Beginning her competitive journey as a lightweight bodybuilder, Janet Gerber earned an overall title when she took the top spot at the 2010 NPC Florida State Championships. This year, the 36-year-old downsized for a stint in the new physique division. The results were mixed—three shows produced only one top ten finish—but, more importantly, so were Janet’s feelings about the move itself. She missed training like a bodybuilder.
So, as she reveals in this new interview, it’s back to bodybuilding for Janet in 2012. Back to growing and sweating and sculpting her body into championship form. Back to lifting heavy like the Oklahoma native did when she started training overseas in the mid-90s, working out at a modest little gym in Northern Italy full of free weights and big-ego guys that reminded her of the movie “Rocky.” I just know you’re thinking of that song.
Seriously though, at a time when the landscape is tilting away from women’s bodybuilding to the other divisions, it’s refreshing to see a competitor go with her heart and return to where her true passion lies. I have a feeling many diehard female bodybuilding fans will have another hero in Janet. Let’s hear more…
Dean: Were you always active and fit growing up? What sports were you involved in during high school or college?
Janet: “I was active growing up as a young kid but I never played any organized sports.”
Dean: When did you first begin working out with weights and thinking about fitness as a lifestyle?
Janet: “I lived in Northern Italy for a few years, back in 1995. I started training at the small gym there. The gym was humble, nothing like a Gold’s gym with an abundance of machines and equipment. This gym had mostly free weights. It was a basic, Rocky-style gym, so it forced me to train like a bodybuilder. Seeing quick results motivated me to keep pushing myself harder.”
Dean: How did the changes feel when you started developing more strength and muscle? Did you get a lot of positive feedback?
Janet: “I trained 5 days on and 2 days off, and my strength developed quickly. I kept up with the guys since there weren’t any females that trained there, so that helped me push harder and motivated me to throw the weight around. I definitely got noticed in the gym and outside of the gym.”
Dean: What motivated you to try competing and when did you start? Did friends at the gym take notice of your great potential?
Janet: “I remember being asked by someone to participate in a show in Italy, but I had no clue what ‘competing’ meant. It wasn’t until I moved back to the states when I attended my first show, 2007 Florida State Bodybuilding Championships, that I knew I wanted to compete. I didn’t know the difference between figure or bodybuilding. After seeing the show, I knew bodybuilding was what I wanted to do. In fact, a trainer from my gym competed in that show. I hired him to prep me for my first show. I had to start out with an off season to put on muscle, and then diet down for the show. After a year of prepping for my show, and the drastic changes that occurred, I had many asking me for advice and training tips.”
Dean: This year you switched from bodybuilding to the new physique division, which really seems to fit your look. What are your thoughts on the change? Do you think the judges may have overlooked you?
Janet: “I feel honored to have competed in Women’s Physique and proud to be one of the pioneers in the new division. With that said, my heart is in bodybuilding and I plan on going back to my roots and compete again in bodybuilding. I toned down for WP and with the start of my off season, my plan is to put on more size and bring a bigger, harder, conditioned look for the stage. My thoughts on WP is that because it is so new, the division is still being developed. I think it will take some time for the WP ‘look’ to be established.”
Dean: What changes to your physique have made you most proud so far and what areas are you focusing on improving to really separate you from the crowd next year?
Janet: “I feel my training over the years has helped me develop great structure and symmetry. There’s always room for improvement, and my plan is to grow and put on size. Bodybuilding is an art and you have to train to develop yourself into a masterpiece on stage. By putting on more size, coming in conditioned, and with my structure, I think that will be hard to beat on stage.”
Dean: What’s next for you? Have you circled any dates on your 2012 contest calendar yet?
Janet: “I have officially started my off season training. It was postponed due to feet surgery. Yes, BOTH feet had surgery and are almost fully recovered now. My plans are to see how much I can grow and that will determine which show I plan on competing in. Most likely it will be towards the end of 2012. I will re-qualify in bodybuilding for a National show in 2013.”
Dean: What would you say are your biggest goals with working out and being involved in the fitness industry?
Janet: “Working out has had a huge impact on my life. It has allowed me to really get to know my body, how it reacts to certain diets, to listen to it and live a healthier lifestyle. My main goal is to just continue to improve. I have a vision for how I’d like my physique to look and so that is something I will continue to strive to achieve and refine over the years. I enjoy being a part of the industry as well. I have worked as an expediter the past two years for the IFBB Pro Bodybuilding Weekly Championships as well as the other local NPC shows. During that time I have had the pleasure of meeting some fantastic people that have influenced me to be a better person. In turn, I hope I will be able to influence others.”
Dean: Do you have any favorite pros or role models in the sport who particularly inspire you?
Janet: “I admire Tina Chandler. Not only is she an absolute amazing athlete, she has a heart of gold and is always positive. I believe when you interact and surround yourself with such people, you grow stronger inside and out. It’s contagious, your attitude flows towards others whether we realize it or not.”
Dean: What are some of the other ways you stay active? Do you also work as a personal trainer or have any favorite athletic hobbies?
Janet: “I love walking on the trail. I have a trail near my house that goes on for miles on end. I put on my ipod and get lost in the beauty of the out doors. I also love the beach here in Florida which is good for throwing the football around or taking a stroll and soaking in the rays.”
Dean: Is there anything we can help you promote (trainers, sponsors, website, etc.) or any special shout-outs you’d like to give?
Janet: “I just launched my website: www.janetrosa.com. I’ll be updating the site with photo galleries, video clips, training sessions, and MORE! Stay tuned because 2012 will feature exclusives! Also, Please check out and ‘LIKE’ Janet Rosa’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/MsJanetRosa.
“I want to thank all my family and friends that have been so loving and supportive. I also would like to thank Lou and Dean at KRIV STUDIO’S. It was a pleasure and honor to work with you.”