Heather Dees Wins Pro Card at Nationals

•October 28, 2010 • 2 Comments

Dees for Dynamite: Heather bested over thirty competitors in winning class D at Nationals.

During a preview of Jr. Nationals back in June, I wrote about the Fab Four of contenders — Cinzia Clapp, Stacy Wright, Joanne Murphy and Heather Dees — poised to make a run at pro cards. For three out of four, the prize came a short time later at Team Universe in New Jersey, where Cinzia, Stacy and Joanne hit pay dirt and turned pro in the Garden State.

That left Heather empty-handed, but not for long. She continued to improve, finishing sixth at Jr. Nats and later fifth at USAs. Then the exquisite brunette figure girl saved her best for last, muscling her way to a class win and clinching a pro card at the recent Nationals in Atlanta.

The Salt Lake City native becomes the second straight competitor from Utah to win at Nationals. In 2009, Weber State University alum Kathleen Tesori — who has since made the cover of Muscle & Fitness Hers and scored a part in an MTV reality series — won class B when the show was held in Florida.

It’s not difficult to imagine similar fame and fortune awaits curvy Heather, a striking, cover girl-worthy, Megan Fox look-a-like with twice the sex appeal and a formidable topping of healthy, feminine muscle that easily wins out at the box office in our book.

Moreover, I’m pleased to announce that Heather took time out at for an encore shoot at Nats fresh from punching her ticket into the IFBB pro ranks. That means, of course, plenty more of this talented and radiant athlete is coming soon on the studio. Stay tuned.

Red-Hot Figure Girl Returns to SoCal For Pro Debut

•October 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Eye Candy: Fresh off a pro card win at Nationals, statuesque Michelle Bates is looking for treats in her pro debut on Halloween Eve.

Michelle Bates was already in the middle of a sensational season when I chatted with her after completing a strong fourth-place finish at the competitive USAs over the summer. At the time, she was preparing for her next turn at the NPC Nationals — and a chance to claim a pro card well within the strapping figure star’s steely grasp.

And claim one she did! Michelle traveled to Georgia and continued her hot streak down in Hot-lanta, wowing the judges en route to winning the tall class in the last major national-level show of the year. But the long, lean beauty from Southern California is not quite done yet.

This weekend, Michelle’s whirlwind 2010 campaign comes full circle when she returns to a familiar stage to compete as a new pro in the IFBB Border States Pro in San Diego. A wonderfully serendipitous twist, she’ll visit the same city and venue — Mission Valley’s Scottish Rite Event Center — where a class win this past March at the San Diego Championships launched her rapid ascent towards figure’s top ranks.

Here’s hoping the dazzling young rookie enjoys a splendid homecoming on Saturday night.

Move Over, Angelina

•October 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Yanez Boykin Goes Hollywood

We’ve got more of bodybuilder Yanez Boykin coming soon from the latest Olympia, where she delivered another healthy muscle mélange of strength feats, lift & carry and plenty of flexing. Just another day at the office for the fun-loving Las Vegas brunette and Sisters in Arms star.

Today’s post features Yanez in the Heart of Screenland, proudly showing off her sculpted abs and peaked biceps during a solo shoot at the Los Angeles Championships in Culver City, California over the summer. Wearing her shimmering blue bikini and artfully set against the giant movie motif overlooking the blue water, our raffish brunette definitely looks like action star material.

Erin Stern Takes Over Pro Figure Throne

•September 28, 2010 • 1 Comment

Stern Statement: The Sunshine State's own Erin won the 2010 Figure Olympia Saturday night. Photo credit Dan Ray.

Erin Stern made a bold statement this past spring when she finished runner-up behind reigning Figure Olympia champ Nicole Wilkins-Lee at the Arnold Classic. Over the weekend, the fancy heel was on the other foot as Erin edged Nicole to win the 2010 edition of the Big O in Las Vegas.

The 30-year-old resident of Tampa, Florida became the third different competitor to capture the crown in as many years, a sharp contrast to the current dynasties in other divisions — Adela Garcia won a second straight fitness title (fourth in the last five), and invincible Iris Kyle remained bodybuilding’s Ms. Olympia a fifth consecutive year — but that could change.

Many believed Nicole was equal to the challenge and looking perhaps better than last year — improvements to her upper body and a stylish new haircut had fans (including me) buzzing about a repeat — but, alas, it was the consistently elegant and classy Erin bringing a similarly flawless physique, remarkable poise and championship confidence that proved just enough to snatch the grand prize away from the grasp of the great Michigan competitor.

Trailing the titanic pair, Heather Mae French entered as a good sleeper pick with three wins to her credit this season but settled again for third place. The feisty 33-year-old shortie from Denver, Colorado — winner of this year’s New Zealand, Pittsburgh and California Pro shows — should remain a contender although several improving hopefuls will be eager to scramble the top three come next fall.

