Interview with Figure Competitor Michelle Krack
Michelle Krack is a highly promising national level figure competitor from Vancouver, British Columbia who made a statement at last year’s Canadian Nationals, winning the tall class and coming within a point of a pro card.
Figure is the latest in a cavalcade of sports for the 34-year-old lifelong athlete. On her resume is everything from basketball, volleyball and track to softball, soccer and even rugby. In a nod to her toughness, hard-hitting rugby remains one of her favorites even after she broke her leg playing this past year. Luckily, after taking some time off to mend, she reports to be back in full training mode.
Michelle took time out from her busy schedule to talk about her wide ranging athletic background and upcoming contest plans during this interview. She also shares some very thoughtful insights on the competitive lifestyle, balancing training with being a mom and having a career.
She’s flush with excitement and confidence about the chance to try again for a pro card this summer, when the big CBBF event shifts to her hometown. Plenty of family and friends are expected to be on hand and there could be good karma in the air as well—the show will be on the same stage where she won her figure debut.
* * *
Dean: Athletics have obviously been a big part of your life with the many sports you’ve played over the years. What were your favorites and fondest memories from some?
Michelle: “I have played all types of sports since I was a child, including bowling! HA! Throughout high school I was part of the volleyball, basketball and rugby teams as well as playing softball in town. My highlights throughout high school have to be winning the provincial rugby championships in my graduation year. I have continued to play rugby since then, even winning the provincials in our women’s league last year!
“Most of my time however has shifted towards weight lifting and competing in figure. With this sport I have been able push myself individually and realize that it’s just me and not a whole team. My fondest memory is stepping on my first stage in a tiny bikini and heels—recalling it now gives me goosebumps! That day I won the overall and went onto provincials the following year to also win the overall. I have been hooked ever since!”
Dean: It’s a little surprising hockey isn’t among sports you’ve participated in—and you’re from Canada! What’s up with that? Surely you’ve laced up skates, hit the ice and fired some slapshots from time to time.
Michelle: “Hahahaha, funny that you say that; I can’t remember the last time I was on the ice! When I was little my big brother would take me skating all the time; he loved it, total hockey buff. Me, not so much…it never stuck with me. My parents weren’t very active themselves so I seemed to fall into only the sports that were offered at school. However, even now, I’d rather hit the slopes for some skiing or tubing instead during our winter wonderland season.”
Dean: As you mentioned, you’ve made a successful transition to figure in recent years. Would you say, considering the high challenges involved in preparing and training for a show, that winning in this sport has been your most satisfying athletic accomplishment so far?
Michelle: “I think that being an individual sport and having the pressure solely on me has given me a greater satisfaction and accomplishment that I can do anything I set my mind on. However, playing team sports has a different sense of accomplishment and you share that with others, working together to achieve a goal, such as winning the provincials last year was a great feeling.
“I think the reason that competing in figure gives more sense of accomplishment for me is that in the past I always wanted to be where I am today but didn’t think it was possible. Being overweight as a child, I never saw myself being on stage and being judged on my physique! So to be able to not only step on stage but be one of the best in the country is pretty amazing! Choosing to compete takes up so much more of your time and energy—not only do you have to include anywhere from 2-3 hours a day of training but you have to watch everything that you eat. It becomes your life so when you put each day into it and you win, you feel that not only could you handle the physical demands but the mental as well.”
Dean: One thing you wrote on your blog had to do with training and dieting and learning more about yourself during the process. What sort of lessons have you learned and what tips do you try to pass along?
Michelle: “Wow, thanks for reading my blog!
“With any sport you have your physical game and mental game and with prepping for figure both of these are constantly exhausted. You are living the lifestyle so it is on your mind 24/7. When do I train, when do I eat, are meals prepared if I have to go out, what time is my next cardio session, etc. Your mind never shuts off. Over the years I have realized that taking time off is okay; you need to ease your mind before your body can relax and keep pushing forward. Sometimes we become so absorbed with what is happening right in front of us, we miss everything around. You need to take a step back and see the bigger picture of what is happening. Who are you affecting during this process and most importantly is your process and journey worth the end result?
“I see people compete all the time for the wrong reasons. My advice is to make sure you are doing this for you and make sure to always seek out someone who knows the process and do your research! Ultimately, you are responsible for you. This sport is a choice that you make. I find people tend to put blame on coaches after all is said and done; I shake my head as no one is making you do this and at any time you can stop and move on.”
Dean: Mingling important roles as a mom and athlete, what kind of reaction have you gotten from family and friends on your healthy look and habits? Have you inspired anyone you know to begin working out?
