Buzz Surrounds New Asian Sensation

•February 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Yeon Woo Ji behind the scenes at the 2010 Fitness International show.

With her catchy combination of striking good looks, well proportioned muscle and shy sweetness, it’s no surprise Yeon Woo Ji quickly captivated fans and photographers since the 26-year-old hardbody from Seoul, South Korea made her U.S. debut late last year.

Competitively, the raven-haired beauty seems a natural fit for the new physique division — owning a powerfully built, seductively feminine look stationed between figure and bodybuilding — but we‘ll ponder those possibilities later. Right now, let’s enjoy her sharply defined curves and girl next door cuteness in this short highlight from Las Vegas. More to come from this very exciting discovery.

Track & Field Whiz Extends Reach to Figure Competitions

•January 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Air Apparent: Track star Tissilli Brandi hopes to reach new heights in NPC figure.

The latest primetime athlete premiering on the studio is the dynamic and highly talented Tissilli Brandi, a longtime track & field star who plans to take up a new challenge as an NPC figure competitor later this year.

The Atlanta native began track pursuit during her early teens and has since become a formidable presence in the sport, having produced results that turned her into a national standout and an Olympic hopeful. Along the way, she earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Alabama and showed plenty of academic as well as athletic prowess while at Tuscaloosa, graduating with degrees in both psychology and sociology.

These days, in addition to track dreams and figure aspirations, the ambitious 26-year-old is also a certified personal trainer with her own business called Total Trans4mations, a brainstorm first launched when her knowledge of health and fitness helped a severely overweight friend turn her life around.

In this excellent profile video, you can see Tissilli enthusiastically directing clients through intense boot camp sessions, revealing that her passion for helping others achieve their fitness goals is just as important as reaching her own — a hallmark of some of the best.

We’re excited to see what kind of impact Tissilli has on the industry’s most popular amateur figure stage. Already a sturdy package at 5-foot-4 and 130-pounds, exchanging running shoes for figure heels should be a breeze for this sweet Georgia peach.

In the Gym: Jodi Marchuck

•January 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Nice Shot: Jodi pauses for a picture between sets.

No surprise when asked about body parts drawing the most compliments, figure girl Jodi Marchuck was quick to point out her outstanding legs and abs. You can see just why in this great new sample clip featuring the up and coming California competitor getting serious on lower body and core development during her shoot.

Jodi is aiming to impress the judges on the NPC stage later this year; but first, the soon-to-be certified personal trainer is here demonstrating expert form with sets of perfectly executed crunches and calf raises. Check out the intensity in her workout — she means business in the gym!

Meanwhile, just in case you missed it, here’s a link to my interview with Jodi from last fall.

Natural Fitness Athlete Jodi Tiahrt Debuts

•January 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

An updated version of my earlier post on Jodi Tiahrt, revised with photos from her shoot posted today.

Iron Diva: Sports Model of the Year Jodi Tiahrt poses inside the famous gym.

Jodi Tiahrt is a championship-caliber fitness and bikini competitor and one of the exciting young stars of the INBA organization. She won the Bikini Diva award and was named Female Sports Model of the Year this summer at the World Natural Bodybuilding & Fitness Championships in Anaheim, California.

But that’s only the beginning. The multi-talented 32-year-old recently added national level figure competitions to her all-encompassing list after taking the stage at last summer’s USAs in Las Vegas, where she lives and studies exercise physiology.

Strength & Skills: The new figure girl still cheerfully demonstrates all the right moves that made her a top competitor on the fitness stage.

The 5-foot-8, 128-pound blue-eyed blonde started weight training at the age of 12 and has been competing the past five years, most notably in the fitness category where she was recently a top ten finisher at the 2010 Ms. Fitness Nationals.

Not to be overlooked, her Sports Model of the Year honor was as much a celebration of outstanding overall shape and superior stage presence as it was a tribute to her commitment to natural health & fitness. When it comes to diet, only clean eating, protein shakes and multivitamins here, folks.

It’s always exciting discovering admirable new athletes from other federations and Jodi certainly fills the bill.

Quick Takes

•January 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Pacific Paradise: Providing a refreshing splash of summer during a chilly winter, here’s the always impressive Katka Kyptova doing a jaunty balancing act of sorts during a scenic, oceanfront shoot along the Southern California coast. She has one of the most adorable smiles in all of bodybuilding.

Also, check out the Czech Republic crowd pleaser in a recent event held in Europe, rocking the house with an athletic and entertaining guest posing routine that blended flexibility and finesse with her playful personality. Katka competes next at the Arnold beginning March 3rd.

Kira Neuman Targets USAs in 2011

•January 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment
Flashback: Tom, Lou & Kira in Chicago at the ’08 Jr. Nationals.

Popular young bodybuilder Kira Neuman capped last year with a high-profile flourish. First, the Indiana native shared her fitness expertise on a segment that aired over local TV; then, she headed to West Virginia and took top honors at the Mid-Atlantic Grand Prix. Today, she stars in this highlight from an ‘09 encore shoot, displaying her contest-shape physique after placing sixth at the USAs. The 29-year-old plans on returning there to compete again this summer.

Interview with Figure Competitor Noora Kuusivuori

•January 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Noora Kuusivuori

Considering the extent of her already splendid resume, it’s not surprising that Noora Kuusivuori’s latest athletic endeavor has the makings of something special.

The 31-year-old figure newbie, a Colorado resident originally from Finland, qualified for NPC Nationals in her first campaign after taking the tall class at the 2010 Colorado State Figure Championships. The win secured yet another trophy for the strapping 5-foot-10, 145-pound flaxen-haired star, who has performed at a high level in several sports since her early teens.

