Interview with Physique Competitor & Model Christina Toon
Christina Toon is a natural for the fitness industry—bright, approachable, dedicated, inspiring and informative comprise just a handful of her qualities—there isn’t a moment in getting to know her where you don’t believe she absolutely loves fitness. It’s at the center of her being, flowing from every pore and bursting like a geyser when conversation comes up.
Case in point, when you contact a girl who works for a law firm in the middle of the week for an interview and she answers a bunch of questions with the wit and charm of a polished storyteller by the very next day, you know she means it when she tells you she loves talking about fitness! She’s a reporter’s dream.
Interviewing Christina for this piece, even her words are full of energy, leaping from the page in a flood of bold letters and exclamation points. Almost every thought and insight is cheerfully punctuated by her passion and commitment to this lifestyle and sport. It was uncanny learning she also enjoys playing piano, because her enthusiasm is as irresistible as great music.
The 29-year-old grew up in Des Moines, Iowa where she played tennis and rode horseback competitively in her early years. Inspired by her parents, she learned to appreciate an athletic look and was already working with a personal trainer as a young teen. She moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2005, and a few years later discovered figure.
Last year, Christina crossed over to physique. The powerful 5-foot-5, 145-pound brunette is excited to watch the new division grow and hopes to keep improving and reach pro status. Meanwhile, the young starlet is having a blast with a recent barrage of photoshoots, channeling her inner fitness cover girl with a creative combination of sexy poses that showcase her playful spirit in front of the camera.
Like I said, she’s a natural.
Dean: Were you always active and fit growing up? What kind of activities or sports were you involved in when you were younger?
Christina: “Actually…yes!! I was doing Barbie fitness videos and trying to keep up with my mom’s Jane Fonda since I was in the single digits!! Oh yes and MTV’s The Grind! My parents encouraged us to always play a sport and a musical instrument while growing up. I did ballet, competitive horseback riding and competitive tennis. As for the musical instrument? Piano. I was also always into fine arts.”
Dean: When did you first begin working out with weights and thinking about fitness as a lifestyle?
Christina: “My mother hired my first personal trainer when I was 14 playing tennis in the Missouri Valley. I had always admired a muscular build, but we were also going for strength and conditioning! Fitness was a part of my household growing up. We had a small gym so my mother could wake up at 5am every morning and get her lift & run in before the kids would get up for breakfast. She is 62 and STILL has a similar routine.”
Dean: How did the changes feel when you started developing more strength and muscle?
Christina: “It definitely helped my self esteem soar! There is nothing like feeling physically fit for good mental health! My energy surely increased as well and it immediately became a habit.”
Dean: What motivated you to try competing in figure and when did you start? Did you have a role model in the industry that inspired you?
Christina: “I first discovered the competition industry by individuals approaching me in the gym after I started focusing on nutrition more and the changes became apparent. I was asked if I was a competitor and if not, that I should most definitely try. I picked up an Oxygen Magazine shortly thereafter in an airport and was definitely motivated by the likes of Jamie Eason, Francisca Dennis and Jennifer Nicole Lee. I cherish Ava Cowan…what a physique! I competed in two figure shows in 2010 and changed to Women’s Physique after watching my body reach its fullest potential. I hold quite a bit of muscle and Physique seemed perfect!”
Dean: Could you share some of your favorite contest experiences or best placings?
Christina: “I loved both national shows I competed in, namely Vegas USAs and South Beach Nationals this year. Vegas was amazing because I finally developed a confident stage presence! I would not have changed that for the world. An old figure pro who did my makeup and hair told me before going on stage: ‘You are not here for YOU…you are here for the audience…to motivate women. You are here for those women. Once you realize that, the fear is gone.’ Let me say it worked, and I have passed that very message along to fellow competitors. I treat the competition stage like the theater stage by developing a persona.
“Also, I love love LOVE doing photoshoots at these shows!! Since my very first show in June 2010, I have had in excess of 20 photoshoots, and I honestly can thank the contest world and the amazing photographers for the exposure.”
Dean: What changes to your physique have made you most proud so far and what areas are you trying to improve?
