looking for and getting a guillotine for the tap.

Result: Josh Burkman by Tapout (Guillotine) at 3:35 of Round 2

Submission of the Night: Eric Wahlin

KO of the Night: Mike Gahan

Fight of the Night: Clay Collard vs Justin Buchholz

Friday, August 24, 2012

Laura Marcusse Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1-5: Jerry Chavez

If I made a list of the fighters I really wish more people knew about, Laura Marcusse would be at the top of that list. An amateur with an impressive 4-1 record who has finished three of her four victories. While she was already involved in Martial Arts, she did not intend to actually fight in MMA when she started training it. Needless to say, she did decide to fight and has been real impressive up to this point and has a very bright future going forward.

Q: Can you talk about how you initially became interested in MMA?
A: I have a background in traditional Martial Arts. I did Kempo Karate when I was a teenager. What got me interested in that was I basically did a cardio kickboxing class at this Karate school and saw the other classes they offered. I got my black belt when I was eighteen. I didn't do anything in Martial Arts for quite awhile during college and for a couple years after college. I stumbled onto MMA when I was at a local gym and saw two guys grappling off in this corner of the gym. I had been thinking about getting back into some form of Martial Art and really wanted something that was more realistic and competitive than the Karate I had been doing. I saw what they were doing and thought it was cool and asked questions and it went from there.

Q: Going in with the Karate background, was the ground game something you were able to pick up fairly easy?
A: It was! Grappling is probably my forte, although my stand-up game has improved immensely, so I like to think of myself as a well-rounded fighter, but grappling is still my favorite. Is tarted that when I started training MMA. It was weird at first, your first lesson in grappling is awkward because you are not used to being that close and intimate with a complete stranger. But I took to it really quickly. I don't know if it is something about women or having the awesome instructor at the time. The stand-up part has been a little more work for me, which seems counter intuitive given that Karate is my background. I felt I had to re-learn things. I still use certain techniques I learned in Karate but have transitioned into more of a Muay-Thai style.

Q: How long did you train before your first fight?
A: I had no intention of fighting. I just wanted to learn a new Martial Art. So I didn't fight for a year and a half. A year and a half of training consistently. I thought "I think about this all the time, I spend my money on this, all my mental and physical energy, I gotta try it once and see if I can handle it". I thought of it as a one off thing at the time.

Q: A lot of parents might not like the idea of their daughter getting punched in the face, did any family react negative to it?
A: Yeah, absolutely. I come from a real conservative Christian family. It has less to do with faith and more to do with the fact that growing up, neither of my parents played sports. I come from a very intellectual academic family. I don't think they were used to that idea, then throw in to that a sport like MMA, and they thought I was crazy. By that time I was twenty-six and it wasn't up to them at that point haha.

Q: Where you nervous or excited or both for that first fight?
A: I was super nervous. I am still nervous for each fight. Even if I one hundred percent feel confident about who I am fighting, I get nervous. The nature of MMA is everyone has a chance to win, which makes it an exciting sport to watch.You never know when the under-dog is gonna come back and get a good shot it or when the more experienced fighter is gonna get caught. I had never been punched before by someone with one hundred percent bad intentions. I was nervous to know what it would feel like and how I would react, but it turned out alright.

Q: Most recently you won a decision against Nadia Nixon, the first win where you didn't finish the opponent, looking back was going the distance good for you that you know you can do it?
A: Yeah it was. She is better than her record, she has fought a lot of tough girls. Anyone that fights her would tell you she is tough and hard to finish. There was a point in the fight where I got close and over committed and she jumped guard and got me tangled up. I have respect for her. It was a good experience to go all three rounds. It was a battle and a very close fight.

Q: Off that fight, what aspect of your game most needs work?
A: I think it is more of an experience thing. I had the stand-up well handled. Although at 105 she is a unique opponent because she is so lanky, her arms are incredibly long and she is super tall for the weight class. For me, it was more sticking to my game plan and having enough experience to adjust on the fly. She was able to get close and jump guard three times. It drove me crazy because I thought she might do that but for whatever reason I could not keep her from getting ahold of me and pulling me down. I was really happy. A lot of people went away probably thinking "Laura isn't as good a grappler as I thought", but I went in with the mentality of not playing the Jiu-Jitsu game with her or anyone at that point. I do it too much in the gym and fall back on that so I went in with the mentality of being more of a wrestler and throw punches on top no matter what she is doing. So I hope people had a sense of my Jiu-Jitsu based on the defense I threw out there. There was one time I went for a submission attempt but it was at the end of the round so a lot of people didn't even catch it. I think just more experience and time in the cage where I can slow down my mind and stick to my game-plan. I felt good. It was a close fight but I felt good. I think she was frustrated because she had three really good submission attempts that seemed close, and I am not saying they weren't, but if Nadia and I went into a grappling match she would be surprised about my level of grappling because I was intentionally not doing it in that fight.