However, figure wasn’t on Noora’s radar until she attended a show to see a friend compete. Ultimately, that experience — along with a chance to shape her physique and challenge her body once again — led to her own designs on pursuing quarter turns in a shimmery, sequined two-piece. The compelling next chapter in her continuing competitive journey was underway.

Catching up while spending the holidays in wintry Finland, Noora shares a training update and reveals contest plans for next season plus more — including notes on some impressive lifts in the gym and thoughtful insights on what the fitness lifestyle means to her — during a recent interview. This tireless and passionate athlete is a highly promising addition to the stage and an endearing new role model for the sport.

* * *

Dean: Did you first begin training in the gym to get stronger for athletics or did working out for you start sooner? Were you involved in any other sports growing up?

Noora: “I started training at the gym to become a better, stronger, faster athlete alongside other sport specific training. I played baseball and swam on the National team growing up in Finland. Competing on the World Championship level got me started on weights at the age of 14 and I haven’t stopped since. I also played basketball, volleyball, did jazz ballet and track and field growing up.”

Dean: Now you’re living in Colorado. When did you move to the United States and do you still travel to Finland to visit? What kinds of things do you like about each place?

The Finland-born figure competitor won the tall class in her new home state of Colorado.

Noora: “I came to the US for the first time in 1997 and have moved around the States a lot. I go back to Finland once or twice a year and am in very cold and snowy Scandinavia right now. I love both places! Finland is always home and I miss the people living so far away. Besides my family and friends here, I love Finnish nature and how clean and calm it is. I love Finnish food (especially chocolate, yummm) and all the beautiful seasons.

“In the States, I love that I truly feel like I can accomplish anything and I can take my career as far as I choose. I love the fact that there are so many people from so many different places in the States. It’s such a richness to learn about all the different cultures, traditions and backgrounds of people. I love how there are so many completely different places in the country. It’s a beautiful country and Colorado is one of the most beautiful states with its majestic Mountains.”

Dean: Congratulations on winning the tall class at the Colorado State show earlier this year. Could you describe your emotions after the win and as someone who has had great success at other sports, how did this achievement compare?

Noora: “Thank you! I had so much fun at that show and it felt great to know that the hard work that I put in paid off. It felt rewarding to win for sure. I was very happy to walk away with several first places. It was the same happy and satisfied feeling that every win in other sports has given me.”

Dean: It seems like many top female athletes get into physique shows as a way to try something else challenging and stay competitive. Is that how your figure journey began?

Noora: “I guess the challenge was a reason for me as well. I went to support a friend who competed in a show, and watching a show made me curious to see how far I could push my own body in something completely different than what I knew as sports up until then. I was going to just try it for one show but ended up loving how much I learned about my body during the prep, and I am continuing having a ton of fun learning and pushing myself. It is amazing to learn how the diet affects your body and how you can learn to manipulate your shape by working the muscles in different ways. And then being competitive by nature, I now want to see how far I can go so yeah, you got it right.”

Dean: You have a great look and promising future on the national level and likely beyond. Now that your debut at NPC Nationals is in the books, what kinds of things are you looking to improve on with your physique and presentation heading into next season?

Peak Reflections: Noora flexes during her debut shoot in Atlanta during Nationals weekend.

Noora: “Thank you! I’m working on a more dramatic V-shape with wider shoulders and lats. I’m also working on getting my lower body to even out in leanness with my upper body. And I will always strive to improve my favorite body part, the butt. For me, it can never be high and tight enough!” [laughs]

Dean: Have you made any plans yet for 2011 as far as shows or other competitions? Are you also involved in personal training or working on anything else relating to the fitness industry that you’d like to promote?

Noora: “I will compete in Figure at The Arnold in March and probably at Jr. Nationals in the summer. I couldn’t be more excited about 2011! Unfortunately I don’t have enough time to do personal training but I have two new sponsors that I’ll be helping with promotions: I am now a Twinlab sponsored athlete and super excited to work with such an amazing line of products. The other one is a company called Show Off Tan and they have an amazing, new competition color and a line of spray tan colors that are super popular in Europe and they are expanding in the States in 2011.”

Dean: Just a couple more questions. I know members and fans of our site are going to love getting to know more about you and especially appreciate seeing you in action during your photoshoot. Did you have a good time and feel empowered flexing and showing off your amazing physique and muscles for the camera?

Noora: “Yes, I love showing off. [laughs] In all seriousness, Lou was such a pleasure to work with and I had a lot of fun flexing and posing in the streets of Atlanta!”

Dean: Can you also share some of your strength stats with us, such as how much weight you use for bicep curls or leg press? Could you share any stories of a time when you surprised a friend or someone else with your strength?

Noora: “I can get a few reps with 85lbs on barbell bicep curls. I’ve squatted sets of 10 with 225lbs during my swimming years but I don’t get to lift that heavy anymore as I bulk up too much for figure pretty easy. At one swimming camp in Texas, I used the whole stack for my regular sets on leg extensions while the male swimmers were using half that weight. That moment obviously stuck with me since I still remember how mad the boys got when they realized that they can’t get even close to lifting the same weight.” [laughs]

Climbing New Heights: The longtime athlete continues her quest to reach figure's elite at the Arnold in March.

Dean: Finally, what would you say are some of the most satisfying and rewarding things about your health and fitness lifestyle?

Noora: “Feeling physically capable of doing almost anything is an amazingly empowering feeling that flows over to other areas of life. I am always full of energy and feel great when I take care of myself. It is also very rewarding to hear that I’ve motivated someone to get healthier, push themselves further or completely change their lifestyle. There is no better reward than to know that you can make a positive change in someone else’s life by living by example.”

Dean: Noora, thanks so much for your time in doing this interview. Best of luck in your figure career and I hope we can catch up again later!

Noora: “Thank you! And we’ll definitely catch up later!”

 
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