Maegan Swain Switching From Figure to Physique

•October 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Maegan Swain

The recent Tournament of Champions show is primarily a setting for pro competitors making a final push for the Olympia; meanwhile, the NPC classes are a showcase for tomorrow’s stars. One such competitor who graced the California stage is 27-year-old figure newbie Maegan Swain out of Sacramento, who placed second in her figure class and then took time out to pose her striking contest shape frame for our cameras outside by the pool. Photos and videos are up now.

Maegan’s looks and physique are somewhat reminiscent of Danielle Rouleau and feature a similarly outstanding lower body with tremendous quad size and sweep. Maegan’s abs, arms and capped shoulders are quite impressive as well. No surprise hearing she’s poised to crossover into the physique ranks soon and is worth keeping an eye on.

When not competing, Maegan operates her own spray tanning business, MissFit Mobile Tanning, offering alternatives to tanning beds and airbrush tanning. She also specializes in helping fellow competitors prepare their tans for the stage. You can check out more by visiting her site.

Diminutive Erica Blockman Defies Odds as Female Firefighter

•October 6, 2011 • 2 Comments

Exquisitely Athletic: Erica Blockman poses during her shoot at the 2011 Emerald Cup.

Erica Blockman doesn’t just welcome a wide range of challenges in her life, she seems to go out looking for more. The radiant dark-eyed, bronze-skinned brunette with the million-watt smile quickly distinguished herself early this year when she took the stage in both figure and bodybuilding categories at the Emerald Cup, eventually winning her figure class. It’s not the ordinary way to take in a show but then again Erica is no ordinary girl.

Thus far, what she’s doing on the weekend competitive stage pales in comparison to what she does during the bulk of the week. For over four years, the native of Mt. Shasta—a rugged and scenic hamlet of Northern California—has worked as a firefighter and paramedic for the local department. Clearly the most important challenge she’s taken on, Erica wrote a brilliant article for the website FireLife discussing how she deals with the issue of being a woman in a distinctly male-dominated profession; and more noteworthy, about how her dedicated fitness lifestyle has helped dispel questions about her efficacy handling a strenuous and dangerous job.

Click to read Erica’s full article, Fitness and the Female Firefighter.

Erica deftly breaks down the perception and reality of women firefighters. “When the general public hears the word ‘firefighter,’ they think of a tall, strong, beefy man,” she writes, “not a smaller-framed woman. So for those of us in the minority in the fire service, there is typically a lot of proving to be done.” On the other hand, Erica notes, “There are a lot of females in the fire service who definitely look the role! They are taller, look stronger, carry a great command presence, and get the job done just as easily as the men do.”

Hot Stuff: Erica is a firefighter and paramedic in her hometown of Mt. Shasta, California.

Reading this, muscular figure (future physique?) girl Tori Stroud and new physique pro Nola Trimble spring immediately to mind. Both work in the fire service industry and each woman is considerably taller and bigger than Erica, who clocks in at 5-foot-2 and 109 pounds. But don’t let her smallish stature fool you. Erica has the skills, smarts and strength to get the job done and whatever she lacks in size, she more than makes up for in heart.

It’s not surprising Erica has turned the supposed physical handicaps of her job inside out. She has been active and fit for most of her life, working out since age 12 to improve for sports—track and field, gymnastics and even wrestling—and has been the proverbial “gym rat” since. Later, when her knees could no longer handle the pounding from sprinting, she found a new passion in the world of figure.

On the side, she delights in being a personal trainer and fitness instructor, inspiring—and being inspired by—her students. “I dont want to be caught panting and out of breath by my students during a cardio kickboxing class,” Erica says. “The stronger and more endurance I have, the more my students will feed off of my energy and enjoy my classes. There is not a day that goes by that I do not appreciate when my students tell me that they want to take my class to have my body. That is motivation in itself to keep going and pushing hard in the gym.”

The extra motivation is simultaneously leading to great improvements in Erica’s physique and paying dividends in her figure journey. Another challenge met this past weekend, she won the figure overall title at the NPC Seven Feathers Championships in Canyonville, Oregon. The win almost certainly qualifies Erica to move on to the national-level, where a well-developed upper body, solid core and great stage presence will get her noticed; moreover, adding a little size and sweep to her legs could boost symmetry and lead to a break through.

Figure Champ: The personal trainer and fitness instructor won the overall title at the NPC Seven Feathers show last weekend in Southwest Oregon.

Meanwhile, like one of the best fitness motivational speakers, Erica writes in her article about how training at the gym increases self-confidence and mental awareness. “If you know how to train and push yourself to the limit physically,” she says, “you break mental barriers as well—the barriers that prevent you from becoming a stronger person. The more you physically challenge yourself, the more you realize that your body is more capable and stronger than you believed.”

