2013 Arnold Photoshoots, More Contest News

•March 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Jhi's Back: The South Korean cutie stopped by for a new shoot from Columbus.

Jhi’s Back: The South Korean cutie stopped by for a new shoot from Columbus.

The Arnold Sports Festival wrapped up last weekend and as usual it was a busy few days with various contests, promotions, throngs of people flooding the expo floor and one of the biggest pro competitions of the year on the main stage. For sites like ours, this show is less about the actual photo shoots and more meet-and-greet, setting the table for other events throughout the year. Still, we do have four new shoots coming from Columbus.

Three of four are familiar faces. Bodybuilder Lisa Aranda, an Ohio native, returns for new shoot; Kashma Maharaj, who competed and won the amateur lightweight bodybuilding division, is back for a contest-shape encore; and Asian sensation Yeon Woo Jhi, who is streamlining her look to compete in physique, checks in for a third shoot. Our latest new model coming soon is Kay Jordt, a top figure athlete in the IFPA federation who plans to make her pro debut in the Ms. Natural Minnesota on May 10 in Bloomington, Minn.

Elsewhere on the contest beat…

Marissa Hein is training hard and excited about her progress less than three weeks out from her season debut, the Vancouver Natural/Tanji Johnson Classic on March 30 in Vancouver, Wash. On her blog, the pretty figure girl wrote about how she’s started crossfit workouts and dramatically increased her pull up strength. “Over the course of the last 5 months I have gone from being able to do a couple of unassisted pull ups in one set to being able to do 12-15 in a set with a few sets too,” Marissa wrote, adding how empowering it feels doing multiple pull ups while guys look on with envy at her gym.

Caroline Williams is off to a great start in the physique division. The former cheerleader, track and soccer player turned personal trainer and chiropractor out of Las Vegas won the physique overall title at the NPC Gold Coast Classic in Southern California last month.

Victoria Adelus recently announced her pro debut. The talented former fitness competitor and TV news anchor, who earned her pro card at Team Universe last summer, plans to compete this weekend at the St. Louis Pro.

Over and Out: Bikini Pro Shelsea Montes puts the brakes on her competitive career..

Over and Out: Bikini Pro Shelsea Montes puts the brakes on her competitive career.

Cristina Ortiz has shifted to the NPC and will kick off her season at the Jr. USAs. The bikini competitor out of Orlando, Florida won her class and the overall championship at the OCB Florida State Classic Cup last fall to claim an IFPA pro card.

Shelsea Montes, one of the first ever bikini pros, has decided to retire. She broke the news in an emotional post on her blog, citing fatigue and metabolic damage. Shelsea won her pro card in 2010 and competed in several shows—including the Bikini International and Bikini Olympia—over a two year span but weight issues made prep increasingly difficult and distressing. She shares helpful advice (and links) for other competitors with similar symptoms. “If your body can’t get lean enough in a certain prep time to where you have to do hours of cardio or crash diet, give yourself more time. Competitions will always be there.”

Fitness Pro Talks About Division, Plans Season Debut

•February 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Fitness Rules: Ashley Sebera's loving tribute is just what the struggling division needs.

Fitness Rules: Ashley Sebera pens loving tribute to the beleaguered and beloved division.

Fitness star Ashley Sebera hasn’t made her pro debut yet but she’s already making positive headlines for a division which continues to somehow fade into the background despite overwhelming popularity, entertainment value and historic significance. This year there will only be six professional fitness shows and just two, the Fitness International and Olympia, will be held in the United States unless more dates are added.

Last week, Ashley wrote an impassioned tribute to the sport and its sensational athletes—ten of whom to showcase their dazzling aerial and strength skills in Columbus later this week—that has circulated on social media and forums.

“The preparation and mindset in fitness is not like anything else,” Ashley wrote in part of her letter. “These women have to not only train strong in the gym with weights, but also have to take time to go into a studio to perform and come up with a routine that shows their true strength ability!”

Ashley talked about the myriad things fitness competitors have to do to prepare for a show, in many cases balancing careers and family life. “You make time for your food prep, cardio, stretching, weight training, tumbling, routine time and preparation, suit fitting, costume designs, mixing music, and posing practice… I don’t think that it is taken into consideration how much is involved in the fitness division. I appreciate each and everyone’s hard work and really look up to each of you for keeping fitness strong!”