Q: When we were first talking about this interview you were hoping you had a fight lined up, but it didn't happen, is it frustrating wanting that experience and not being able to get a fight?
A: Absolutely! It drives me crazy. This is my third time since my fight with Nadia. I have no problem getting on good cards like Blue Corner or Titan but it is an issue of finding amateur opponents at 105 who are within a certain distance. Nadia can hang at 115 because she is so tall but I cant fight at 115 cause I walk 113-114. So it is hard to find legit 105'rs. Even great promotions like Blue Corner and Titan don't want to pay to bring in a whole team for an amateur, it doesn't make sense financially. There are people I would love to fight but the distance gets in the way. At the moment I have hopefully a fight in October but don't have an opponent yet and RFA in Nebraska has offered me a pro fight. I am hoping once I break into the pro ranks the distance will be less of an issue. There are a lot of pros at 105. Invicta has had two or three fights on their cards.

Q: Does your record also make it hard to find opponents?
A: Yeah I think my record makes a little bit of a difference. I have one loss. I lost my second fight. It was s situation where it was a sketchy situation, my opponent didn't make weight and a lot of other things. Even then, when your record is 4-1 people take you more seriously. There is a limited number of people within a one state circumference. It is getting frustrating for sure.

Q: Are there any fighters you enjoy watching and learning from?
A: Yes! I have always liked Jessica Penne. I am trying to find an excuse to go to California and train with her. I feel like I can identify with her. A little tall for the weight class, similar build, and her strength seems to be her grappling. I love watching her. I love watching any high level women's MMA. I am so excited Invicta is in my back yard and I can go to the fights.

Q: Speaking of Invicta, is that a goal for you?
A: Yeah! In fact, they asked if I was interested in being on this last July card. Between my coaches and myself I wanted a little more experience. I am a little frustrated I gave up the opportunity and I am definitely on their radar. It seems like it is a division they are trying to build. So hopefully they keep me on the radar and I show them I can deliver a home town crowd and be on the level they expect their fighters to be on.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My coaches Brian Davidson and James Krause. I am sure everyone has a lot to say about their coaches, but I am blown away how much time they give to their students. I look up them in so many ways. No Limit Wheels and Century 21 All-Pro are my two main sponsors and they do an awesome job helping me. My training partners, I am so mad Jessica Philippus is moving to Nebraska. I appreciate what you do for women's MMA. There are a couple people really on the pulse and you are one of them. I appreciate what you do for fighters and bodybuilders also.

Elaine DeLuca Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1-2: Alpha Design
Photos 3-5: RX Muscle

Sometimes I go to people for interviews and sometimes, as in the case of Elaine DeLuca, they come to me for interviews. I am glad she did. She was very enjoyable to talk to. Her goal was to compete and in 2011 she got on a figure stage and achieved her goal and looked great in doing so. Most recently she switched to physique, a division that is definitely more suited for her, and once again looked great. So here is a chance to learn more about Elaine DeLuca.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the gym?
A: I had been working out on and off for a good number of years, at least fifteen to twenty. My weight fluctuates up and down and I was fine with it. The gym helped me keep things in balance. I got married and then I got divorced and found my way back to the gym and made it a priority. I was in my mid thirties. I had gotten very close to competing at that time, but life happens and a lot of stuff was going on in my life and I wasn't ready. Here I am seven years later and I competed in my first show last November and here I am, I have done two National shows and am ready to get better.

Q: What about competing appealed to you?
A: I think it is the idea of pushing yourself beyond what you believe your limits are. Being able to attain a goal that not many people can really ever achieve. I hear a lot of talk about it, I have lots of clients who tell me "I wanna compete I wanna compete", and they are not serious. It is a level of discipline, a level of commitment, a level of dedication, and really finding yourself and how hard you can push yourself. Being part of an elite group, whether you win or not, just being on stage and holding your own, for me, means something. I pushed myself as far as I could for something I love. I took something I love to the top level and that is important to me.

Q: Before you went on stage were there any nerves?
A: Of curse there were. I started off in figure, women's physique was not at the regional level in 2011. So I had to wear the shoes, there is something about how they make those shoes, I can wear the highest of heels and run and catch cabs, but something about those shoes. You feel like you are shaking and gonna fall down, the first time on stage I felt everyone would see me shake. I did a bigger show the following week, and you just work out those first show nerves.

Q: Some people say after they compete the first time it becomes an addiction, was that the case for you?
A: I think you already have to have some kind of an addiction to training and the lifestyle to start with in order to get to the point where you can get on stage. I don't think it is something that kicks in after you compete, you have to have it before hand. With that said, I think sometimes people feel a little lost after their first show and don't know what do do with themselves. So they get into this cycle of always competing, always competing, always competing because they don't know what else to do. I do believe in a balance, yes I did a lot of shows over the last eight months, but now I am fine with taking a break till next year to let my body heal. I don't think it is because of an addiction, I think it becomes an integral part of their lives and they feel lost with out it. That isn't just with bodybuilding, it happens in other industries where their job is their life.