New Pro Skadi Frei-Seifert Starts Strong

•September 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

IFBB Pro bodybuilder Skadi Frei-Seifert

East German bodybuilder Skadi Frei-Seifert hopes to build on a successful rookie campaign in the IFBB ranks this summer, during which she followed a 13th place finish at the Tampa Pro with a sixth place showing at the Europa Battle of Champions. The hardcore 34-year-old lifter — whose dream came true when she turned pro with a heavyweight and overall win at last year’s German International Championships — is already looking ahead to the 2011 FIBO Power Pro Championships.

Skadi’s recent string of accomplishments came as no surprise; she’s been a successful athlete all her life, starting in elementary school when she began running track & field and excelling in events like the javelin and discus throw. Still training at least four times a week, by the time she took on University studies in sports sciences as a teenager in 1995, it was clear she was on her way to a lifetime interest in the health and fitness world.

Before launching her career in physique competitions, Skadi became a certified fitness instructor, worked as a physical education teacher, and spent time in Switzerland where she managed the national professional cycling team. She first took the stage in bodyfitness shows — winning two of them — back in 2004 before eventually crossing over to bodybuilding.

You can keep up with Skadi on her website. Meanwhile, check out a new sample clip from her recent Las Vegas shoot. The European champion’s 5-foot-6, 160-pound frame is highlighted by deadly 25-inch quads and massive 16½-inch calves.

Interview with Figure Competitor Courtney Bynog

•September 16, 2010 • 2 Comments

Courtney Bynog is an extremely busy bee. Considering the 36-year-old full-time mom juggles a lifelong love of working closely with Quarter Horses and other animals on her Louisiana ranch, raising two outstanding children, and tirelessly training for appearances, photoshoots and competitions in what has rapidly become an increasingly significant role as one of the leading talents in the world of figure, you wonder how she has any free time at all.

“Angel” on the Rise: Coached by Kim Oddo, Courtney will be a serious contender on the figure stage in 2011.

With this in mind, I must extend extra thanks to the ambitious, hard-working and amazingly beautiful Southern Belle for setting aside a few moments from her demanding schedule to do this interview. Courtney has been one of my favorite girls on the site from the very beginning — long before she shook up the figure world by winning the 2009 Emerald Cup figure overall in only her second show — and remains one as she continues her quest towards qualifying for the pro ranks.

The way Courtney cheerfully manages to single-handedly balance all her responsibilities — including faithfully sticking to contest diets and enduring all those seemingly endless cardio sessions — with energy and enthusiasm to spare makes her one of the most appealing and admirable as well as dynamic and inspiring women in the industry. Time for a closer look at this quintessential Supergirl and Supermom.


Dean: Back in high school you competed as a powerlifter. Did you play any other sports growing up?

Courtney: “Yes, I did play other sports besides powerlifting. I was a cheerleader, played softball, gymnastics and rode horses.”

Dean: Explain a little bit about your work as a Quarter Horse breeder. How long have you been involved with it and do you also work with other animals? Do you ever have any trouble meeting the physical demands of the job?

Dazzling Superstar: The future figure covergirl flexes playfully during a shoot.

Courtney: “My love for horses started when I was a little girl and never grew out of it. I definitely love all animals and had several growing up. Actually, I have several now — horses, dogs, cats, chicken, rabbits — my little farm, lol. But as far as my horse farm, I started breeding Quarter Horses for racing in 2001. It can be quite challenging at times. The physical demand comes more around when I work with weanling (babies). You have to overpower them sometimes if they are not used to humans. But as they get older it’s more of a mind game and being quick on your feet (to move out of the way when they want to paw, kick or run over you). And then the fun part when you have to help deliver!”

Dean: Being one our fittest moms on the site, would you share some thoughts and opinions from your family regarding your figure career? What do your children think of your physique? Have they picked up any of your healthy habits — either with nutrition, exercise or both?

Courtney: “Aww, thank you! I have such wonderful children (boy, 15 years and a girl, 11 years). They both are so understanding and supportive. And yes, they both have benefited from watching me train and diet. Not only do they like and want to eat healthy and workout (my son of course wants ‘big muscles’ and is wanting to do powerlifting in high school and my daughter just wants to ‘live a healthy life’ and cheer & dance), but they learned discipline, determination and setting goals.”

Dean: Back to some strength questions. Not too many figure girls go for max lifts, but a former powerlifter might. Do you still like to challenge yourself by throwing around the heavy plates? Could you share some of your best lifts?

