Interview with Figure Competitor Danyelle Mastarone

•October 14, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Tiny but Mighty: National-Level Figure Competitor Danyelle Mastarone.

Tiny But Mighty: National-Level Figure Competitor Danyelle Mastarone.

During her early days in cheerleading, Danyelle Mastarone was one of the smallest girls, usually called a flyer, climbing to the top of high wire stunts and using explosive strength and a strong core to balance herself during basket tosses and giant human pyramids. Today, she’s striving for a similar outcome as a figure competitor, hoping to muscle her way to the pinnacle of the NPC figure ranks and ultimately earn an IFBB pro card.

The 34-year-old also played softball in addition to cheerleading, but sports haven’t always been an easy fit for the 4-foot-9 brunette shortie from Pittsburgh. Fortunately, she discovered figure competitions a few years ago and soon made her debut in the spring of 2010. She took an immediate liking to it and has made lasting friendships in figure; furthermore, she’s delighted to be part of a sport where height wasn’t a hurdle to overcome and she could finally be considered an athlete.

Danyelle is making the most of this exciting new opportunity, rising to the national level and taking 11th in a competitive class at the recent North Americans, where her new photo shoot took place. She continues to make progress—sporting excellent calves, quads and abs in addition to improved back and delts.

We caught up with Danyelle recently to find out more about one of our newest models on the site, learning that she’s not only been under the spotlights as a competitor but also experienced life on the other side in judge’s row. As an NPC judge, she’s been smart and supportive, helpfully jotting down notes for fellow athletes to develop anything from their physiques to important details like presentation and stage presence.

The duel role as judge and competitor—she’s also a personal trainer and competition prep coach—has helped Danyelle become a better competitor and she’s determined to improve her overall look with every show, “one lunge at a time,” she says.

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Danyelle’s stats: Age: 34 Height: 4’9” Weight: 105 (offseason) Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa. - Home of the NPC!

Danyelle’s stats: Age: 34 Height: 4’9” Weight: 105 (offseason) Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa. – “Home of the NPC!”

Dean: What kind of sports did you play growing up and throughout high school or college? Are athletics what led you to compete?

Danyelle: My small stature and petite frame didn’t exactly lend itself to many sports. Although I did play community league softball, I was more of your dancer/cheerleader. And of course, I was the girl on top of the pyramids! One of the aspects I love most about bodybuilding/figure is finally being an athlete.

Dean: Could you give some of your contest history? What shows are you planning to do next?

Danyelle: My first competition was in the spring of 2010, where I placed first in the Novice Figure A Category! I continued to compete at the regional level and took home a 1st place in the Open Category in 2012, which allowed me to compete at Nationals. I have competed in a total of 10 shows, including twice at the North American National Championships. With each show, I have made improvements and know my best is yet to come!

Dean: How has your training been going? Which improvements to your physique have made you most proud lately and are there any areas you are trying to tighten up?

Danyelle: About a year ago I changed up both my training and nutrition, and started working with my current (fabulous) coach. I don’t like to brag…but since you asked…I am so proud of my back and rear delts. Formerly my weak points, they are the strongest part of my physique right now. And the endless battle continues to tighten up my glutes, although they came in significantly tighter than ever before at my last show in August.

Making Gains: Danyelle is proud of improvements she's made to her back and rear delts.

Making Gains: Danyelle is proud of improvements she’s made to her back and rear delts.

Dean: Have family and friends been supportive of your competitive lifestyle? What type of comments have you gotten?

Danyelle: I have the most amazing husband, family and group of girlfriends. I probably can’t say enough about my husband and his level of support—from cooking all of my food, endless posing sessions in the bathroom, to just telling me how proud he is of me. My family has attended every show I have done, with my mom being my personal tanner for each one. I have also met my best friends through this sport and we are like 4 cheerleaders encouraging each other. It may have taken over 30 years, but I found a group of women who truly support each other without a single ounce of jealousy or cattiness.