Q: Why did you switch to physique?
A: I have a natural ability to put on muscle, I know a lot of people say that, but I really do. Even though at my first figure show I did place very well, my second was not so well. I was told by the judges that I was too hard and too lean. When I first saw women's physique at Jr. USA's and my idol Dana Linn Bailey won that show, I knew in 2012 I would do physique, even before I got on stage in figure. It was kind of like getting ready and getting comfortable with competing. Figure was the only option, I didn't wanna do bodybuilding, I knew I didn't have what it took to do bodybuilding but could get away with figure.

Q: Was it hard to learn the posing for physique?
A: No! It may sound silly but when you are in the gym you are always kind of posing. Of course you have to practice and good posing can disguise some things and show your best features and hide the liabilities. Of course you have to practice but as far as learning them, no, because anyone who spends time in the industry or follows it, you see what you have to do and practice it in the gym.

Q: Probably a dumb question but physique is where you want to stay then?
A: Absolutely. I love physique, it is the best thing ever created in the NPC. I wish more bodybuilding organizations would have this category, it suits a lot of women who are too big for figure but don't want to put on the muscularity of bodybuilders. Look at the Tampa Pro, the number of physique competitors outnumbered figure and bikini. That shows it is a good category and will keep growing. It is more fun than figure or bikini. You get nervous doing a routine but it is a lot of fun. You get to show off your effort which I don't think you get to do as much in figure.

Q: Any idea when you want to compete next?
A: I am planning to compete in 2013 most likely at Jr. Nationals. I do wanna do a pro qualifier since I did qualify at Masters Nationals. Whether I want to warm up with a regional, I haven't decided yet. We will see how I am feeling.

Q: If you were to critique yourself from your last show, where do you feel you need to improve?
A: My quads, easy. For a lot of women that is the hardest part. My upper body looks great, just gotta work on the conditioning in my legs. I always do what the judges have said. Going big, big numbers, big squats, and when it is time to cut it down I am confident I will look how they want me to look.

Q: What impresses me is your back....
A: Thank you.

Q: What are some exercises you like to do for back?
A: My philosophy is go big, big numbers, as many reps as you can. That is how you get size. I think genetics plays a part. My back and shoulders are my strongest point, I don't do anything different than other people as far as competitors, lat pull-downs, pull-ups, heavy barbell rows, that is just how I put it on. I don't think my back training is any different.

Q: In the gym do you get a lot of attention or stares from people?
A: For the most part where I work out, since I am a trainer there, people know me. At my gym we have a table in the front of the people who represent the gym and compete. So the regulars at the gym, they know, and everyone is sued to it. Everyone knows me so it is less of an issue. It becomes more of an issue outside of the gym, I get the stares like I am an alien. It comes with the territory, you just accept it. The only opinion that matters is yours, so I don't care what others think. haters are gonna hate and you just have to deal with it.

Q: In public do you dress to show it off or cover up and avoid attention?
A: Definitely show it off, that is an easy question haha. I work really hard. It is more than showing off. I am proud of course, but want to get more women in the weight room. Too many women are brain washed by publications that show these models picking up three pound dumbbells and say that is how you are gonna get in shape, and that is a load of crap. Get off the treadmill and get in the weight room and then you will look good.

Q: I think I know the answer based on an earlier question, but if you could spend a day training with any person, who would you pick?
A: It is a toss-up. I love Dana Linn, I met her at Team Universe, her an her husband, and they are really great people. She is an inspiration to many. It is a little disconcerting to me how she has placed at the pro shows. I would love to train with Juliana Malacarne, she won the N.Y. Pro. She has a physique I aspire too and has awesome legs. But if I had to pick, it is Dana Linn hands down.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: The trainer at my gym, Noah Levinson. My prep coach WNBF Pro Eric Goldfarb, my suit designer and former IFBB Pro Caron Hospedales. My posing coach and choreographer IFBB Pro Marie Allegro.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Jordan McDonald Interview

Photo Credits:
Photos 1,4 and 5: Joe Pic Photography

On September 2nd Jordan McDonald will make her second attempt at the Tuff-n-Uff 110LB title when she faces Jinh Yu. McDonald is coming off a loss by very close decision in her last fight against Paulina Granados, a fight where she says she just wasn't herself. In fact, it is her second loss in a row, and while she says she has days where some doubt may creep in, she still knows she has tremendous potential and a bright future in the sport. Here are Jordan's thoughts on the fight and other things.