Ashley will be attending the Arnold Expo working at the Smart Shake booth and wished all the Fitness International competitors good luck at the competition. The beautiful Ohio native earned her pro card at the Fitness Nationals last season. She plans to make her own IFBB debut in May at the Toronto Pro Fitness Championships. Ashley shows off a few fitness tricks in video here on the site so be sure to check those out if you haven’t already—they’re some of the best clips of 2012!

Amanda Hatfield Gets Ready for Arnold Debut

•February 22, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Arnold Bound: Ohio native Amanda Hatfield competes in her first Fitness International next weekend.

Ohio native Amanda Hatfield competes in her first Fitness International next weekend.

The opening of the 2013 Arnold Classic and Expo is just days away and that means it’s a good time to catch up with one of the new stars, Amanda Hatfield, set to make her Fitness International debut. After she won her pro card last year, Mandy twice hit the pro stage down in Florida, beginning with the Ft. Lauderdale Cup and finishing with the IFBB Pro World Championships in Miami. She took seventh in both events.

The Arnold takes place in Columbus, Ohio and it will be Mandy’s first pro show in her home state. Some notable competitors will be missing from the event this year, including Tina Durkin and Jodi Boam, limiting the field to ten women and making the show seemingly more wide open than it’s been in a while.

We’re hoping to get more thoughts from Amanda within the next few days before the show, but for now she reports that contest prep has been going well which is certainly good news. Today is even more special with a massive 11-clip update from her latest photo shoot along Lake Erie. Also click on the links below check out her routines from her first two pro shows and here’s another with Mandy and her good friend Ashley from last year’s Arnold.

Amanda at the 2012 Ft Lauderdale Cup

Amanda at the 2012 Pro World Championships

Interview with Figure Competitor Jen Moriarty

•February 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment
About Jen: I recently turned 30 years old!!! I am just a hair over 5'2. My NEW offseason weight is 120, which may be higher depending on how close we are to the holidays. At Nationals, I weighed 114 the morning of the show, hoping to be about the same weight and 2% leaner for the next show I do. I was born in Hinsdale, Ill., a suburb about 25 min from downtown Chicago.

About Jen: I recently turned 30 years old!!! I am just a hair over 5’2. My NEW offseason weight is 120, which may be higher depending on how close we are to the holidays. At Nationals, I weighed 114 the morning of the show, hoping to be about the same weight and 2% leaner for the next show I do. I was born in Hinsdale, Ill., a suburb about 25 min from downtown Chicago.

Let’s pick up where we left off last time by continuing a discussion with the tremendously inspiring new figure competitor Jen Moriarty. The beautiful and determined 30-year-old shares a compelling story about how fitness has significantly impacted her life, helping her overcome some devastating injuries and scary illnesses of late. She is, by far, one of the up and coming stars of the division going into this season—and a plucky girl to root for as much for her tenacious spirit as for her warm smile.

* * *

Dean: I read that you got into competing as a way to get back in shape after suffering injuries in a car accident. Your comeback is very inspiring. What have been some of the hardest challenges, physically and emotionally, that you’ve had to overcome to get where you are?

Jen: My injuries included a spinal fracture and herniated disks, as well as nerve damage and muscular tears. I had SO much scar tissue in my muscles and connective tissue when I first started trying to get in shape, I was pretty much covered in ice packs when I wasn’t in the gym. Obviously, this was incredibly physically and emotionally challenging. I was concerned about my goal to overcome the odds—was I pushing too hard? Would I injure myself more severely?

I spent $30k on spinal rehab and was told by the best doctors I could find that I should accept that I had new limitations. That never sat well with me and I continued to stay consistent with my training and rehabilitation work (foam rolling, icing, chiropractic, etc), because I noticed even though I was in pain, my function was improving. My left tricep and rear delt were completely numb for about three years after the accident, but through working out and focusing on those muscles I started to be able to control them again. I kept going because the cleaner I ate, the more I moved, and the stronger I got, the less I needed pain killers and muscle relaxants. And now I take no medications :-)

Dean: You mentioned competing at Nationals even though you were pretty sick with the flu at the time. Yet you still managed amazingly to finish third in your class! First of all, glad you are feeling better and second, how were you able to tough-it-out and get through the show?

Jen: Thank you! Yeah, on the drive down to Atlanta I started to get achy and feverish. I did everything I could to boost my immune system. Friday, I thought I had beat it. I looked in the mirror and knew I was about to bring my best package ever to the stage the next morning. My glutes were separated, hams tight, upper body full. I woke up Saturday feeling like a train wreck. Going through my poses in the morning with my coach, we noticed my muscles were cramping and I couldn’t hold my poses; I was clammy, my upper body had shrunk and my lower body had smoothed out.