Dean: What are some of your goals for working and competing in the industry? Do you have any role models in the sport that have particularly inspired you?

Danyelle: I would be remiss if I didn’t say I wanted to earn IFBB Pro Status, but my goal is to beat my previous self. So I will continue to improve my physique for each competition, one lunge at a time! Additionally, I love the behind the scenes of competing and work as an NPC judge and expeditor. Being on the other side of the table definitely makes you a better competitor, but also being a competitor makes me a more diligent judge. I don’t just write a score down; I record notes to give as feedback in hopes to help those competitors better both their physique and their stage presence. I also do marketing and booth work for my sponsors and would like to continue that, hopefully gaining additional sponsorship! So, sponsors—I am the girl you have been looking for!!! As a skilled sales professional with over 12 years of experience, there is a savvy brain along with my beauty and brawn!

Dean: Since competitors are in such great shape, it can often be a shock to the average person. Can you describe a moment when you surprised someone with your physique or strength?

Busy Girl: In addition to competing, Danyelle is also a personal trainer, prep coach and part time NPC judge.

Busy Girl: In addition to competing, Danyelle is also a personal trainer, prep coach and part time NPC judge.

Danyelle: This has happened quite a few times, especially because I am so petite, you can’t always see the “lady guns” in my business clothes. One particular occasion where I really surprised a whole crowd was during a street festival in downtown Pittsburgh. My mom, sister and I were having a girl’s day, all dressed up in our Sunday best, but I couldn’t resist the pull-up contest. The vendor had to pick me up so I could reach the bar. After I cranked out 15 pull-ups, the crowd was cheering and the vendor commented that I “had some major pipes!”

Dean: Are you also a personal trainer? Please feel free to mention your website, social media links or anything else you want to use to help promote you!

Danyelle: I am both a personal trainer and competition prep coach, and have worked with clients from the experienced competitor to the average stay-at-home mom. If you are looking for someone to fully invest themselves into your success, you found her! I pack a lot of punch and personality into this tiny frame! You can find me on Facebook (Danyelle Mastarone), Instagram (dmastarone) and coming soon—danyellemastarone.com for all things Tiny But Mighty!

Scenes From Red Rock Canyon II

•October 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

There’s something magical about photographing beautiful fitness women at the majestic Red Rock Canyon, so why not return to the scenic Nevada desert for another few samples from this summer’s shoots. Last time, Dan Ray was at the controls. Now it’s Jeff Binns’ turn with the camera and physique pro’s Rikki Smead and Stephanie Willes are both in the viewfinder. Enjoy.

Sisters in Arms in the Desert: Rikki and Stephanie pose at Red Rock Canyon.

Sisters in Arms in the Desert: Rikki and Stephanie pose at Red Rock Canyon.

Haute Couture: Rikki gets out the hair brush.

Girl Time: Rikki adjusts her hair for pictures.

It's a Tough Job: Photographers getting their shots while the ladies hit a double bi.

Tough Job: Photographers get their shots while the ladies hit a double bi.

More photos (and video) from this shoot available to members here.

Photoshoot recap: Olympia 2013

•October 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Batter Up: More Rene Marven coming soon from a new shoot at the Olympia.

Size Matters: More with bodybuilder Rene Marven coming soon from a new shoot at the Olympia.

As big shows go, the Arnold is still king but the Olympia is certainly right up there. This year the crowd was steady especially during expo hours. Many fans were excited to witness the inaugural Physique Olympia contest which was a headline event at this year’s show. Those rooting for Dana Lynn Bailey didn’t leave disappointed as the popular poster girl for the division took home the first ever top prize in IFBB physique. Meanwhile, a determined Nicole Wilkins saw her hard training pay off, regaining the throne with another Figure Olympia win.

With so much to do there wasn’t a whole lot of free time but we did get four new shoots for you. Here’s a rundown of what’s to come from Las Vegas.