Q: You are coming off a close decision loss to Paulina Granados, did you feel you did enough to win?
A: No, I don't. I knew when they were going to call out the decision what I thought it was going to be. I think if I fought the way I know and can and have before and usually do, I think I would have won the fight easily. I had one of those off nights where I would go back to my corner and they would say "what are you doing". It was one of those nights where I wasn't dialed in and didn't perform. I was really frustrated with my performance because of that. Yes it was close, but no I didn't do enough to win, but I easily could have if I fought like me.

Q: Outside of it being "one of those nights", is there anything you feel you could have done and gotten the win?
A: I think if I would have not stuffed my punches and allowed her to clinch up with me and not play the clinch game. In some of her comments she alluded to maybe I was clinching with her, but that is not what I wanted to happen. I kept stuffing my punches and she would clinch up with me and not let go. I should have kept my distance and done my thing like I have done a million times before. Sometimes it just happens where I don't think any of use can explain it but we don't show up. I think that is what happened that night.

Q: It was your second loss in a row after starting 4-1, is it hard at that point to fight off any self doubt?
A: I am not gonna lie. Fighting is a very emotional sport. I have days where I feel I can beat the best and I have days where I wonder if I am cut out to be a fighter. I think that is normal. I just have to be reasonable and not think out of emotion. When I do that, I know I am a good fighter and good enough to be considered one of the top amateurs and that my pro career is very promising. Yes, it is difficult to deal with the every day mental pressures of being a fighter and have two losses in a row. Ninety percent of the game is mental and I have put myself through a test and feel strong and still believe in myself.

Q: You are fighting Jinh Yu coming up, what do you know about her?
A: I know next to nothing about her. There is one not even entire round of one of her fights on video. I haven't found any other video of her. I found a couple written interviews, but almost nothing. When they first set the fight up I was told she is 1-1 and was later told she was 3-1. For a couple weeks I didn't know who her opponents were because none of the records on-line are correct. I am pretty sure she is a south-paw, pretty sure she has a Muay-Thai background because she wore Muay-Thai shorts in a picture haha. That's o.k. with me, it allows me to focus on myself and she cant get into my head because I know nothing about her.Just focus on south-paw strategy and that's it.

Q: What would the title mean to you?
A: It is something I have been chasing since I moved here. I sacrificed a lot to come out here. To have something to show for it, especially since I have always coveted the Tuff-N-Uff title belt because I consider them one of the top amateur promotions in the country if not the number one. So to have a belt in my weight class on the tail end of my amateur career would make the sacrifices worth it. It would symbolize a lot and make it easier to rationalize all of it.

Q: You fought for the title once before against Liz McCarthy, from that fight to this fight how are you better?
A: I have pieced my game together much more. I have smoothed a lot of my rough edges. Despite the two losses my confidence has grown. I was a home town hero in South Carolina and didn't have a lot of people my size around me to challenge me. here I have gone toe to toe with the best and held my own. I have more confidence, a more synergistic game and have smoothed my rough edges.

Q: You know why I like to interview you? Each time you use a word no one has used before, no one has used synergistic.
A: Ha ha

Q: So not knowing much about her, I assume you just focus on what you can do and not worry about what she can do?
A: Absolutely! It is good to know what you might see from an opponent and have counters planned. But you also run the risk of letting them get in your head and respect them too much. I said this in another interview, of course I want to win, but instead of obsessing about the win, all I want this fight is to perform to my abilities. I am taking a lot of the pressure off me in one area and putting it in a more reasonable area. If I win, if I don't win, I will be ecstatic if I do what I can do because I didn't do that last time. Just focusing on what I can do sets me up very well.

Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: My prediction is, if I do not overwhelm her in the first round, I hope to finish it in the second. I like that none of my wins went the distance. I like to stop my opponents. That is always a goal in that back of my mind.

Q: Paulina has said she deserves this title shot. In an interview with MMA Rising you said you are not surprised she said that, why were you not surprised?
A: I do not know her but from what people have told me she said, she has been extremely cocky and mouthy. I have stayed pretty ignorant of it all. I saw her post fight interview after our fight and I feel there was a little, I don't know if disrespectful is the right word, but I was put off by it. She barely won that fight and barely won against a sub-par me. I feel that Tuff-N-Uff is aware of that. She was given the opportunity to fight me for the title, she was offered the fight and she declined. If she had run through me, maybe she would have more ground to stand on, but she didn't. So that's that. We'll get to fight again, there is not enough of us. I will make sure for that fight I show up and we will see how it works out.

Q: You mentioned the pro career, have you set a time-table on that?
A: I would love to go pro on Invicta's February card as long as I don't get injuries and this fight goes well and my training goes well. I have not had serious talks with anyone but that is of today what I would like. I am not looking past this fight, but am looking towards the future. I wanna go pro and would love to fight for Invicta.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: Fight Chix, The Gun Store, Fight Dentist, Babes of MMA, Pureform Supplements and Valley Spine Chiropractic.

