Figure Competitor Rauchelle Schultz Coming Soon!

•July 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The Junior Nationals has always been a hotbed for spotting new talent and this year was no different. That said, today’s latest first look is Michigan’s Rauchelle Schultz, who brings a strong, feminine figure package along with signature legs guaranteed to delight.

A look at beautiful new figure girl Rauchelle Schultz -- and her amazing calves -- coming soon!

In fact, Rauchelle’s sexy, bulging calves — you’ll find out how big they are in measuring footage to come — evoke Windy City discoveries of the past like all-natural girl next door Samantha Gold and rookie IFBB pro Akane Nigro-Ismeal.

Rauchelle, who has some pretty impressive pipes as well, has remarkably only been training for figure since last November. The charming Midwesterner made a splash on stage at the NPC Novice Michigan this past March, where she took the medium class crown and judging by the highlights deserved to win overall.

Nevertheless, Jr. Nats was her national level debut and even though unfairly marked down for being too hard and muscular, chalk it up to experience as she learns how to streamline her genetically gifted physique.

Of course, we think she looks great and couldn’t be more thrilled to have Rauchelle just as is. Judge for yourself when she premieres on the site soon.

Figure Competitor Lara Abend Coming Soon!

•July 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Stunning newcomer Lara Abend poses in her debut shoot coming soon from Chicago.

When a newcomer arrives on the scene reminding you of Olympia-bound first year pro Mindi Smith and women’s health & fitness icon Jamie Eason, it can only be a good thing. Those are just two of the big names that spring to mind when you see Lara Abend, a stunning, cover girl worthy 33-year-old figure competitor coming soon to the studio.

A personal trainer and real estate agent from Arizona, Lara’s journey on the stage began late last year at the Brown Chiropractic Western Regional in Mesa, where she made an immediate impact claiming first place in the B class. The luminous 5-foot-4, 120-pound beauty with short, chic light blonde hair, continued to impress by taking the figure overall championship in February’s NPC Desert Muscle Classic near the rugged and scenic Catalina Mountains in her hometown of Tucson.

We caught up with Lara at Jr. Nationals, where she took the stage in a highly competitive C class. The bright new star finished a strong sixth and exuded the poise and confidence of a seasoned figure veteran in her national level debut.

The Grand Canyon State figure girl and her razor sharp calves in a cute pink top.

A longtime athlete used to being in the spotlight, Lara owes some highlights of her outstanding physique — chiseled abs, peaked biceps and powerfully defined calves and quads — to a sports background including swimming and gymnastics.

Fitness model wise, even though relatively new to photoshoots, Lara really gets the heart racing when she slowly flexes those steely, perfectly shaped biceps with that seductive, self-assured expression. She’s a natural in front of the camera and if you don’t fall in love with her after watching this tantalizing sneak preview clip from her sizzling new shoot in Chicago, you should check for a pulse.

Speaking of sizzling, next stop for Lara on the contest trail is the upcoming USAs two weeks from now in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bet on her making first call outs and don’t be surprised if the flawless figure wunderkind walked off into the desert sunset with a pro card after just her second national show.

Update: Received word today (July 19th) that Lara opted out of USAs for family reasons and also to take more time to tighten up some areas on her physique that the judges told her needed focus. If and when she announces her next show, I’ll be sure to pass it along either here or on Twitter.

Pro Card Dreams Come True For Lucky Six at Team U

•July 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Wright on the Money: Stacy wins Fitness Nationals, Pro Card.

It was party time in the Garden State on Saturday night as half a dozen of our brightest amateur hopefuls — three fitness, three figure — became newly minted IFBB pros in a sweeping, victorious romp at the Team Universe and Fitness Nationals in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Stacy Wright — who maintained focus and eventually finished second in her class after storms caused a blackout and a lengthy delay in Chicago three weeks ago at Jr. Nationals — was pretty much invincible. This time, second would have earned her a pro card, but the flaxen-haired fitness phenom did better — much better — winning the tall class and capturing the fitness overall title.

