Brett Bauer Figure Debut Completes Longtime Goal

•May 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Brett Bauer

Brett Bauer’s figure debut last month at the NPC Grand Prix in Los Angeles was no ordinary rookie show; it was a significant achievement ten years in the making. An interesting fact considering the 32-year-old has been active and fit throughout her life, beginning with cheerleading and dance competitions as early as age seven.

“I first began to train with weights when I was 16,” she told me recently. “I would get up at 5am and go to the local YMCA to workout before I would go to school. Mind you, I really had no clue what I was doing!”

That would soon change. Brett attended the University of South Florida and in addition to her studies became a certified personal trainer and aerobics instructor by the time she graduated. It was right around this time that she began to think about competing.

Long Road to Figure

Brett remembers back when she met a pro bodybuilder and starting a diet program along with him. “I saw my body transform in 12 weeks just by being consistent with the diet and training. It amazed me that I could actually eat six times a day and get lean!” She was 21 at the time.

Alas, even though all the signs pointed to her being ready—she was excited to try, had done all the work and was in contest shape—the reality of stepping on stage was still a long, long way off.

That ultimately helped make her debut on this past April 14th even more special. Brett placed top five in her class at the Grand Prix and achieved a major milestone. But perhaps more important was that during the nervous moments standing up there on stage—her physique on point, pretty blonde hair neatly coifed, expressive brown eyes and soft smile gleaming—she overcame whatever lingering doubts or fears that haunted her for years. All while wearing a blinged-out bikini.

Brett’s stats: Age 32; Height 5’4”; Weight 138 (contest), 155 (off season); Hometown: Fairport, New York; Currently: Venice, California.

Competing is discussed so casually in our sport that the courage and grit it takes to actually go through with it is often vastly underestimated. The spotlights may be ready to shine for you, but not always the other way around.

“I had attempted to do a show for such a long time, that stepping on stage was a huge life-changing experience for me,” Brett said. “I found the experience to be very fun and a little surreal knowing that I had finally did it!”

Physique Debut Next Year?

Brett recalls about her first show: “Right before I walked on stage, all I was thinking was that I hope I didn’t trip in those heels! My typical ‘heels’ are Nike shocks!” Now that she’s finally conquered the butterflies, you might think she’d be eager to hit the stage again, but Brett has other ideas.

“Next on my calendar is going to be a photo shoot, not a contest,” she said. “I have not even thought about when a next contest would be.”

I mentioned to Brett that judging by her photos, she looks like she has enough muscle for a run at the physique division. The solidly-built 5-foot-4, 138-pound athlete leaves that possibility open.

“I would’ve initially entered physique if I had known I had enough muscle for that division,” she revealed. “Since I had never dieted down to that extreme, I had no idea what my physique would actually look like on stage. So for the future I may switch divisions if I choose to compete again.”

Brett poses for a gym shot after her long-awaited first figure show in Southern California.

Reaching a Personal Goal

Right now, Brett is focusing on her career in the sports supplement industry. Meanwhile in the gym, she’s working on improving the conditioning in her legs, which took a beating (knee injuries) from the years of dance.

“I would train my legs with light weight,” she recalls, “unlike my upper body where I would always train heavy. I could see how the different training styles showed when I was leaned out for the show. So heavy squats have now become my best friend.”

There may be more competitions someday, but as of this moment Brett’s not really thinking about it. “Maybe next year I will try physique, but nothing is officially picked out as of now,” she said. “I love to train and the journey of prepping, but my goal is not to turn pro… competing for me was a personal goal and for fun.”

Some of the best advice anyone can give to a new competitor stepping on stage for the first time is to just go up there, smile and have fun. Winning isn’t always about numbers on a scorecard—it’s about having fun and being in the best shape of your life.

It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a blinged-out bikini or a pair of athletic shoes.

Interview with Fitness Competitor Jacklyn Abrams

•May 15, 2012 • 1 Comment

Blonde Ambition: Stunning two-time fitness champ Jacklyn Abrams goes for a three-peat—and pro card—at the 2012 Jr. USAs this weekend.

It’s a pretty exciting time for Jacklyn Abrams these days and with good reason. The young fitness competitor has already won her first two shows—including the overall title at the competitive Emerald Cup Championships last month in Seattle—and will go for a third this weekend at the NPC Jr. USAs in Charleston, South Carolina.