But I had truly put everything I had for 12 weeks into this package, and I wasn’t going to let a virus get in the way! Unfortunately, about 15 minutes before I got on stage, my fever spiked; my body started feeling like it had been run over by a semi and I got severe shakes. I centered myself and told myself ‘just 10 minutes, and then you can rest!’ I was diagnosed with influenza-A, bronchitis, and a sinus infection. This is the sickest I have been in my adult life. But if a broken back couldn’t keep me off stage, this certainly wasn’t going to stop me! I am so grateful that my hard work paid off at Nationals, and I am extremely thankful and pleased with my placing. I was in a TOUGH class! All the ladies looked amazing!

Dean: I see this is only your second year competing but you’ve already built quite an impressive contest resume. What do you think of your results so far and did you ever dream your competitive journey would begin like this?

Jen: I actually just completed my first year. My first show was November 5, 2011. I have taken 1st place at the three local/national qualifying shows I did, then 3rd at 2012 Jr. Nationals and Nationals. I have never really done this for trophies or placings or pro cards. I got into this as a way to show myself what my mind and body are capable of, despite the odds.

I NEVER expected to be placing the way I have been placing! But I am thrilled nonetheless. I have surprised myself with my success and surprised myself with how my success has inspired others (clients, friends, family, fans) to take charge of their lives, and I hope that my continued involvement in this sport will be an inspiration to others—not necessarily to compete, but to be the best version of themselves they can be, despite what anyone else says.

Dean: What changes to your physique have made you most proud so far and what areas are you trying to improve for next season? Have any judges spoken to you?

Jen: I am most proud of my overall fitness level. I can do things now that I have NEVER even dreamed of doing. My back development is probably the most dramatic change my physique has experienced in the last year.

I have not spoken with the judges regarding my Nationals package, but after Junior Nationals, I was told to sharpen my V-Taper, bring up my arms, and firm up my glutes. I have been contacted by a few local judges telling me how impressed they were with the changes I made and ‘there’s only one thing missing from your package—and you already know what it is’ (they mean my legs—getting them lean has been my challenge since day one). Those have been my target since June, and after looking at the comparison pictures from Nationals, I will continue to work on that as well as my overall muscle development and maturity. The biggest change I will be making is staying close to competition-lean year round. I have usually slacked on my diet between shows, which I think has prevented me from being as tight as I could be on stage.

Dean: I know it’s early, but have you thought about what competitions you might try in 2013? Considering you finished only one spot away from a pro card in your last show, you must be excited about the possibilities?

Jen: I am a Chicago girl, so my next show will be 2013 Junior Nationals. I’m REALLY excited to see what I can bring! I have been able to make so many dramatic improvements in the last year, and I spent most of that year guessing about what would work. In the last six weeks of prep for Nationals, my coach and I really figured out my body and what makes it want to stay lean and strong. So being able to implement that for the next five months is exciting!

Dean: Shifting to your athletic and strength background. Were you always active growing up? What sports did you play when you were younger and throughout high school and college?

Jen: Mostly I have been a gym rat since about 8th grade. I dabbled in sports, track, wrestling, martial arts. But training my body without competition in mind has always been my passion. As a kid, my little brother and I spent a lot of time outside (climbing trees, chopping wood for fun, etc), so I believe part of my physical abilities come from early years of activity.

Dean: Could you share a memory when you surprised someone with your physique or strength, like at the gym, while playing sports or maybe arm wrestling?

Jen: Just one memory? Lol… Here’s one of the funnier ones. I was using a 120lb dumbbell for plié squats (when I weighed 118), picking it up from the ground and putting it back on the rack pretty easily, when a guy came up to me and said, “Do you mind not using such heavy weights? You’re making the rest of us look bad,” waving his arm to include all the rest of the men in the free-weight area. I looked around at everyone, they had all stopped to listen to us. I smiled and replied, “You’re right, I am making you look bad. You guys need to start working harder!”

Dean: Being a new competitor, which fellow competitors in the sport have inspired you the most or do you look up to as role models?