Likewise, 41-year-old fitness mom Cinzia Clapp, third at Jr. Nats, won the medium class and takes a pro card back to her hometown of Eagle River, Alaska. Meanwhile, athletic brunette Venus Nguyen — who you’ll see more of in an encore shoot from SoCal coming soon — secured her IFBB status by placing second in the short class.

Figures It Out: Joanne has every reason to smile after turning pro at Team Universe.

On the figure side, the always consistent Joanne Murphy earned her much-deserved pro status by taking second place in class C. The tireless Floridian — still riding high after finishing third and nearly getting the prize back in Chicago — is already rumored to be making her IFBB debut at the Jacksonville Pro on August 7th.

Finally, both pro cards out of figure’s E class went to studio models. Patricia Nguyen — who placed in the top six in four national level shows last year — got the big ticket for finishing second. And Mona Muresan, recent class winner at Jr Nats, was a winner again and didn’t leave empty-handed this time. The New York City restaurant owner can grab a cab and take that pro card with her right back through the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan where a celebration is no doubt already underway.

Congratulations, ladies!

Fiery Tori Stroud Sends Mercury Rising

•July 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Figure Zone: Firefighter and two-time NPC Vancouver class champ Tori Stroud poses in Seattle.

Fittingly posing near some fire lanes during her debut shoot is today’s all new first look, that of the phenomenal Tori Stroud, one of our latest precious chiseled gems arriving on the studio. Coincidentally, the youthful and tireless, strong and fearless 40-year-old knows a thing or two about being in the red zone from working as a firefighter up in her hometown of Seattle, Washington.

Of course, the gorgeous and athletic blonde — a former gymnast and soccer player — also brings the heat on stage as a top amateur figure competitor. She’s placed well in back-to-back Emerald Cups and won her class at both the 2009 and 2010 NPC Vancouver show.

The figure girl & firefighter shows off her stunning upperbody development. Bodybuilding crossover?

Rightly so, Tori’s beautifully proportioned 5-foot-4, 125-pound physique comes densely packed with enough upper body muscle — check out the fierce look at steely shoulders and chest, traps and biceps at left — that she could be considered a prime candidate for a crossover into the bodybuilding ranks. Indeed, if the pendulum ever swung back towards rewarding a slightly more muscular look in the figure division, her stock would most certainly soar.

Speaking of bodybuilding, Tori’s boyfriend, a pretty good lifter in his own right, won his class at the last Emerald Cup. Talk about a championship-caliber couple, this northwest duo fits the bill. Oh yeah, did I mention Tori’s also a mother of four? Phenomenal.

Interview with Figure Competitor Elsie Velazquez

•July 6, 2010 • 1 Comment

Figure Competitor Elsie Velazquez

Back again and just in time to welcome another dazzling newcomer in Elsie Velazquez, an up-and-coming shortie making significant strides and looking better than ever in her return to the stage this year. The charming brunette, who tip toes her way up to 5-foot-tall, recently made the top ten in her class at Jr. Nationals – a very impressive national-level debut for the former track star turned figure girl out of Cleveland, Ohio – and is currently finishing up prep for Team Universe beginning Friday.

Before taking her quarter turns in Chicago, Elsie stopped by for one of her first-ever photoshoots – a great two-outfit number featuring sporty black and teal workout wear followed by jean shorts with a cute bikini top – and neatly capped off the festivities with this captivating quickie introduction clip at the end.

Fortunately, I was able to catch up with Elsie at length recently just before she heads to her next competition. The fleet-footed, long-time athlete and proud mom looks to race towards the head of the pack this weekend in Hackensack, New Jersey; but for now, it’s time to get to know a little bit more about the new Mighty Mouse of figure coming soon to the studio!

Dean: I know you were into track, volleyball and softball. Which sports were your favorites and did you also play during high school and college?

Elsie: “Yes, I was involved in all three, but I loved and excelled in track. I was on the track team from junior high through high school. Even though I am just shy of five feet tall, I was pretty darn fast. In fact, others on the track team called me Mighty Mouse because my legs were so muscular (mainly my calves) and I was so fast. Volleyball and softball were sports I played for fun after high school.”

Dean: Was it natural for you to get into athletics? Were you always pretty active and fit growing up?