“I am so excited and prepared to show what I have been working so hard on day after day,” Jacklyn told me this week on making her national-level debut. Of course, adding a bit more drama, a little bonus goes along with this one in the form of a pro card up for grabs.

Pretty good start for the 23-year-old, fresh-faced, platinum blonde stunner who made her fitness debut only about ten months ago in her home state of Colorado, where she initially developed her considerable talents as an elite-level cheerleader. Jacklyn was so athletically gifted that by age 16, she was already making headlines as the youngest pro cheerleader in the nation.

Given that she claimed prominence so quickly in the competitive world of cheerleading makes this swift climb up the fitness ladder seem less like a fluke, and more like the revelation of a possible new superstar.

Meanwhile, the progress Jacklyn continues to make in her physique and routine have her brimming with pride and confidence. “I work so hard and it has shown,” she says. “I’m not the same little girl who first stood on stage last July.”

You can see exactly what she’s talking about in her amazing new video footage on the studio. She offers up a sampling of breathtaking fitness tricks—powerful press holds, strong one-arm pushups, effortless tumbling flips—stretching every muscle of her steely 5-foot-1, 107-pound frame with enthusiasm and cheerful aplomb.

Tremendous thanks to Jacklyn for graciously taking time out from busy contest prep to detail her dazzling accomplishments during this past year and beyond. Already a perfect two-for-two, the reigning Emerald Cup champ is setting a pace that few are ever able to duplicate. It’s what great fitness girls do.

* * *

Dean: Have to begin by saying congratulations on winning the fitness overall at the recent Emerald Cup! You’ve had such success so early on in your fitness career, what has the experience been like? Did you ever dream it would happen like this?

Jacklyn: “THANK YOU, DEAN!! The experience of the Emerald Cup and the success early in my fitness career has been so overwhelming, but everything I had wanted to happen in the order it happened. I dreamed of this and put my mind and all into it and made it a reality for myself.”

Dean: You must have already been a pretty good athlete before hitting the stage. Were you a cheerleader or gymnast in school? Did anything else otherwise inspire you to try competing?

Jacklyn’s stats: Age: 23; Height: 5’1”; Weight: 107; Hometown: Parker, Colorado.

Jacklyn: “I have always been a very active person, playing all different sports growing up. I was a cheerleader in high school for 3 years and on my third year of cheerleading my stunt coach Jon had approached me and asked if I would like to tryout for the Colorado Rapids Pro Cheerleading team. I was 16… I was thinking in my head ‘he is crazy,’ but I still showed up to the try-outs and made the team, becoming the youngest Pro Cheerleader in the United States. I cheered with them for 3 years and moved on to all-star cheerleading; competing only once with my team, I met up with my girlfriend Amy who competes in Bikini for the NPC. Her and I were having an after workout protein shake and she started talking to me about doing fitness for the NPC. She was showing me routines, hooked me up with a trainer and coach, and I started my journey into the fitness world. Thanks, Amy.”

Dean: How old were you when you first started working out? Were you trying to gain more strength for sports or was going to the gym just sort of a natural thing for you?

Jacklyn: “In high school is when I started serious weight training in my strength and conditioning classes. I was gaining muscle for sports strength and stamina. The gym stuff all came natural to me and I was surprisingly strong for how tiny I am. After high school I still would workout at least 4 times a week so getting into fitness was no problem for me with working out and changing my lifestyle.”

Dean: Fitness is always the most exciting and entertaining round. Do you have any favorite competitors that have influenced you or that you look up to?

Jacklyn: “My coach Carol Semple, fitness Olympian ’97, is the one woman I look up to and that has influenced everything I do. She is an amazing woman who pushes herself to this day to be better and I know that is all she wants for me. I am so thankful to have her in my life.”

Dean: Are you practicing any new moves to try to shake up your own routine for next time?

Jackie posing near downtown Seattle after winning the Emerald Cup fitness title.

Jacklyn: “OHHHHH YEAH… You will just have to wait and see.” ;)

Dean: On competing or being fit in general, what kind of reaction have you gotten from family and friends? Have you inspired anyone you know to begin working out?

Jacklyn: “ALL of my family and friends support me and everything I do. They have loved to see me transform and perform on stage. To pick a specific person I have inspired to begin working out would be a challenge for me because I have had so many say I have inspired them to push themselves or even start eating a little bit healthier. They make the first move for themselves and no one can say they did that for them.”