Danny-J Interview

Photo Credits:
Photo 1: J3 Photo
Photo 2: Picture Groove
Photo 3: Muscular Development
Photo 4: Satio Photography
Photo 5: RX Muscle
Photo 6: Cock Diesel Photo

Let me take you back to 2009, late 2009. I had just started training. I was about three hundred pounds. I was desperate to lose the weight and maybe get on stage one day. I was scrolling down my facebook wall and saw this girl named Danny-J posting. I offered to help her with some contest and I offered to help. I knew she was involved in fitness but that is all I knew. We exchanged some messages and eventually some text messages and when I needed help, she helped me. Finally at the 2010 Arnold's I got to meet her. I knew my progress wasn't what I wanted and knew then and there that I wanted to hire her as my trainer. So fast forward exactly one year later and at the Arnold's the following year after doing a "practice prep", I weighed one hundred and seventy-five pounds. So I lost a hundred and twenty-five pounds in one year with her. Now I am a surgery away from competing. This is not about me bragging about what I have done. In fact, it is me bragging about Danny. This is what Danny does for people, she helps them reach their fitness goals, and as she did with me, she helps them mentally to. By that I mean, she helps them believe in themselves, be proud of themselves. But for those who only know Danny on a fitness level, they are missing out on the best part of her. The giving and caring part. She truly cares about people and goes out of her way to help them. Recently Danny did a video that many have seen. She discussed the metabolic damage she dealt with and the embarrassment she felt and then the anger she felt. Since then I have heard from so many who say that they also had those issues but were scared or embarrassed to talk about it. Danny helped them to be able to. She also is behind the Sweaty Betties, something that has become very popular. I could go on and on, about her, but instead, just read this interview I did with my trainer and my role model, Danny-J.

Q: Can you talk about what initially got you interested in fitness?
A: I guess when I was younger I did gymnastics and was always interested in exercise. I did stupid stuff when I was thirteen we had a house with stairs, and I was so excited cause I would just run up and down the stairs and call it my exercise. I would do like fifty sets of it. I was always into it, but what got me into the whole industry is I was an acrobat at Sea World and we were training eight hours a day, really intense stuff, and I would go to the gym afterwords. People would say "you should compete" or ask if I did compete. I had no idea what they were talking about. I was like "competing in what?", so I started looking into it. I found Oxygen Magazine and looked at the pictures and said "I don't look like that, there is no way". I got intrigued with the idea enough that it stuck in my head a couple years. In 2006 I decided to go ahead and do it. I started looking for coaches and heard Monica Brant was working with Kim Oddo but he lived in California. I found out he did on-line training so I ended up with him and that is how I got started.

Q: What got you interested in training other people?
A: Around the same time, after Sea World I got really ill. I was hospitalized and paralyzed and couldn't walk for a while. I didn't have insurance and couldn't afford physical therapy, so I started going to the gym. I basically put myself through therapy, just reading and learning how to make myself walk again and make my legs strong again. I was spending four hours a day at the gym doing this therapy stuff, plus trying to get out since I was in bed for months, plus I was enjoying it. I couldn't work still because I dint have energy, but was spending so much time in the gym that maybe I should get certified and do it as a job.

Q: How did you come up with No Excuses?
A: No Excuses came from the same thing. From when I couldn't walk. It changed things in my mind. I was told I may not be able to walk again or walk normal again. I felt really sorry for myself for awhile and cry about it. Two months ago I was doing flips and acrobatics and now I cant even walk. I went to the gym and saw a guy with a cane just doing his thing, and I saw more people with disabilities and they weren't complaining and were doing difficult things. I found people with worse injuries than me and they weren't making excuses, they were just doing. That is when I snapped and said "I don't care if I cant walk, this is not an excuses, I will figure out what I can do". No matter what you are dealt or what kind of disability you have, it doesn't have to be your excuse. I had a change in my thinking and turned it all around.

Q: Do you miss anything about competing?
A: Yes and no. I miss the feeling of being really lean and strong and powerful. You get lots of comments and attention. But I don't miss stressing about how to get the cardio in or how to get things done. I don't miss missing out on activities, you sacrifice as a competitor. You cant always go to every party and stay out late or BBQ cause you cant eat. I didn't mind that but it is more the way others react to you, it gets under your skin. You can show up and it is your choice, you can say "I am gonna eat this", but man, there is pressure, people give you a hard time, almost like you are an outsider. I never had a problem with that but now with a relaxed approach, I missed out on some fun things. It isn't about food, it is about the mindset of being allowed to relax. If I did compete again I would have a different mindset, not about restriction, I can still have fun and enjoy people and not be so intense and strict.

