Interview with Figure Competitor Nell Bautista
Staying active has always been part of Nell Bautista’s lifestyle. She played on the volleyball team in school, but sports were never a fixture in her life the way the gym was.
She was introduced to fitness growing up in the Philippines, where her cousin was a professional bodybuilder. Nell started working out, too, at age 16 but found herself a little discouraged when she didn’t see significant results. They came later along with a new passion: figure competitions.
After moving to Southern California—not a bad place to be if you’re into this health thing—Nell went to her first show in 2007 and it left a lasting impression. She saw the girls showing off their hard work on stage and was immediately inspired by the beauty of it all. She wanted to try it for herself.
I caught up with the 5-foot-4, 130-pound brunette to see what her contest calendar for the new season looks like and what else is going on in her life. Right now, the what elses have taken over. Some lucky fiancé is in the picture and the only dates circled are probably involving things like bridal showers and gift registries. It’s an exciting and happy time.
But fitness remains an integral part of her life and as long as Nell is still chasing that elusive first national qualification—and trainers like pro Meriza DeGuzman are in her corner—you can bet another figure show won’t be far off.
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Dean: Were you always active and fit growing up? What kind of activities or sports were you involved in when you were younger?
Nell: “I was very active and fit growing up. With my cousin being a professional bodybuilder in the Philippines I was introduced into the world of fitness. At a young age I was already weight training and was on the volleyball team.”
Dean: When did you first begin working out with weights and thinking about fitness as a lifestyle?
Nell: “I started working out with weights when I was 16 years old but then took a break since I wasn’t seeing any significant changes. But I know staying active has always been my lifestyle.”
Dean: How did the changes feel when you started developing more strength and muscle?
Nell: “After taking a very long break, I decided to start lifting again at a later age and started to see major changes. I felt very empowered by it and proud of my hard work. The gym was my escape when I was having a rough time in my life.”
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?
Nell: “I started competing in figure back in 2007 when my now ex-husband took me to a show. I saw the girls showing off their hard work and was very impressed and inspired by their beauty. Looking at fitness magazines helped me get very motivated to achieve my fitness goals.”
Dean: What changes to your physique have made you most proud so far and what areas are you trying to improve?
Nell: “I was most proud of how lean and how fast I’ve developed muscle when I started prepping with the help of IFBB Pro Meriza de Guzman-Ciccone and her husband Pete. We focused on my legs and they became my strongest body part. Of course, overall symmetry always had room for improvement.”
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?
Nell: “My family has been very supportive throughout the prep process. And my friends couldn’t believe how much my body changed with a strict diet and a lot of time spent at the gym. I’ve had a few friends that changed their lifestyle since they’ve seen the improvements I’ve made. They were all very proud of me as well.”
Dean: Could you talk a little about your competition history, best placings and favorite memories?
Nell: “Luckily I’ve placed at all of the shows I’ve done and have had my share of 1st place Class C wins, Masters short over 35, and Masters overall. One show that’s very unforgettable was the 2008 Excalibur where I placed 2nd in my class out of 22 girls. I wasn’t a US citizen back then so I couldn’t step on the national stage so now that I am, I’m looking forward to doing that in the future. Promoter Jon Lindsay has always been very supportive of the shows that I’ve done and has always taken care of his athletes pretty well. Most of all, I treasure all the friendships that I’ve made in the fitness industry…that I couldn’t forget the most.”
Dean: What’s next for you? Any upcoming shows you plan to compete in?
Nell: “Not quite sure what’s next for me since my life took a different turn when I met my future husband who’s moving here from England pretty soon. He’s a big fan of the sport and has always been supportive of me also. Would love for him to see me compete in person, qualify, and finally step on that national stage. Everything’s up in the air right now.”
Dean: Do you have any thoughts on the new physique division?
Nell: “I think the physique division is a great addition to the shows. It’s midway between figure and bodybuilding, and the girls still maintain their feminine look. I’m all for it!”
Dean: What would you say are your biggest goals with working out and being involved in the fitness industry?
Nell: “My biggest goals with working out would still be the changes that it continues to make to my physique. It’s always motivating to see changes along with switching up the diet. Being in the fitness industry allows me to meet people that inspire me throughout my journey along with gaining endless knowledge with regards to health and fitness, along with the sport of bodybuilding.”
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?
Nell: “I’m currently promoting the business I have with my ex-husband which would be Posing Suit By Mishko. We make posing suits, figure suits, and bikini for competitors. We now offer tanning, make-up, and also accessories like shoes, jewelry, etc. We make it very affordable for those who want to compete. I’m also one of the admins of Facebook’s Men of Fitness page where we feature the hardworking men of fitness. I would like to give my utmost thanks to Pete and Meriza Ciccone who’ve helped me through every show I’ve done. Of course my family, my fiancé Dave, daughter Caitlin, including my ex husband Michael who’s been behind me all the way.”