Dean: Could you share a memory when you surprised someone with your physique or strength? Did you ever get challenged to armwrestling matches?

Jacklyn: “The one memory that really stands out in my mind was before my husband and I were married last year around this time. He had never seen me perform on stage or even really know much about my athletic back round besides me being a cheerleader. As he tells me the story from his view he was driving to my first show, the Colorado State 2011. All he was thinking about was ‘even if she sucks I am still going to love and support her.’ He was preparing for the worst. I got up on stage in the morning, busted out my routine and stood with confidence in front of judges in the physique round. When I came out from being backstage, the smile on his face was so huge and his arms were wide open to hug me and hold me tight. He was SO proud of me. He says, ‘that was the day I knew I was going to marry her.’ That’s a day I will never forget. I had all the support in the world from him, my mother, family and friends who all came that day cheering me on. That sweet victory never tasted so good.

“I have only been challenged to armwrestle from my mom…SHE’S A BEAST.”

Jackie on fitness modeling: “I work hard for this and I love that I get to showcase it and look beautiful.”

Dean: What would you say are your biggest goals with working out and being involved in the fitness industry?

Jacklyn: “My biggest goals with working out and the fitness world would be to get my IFBB PRO card, keep competing in the fitness world, grow my shoulders haha and keep pushing myself and making bigger and better fitness goals for myself that are challenging and fun for me.”

Dean: How do feel about the fitness modeling side of the business? Is it a little empowering flexing, posing and showing off athletically for photo shoots?

Jacklyn: “I love the fitness modeling!! I feel like it’s the only place I fit in with modeling. Muscles, pretty faces and hard work is shown in them. It makes me feel like I have achieved the ultimate sexy. I work hard for this and I love that I get to showcase it and look beautiful.”

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

Jacklyn: “I would love to thank my coach Carol Semple, my trainers DJ and Kimberlin of Bodyvisions, MOM, Paul Abrams, iSatori, and to promote my website, jacktheripped.com.”

Photoshoot Recap: Emerald Cup 2012

•April 27, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Standing Tall: Lauren Beckman poses after competing at the Emerald Cup. She placed seventh in figure class G.

Except for rain drops that pushed some shoots indoors, it was mostly sunny and clear at the Emerald Cup last weekend. This show is consistently one of the best of the year and with a mix of new and familiar faces on board this year, it looks like that winning trend will keep going. Here’s a quick summary of treats to expect in the weeks ahead…

First we have a trifecta of talent from Eugene, Oregon. Katrinka Danielson and Sara Butler both return to the site fresh from second place finishes in their respective classes. Sara looks like she has a promising future ahead of her in the physique division while Katrinka is just now crossing over from figure. Figure competitor Amy Sundqvist debuts and rounds out the Eugene 3.

Reading about Lauren Beckham’s return to the stage here recently probably left many of you hoping that a reunion in front of the camera was part of the plan—and luckily, it was. In fact, Lauren’s brand new solo shoot is only the beginning; she also has some Sisters in Arms footage coming up as well. Joining Lauren will be the outstanding Rachel Gilmore (who also has a new solo shoot on the way) and fitness overall winner Jacklyn Abrams (who likewise shows off her moves one-on-one in a separate debut shoot) in what figures to be highlight reel stuff with some genuine rising stars of the sport.

Elsewhere at the Cup, Wendy Lindquist and Julie Bilodeau reunite for an encore Sisters in Arms along with individual footage. Plus IFBB pro Lisa Giesbrecht from Canada joins our bodybuilding roster.

Other new shoots include an encore with Janet Gerber, who is currently training for a return to bodybuilding next year after a brief downsizing for physique. Also, Champion Nutrition sales rep Brett Bauer is a new figure girl who placed fifth at the recent Grand Prix in Culver City. More news and pictures to come as they become available.

Interview with Figure Competitor Nell Bautista

•April 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Figure Competitor Nell Bautista

Staying active has always been part of Nell Bautista’s lifestyle. She played on the volleyball team in school, but sports were never a fixture in her life the way the gym was.

She was introduced to fitness growing up in the Philippines, where her cousin was a professional bodybuilder. Nell started working out, too, at age 16 but found herself a little discouraged when she didn’t see significant results. They came later along with a new passion: figure competitions.