Q: A lot of trainers post pictures of their competitor clients and their progress, and while you do help competitors, it seems your biggest pride is just the people who lost a lot of weight, is that the bigger thrill for you?
A: Absolutely! Of all my clients, the ones I am most proud of are the ones who made a lifestyle change. It really is a mental change, where they thought they could never do something, fit into a size of pants or could never be a confident person. They change and gain confidence. A couple clients I trained in person I remember, the first few weeks I put them in front of a mirror to do lateral raises or something and they wont look at themselves, a month alter they are flexing in the mirror and showing off. It is so cool to see how proud they are of their bodies and how much they can do or text me to tell me what they did, where a year ago they didn't feel it was possible. Competition clients are great to, but I feel there are so many prep coaches out there. There is a certain type of person who will compete and no matter what coach they use, they will succeed. They have the mentality that they can do it and it is great and inspiring to see someone set a goal and do it. It is way more inspirational to see someone transform from lack of self esteem to amazing sense of the person they have always been and are starting to realize it.

Q: You recently did a video talking about your metabolic issues, what do you feel caused it?
A: Well, it is funny, when I first started having the issues I was looking to point the finger at anything. I was on birth control and a lot of things happened at the same time. Knowing what I know now I feel it was caused by two things. My competition diet which I was on for far too long. It would have been o.k. for six weeks, which was my original goal, to do a show in six weeks and be done. I got greedy and wanted to do another show and another one. Six weeks turned into seven or eight months. My coach never changed my diet, and honestly I put it on myself because I should have and do know better, but I thought I could handle it. Competition is suffering and you are supposed to suffer, so I was suffering and doing it for the greater good kind of thing. The other part of it was my work schedule. I was working seven days a week and two nights where I was up for twenty-fours straight, so I got very little sleep. That on top of my food and being up just really screwed me up real bad and real quickly.

Q: When you didn't know what was wrong, how frustrated were you?
A: Oh my gosh! I would cry all the time. Because it was hard for me to train my clients. I wanted to be happy for them but inside I wanted to scream. I knew what I was doing, eating super clean and had just done an hour of cardio and was going to do an hour later. I was doing that and gaining weight. I was like "it's not fair, these people can lose weight because they quit drinking soda, and I have to do four hours of cardio and eat nothing but chicken and asparagus, and I gain weight if I look at something different". I was upset with the unfairness of it all and not understanding why it was happening. On paper everything looked fine, and I would go to the doctor and he asked "are you exercising?", "yeah I'm exercising", "well what's your diet like", "I can tell you my diet for the last year and a half, not even a cheat meal in it". It made no sense on paper or in my mind why I would eat like this and gain weight and get so tired. I would get on the stair-mill, normally I can do level ten with no problem, and on level five I had to keep stopping to catch my breath. I was like "what is wrong with me? Am I out of shape?" It was confusing. It didn't make sense.

Q: Why did you make the video?
A: I never planned on talking about it. It was embarrassing to me, it was embarrassing to train clients, I wanted to stop because they saw me getting bigger. I started Sweaty Betties and we were gonna do videos and I was embarrassed to be on video. I didn't wanna talk about it because I didn't know the answers. I realized I did it to myself but didn't know how to fix it. I started going to a hypno therapist. He taught me some techniques to work with the anxiety and feelings. I still had in my head that anything I ate I would gain weight. I learned these techniques in two days. I got an email from a girl who used to train with the guy who did my last diet and she said how she gained twelve pounds in a couple days and all these things were happening to here. I got pissed off, it cant be happening to more people. I put on the recorder and recorded a couple times cause the first time I just cried and couldn't make out what I was saying. I got to the point where the therapy helped with the anxiety and it turned to anger and I had to say something. I didn't expect the response it got. I got so many emails and comments and the response was crazy. I am glad I did it because I got many messages saying they were glad I did the video because it was happening to them. IFBB pros messaged me privately saying "this has happened to me, I cant talk because I am a pro". I am tired of it being a secret.

Q: Just from people who know you are my trainer I have had so many people message me about it so you have to get so many more. Are you surprised how many people are dealing with this?
A: I am not surprised. I am at the point where I see people post about their meals or being on round two of cardio and I see what they are eating and I cringe. Even if their trainers aren't telling them to do it, they do it on their own like it is extra credit. I just go "yep, they will be down this path". It may not happen with the first show, I competed three years and was fine. Changing my diet was a big thing. Prior to the last one I ate more carbs and was more balanced. The way I see a lot of trainers do competition diets, they pull out all carbs, which might be fine for the day or two before the show, but they do it ten weeks out or bump cardio to two hours ten weeks out, three months out you shouldn't be that high. I am more surprised it isn't talked about more. Coaches need to educate themselves more and admit where they have been wrong so more women and men are not in this boat.