Jen: I have only loosely followed anyone, just to get new training ideas. But now that I found a program that works for me, I identify most with Erin Stern’s training and diet approach—crazy insane workouts, heavy weights, lots of compound and power moves and a diet that is considered ‘high carb’ in the figure world. Basically I admire any athlete who works their a$$ off, diets for health purposes, and doesn’t use any quick fixes, fancy techniques, or magic pills to achieve fitness. Mentally, Erin Stern and Dana Linn Bailey are probably most inspiring because they are athletes and warriors, which is how I like to think of myself.

Dean: How do you feel about the fitness style photo shoots? Is the flexing and posing to show off your hard work and athletic curves for the camera kind of empowering?

Jen: The most empowering thing for me is being in the gym, and lifting more weight than the guy next to me while keeping my body all natural and in better and better health. As for the photo shoots, mostly they are fun for me. And I suppose it is empowering to be sought after because I am ‘strong and beautiful.’ I have only done fashion style flexing shoots so far, but Lou and I were talking about doing a shoot in a gym—which would be AWESOME!

Dean: Jen, thanks so much for doing this interview! Is there anything else you’d like to promote (website, sponsors, personal training business) or any special shout-outs you’d like to give?

Jen: I am co-owner/trainer of Forever Fitness in Aurora, Ill. http://www.foreverfitness2.com, look us up if you are in the area!!!

I would like to thank my brother and coach, Steve Moriarty, for being the most adaptable, knowledgeable and open-minded coach I could ever ask for. He already has one IFBB Pro on his team and many more to come! Definitely look him up on Facebook if you want to take your competition and fitness to the next level!

Thanks to Krivs Studio for the photo shoot and marketing opportunity!!!!

Also want to shout out to my boyfriend and business parter for being so supportive of my goals, my mom for being SO cool about all the crazy things this life needs, and God for giving me the luck, the grace, and the will to get through some really tough things and use it as fuel to keep on rolling! :-)

Jen Moriarty Battles Flu, Takes Third at Nationals

•January 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Jen Moriarty

One of our newest faces on the studio is promising figure girl and personal trainer Jen Moriarty, who comes from Naperville, Illinois right outside my hometown of Chicago. Jen’s new photo shoot took place on NPC Nationals weekend a couple months ago, where the pretty, brunette star competed in class B.

When I caught up with Jen around Thanksgiving, she revealed that she competed at Nationals while dealing with the flu, bronchitis and a high fever. Being so sick, the fact that she was able to get on the stage at all shows how determined she is—but even more astonishing is that the bug didn’t stop her from eventually claiming third place.

Jen is used to overcoming adversity. On her Facebook page, she wrote about using figure competitions as a goal after suffering severe injuries in a car accident two years ago. Doctors said she wouldn’t be the same but Jen set out to prove them wrong. She battled courageously through pain, training six days a week to prepare for her first show.

When it was over she had surprised everyone, including herself, by taking first in her figure class at the 2011 Midwest Iron Man. “In that moment,” Jen wrote, “I was filled with gratitude for all the amazing people in my life that kept me going, and I was startled that despite my incredibly rocky prep, I took home a first place trophy and national qualification.”


Jen poses during her shoot at NPC Nationals in Atlanta.

This past year, she won at two more shows—the NPC Mid-Illinois and NPC Illinois State—before taking the stage in her hometown at Jr. Nationals and finishing a very strong third in her national-level debut. Counting Nationals in Atlanta, she goes into 2013 with five shows to her credit including three wins and nothing lower than third place. She’s made first call-outs at every show so far.

Even though Jen’s been through a lot and has had doubts along the way, rather than make excuses she’s kept pushing herself to improve. “Excuses are like a safety net,” she says. “When you give them all up and give something your all, it’s scary. But, hey, I’ve never done anything in my life that was worthwhile that didn’t also scare the day lights out of me right before I did it, so I must be on the right track!”

Jen remains on the right track in her figure career despite some profound setbacks. She could very easily be headed for a breakout year.

Interview with New Pro Bodybuilder Rene Marven

•January 1, 2013 • Leave a Comment
New IFBB pro bodybuilder Rene Marven

Pro bodybuilder Rene Marven

It was a breakthrough year for Rene Marven, who won the middleweight class and earned a pro card at the NPC Nationals in Atlanta. The 25-year-old’s magical national-level debut sent her soaring into the IFBB ranks as one of its youngest and most promising new pros. She plans to hit the stage next season at the Toronto Pro in late May.

We have photos from Rene’s latest shoot during Nationals weekend—where she shows off her outstanding, championship-caliber form—and I was fortunate to catch up with the new star to get some of her thoughts on the big win as well as a look ahead to 2013.