After moving to Southern California—not a bad place to be if you’re into this health thing—Nell went to her first show in 2007 and it left a lasting impression. She saw the girls showing off their hard work on stage and was immediately inspired by the beauty of it all. She wanted to try it for herself.

I caught up with the 5-foot-4, 130-pound brunette to see what her contest calendar for the new season looks like and what else is going on in her life. Right now, the what elses have taken over. Some lucky fiancé is in the picture and the only dates circled are probably involving things like bridal showers and gift registries. It’s an exciting and happy time.

But fitness remains an integral part of her life and as long as Nell is still chasing that elusive first national qualification—and trainers like pro Meriza DeGuzman are in her corner—you can bet another figure show won’t be far off.

* * *

Dean: Were you always active and fit growing up? What kind of activities or sports were you involved in when you were younger?

Nell: “I was very active and fit growing up. With my cousin being a professional bodybuilder in the Philippines I was introduced into the world of fitness. At a young age I was already weight training and was on the volleyball team.”

Dean: When did you first begin working out with weights and thinking about fitness as a lifestyle?

Nell: “I started working out with weights when I was 16 years old but then took a break since I wasn’t seeing any significant changes. But I know staying active has always been my lifestyle.”

Dean: How did the changes feel when you started developing more strength and muscle?

Nell: “After taking a very long break, I decided to start lifting again at a later age and started to see major changes. I felt very empowered by it and proud of my hard work. The gym was my escape when I was having a rough time in my life.”

Dean: What motivated you to try competing in figure and when did you start? Did you have a role model in the industry that inspired you?

Nell: “I started competing in figure back in 2007 when my now ex-husband took me to a show. I saw the girls showing off their hard work and was very impressed and inspired by their beauty. Looking at fitness magazines helped me get very motivated to achieve my fitness goals.”

Dean: What changes to your physique have made you most proud so far and what areas are you trying to improve?

Nell’s stats: Hometown: Fullerton, California; Age: 40; Height: 5'4''; Weight: 130.

Nell: “I was most proud of how lean and how fast I’ve developed muscle when I started prepping with the help of IFBB Pro Meriza de Guzman-Ciccone and her husband Pete. We focused on my legs and they became my strongest body part. Of course, overall symmetry always had room for improvement.”

Dean: 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?

Nell: “My family has been very supportive throughout the prep process. And my friends couldn’t believe how much my body changed with a strict diet and a lot of time spent at the gym. I’ve had a few friends that changed their lifestyle since they’ve seen the improvements I’ve made. They were all very proud of me as well.”

Dean: Could you talk a little about your competition history, best placings and favorite memories?

Nell: “Luckily I’ve placed at all of the shows I’ve done and have had my share of 1st place Class C wins, Masters short over 35, and Masters overall. One show that’s very unforgettable was the 2008 Excalibur where I placed 2nd in my class out of 22 girls. I wasn’t a US citizen back then so I couldn’t step on the national stage so now that I am, I’m looking forward to doing that in the future. Promoter Jon Lindsay has always been very supportive of the shows that I’ve done and has always taken care of his athletes pretty well. Most of all, I treasure all the friendships that I’ve made in the fitness industry…that I couldn’t forget the most.”

Dean: What’s next for you? Any upcoming shows you plan to compete in?

Nell: “Not quite sure what’s next for me since my life took a different turn when I met my future husband who’s moving here from England pretty soon. He’s a big fan of the sport and has always been supportive of me also. Would love for him to see me compete in person, qualify, and finally step on that national stage. Everything’s up in the air right now.”

Dean: Do you have any thoughts on the new physique division?

Nell: “I think the physique division is a great addition to the shows. It’s midway between figure and bodybuilding, and the girls still maintain their feminine look. I’m all for it!”

Dean: What would you say are your biggest goals with working out and being involved in the fitness industry?

Figure Flex: Nell strikes a pose during her shoot.

Nell: “My biggest goals with working out would still be the changes that it continues to make to my physique. It’s always motivating to see changes along with switching up the diet. Being in the fitness industry allows me to meet people that inspire me throughout my journey along with gaining endless knowledge with regards to health and fitness, along with the sport of bodybuilding.”