Q: When I see a friend write that stuff on facebook it is hard to bite my tongue, do you have that problem?
A: Yes haha. I don't like to step on a trainers toes. However, once in awhile, I may not come at them and say they will get hurt, but I want them to be careful and leave it at that, or post a link to my video. But most of the time I keep my mouth shut and hope they see my stuff. If someone had come out when I was doing it, I don't know if I would have changed. Some people are stubborn and think it wont happen to them. It is hard to say if I had known, I hope I would have stopped, but I was consumed with being a pro and wasn't questioning the methods. I didn't do drugs or anything but the diet and extra cardio was enough damage.

Q: What are your goals with Sweaty Betties?
A: I am working on this now and am excited, the motto is Inspire, Educate, Motivate and don't be a Bitch. I wanna inspire people to work out, people like how you started, interested but fearful of the muscle heads who intimidate you. Not just for the athletes, anyone can go to a gym. I wanna educate people because there is so much out there that is wrong. I did a video the other day about these weight loss products that are just crap. They claim they have these special properties and they don't. The don't be a bitch part was meant to be funny, but to say to just do it. There are to many trainers who act like they have the secret to abs or losing weight, but there is no secrets. There are tips and principles of nutrition, but no secrets. There is not just one way. I see people who do Paleo and eat a lot of fats and are ripped and they eat lots of fruit. There are competitors who say you cant have fruit and get lean, but I see people who eat fruit who get lean. Find what works for you, follow the principles of nutrition, don't eat a lot of processed shit. Twinkies are not on anyones healthy diet but are fine in moderation. I would like to make it accessible for people. I made a twelve week program that anyone can download for free, it is a progressive program, I walk you through everything. After the twelve weeks I will have a membership program. My online clients pay quite a bit of money, a hundred or two hundred a month, but not everyone can afford that, and my in person clients pay even more than that to work out with me. My membership program, I will write a monthly program they can take to the gym, for like ten or twelve dollars a month. They get the expertise and take the program to the gym and do it affordably. It isn't personalized but it is something that will work and be affordable. That is my goal for the next six months.

Q: Myself and others give you so much credit for reaching their goals, when that happens, how does that make you feel?
A: It makes me feel really good. But I always wanna give the client the credit. I have found a gift and am able to show people who they really are. I think it is a gift. I am grateful for being given credit but they do the work, hey get the credit. The biggest thing is I am thankful they trust me because if they follow the plan they will get where they need to go. I am grateful they let me show them what they can do.

Q: O.K., this is an important question, why the hell do you like burpees?
A: Haha, I don't like them but like making my clients do them haha. They are so effective, you feel them everywhere. You don't need equipment or anything to do them. They totally suck but I like to have people do them. It is fun to hear the whining that comes along with it haha.

Q: If you could spend a day training with anyone, who would it be?
A: Someone you wouldn't expect, I am obsessed with Michael Phelps right now. I would wanna see what he does besides swimming. He has to go to the gym and lift and other things. He is gangly and skinny and I wanna know if he is strong or not. He is kinda goofy so would be fun to hang out with.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: All of the fans on my facebook page and have reached out to me. Recently people have emailed me to say thanks for the twelve week program. I am not looking for thanks, I did it because I wanted to, but it was a lot of work and I spent a week in tears figuring out how to get it on a site so I didn't have to email it. To get a few thanks was so awesome. I do it for you guys. All my clients are a huge part of my life. Thanks for them being in my life, they have become my friends and am grateful for that. My husband for supporting everything that has happened and letting me follow my dream.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

IFBB Pro Sherri Gray Interview

Photo Credits:
Photo 1: Jeff Binns
Photo 2: Gene X Hwang
Photos 3-5: RX Muscle

Everyone has their list or there couple of people who they feel will for sure be a a pro one day. I have my own list and Sherri Gray has always been at the top of that list. She is no longer on that list as at Masters Nationals this year, Sherri brought her best package ever, a physique that was improved and much harder and ripped than ever before and won her IFBB Pro card. Sherri has come close on a few occasions and is someone you cant help but root for. She will make her pro debut some time in 2013 and don't be surprised to see her doing very well when she takes that stage.

Q: As everyone knows by now, you won your pro card at Masters Nationals, when you realized you won, what went through your head?
A: I was very excited. It was a surreal feeling. I have been waiting for it to happen and it never did. Everything happens so quick on stage, it doesn't hit you till later. I didn't have the full feeling till later that night and I was like "hey, I actually did win that". Everything is so quick that it doesn't set it.

Q: Leading up to the show did you feel it was a realistic possibility that you could get it this time?
A: I did, I felt good about the way everything was coming together. I knew I was bringing a good package, I just hoped it was what they were looking for. I got some feedback from them last year and knew what I needed to work on, and that is what I did off-season. Coming to this one, I knew I was there and just had to hope it was what they were looking for and fortunately it was.