Rene Marven needs no introduction. The young, up-and-coming pro might one day be on the Olympia stage as a competitor, but this time she was a spectator and we’ve got more of the popular bodybuilder to come. Rene was in off season, “growing” mode for this shoot which features two segments with one in the gym and another outside around sunset.

Next, we some new faces including Kirsten Van Arsdale, a great new physique competitor from Colorado; and Suzanne Delazzari, a hardbody from the United Kingdom who comes to us just a few weeks out from her upcoming physique competition across the pond.

Lastly, we have the beautiful Crystal Green, a fantastic new bikini pro from Georgia with one of the most impressive looks in the division. Like our recently interviewed Stacey Naito, Crystal is one of a handful of promising new pros that may encourage you to take another look at the improving division. The beauty was always there but now there’s a little more muscle to consider. More to come.

Interview with IFBB Bikini Pro Stacey Naito

•October 5, 2013 • 1 Comment
Bikini Pro Stacey Naito poses during a shoot at the 2013 NPC USAs.

Bikini Pro Stacey Naito poses during a shoot at the 2013 NPC USAs.

There are plenty of bikini fans out there and we’re about to get serious about this division which has improved steadily each year since it began. The talent is especially good at the pro level and today we’re featuring one of the newest IFBB members, Stacey Naito, who was the 35 and 40-plus masters champ of the B class at Team Universe this past summer, earning a pro card after over twenty competitions in four years.

Stacey has experience in gymnastics but otherwise was more of a bookworm than an athlete growing up, concentrating instead on school and a longtime desire to become a doctor—a dream she ultimately caught, becoming a physician specializing in cosmetic dermatology with a degree in Osteopathic Medicine from Western University of Health Sciences. The lifelong resident of Southern California also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science from Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Intrigued about weightlifting but never imagining it would lead to competitions, Stacey was encouraged to try the bikini division in 2009 and quickly collected several top finishes. The finely chiseled 5-foot-5, 117-pounder recently joined Team Bombshells and along with hard work in the gym—filling out shoulders and arms on her upper body and tightening up quads, hamstrings and calves in her legs—the ambitious and accomplished 47-year-old brunette has risen to the top of the masters class and into the bikini pro ranks.

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Dean: What kind of sports did you play growing up and throughout high school or college? Are athletics what led you to compete?

Stacey's stats: Age: 47, Height: 5’5”, Weight: 117 lbs. contest, 121 lbs. off-season. Hometown:  Hollywood, California.

Stacey’s stats: Age: 47, Height: 5’5”,
Weight: 117 lbs. contest, 121 lbs. off-season. Hometown: Hollywood, California. Earned pro card at 2013 NPC Team Universe.

Stacey: “I was involved in gymnastics as a child but did not engage in athletic activities in high school due to my focus on educational pursuits. Once I was in college I began weightlifting because I was fascinated with it and never stopped. What led me to compete was the desire to show off my hard-earned muscle onstage, but I waited until I was in my early 40s before daring to do so.”

Dean: Could you give some of your contest history? What shows are you planning to do next?

Stacey: “I have competed since 2009 and have 21 contests under my belt, 14 of them Pro-qualifiers. Here are some highlights, in chronological order:

·        *IFBB North American, August 2010 – 1st Place Masters Bikini C, 3rd Place Open Bikini C

·        *NPC Masters Nationals July 2011 – 1st Place Masters Bikini C

·        *IFBB North American, August 2011 – 1st Place Open Bikini C, 2nd Place Masters Bikini C

·        *NPC Pittsburgh, May 2012 – 1st Place Masters Bikini B, Masters Bikini Overall Win, 3rd Place Open Bikini C

·        *IFBB North American, August 2012 – 1st Place Masters Bikini C, 7th Place Open Bikini C

·        *NPC Team Universe, July 2013 – 1st Place Masters 40+ Bikini B, Masters 40+ Bikini Overall Win, 1st Place Masters 35+ Bikini B, 4th Place Open Bikini D, IFBB Professional Status

“I am planning to hit the stage either by the end of the year or in the spring of 2014. There has been a lot of pressure to return to the stage this year, but I want to make sure that I am ready to really tear it up when I compete as a Pro.”