Dean: Is there anything else we can help you promote (website, sponsors, personal training business, etc.) or any special shout-outs you’d like to give?

Nell: “I’m currently promoting the business I have with my ex-husband which would be Posing Suit By Mishko. We make posing suits, figure suits, and bikini for competitors. We now offer tanning, make-up, and also accessories like shoes, jewelry, etc. We make it very affordable for those who want to compete. I’m also one of the admins of Facebook’s Men of Fitness page where we feature the hardworking men of fitness. I would like to give my utmost thanks to Pete and Meriza Ciccone who’ve helped me through every show I’ve done. Of course my family, my fiancé Dave, daughter Caitlin, including my ex husband Michael who’s been behind me all the way.”

Lauren Beckham Returning to Emerald Cup

•April 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Back in Time: Posing during a 2007 shoot, Lauren is in the midst of a long-awaited return to figure competitions this year.

The race for the tall class trophy at the Emerald Cup just got a lot more interesting. Figure sensation Lauren Beckham will return to the show for the first time since a smash-hit debut there in 2007 turned the Boise, Idaho youngster into both a rising star in the division and an instant fan favorite.

A lot of important things have taken place in her life since then. Lauren paused her competitive aspirations in order to start a family, but never lost sight of her dream to compete. Now a happily married and proud mom of two, the 27-year-old resumes her figure journey back in Seattle on Friday.

Earlier this week, the resurgent Lauren took a moment to give me an update on her latest contest prep, which she says has been one of the most challenging to date, and shared more on her goals for this season and recent accomplishments, including a first-place tune-up in a local NGA show.

“I have made some recent changes to my training and nutrition by hiring a coach, Jeremiah Glas, who in the past few months has helped me break a huge plateau,” Lauren explained. “I gained 5 lbs of muscle while dropping a few percentages of body fat. The process was very grueling and extreme, but the change was exactly what I needed! After making such leaps and bounds in my progress and then taking 1st here at the local NGA show, I’ve found just the right amount of confidence that I need to go into the Emerald Cup.”

Lauren will need to place in the top five of her height class to qualify for the national level. If that happens—and there’s a good chance it will—her next turn will be the NPC USAs this summer. If not, the backup plan is the Excalibur in December.

Staked by her new coach and a recharged determination, she talked about some of the results she’s been seeing. “I improved my legs, glute/hamstring tie in,” Lauren said, “filling in little areas here and there to balance them out. The program was very athletic so I know it’s not really an improvement to my physique, but my abilities athletically which pays dividends toward more muscle and symmetry in the long run!”

Just having her back in the spotlight is a pretty big deal, but Lauren has potential for greatness and could be ready to take her game to the next level beginning at the Cup. “I am getting very excited for the show,” she said, “less than a week away!”

Monica Richard Not Done With Figure Yet

•March 30, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Go Figure: Monica has women’s physique in her sights, but plans to remain in figure in 2012.

Monica Turbay Richard’s switch to the physique division is not quite as imminent as initially believed; she still has some unfinished business—like perhaps winning a pro card—on the figure circuit. “I am thinking about switching to physique,” the South American hardbody confirmed for me this week, “but will likely stick with figure this year and then try for physique next year!”

Monica is coming off a solid sixth-place finish in her open figure class at the recent 2012 Arnold Amateur, where her new photoshoot took place. “It was a great experience!” the 5-foot-9, 132-pound brunette exclaimed after taking on some of the world’s top amateurs at the hugely popular event in Columbus.

Still to come on Monica’s contest calendar this season will be the North Americans in Cleveland, followed by the NPC Nationals which returns to Atlanta in the fall. The 40-year-old said she’ll be looking to improve her legs and glutes for these remaining figure shows before the focus turns to increasing overall mass for WP in 2013.

Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Monica now lives in North Carolina where she works as a physician’s assistant. She began her competitive journey only a few years ago but has definitely made some impressive strides.

Interview with Figure Competitor Michelle Krack

•March 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Figure Girl 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's stats: Age: 34; Height: 5'9"; Weight: 140; Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia

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?

On figure versus team sports: "With this sport I have been able push myself individually and realize that it’s just me and not a whole team."

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 on rewarding aspects of being fit: "People tell me that I have inspired them to become healthier and push themselves to strive to take care of themselves or even compete."

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.

Confident in 2012: "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!"

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.”

 
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