Q: After pre-judge everyone was saying it was yours, did you feel that way?
A: I thought I had won my class, but I never like to say I am gonna win it. It's not my call, you never know what the judges are thinking. I did feel good but I don't like to have that much confidence when it isn't totally in my hands.

Q: You have been close before, does it get frustrating being that close?
A: It does to a degree but it just pushes me harder to work and make off-season improvements. To bring a different package so they notice the improvements and that you are working towards that. I don't get discouraged. It is a personal goal and you have to keep going for it and hopefully they recognize it and award you with a pro card.

Q: So many people have said you would eventually get it or that you deserve it, when you don't win, does so many people saying that mean anything to you or give you satisfaction?
A: It does! To know that I have that support behind me and they notice how hard I work, it makes you feel good and motivates you to keep pushing towards that.

Q: At last years Masters you took third, from then till this one, how were you better?
A: I brought my legs in tighter. I was gonna come in ripped this time. Last year we came in a little softer because that seemed to be what they were rewarding, but then they were going for a little more cut. This show I was coming in as hard as I could and made sure my legs were tight. I think I brought my best package yet and they rewarded me.

Q: Your conditioning was definitely the best it has been, did you do anything differently in terms of diet?
A: Mike changed my diet a little. He brought me down quicker and had me do different kinds of cardio, plyos, running the stairs, stepmills, not the typical stepmill routine. It helped with my legs tremendously. Even though I may have hated every minute of it, it all paid off in the end haha.

Q: Why was the pro card so important to you?
A: It was a personal goal. You get to a certain level at the amateur level and feel like you are at the top and need something else to push you to make improvements. I was ready to take the next step and make another journey. I am anxious to go to the pro level and see where I stand. You get to the top of the amateur level and start back at the bottom of the pro level. I am looking towards 2013 to see how it goes.

Q: Does having the word "pro" attached to your name carry any more responsibility as far as how you portray yourself?
A: Not at all, I'm still just me. It didn't change me or my personality. I am the same person,s till an athlete. Just competing on a different level at this point. I haven't been to any hows since I turn pro, so it may change when I go to a few, but I will always be me and never think I am better than anyone else. I am proud of myself and everyone else.

Q: Have you given any thought of when you want to make the pro debut?
A: It will be in 2013, I am not sure what show, I don't think the new schedule is out. Once I look at that and talk to Mike and see where he thinks I stand, we will see. But definitely next year.

Q: Where do you need to improve to be on a pro stage?
A: I know I will never be the biggest on stage, but I have a chance to be the best conditioned. So, I am thinking that will be on my side. I am always trying to make improvements, trying to get my back thicker and a little wider. If I can just bring my conditioning like at Masters, I think I will do well. I don't set my standards too high, it will be my pro debut, I just don't want to place last haha.

Q: You are always so good at picking a suit color that fits you, is that something you put a lot of thought into?
A: I do, I pick colors I like and will go well with my hair color and tan. The colors the last two years were my favorite and I always go back to a blue of some sort. I pick whats right for me.

Q: People who don't follow it as closely may not realize it but something like that is important isn't it?
A: Oh yeah! It is not as particular in bodybuilding as it is in figure or bikini, but you still want to look nice and look pretty. To present your physique as best you can, and overall appearance is part of that. You want to stand out and pick something that looks good on you.

Q: Is there anyone you look forward to competing with as a pro?
A: There are a lot of girls I have been on stage with the past few years that have turned pro. I am looking forward to being back with them, not just on a competitive level, but as friends. It will be different because we may have been in different weight divisions, but as a pro there is no weight division. It will be fun to be there with some of the more seasoned pros but also the news ones. No one in particular, just ones I have watched the past few years and see how I stand up against them.

Q: When you started doing figure, if someone told you you would become a pro bodybuilder, would you have believed it?
A: No, because originally I thought I would do one show and be done with it. But I fell in love with it, loved the way I had changed myself and felt better. I never even thought of changing to bodybuilding but I love it. It is a challenge and I love how I train. It took six years but I am excited about where I am at now.

Q: You achieved this goal, so is there a new personal goal?
A: To do well on the pro level. I would like to next year to place top ten in a pro show and possibly get an invite to the Arnold's, and then go on from there.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My family, my husband, my children. I could not do this without their support. They give me time to do what I need to do and go to the gym. I always put them first, make sure I am at their events, but they always know mom needs to do what she needs to do. Mike Davies and Fitness Factory, I couldn't have done it without them. Champions Fitness Network, Champion Nutrition, and Tamee Marie Suits, she has made my suits the last two years and I hope to get that sponsorship next year. None of us could be here without family, friends and the fans who support us through emails and facebook pages. It keeps us inspired as athletes.