Courtney: “Well, honestly I haven’t maxed out since high school (high school max was bench 125, squat 275 and deadlift 310), but I have just started to lift a little heavier to gain where I need it most. I’ve been too scared (and lazy) to lift heavy ever since high school because of a slipped disc (too painful and took forever to heal if I flared it up).”

“Weight” Until Next Year: The Louisiana belle posted a nationals best at Team Universe this summer and will only get better.

Dean: How about describing an instance, either at the gym or in public, when a friend or training partner reacted surprised by your physique or strength? Have you ever armwrestled?

Courtney: “LOL, I did arm wrestle just playing around at times. Funny thing is that I did beat a few men (boys). It’s pretty crazy how much attention, comments and questions I get ever since I competed. I’ve always been known as ‘fit and muscular,’ but it seems that I get WAY more eyes on and comments now than ever before (has to be the low body fat, more veiny).”

Dean: On the contest trail, you had the honor of handing out awards at this year’s Emerald Cup. As the returning champ, how did it feel coming back to the stage where you won your first figure overall title? Did everyone treat you like a celebrity?

Courtney: “Yes, I did and I was so honored to be able to hand over the trophy/crown along with Alicia Marie and Branch and Trish Warren. I felt like I was as important and popular as they were, lol.”

Dean: You also presented your good friend Patty Zariello with a trophy for finishing third in her class. Where did you two beautiful girls first meet and did you do anything else together or have any other adventures while you were in Seattle?

Courtney: “That was also an honor and neat to be able to hand my good friend Patty her trophy as well. It’s crazy how she and I met and had so much in common. She and I competed at the ’09 Cal State show and met backstage. After talking, we realized we had the same trainer, Kim Oddo, which we both met through Monica Brant’s FEM camp and both were asked to work the BNRG [Bio Nutritional Research Group] booth at the GNC convention with Monica. From that point on, we have been following each other at shows and working together at BNRG booths. We have become long distance BFFs!”

Dean: Now that you’ve had a taste of national-level competition, what kinds of things, presentation or physique-wise, have you been working on to try and impress the judges — and hopefully win a pro card — next time you take the stage?

Figure BFFs: Courtney poses her peaked bicep for the camera while pretty pal Patty Zariello looks on.

Courtney: “I have certainly learned so much in my short year and half of competing and going to different bodybuilding events. I have also learned there is always something to work on and for me, that would be my presentation and to slim down my waistline (widen my lats).”

Dean: What are your contest plans for this summer and fall?

Courtney: “Last two shows that I did were the Greater Gulf in New Orleans, placing first and overall in Masters and second in open; then went to Team Universe in New Jersey, placing fourth in Masters and sixth in open. Now that I know what I need to work on, which is posing and lats, I will focus on that when I train next time. I plan on taking the rest of the year off and attempting another show in the spring of 2011!”

Dean: Thanks so much for doing this interview, Courtney. Hope we can catch up again soon. Before I let you go, is there any other news you can share or some friends or trainers you’d like to spread kudos to for helping you during your figure journey?

Courtney: “It’s my pleasure! Thank you for interviewing me. Most definitely, I have to be thankful for my family and friends for supporting me with my fitness goals and more importantly, Kim Oddo, for making me believe in myself that I can do this and being the best trainer (I couldn’t have done it without him), and of course Monica Brant, my mentor who has led me to this level.”

Lauren Quinn Joins Lingerie Football League

•September 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Friday Night Delights: New Chicago Bliss player Lauren Quinn is ready to kickoff the new LFL season.

The league’s notorious pin-up girl dress code makes it prime fodder for derision from feminist pundits, but one must appreciate that many women of the Lingerie Football League not only are beautiful and sexy but fit and athletic.

And they play hard.

Today, Lauren Quinn begins her quest to become the next Great of the Bikini Gridiron as the hard-hitting hardbody from the Windy City takes the field as a new linebacker for the Chicago Bliss. The team opens it’s season at home against Dallas.

As faithful readers know, Lauren is no stranger to full-contact women’s athletics. She played college rugby at the University of Illinois-Chicago and later for the Chicago Sirens professional team.

Sporty Girl Next Door: Lauren poses during her studio photoshoot.

This year, she’ll join a Bliss squad loaded with fresh faces playing for consecutive trips to the championship game in the 10-team league. Last season, the Bliss fell to Los Angeles in the title game.

Just a couple days ago, the team suited up in their pumpkin-colored two-pieces and posed for pictures during media day at a trendy downtown restaurant. Click here to check out more images and other news from the event.

It’s pretty easy to spot Lauren when glimpsing the team picture, smiling with her bulging biceps, rippling abs and powerhouse quads. If opponents try navigating through the middle of the Bliss defense, they better be quick and shifty enough to avoid steely #16.

If not, they face a punishing tackle from the most muscular and strongest girl on the field, if not the entire league. Game on, ladies.


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