Star in the Making: Check out Stacey’s Youtube channel for recipes, nutrition facts and tips, training segments, posing practice, contest interviews, candid moments and more capturing the life of this very ambitious and accomplished competitor.

Star in the Making: Check out Stacey’s Youtube channel for recipes, nutrition facts and tips, training segments, posing practice, contest interviews, candid moments and more capturing the life of this very ambitious and accomplished competitor.

Dean: How has your training been going? Which improvements to your physique have made you most proud lately and are there any areas you are trying to tighten up?

Stacey: “I always train like a beast, whether I have an upcoming contest or am in a so-called ‘off’ season. Lately, I have really packed on some quality muscle in my delts, arms, quads, hams and calves, and the glutes are definitely more muscular as well. I will forever blast my glutes in order to make them as round and tight as possible and to combat the half-Asian booty curse!”

Dean: Have family and friends been supportive of your competitive lifestyle? What type of comments have you gotten?

Stacey: “My family and friends are for the most part very supportive of my competitive lifestyle and make sure to tell me how much of an inspiration I am to them. They may not understand my rigid clean eating habits or my intense training regimen, but they are supportive nevertheless. Many of my friends tell me that I am one of the strongest and hardest working people they know, and that my determination is refreshing.”

Dean: What are some of your goals for working and competing in the industry? Do you have any role models in the sport that have particularly inspired you?

Stacey: “I want to become a household name! I intend to work on branding as much as possible to promote myself as the IFBB Pro Doctor! Dr. Khanh Nguyen inspired me when I first began competing in 2009 because of her career as a physician, her IFBB Pro status, and the fact that she was a Masters competitor. An ultimate goal is to have my own talk show as the female version of Doctor Oz, presenting topics pertaining to medicine, health, anti-aging, fitness, and nutrition.”

Brunette Bombshell: Look for Stacey to make her pro debut by next spring

Brunette Bombshell: Look for Stacey to make her pro debut by next spring.

Dean: Since competitors are in such great shape, it can often be a shock to the average person. Can you describe a moment when you surprised someone with your physique or strength?

Stacey: “I get frequent comments from patients who are surprised by the definition in my shoulders, arms and legs. They are often blown away and want to know what I do to get such a sculpted physique. I am also quite accustomed to hearing people at the gym tell me that the intensity of my workouts is impressive and that they have never seen any woman work out as intensely as I do.”

Dean: Are you also a personal trainer? Please feel free to mention your website, social media links or anything else you want to use to help promote you!

Stacey: “I offer comprehensive contest prep coaching for NPC Bikini and Figure competitors. Details can be found at CutCurves.com. I also offer nutritional overhauls, weight management and personal training services.  For those who are in the Los Angeles area, I offer sports medicine, weight management, problem focused medical care, Botox and fillers at offices in Beverly Hills and downtown L.A. (UrbanMed.com).

“I have a blogsite which covers everything from fitness to nutrition, medicine, skincare, etc., and I post on it DAILY, so please check it out at drstaceynaito.wordpress.com. I am also very active on YouTube (StaceyNaito), Twitter (@StaceyNaito), Instagram (@StaceyNaito), and Facebook (Stacey-Naito-IFBB-Bikini-Pro).”

Photoshoot Recap—2013 NPC North Americans

•September 16, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Post updated with new pics from Toni Wheeler’s gallery posted today.

Back in Action: Former fitness competitor Toni Wheeler returned to North Americans as a member of the physique category.

Big Changes: Former fitness competitor Toni Wheeler returned to North Americans as a member of the physique category.