Elsie proudly shows off biceps and abs at her photoshoot in Chicago.

Elsie: “Yes, it was very natural for me to get into athletics and I have always been fit and active. Even as a child, I had a love for fitness.”

Dean: What first got you inspired to think about trying out in figure? Did you know someone else who was already a competitor or did some friends at the gym suggest them to you?

Elsie: “I was approached in 2006 by a trainer at my gym who, after watching me struggle through a workout, felt that with the proper training and form, I could make significant improvements to my physique. I had never heard of figure competitions until she showed me pictures of herself on stage and suggested I give it a try. I was curious and excited and decided to give it a shot!”

Dean: Do you like the fitness routines as well? Ever think about trying those?

Elsie: “I love watching the fitness routines. I am always in awe of what the fitness girls can do. I wish I could do that but am not sure I can handle a broken hip at this point in my life. I do admire them though!”

Dean: Shifting to your contest history. Where and when was your initial competition? Can you describe some feelings about that first time stepping on stage?

Elsie: “My first competition was in 2006 – a small local show in Lakewood, Ohio (Natural Ohio Bodybuilding, Figure & Bikini Championships). I had no idea what to expect or what I was doing as due to unfortunate circumstances in her life, I lost my trainer a month before the show. I decided to continue with the competition as planned because I figured I had nothing to lose. I had no idea that I would do as well as I did – second in the open class A and third in the masters class A. I remember being so nervous that I thought every judge and person in the audience could hear my heart beating. To this day, I am assuming they did hear it.”

Our cameras move in on the Cleveland figure competitor's chiseled core.

Dean: This year you’ve done the Arnold Amateur and made top ten at Jr. Nationals. What are some adjustments you’ve made to your physique or training that helped you improve so far?

Elsie: “After taking four years off, I decided to jump back into the game. I hired a trainer, started the diet and entered a small local show in Erie, Pennsylvania (Tri-State Bodybuilding and Figure Competition) and placed second which earned me my national qualifying status. Since I love challenging myself, I decided to jump right into the Arnold Amateur. What better way to challenge myself and see what I am capable of than to go big! Although I was certainly stepping out of my comfort zone, I was pleased with placing in the top ten during prejudging and made it to finals. For me, that was a big accomplishment.

Additionally, it was an honor to share the stage with so many amazing women. Jr. Nationals was my next stop and my very first National Competition. It was another step out of my comfort zone and although I did my best, I am not sure that I was mentally prepared for it all. Regardless, I am so glad I walked out on that stage and feel I stepped off the stage a stronger and better person. What more can I ask for?”

Dean: How are you feeling heading into Team Universe? Are there any last minute tweaks or areas you’re trying to polish before showtime?

Elsie: “Right now, I am working mainly on my stage presence as I feel it needs significant improvement. Controlling my nerves would be next in line…is that even possible? Basically, I am hoping to improve on all that is within my control at Team Universe. I am very excited to step on stage again and know that it will be yet another learning experience for me.”

Dean: Got any big plans in mind for after the show? Maybe some dinner and sight-seeing in nearby New York City?

Figure's next Mighty Mouse strikes a cover-girl pose.

Elsie: “After the show I plan on eating lots of pizza and lots of cake. Yes, I am hoping to squeeze some sight-seeing into my schedule – while eating pizza and cake, of course.”

Dean: Looking further ahead, do you have any other competition plans for this year?

Elsie: “Team Universe may be my last competition this year. I have a few friends who may be doing North Americans and I am contemplating it but will decide in a few weeks. I am exhausted and think I may need a break. I will listen to what my body is telling me when the time comes.”

Dean: Okay, here’s your chance to brag about that hard-earned physique. Are there any favorite muscles or exercises that you’re especially strong at? Have you ever armwrestled or surprised anyone in the gym or by coincidence with your strength?

Elsie: “I love training legs! I would probably train them daily if I could. As far as my upper body is concerned, I look stronger than I actually am (shhhh…don’t tell anyone). That being said, I would never initiate an arm-wrestling competition but I like the fact that others believe I could hang in there in one.”