Michelle: “Oh gosh, I have definitely gotten mixed reactions since I started adopting this lifestyle. Obviously when I am in contest prep mode my diet is very strict and some older family members see it as unhealthy. I always get ‘How long until you can eat normal again?’ LOL. This comes from a background of thinking that eating normal is fried chicken or mashed potatoes and gravy! People are quick to judge your choices of healthy eating but they don’t look at their lifestyle. Some people I know are smokers or binge drinkers but don’t realize their lifestyle is unhealthy and it’s easy to poke at someone else. I just bite my tongue.
“But the most rewarding is when people tell me that I have inspired them to become healthier and push themselves to strive to take care of themselves or even compete. In turn, this is my inspiration to keep doing what I do. Sometimes we all have doubts but it’s these moments that make a difference.
“Recently, I am so proud of my older sister. She has struggled with her weight since being a teen but is now on track to eating healthy and exercising, has lost over 40lbs, and has been able to keep it off by balancing out her meals, training and most importantly learning about how to be healthy!”
Dean: Discussing competitions, huge congrats to you on winning the tall class at last year’s CBBF Nationals! Did you make some particular improvements to your physique or changes in presentation that helped key the big win?
Michelle: “Thank-you, it was truly an awe-inspiring moment for me.
“You know this sport is so subjective, you never know from one year to the next or from one show to another. The year previous I thought I nailed my physique. I felt it was the best conditioning to date, but the judges thought I was a little too lean. Then this year I came in softer, not the best physique I think I’ve had but the judges obviously thought it was. In this sport you are always trying to think what the judges want—when you think you’ve got it, you don’t and vice versa. One thing I know no matter what, I always bring my confidence to the stage. I work on my presentation until I know I have nailed it so when me and my bundle of nerves walk out I am solid. If you don’t the judges will see through you.
“There wasn’t anything major that I’d say I focused on this past year, but I am always trying to keep my shape as an hour glass, so I focus on rounding and developing my V-taper and keeping my legs tight.”
Dean: You’ve definitely got some momentum going into 2012. Where can we see you next? Have you made any upcoming competition plans yet?
Michelle: “After I broke my leg in September (of course playing rugby! Ugh!) all I could think about was recovering from my surgery and when I’d be able to hit the gym again. It’s tough to sit around especially after being on top! But, I’m happy to say that I am back into full training mode and I have my sights set on Nationals, Aug. 11th, here in Vancouver. I know that I will bring my best physique to date and will balance the last two years look into one and hope that the judges will think the same. Nationals will be on the very same stage on which I first competed so it will be an amazing experience to earn my Pro card there and in front of all my family and friends!”
Dean: I noticed you competed a few years ago in a Battle of the Biceps event at the Olympia. How did you do in that? What other strength challenges have you done?
Michelle: “Yes, I did. I think I got second in that! It was a lot of fun. I enjoy doing those types of challenges and have been contemplating competing in an adventure race or another fitness challenge such as Femsport, which I competed in a few years ago. The team I was on placed 2nd!”
Dean: You’ve proved your toughness playing in rugby. It’s not quite as rough, but the Lingerie Football League is reportedly expanding to Vancouver in 2012. Any interest in trying out? Can’t help but think you’d have a great advantage with your height and strength.
Michelle: “LOL!!! I have had so many people approach me on this. I do love a challenge and I love the fact that beautiful women have the athletic ability to play REAL football regardless of what they are wearing. I find it intriguing and I have definitely given it a lot of thought, however, my focus for this year is earning my PRO card at the CBBF Figure Nationals!”
Dean: Is it true that in addition to training, personal training and competing, you’re also a full-time physics, math and chemistry teacher? It’s nothing short of amazing that you’re able to juggle all this while being a mom, too. The obvious question is how do you do it?
Michelle: “Juggling is the right word here! I like to be busy, it keeps me driven and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I want to know that I have done all that I wanted to do in my life the best that I could. How do I do it? Let’s say my mind rarely shuts off. I write everything down, schedule time for all that I do, and I live with my calendar. My weekdays are very busy and sleep is pretty minimal but I do make the time on weekends to catch up on rest and time with the family. It’s all about seeking balance…not sure if I have found it but nevertheless, I make sure that I balance my time with work, training and family. My family time is precious and they are such a huge support system for me that no matter how busy things get they are my first priority.”
Dean: Michelle, thanks so much for doing this interview. Hope we can catch up again soon. Meanwhile, any special shout outs you’d like to give to those who’ve helped you along your fitness journey?
Michelle: “Thank-you for taking the time interview me, Dean!
“There are so many people that have supported me along this journey. My sponsors, the http://www.suitlady.ca, Colleen creates custom beautiful suits; Magnum Nutraceuticals for my supplements; BCABBA, our provincial organization which helps fund so many of us athletes and of course my friends & family, especially my husband for not only his patience but his encouragement.”