Erica Blockman Wins Physique Overall, Pro Card at Jr. Nationals

•June 16, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Physique Champ: Erica posing yesterday during her new shoot at Jr. Nationals, where she won her IFBB pro card.

Physique Champ: Erica posing yesterday during her new shoot at Jr. Nationals, where she won her IFBB pro card.

After working so hard on making improvements only to be left with consecutive top six finishes at the NPC Nationals in Florida, our own star physique girl Erica Blockman had grown so disillusioned with the sport that the 26-year-old considered hanging up her competition suit and stepping away.

Last night at the Jr. Nationals in Chicago, Erica’s recent disappointments were washed away in a flood of jubilant elation when she took home the top prize and a pro card in women’s physique.

It was a tale of sweet redemption and validation for the outstanding 5-foot-1 powerhouse, who swept the category, first winning the short class and later claiming the overall physique championship. She was the unanimous choice—an obvious standout during Friday’s prejudging—and the win left the Mt. Shasta, California native glowing with happiness on stage.

The overall trophy was icing on the cake, underscoring her tireless determination to succeed these past few years. Erica has always had a magnificent upper body and core—highlighted by her stunning upper back, densely muscled shoulders, thick triceps and chiseled abs—but her smaller lower body meant she needed to bring up her leg development.

Erica certainly accomplished that goal and you can see the results in these comparison photos from her brand new shoot yesterday just hours before her victorious romp. Just check out the dramatic difference in muscularity in her quads between unflexed and flexed poses.

We’re excited to bring this wonderful, freshly-crowned IFBB physique pro back to the studio. Erica’s friendliness and smile have a way of lighting up the room; she’s a delightful sweetheart in person and it was a joy to cover her win.

Jr. Nats—Beautiful Jamie Byron Caps Busy Day of Shoots

•June 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Star Quality: Figure competitor Jamie Byron poses during her debut shoot at the 2013 Jr. Nationals in Chicago.

Star Quality: Introducing the amazingly cute figure competitor Jamie Byron, posing during her debut shoot at the 2013 Jr. Nationals in Chicago.

Sometimes you find undiscovered talent just by walking around the expo or even the lobby at a show like Jr. Nationals. Fortunately, that’s what happened with Jamie Byron, a brand new figure competitor we met here in Chicago. The 29-year-old showstopper out of Denver, Colorado brings the goods in her debut shoot—beautiful cover girl looks, stunning physique, charming personality and playful attitude—and easily rockets to the top of the ranks in becoming one of the best new models on the site this year.

Showing off her background in dance, Jamie gave us an excellent sample of some Latin-themed moves like the salsa and cha-cha with great fluidity and an adorable smile that will be a video highlight to come. Also worth mentioning is some more bicep measuring footage; Jamie told us she considers arms her best bodypart—then she proved it with shots like this. Let me just say that you’ll be impressed by both the baseball-shape and expansion of this 5-foot-6 figure tall class standout.

* * *

Jamie put the finishing touches on a busy Saturday (four shoots in all) which featured three other shoots including Kay Jordt, as mentioned in my last post. We also worked with two physique competitors, Tracy Weller and Erica Blockman. Tracy is new to the studio and Erica—who may leave the Windy City this weekend with a pro card—returns in her best shape yet. More on those shoots to come and more action coming up tomorrow so stay tuned.

Jr. Nats 2013 – Kay Jordt

•June 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Pretty in Pink: Kay Jordt shows off her outstanding contest shape look at Jr. Nats.

Pretty in Pink: Kay Jordt shows off her outstanding contest shape look at Jr. Nats.

You’ll remember Kay Jordt from this year’s Arnold show as well as my interview that came shortly after her debut shoot in Columbus. Fans of the Wisconsin figure competitor will be delighted to know that she’s back for an encore shoot and looking even more impressive in contest shape.

Kay is already an accomplished IFPA pro and has made a splendid transition to the NPC this season, winning two local shows in Minnesota. The Jr. Nationals this weekend represents her national-level debut and it looks like a top ten finish is possible. The finals are later on tonight.

We caught up with the 5-foot-6 raven-haired beauty Saturday morning and she showed off her stunning physique — including those highlight-worthy abs and strikingly peaked biceps — while melting the lens with her charming personality and glowing smile. A special surprise to come from this shoot will be some bicep-measuring footage of this curvy, marvelous young athlete whose muscles are as steely hard as they are beautiful.