The popular 5-foot-2 personal trainer from New York started as Fit Body contestant before moving on to figure, but always knew her place was in bodybuilding from the moment she did her first routine. Now she’s claimed her place as one of the best.

Dean: First of all, congratulations, Champ! Knowing how passionate you are about bodybuilding from last time we talked, it must have been such an amazing feeling winning your pro card at Nationals. Can you describe some emotions and thoughts you had the moment they announced you as the middleweight winner?

Rene: “Thank You!! I felt great with my condition going into the show and knew I was at my best shape to date, but hearing my name as the winner wasn’t like anything I could ever imagine. I was so ecstatic smiling so hard my eyes looked shut!”

Dean: Were you pretty confident or a little nervous thinking you had a chance to pull off the win?

Rene poses during a shoot at NPC Nationals, where she won the middleweight class.

Rene poses during a shoot at NPC Nationals, where she won the middleweight class.

Rene: “This year I worked with IFBB pro Fakhri Mubarak to take my physique to the next level. I was very confident with myself going into the show. Every show going in the goal is to win of course, but you never know for sure until they announce the winners. However, I was certainly prepared for anything! Having Fak as a coach was great, especially him being there to check in two or three times a day, from the day I got to Atlanta through show day.”

Dean: It’s always interesting to learn about a competitor’s routine backstage during a big show. In a tense moment like Nationals, is there anything special that you did or talked about before getting up on stage for finals?

Rene: “My routine backstage has always been to relax and know when I need to be ready. I like to have about fifteen minutes to fix suit, oil, eat pre-stage snack, and pump up. I followed the same plan for the finals and just waited to get called for my routine—my favorite part of competing!! As far as feeling tense or nervous, I do experience that before stepping on stage at every show for literally the last minute. Once I get on stage, all nerves are gone and I feel ‘at home.’”

Dean: In our first interview, you mentioned being proud of improvements to your lower body. The separation and definition in your legs at Nationals was outstanding and proves you did your homework! Your arms and abs looked better than ever as well. As far as training, did you focus on anything particular for this show?

Rene: “I’m a firm believer of consistency leading to results. From my last season competing June 2011, I had another 16 months in the gym to work on my ‘nationals package.’ No matter how excited I get to do something I’m known for taking my time. Before entering my first bodybuilding show, I chose my music and started working on a posing routine almost a year out! Next month I’ll be 26, and know there is ever more time before I hit my peak in this sport; I’ll be around for a while.”

Dean: So what are your plans for the off season? Have you picked out at show for your pro debut next year?

The new pro will make her debut at the Toronto SuperShow in May.

The new pro will make her debut at the Toronto SuperShow in May.

Rene: “Training has been the same for me; however, my cardio has dropped a lot less than I was doing before nationals. I will be making my pro debut in the Toronto Pro Super Show the weekend of May 31-June 2. My goal is to bring a similar package like in Atlanta with even better condition. Striated glutes and a smaller waist are a couple things I’m working towards for competing as a pro!”

Dean: I noticed a blog post on your website in which you did a recap of your clients’ competitions and progress throughout the year. That’s a great idea! I think taking this type of interest helps show what an excellent and meticulous personal trainer you are. Do you find yourself more motivated to succeed whenever you help a client reach their goals?

Rene: “Thanks! When my clients compete I feel like I am competing! Being an online coach allows me to work with clients living all over. We are in close contact every week leading to their competition. So even though I could be miles away, it’s like I’m right there with them. Success in general motivates me, however, when it’s my clients it’s like family; I’m happy when they are. I’ve got clients preparing for shows in April, May and June (so far). 2013 is going to be another good year for our team!”

Abby Plans 2013 Stage Return

•December 29, 2012 • Leave a Comment
Spring to Action: Abby Marie competes again this March.

Spring to Action: Abby Marie competes again this March.

Along with the photo update from her newest shoot, let’s take a moment to pass along Abby Marie’s latest contest plans for next season. It appears she’ll return to the stage on March 16 at the NPC Phil Health Classic, a national qualifier, in Houston, Texas. She announced news of the springtime debut over her fan page, but no word yet on which division she’ll choose. The Austin-native first started competing in fitness before moving on to figure and even tried bikini along the way. Based on her look, best guess is she’ll land back in the figure division; however, with gymnastics in her background, you can never count out a return to fitness.


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