Christina: “I can finally say I am proud of my legs!! Woo-hoo!! They have come so, so far. My coach and I had to put mass on my upper body to produce symmetry with my lower half; at the same time, we had to make sure I didn’t get them too shredded or too big! We found a happy medium with a mix of heavy and light weights and virtually no rest between sets! I am always trying to improve my legs, specifically the glute/hami tie-in. I hold a lot of mass in my quads too, and have finally developed defined lines.”
Dean: What kind of reaction have you gotten from family and friends on your healthy look and habits? Have you inspired anyone you know to begin working out?
Christina: “My family and friends are SO supportive! Of course, not everyone understands why we do what we do (um, because it feels good!), so I have had a few of those conversations as well. But all in all, I have been encouraged and told I have inspired people to live healthier. Mission accomplished!
“A friend from high school back in Iowa contacted me from the Army on FB and asked for some tips. He described what he had access to on the base, weightlifting and food-wise, and we developed a program together. I could not have been more ecstatic to hear he had lost 15 pounds and could see the abs he was dying to see!! That made me feel amazing.”
Dean: Could you share a memory when you surprised someone with your physique or strength? What sort of comments did you get?
Christina: “One of my favorite memories is from a leg workout with my coach where we invited a good friend of mine (and major, major crush). My coach and I both knew the type of leg workout we were in for, but not quite certain if this man knew. In any event, he dropped out at the second run through of the giant set, and watched me complete the training. He couldn’t stop boasting about my conditioning and how I conquered the workout. He was proud, not embarrassed. Loved that. He proceeded to brag and post about it on facebook and even came back for more the next day.”
Dean: What next for you? Any upcoming shows you plan to compete in or another athletic workshop lined up?
Christina: “I have no specific competition plans at this time, though am mindful of the upcoming Physique competitions. I am pursuing becoming a spokesperson for fitness. Right now, I am part of Champion Nutrition USA’s contest for their 2012 spokesperson to travel to shows and promote their amazing products.
“My older brother and I are going to try out for ‘Amazing Race,’ and I continue to work for herbiceps.com and femflex.com. I have a big photoshoot coming up with herbiceps in Vegas soon. I also continue to train with my coach and maintain and improve the physique we have worked so hard for.”
Dean: Do you have any thoughts on the new physique division?
Christina: “Yes!! Amazing! And a must! We needed another category for more muscle than figure and less than bodybuilding…tough to judge, however!! It has been an interesting year watching the Pro stage develop. I loved competing in Physique. It is definitely for me. I enjoy the routines and personality it brings. Also, I just love that style of muscle!”
Dean: What would you say are your biggest goals with working out and being involved in the fitness industry?
Christina: “To become a Pro in Women’s Physique, and ultimately to have reality shows, websites, workshops, etc. To potentially be one of the most well known names & faces in fitness. Go Big!! I will continue to enjoy this as a lifestyle, there is nothing temporary here.”
Dean: Besides working out, what are some of the other ways you stay active? Do you have any favorite hobbies?
Christina: “I love to sit and talk with friends, go dancing, listen to music, play piano and tennis! Definitely going rollerskating soon! Childhood hobby that never loses the thrill. Also love to read and write (both legally and creatively).”
Dean: Is there anything else we can help you promote (website, sponsors, personal training business, etc) or any special shout-outs you’d like to give?
Christina: “Well, none of this would be possible without my career at Crowe and Dunlevy law firm. We are a large defense firm specializing in a wide variety of litigation. I also give great gratitude to my coach for life, Vince Hess and Team ConVINCED!! Coaching is not just about the food and training, it’s about the support! And I get that from Vince 24 hours a day. Further, I have never trained so hard in my life. Our conditioning is to die for. Also, I would love voting support for Champion Nutrition USA’s 2012 spokesperson contest!!
“What a nice opportunity to discuss fitness! Thank you so much!”
Note: To vote for Christina, log on to facebook and follow this link to her fan page. Find the picture of her wearing a pink sports bra and curling dumbells (it’s currently on her wall). Click on the picture and “like” it to cast your vote.