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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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.
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?
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!