On the rich rewards of fitness, she writes, “If you make physical fitness a top priority and learn to take that mental push you give yourself at the gym in your everyday life, the possibilities are endless at what you can do.”

For Erica herself, so far so good.

Kristin Bogie Keeps Eye on Figure Prize

•September 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Figure Competitor Kristin Bogie

Chronicling her fitness journey with her blog on Bodybuilding.com, Kristin Bogie writes proudly about getting that “beach body” that draws so much positive attention. She makes a similar impression in new photos posted early this week from her debut shoot over the summer.

Even though she’s out of Pittsburgh, Kristin sounds as though she’s been plucked from the outdoor gyms of Venice Beach when writing about how it feels when someone pauses in amazement or asks how she’s earned her shapely physique. “I just love it,” she says. “All the vanity of it. Turning heads. Being able to say ‘Yeah, I workout everyday.’”

Click to visit Kristin’s blog.

Backing that irresistible streak of California narcissism, the 29-year-old holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She’s also a personal trainer and co-owner of a new website called JK Fitness, designing diet and workout plans for online fitness enthusiasts.

Click to visit Kristin’s personal training website.

From these details and especially this shot—looking strong and confident showing off her sporty, healthy look in chic workout attire during her shoot at Jr. Nationals this past summer—you wouldn’t guess that Kristin has spent time dealing with her own weight issues.

The personal trainer from Pittsburgh poses during her shoot in Chicago at Jr. Nats.

But that’s exactly the case. Even though she’s a sturdy 5-foot-6 and 127 pounds right now, at one point Kristin’s weight surged to 170, a high number for an avid swimmer and aspiring figure competitor.

Emotionally traumatic events were one reason for the gain, another was a compulsion for excessive junk food—sugary pastries, candy, soda pop—that she still wrestles with today. Fortunately, focusing on a dream to compete has kept Kristin motivated and she’s got three shows under her belt, including one at the national level; but her future figure success might pivot on whether she can get the cravings under control.

“At some point I have to kick myself into gear and just have the will power to ignore the impusive foodie behaviors and keep my eye on the prize,” Kristin writes.

Indeed, at a time when many people regard them as superwomen impervious to the dark specter of unhealthy junk food that haunts the general public, Kristin’s flaws and weaknesses are a reminder that even trained, largely disciplined fitness athletes are still human and therefore sometimes vulnerable to cravings, temptation and binge eating.

It makes her successes all the more important, since it’s an example of how with the right vision and determination those flaws and weaknesses can be overcome.

WP’s Next Breakout Star?

•September 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

When talk of rising stars heats up, there’s always plenty of names to go around. Our latest update Nikki Warner is no exception. The youthful veteran has been competing on and off for over a decade, gracing both bodybuilding and figure stages. Right now, she’s a serious contender in the new Women’s Physique division.

If this week’s video update has you pining for more and more Nikki, you’re not alone. She’s easily one of the best new models on the site and has the ideal frame to succeed in physique, as you can tell from these great pics from her shoot.

After a solid finish at North Americans, Nikki is prepping for NPC Nationals and a final shot at becoming one of the first-year pros in physique. Look for her to bring her A-game when she brings her steely, sexy looks to the Sunshine State later this fall.

Physique Competitor Nikki Warner Coming Soon

•September 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Niche of Time: Nikki Warner gets her flex on in the new physique division at North Americans. Photo credit: Jeff Binns

These are definitely some exciting times on the Studio as far as new shoots are concerned. Along with just updated material of resurgent fitness star Amanda Hatfield, today’s news spotlights the terrific fan favorite and cover girl beauty Nikki Warner, who likewise recently resumed competing after a lengthy hiatus. Drawn to the new women’s physique division, Nikki was one of the highlights at the North Americans and finished sixth in a competitive short class, the largest WP class (23) at the show.

A former standout high school and college track and cross country runner, Nikki was also a collegiate national champion in both figure and bodybuilding ranks back in 2003. She’s another promising athlete with the right balance of femininity and muscle to really blossom all over again in the new division. Now that she’s found her niche, the sexy 5-foot-2, 110-pound blonde isn’t slowing down and plans to hit the stage again this November at the NPC Nationals.

We’re just getting started. More to come on Nikki including sample pictures from her new shoot. Meanwhile, be sure to check out her neat and navigable website, the breezy MissNikki.com.

Returning Fitness Star Splendid in Comeback

•September 15, 2011 • 2 Comments

She’s Baaaack!: Amazing Amanda Hatfield shines in her return to fitness.