Jr. Nats 2013 – Angelina Masino

•June 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Angelina Masino

Hot off the Presses: Figure girl Angelina Masino makes her debut on the studio!

Bringing great new talent to the studio is always one of our main goals and with Angelina Masino — a top national level figure competitor out of Spokane, Washington — we’re off to a great start at the Jr. Nationals in Chicago.

The beautiful 5-foot-6 brunette just finished rocking the stage in prejudging before this shoot and it’s looking like she will be a likely top six finisher in her class, improving nicely on last year when she placed 10th in the Windy City. She also competed at this year’s California State Championships and finished third in her class.

Angelina is eager to talk to the judges and get feedback as to what she needs to do to keep improving. Clearly she’s got her sights set on earning a pro card and looks like she has great potential. But most importantly, she’s a total sweetheart and a class act. We’re very excited to be adding her to our lineup.

Live at the Jr. Nationals

•June 14, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Hey fans, your intrepid blogger Dean here bringing you something special this year. I’m live at the Jr. Nationals 2013 with our main man Lou and will be providing live updates of our shoots as they happen. So stay tuned to the blog for all the latest shoots to come. We’ll be on the go most of the weekend and I’ll be posting pictures and news on the athletes in random quick posts. Should be another fun time in Chicago! Stick around!

Rachel Gilmore Excited About Switch to Physique Division

•June 6, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Flex Time: Rachel Gilmore is switching from figure to the physique division in 2013.

Flex Time: Rachel Gilmore is switching from figure to the physique division in 2013.

Rachel Gilmore is about to get her flex back on. The impressive former figure competitor took time out from her busy schedule this week to discuss plans to crossover to physique this year, announcing she’ll make her debut this fall in a local show in her hometown of Spokane, Washington before heading to the NPC Nationals in Miami, Florida.

Last time we saw Rachel was at the 2012 Emerald Cup where the always stunning 5-foot-2 beauty finished second in a competitive figure short class. Having had some time to contemplate the switch to physique and focus on improvements, the 25-year-old showstopper is tremendously excited about this new challenge.

Meanwhile, Rachel has a fundraiser going to try and offset some of the expenses involved in competition and travel. Considering she’ll be traveling cross country from Washington to Florida, the airfare alone will be quite high and everything else adds up. If you’re a fan and you’d like to help, just click the Go Fund Me link to find out how you can donate.

Rachel’s smile alone lights up a stage, and if she wins her pro card in the Sunshine State—definitely a possibility considering she’s first call out material in every show and has a bodybuilding background that proves she can pose with the best—you can say you helped get her there.

For more info and pics, check out my first interview with Rachel from 2011.

* * *

Dean: Rachel, I’m delighted to catch up with you again! It’s exciting to hear that you’re hoping to make your national debut later this season. Is it true you will crossover from figure to the physique division? What made you decide to switch?


Shapely Beauty: Rachel poses during her shoot at Emerald Cup in 2012.

Rachel: The pleasure is all mine! Yes it’s true, I’ll be crossing over to physique in my next show come September 28th here in Spokane. I decided to crossover to physique because I have such large legs and mass that it’s hard for me to cut down and fit in the figure category any longer. I feel like all the progress and gains that I make in my off season burn off in my contest prep doing cardio trying to get that shape that they want for figure. It was a tough decision to switch over to physique because I have been doing so well in figure; it’s always scary to step into unknown territory. But I decided that I want to explore my body’s true potential, not limit it so I decided to go with physique.

Dean: You haven’t competed since the Emerald Cup last year. Have you been keeping busy? Any news in your life or adventures to share?

Rachel: Yes, it has been over a year since I last competed. Though I had meant to compete the fall of 2012 and this year as well, things did not turn out due to some difficulties I was having with my body. I am excited to say that I have made some significant gains in this last year since I last competed. I have put on a significant amount of size, and the shape of my body and overall package has drastically improved. The next time I step on stage will be a whole new package that I’ve never brought to stage before.

Dean: I know you started as a bodybuilder so you are used to lifting pretty heavy, but have you had to shake up your training at all to prepare for the transition to physique?

Rachel used to compete in track and field and has exceptionally strong legs. She once squat pressed 420 pounds!

Rachel used to compete in track and field and has exceptionally strong legs. She once squat pressed 420 pounds!

