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!”