Amanda Swallow was a highly popular face on physique sites and a nationally ranked fitness competitor when she slipped away from the scene about five years ago. Now that she’s back as Amanda Hatfield, enthusiastic fans are in the midst of the rousing comeback they’d long been hoping for; meanwhile, the fitness division reclaims one of its most athletic and beautiful talents of the past several years.

Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for the tireless 40-year-old gymnastics and cheerleading coach to begin making up for lost time, securing first place at the NPC Julie Palmer Ultimate Showdown this past June in Toledo, Ohio and qualifying to compete in Fitness Nationals at Team Universe. Amanda looked great and performed well in New Jersey, but missed a jump and a press hold in an otherwise very entertaining, well-choreographed routine that was still good enough to claim fifth in the short class.

Next on Amanda’s comeback trail came the recent North Americans—where her new shoot takes place—and there she delivered a crisp, clean routine en route to a short class win. Known for dazzling strength moves and expert gymnastics skills, Amanda was at her best in Cleveland. Tall class and overall winner Danielle Ruban was the only competitor who stood between her and a pro card, on a night that not only cemented Amanda’s comeback, but restored her status as one of the division’s top contenders.

You can stop dreaming because it‘s finally true. Our amazing Mandy is back in the flesh and some might say she’s better than ever. Stay tuned, there’s plenty more of her to come.

Watch Amanda’s fitness routine from the 2011 Team Universe.
Watch Amanda’s fitness routine from the 2011 North Americans.

Coverage of 2011 North Americans shoots continues tomorrow with a look at new physique competitor Nikki Warner’s debut coming soon!

Confident Cheryl Chechel Aims High on Physique Stage

•August 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Figure and Soon-to-be Physique Competitor Cheryl Chechel.

Our latest arrival is Cheryl Chechel, a striking newcomer to the scene who made her national-level figure debut at the USAs after a string of top finishes—including first place at the NPC Texas State Championships—in just her first season of competing last year. She also notched a third place finish at the Europa Supershow and claimed second in the masters category at the Branch Warren Classic.

Although she now lives in Houston, Texas, Cheryl is a native Long Islander and when I caught up with her last week for a quick interview, it was easy to sense that she hasn’t lost any of that New York swagger. For instance, when I asked about her biggest goals in the fitness industry, the 36-year-old responded with the fiery confidence and youthful enthusiasm of a high school prep star getting ready for a big game. “My goals are to be an IFBB pro. I will be a pro no question or doubt,” she said.

A bold statement coming from a girl who, save for a short stint at soccer,  didn’t grow up playing a lot of sports like so many of today’s competitors and only began working out in the gym consistently a few years ago. On starting out in fitness, “I used machines and kind of winged it, then p90x became my regiment,” Cheryl said.

Cheryl credits the home exercise program with giving her a start on training and nutrition basics. “I feel like I built my base muscle to my physique,” she said of the early days. “I changed my diet drastically and that’s when the changes really started. I was committed to a healthy lifestyle.”

First Impressions: One of Cheryl’s early inspirations, and a co-worker at the time, was fitness model Jamie Eason. “She was just getting into the biz,” Cheryl noted. “This lifestyle peaked my interest.”

That commitment to health and fitness only grew the stronger Cheryl became. “As I developed strength and muscle the changes felt phenomenal,” she said. “It challenged me. I was even more driven, motivated and wanting more. It became my passion.”

The contest ready 5-foot-5, 130-pound brunette has only gotten better this past year. “I have widened my shoulders and attacked my legs greatly that I am most proud of,” Cheryl explained. “Still a work in progress, shoulder caps and wider lats are what I am working on at the moment.”

Cheryl was 15th (out of 32) in figure’s class D at USAs. After witnessing the cavalcade of prime physiques in Las Vegas, she’s more determined than ever to improve against the increasingly tough competition. “You can never be satisfied,” she said. “Every time I step out on stage, I will be better and better. Always.”

Spreading Love: “Special thanks to all my friends and family who have supported and do support me in this sport.” -- Cheryl

If Cheryl does indeed make it to the IFBB ranks one day—dare anyone doubt her—it looks like it will be as a physique competitor instead of figure. “It suits me,” Cheryl said of switching to the new division. “I think the new physique category is awesome and I’m up for the challenge.” Cheryl’s physique debut will be at NPC Nationals on November 18th in Miami Beach, Florida.

Answering a question about reactions she’s gotten since taking on her new competitive lifestyle, Cheryl says the reviews have been mixed. “Most don’t understand it. There is no quick fix. It’s hard work, dedication and discipline to be in this sport.”

On the other hand, all the positive responses have been both a feather in her cap and a catalyst to keep pushing herself. “People can’t believe my transformation,” Cheryl says proudly. “Inspiring and motivating others make it so much more rewarding.”

 
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