Rachel: I’ve always loved lifting heavy. Even when I was competing for figure I always did heavy lifts and more of a bodybuilder style workout. For this contest prep I’m exploring my body more and finding out I’m having to change my routine up a lot. I’ve transitioned over to really high rep, lower weight burn out on every muscle group, as well as hitting the same muscle group multiple times in the week, to really deplete my body and help to get that streamlined, more separated definition I want. I have started doing a lot of supersets trying to keep my body at a constant high heart rate as well.

Also for the first time I have joined with a few great teams this time around. I have teamed up with Wolfe4life nutrition and training by Shawn Wolfe as my nutritionist, as well as complete nutrition as my sponsor for all my supplemental needs, and of course my amazing chiropractor, Dr. Michael Valente at Valente Chiropractic.

Dean: How exciting is the thought of being able to be on stage flexing again and showing off your hard work? The muscles look so impressive on your small frame and you have such excellent symmetry—I think you’ll be really hard to beat in the short class!

Rachel: Though I have loved competing in figure I am extremely, extremely excited to be on stage for more than 2 minutes doing quarter turns. I am also excited about doing my routine for the audience and finally being able to show my body’s true definition and physique instead of downplaying it trying to look small on stage to blend in with the rest of the girls and not be too dominant and muscular in the lineup. Transitioning over to physique allows me to grow and expand my body, really be able to allow my body to reach its true natural potential, which I am extremely excited about!

"I've always loved lifting heavy. Even when I was competing for figure I always did heavy lifts and more of a bodybuilder style workout… I have put a lot of emphasis into my glutes and hamstrings so hopefully the work I have done will pay off."

Rachel notes on training: “I’ve always loved lifting heavy. I always did heavy lifts and more of a bodybuilder style workout… I have put a lot of emphasis into my glutes and hamstrings so hopefully the work will pay off.”

Dean: The cost of competing is quite high these days and I know you have a fundraiser going right now. I’m confident plenty of supporters will want to chip in and help you get back to that stage! Could you give the info and link so friends and fans will know where to go and what to do to help?

Rachel: Yes, I’d be more than happy to share the link with you! Any and all help is extremely appreciated! Unfortunately I don’t get any money or income from competing so I have to fund my own way to get to shows and pay for my own hotels, flights, entry fees, NPC card and tanning. Everything gets so expensive when you’re a single mom working a minimum wage job paying my own bills and everything on my own. I’m also a student getting my PhD in holistic nutrition, so as you can see I have quite the plate full.

I’d like to thank everyone in advance for checking my page out and for any and all donations that I do receive for the upcoming show at Nationals in Miami this fall. Thank you for helping me accomplish my dreams! Also thank you Dean for this interview and chance to really connect with all the people who inspire me and encourage me to keep up the hard work that I have been putting in. I couldn’t do it without all the supporters out there!

Click to donate to Rachel’s competition fund at:

Michelle Blank Second at Toronto Pro in Fitness Return

•June 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment
She's Back: Michelle Blank returned to fitness at the 2013 Toronto Pro.

She’s Back: Michelle Blank returned to fitness at the 2013 Toronto Pro.

Even though Canadian Ryall Vasani of Alberta came away the winner at this year’s Toronto Pro, Michelle Blank may have stole the show with a surprising second place finish in her return to fitness. The 31-year-old, limited to competing in women’s physique since a calf injury forced her out of the Fitness International early last season, had missed over a year from the division.

Speculation grew that Michelle, who has a history of injuries, might not be healthy enough to compete in the sport again. But that changed this past weekend. Like many dedicated athletes, she’s been outspoken in her support of fitness and determined to engineer a comeback. This latest trip to Canada marked her first time competing in fitness since 2011, when she finished in the top six at the Olympia.

The studio was well-represented in fitness elsewhere at the Toronto show. Our own Ashley Sebera made her IFBB debut and finished seventh, Amanda Hatfield took sixth, and Iowa’s Babette Mulford was eighth. But Michelle’s rousing comeback, complete with a playful punk rocker theme routine, perhaps outshined all.

It’s not the first time the Ocean City, New Jersey native has overcome an injury or setback. She was forced to retire from elite-level gymnastics at 17 after a back injury, but never lost her passion and eventually returned to the sport as an adult. Not long after that, she met the accomplished fitness pro Tracey Greenwood and a new passion began. Michelle was an instant star and went on to win a pro card in just her second show in 2010. It’s great to see her back on the fitness stage again and hopefully she’s there to stay.

*Read more about Michelle at her website.

*Check out Michelle’s physique posing routine at the 2012 St. Louis Pro. She placed second.


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