Dean: What are some things people or friends are always saying to you when they notice what wonderful shape you’re in? Do you get lots of women asking for training tips?

Elsie: “Most people are amazed at my discipline and drive to do what I do. The diet alone amazes most, if not all, of my family and friends. I do have women ask me for tips and I try to help in any way that I can. I really do love talking about fitness and sharing my knowledge with others. I do, however, find that I still have much to learn and ask many questions of other women in the industry.”

Elsie looks to be in peak form at this weekend's Team Universe.

Dean: Almost done. What would you say has been the best part of your fitness lifestyle to this point? Who are some of your role models in the industry and how have you been motivated by them?

Elsie: “I would say that the positive effect that my fitness lifestyle has had on my self-esteem and self-perception is most rewarding. As I have become stronger and healthier physically, I have also become emotionally and mentally stronger and healthier. I have amazed myself in so many ways with my dedication to my goals during even the most difficult of times. Three of the women that I consider to be role models are Monica Brant, Jamie Eason, and Ava Cowan. All are amazing!”

Dean: Is there anything else going on in your life – athletically or otherwise – that you can share? Are you involved in personal training or fitness camps at your gym?

Elsie: “I work full time as a legal assistant, am pursuing a degree in marketing, and am the proud of mother of a 20-year-old son. If I had to pick my greatest achievement, it would be the fact that I raised such an amazing young man on my own. Best part is, I don’t expect a trophy for that achievement.”

Dean: Elsie, it was great meeting you this year and I hope you had fun doing this interview. Thanks for giving me a chance to get to know more about you. Good luck and get ’em at Team U!

Elsie: “Dean, it was great meeting you as well and looking forward to our next meeting. Thank you for your time and your well-wishes! Team U, here I come!”

Fit Youtuber Flaunts Athleticism in New Shoot

•June 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Net Gain: Fern Assard works out during her shoot in California. The figure girl has long shared her fitness quest with fans through blogging and Youtube.

Successfully using the power and reach of the Internet, figure competitor Fern Assard has essentially created an online chronicle of her fitness journey since it began when the soon to be 42-year-old stepped into a gym four years ago. “I don’t want to be Barbie,” she says with a confident wink, “I want to bench press her.”

Today, Fern’s Bodyspace blog is approaching one thousand entries while her Youtube channel — an extensive video diary of contest snippets, workout footage, interviews, flexing, progress reports and candid moments — has made the enterprising and savvy Connecticut native one of the most popular fitness models on the web.

Fern does her thing in her latest clip — it’s one of her best!

Moreover, thanks to a lot of hard work and dedication, Fern’s not quite the shy and skinny former cheerleader she once was but rather a steely 5-foot-2, 118-pound rock of chiseled abs, split biceps, dancing pecs and flowing blonde hair. With charming splashes of coquettish aplomb, she’s fast gaining on a goal to become one of the sexiest moms on the planet.

Competition-wise, Fern is prepping for the NPC Europa Figure Championships coming up on July 23rd in Hartford, Conn. She’s coming off a second-place finish in her class at the Rhode Island state show in May.

Meanwhile, it’s only appropriate to add to the New Englander’s online legacy with this new highlight showing off her strength and athletic prowess during a shoot last month on the bustling, sun-drenched beach of Santa Monica, California. Now an online flexing sensation, Fern continues to be an inspiration to American moms seeking a new beginning in health and fitness.

Michelle Smith Competes in East LA Today

•June 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Michelle's back in action at the West Coast Classic Figure Championships Saturday.

Michelle Smith takes the stage later today at the NPC West Coast Classic in El Monte, California just east of Los Angeles. It’s the second show in as many months for the rising physique star and popular new face on the site.

Hopefully I come in a bit softer as the judges did not like the fact I was a bit hard,” she told me after her fifth-place showing at the California State Championships on May 29th. Count on the San Diego figure girl to be even better in this final test before taking her much deserved spins at the national level later this season.

Here’s a bonus pic of Michelle showing off sublime back, shoulder and tricep development in her stylish teal dress from her debut shoot. Another sportier look at the shapely star from the Cal show — in contest shape — is coming soon.


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