Let’s get right to a rundown of what’s to come from this past weekend’s North Americans in Pittsburgh; it’s another tantalizing mix (seven shoots in all) of fresh and familiar faces along with some neat surprises and twists you will enjoy.

During my preview of the show last week, I hinted at the possibility of new material with Janet Gerber and, indeed, the exotic, raven-haired physique competitor returns in contest-shape for a third shoot. Also back for a delightful encore is the blonde Texas cutie Tracy Pruitt, who competed in both open and masters figure.

We also have a new shoot with Angela Kegler coming soon. This is our third time visiting with the impressive longtime figure competitor, who is also a physical therapist and a mom. Angela had one of her best finishes at the 2012 North Americans, when she came away the winner of class C and just missed earning a pro card. She competed again this year and appears in contest shape for this shoot. Angela was the 2010 figure overall champion at the Arnold Amateur in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

Former fitness girl Toni Wheeler returns with a bigger look for the physique division, and there’s three new models including physique competitor Tish Shelton, an Alabama native who won her pro card over the weekend. We also have bodybuilder Cheryl Faust and figure competitor Danyelle Mastarone. A sweet surprise as part of Danyelle’s shoot was the figure shortie (she’s only 4-foot-11) doing some nicely improvised chin-ups for us during a segment, proving once again that strong things sometimes come in small packages.

As always stay tuned for more info on the ladies, hopefully a few new interviews, and of course pictures from the latest shoots.

Scenes From Red Rock Canyon

•September 13, 2013 • 1 Comment

Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas is a popular destination during photo shoots when the NPC USAs roll around every year. This past summer, with the help of our friend Dan Ray, we were able to capture some great new images out in the sun-drenched desert. Featured today is the dazzling physique competitor Rikki Smead, fresh from winning the tall class and capturing a pro card in her national-level debut. Enjoy the view in samples from this excellent new gallery.

Pro on Top: Outstanding model, first-class photography and breathtaking views—what more could you want?

Pro on Top: Outstanding model, first-class photography and breathtaking views—what more could you want?

Spreading Her Wings: Rikki has been flying high as a new physique competitor.

Spreading Her Wings: Rikki has been flying high as a new physique competitor.

Rock Hard: Rikki flexes during her shoot at Red Rock in Las Vegas.

Rock Hard: Rikki flexes against the scenic backdrop during her shoot at Red Rock in Las Vegas.

Rikki won a pro card at the 2013 NPC USAs, her first national-level show.

Champ in the Sun: Rikki won a pro card at the 2013 NPC USAs, her first national-level show.

More photos from this shoot available to members here.

Jodi Marchuck Wins Pro Card at North Americans

•September 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Best Yet: Jodi Marchuck earns a physique pro card at the 2013 North Americans.

Sculpted to Perfection: Jodi Marchuck earns a physique pro card at the 2013 North Americans.

The old saying is that it’s better to be lucky than good. Jodi Marchuck was both at the recent NPC North Americans, where the former figure girl brought her best package to date—just look at her stage picture to the right—and deservedly earned a pro card competing in the physique division.

A stroke of good fortune accompanied the triumph. Jodi actually finished fourth in her class (only the top two competitors for each height division receive pro cards at the NAs); however, with Natasha Marks (first) and Lisa Grasso (second) already winning pro cards in their respective masters classes, it left pro cards to third place finisher Misty Palacios and for Jodi in fourth. Sometimes it helps to be in the right show at the right time.

The win capped a banner year for Jodi. She began the season placing fifth at the tightly competitive USAs, followed by an overall physique win at the smaller Pacific USAs in San Diego. Even though just a local show (there were only three physique competitors) the win in Southern California likely boosted the confidence of the 32-year-old personal trainer ahead her turn at the North Americans, where she was at her peak. Next year she’ll take the stage as an IFBB pro!

 
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