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.”