The 2014 Figure International is just a few weeks away and the competition will be fierce. While much of the chatter is on the seasoned veterans for the top spot, one Florida competitor is quietly training for an upset. Elissa Martis has a smile that will light up the darkest room and a physique that will stop traffic at the busiest intersection. It’s a honor to be selected to compete at the Arnold and to do so as a rookie, in your pro debut is promising.
She was the 2013 NPC Figure National overall champion and she’s put together an impressive competitive resume in a short amount of time. When you learn what she’s gone through to get there, you’ll admire her accomplishments event more. We caught up with Elissa as she preps for her trip to Columbus and compete against some of the world’s best physiques.
Elissa Leandra Martis
Born in:West Palm Beach, FL
Currently live in:
1 brother, Ricardo Martis 29
Are you older or younger than your bro?
I’m the oldest by 11 months
Did you get in trouble for stuff your brother did?
Haha, no. If anything, he got in trouble for stuff I did.
Did you play any sports growing up?
Volleyball in High School
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Does your job give you more insight into competing?
Currently, my job does not relate directly to competing because I work mainly with children in the hospital. My education provides me great insight into training, recovery and understanding our physiology and body mechanics.
How did you get started in competing?
I re-tore my ACL along with MCL and bilateral meniscus in my Right knee in June 2012 and required 2 knee surgeries to repair. The latter of them being the end of August 2012. I was in the gym twice a day rehabilitating my knee and training. I gave myself the goal of getting my quad size symmetrical and then I would begin the prep for competing. In early February, I contacted my coach, 6 weeks later I was in my first show, placing 2nd. And I’ve been addicted since.
How did you tear your ACL and MCL?
My first ACL tear was in 2000 playing volleyball in high school. My most recent injury (don’t laugh) occurred while I was playing in an adult kickball league. I fatigued my muscles performing a Crossfit WOD immediately before our game, combine that with the existing instability from my previous injury, my knee gave out. Definitely not my proudest moment and should have gone with my better judgement. I just couldn’t give up on my team. Â I required two surgeries within 4 months and was out of work for 5 months. Looking back now, the incident was a huge blessing in disguise in many ways.
What was the biggest challenge you face with your first show?
I was only 6 months out from ACL repair and my stability and balance in heels, let alone on stage was questionable. Throw nerves on top of that, I was incredibly fearful of tripping or forgetting my poses. I also was self conscious about the size difference in my legs. It was more apparent to me than to others because I was working hard to regain size and strength so every minute flaw I noticed. But once I stepped foot on stage, all fears left and I was immediately in love.
IF you could go back and give some advice to the version of you for the fist show, what would you tell her?
I would tell myself to forget about flaws and fears, focus on the hard work and dedication endured to get to that point and be proud of the package I was bringing.
â€¢ Battle on the Beach, Daytona Beach, FL March 2013- 2nd place Figure D
â€¢Â NPC Southeast Classic, Hollywood FL, 2nd place Figure D
â€¢Â Jr USA’s, Charleston, SC 1st place Figure Class E
â€¢Â Team Universe, Teaneck, NJ 7th place Figure Class E
â€¢Â NPC Nationals, Ft Lauderdale, FL Overall Figure and 1st Place Figure Class E
What did you do different to come back and win the overall after a 7th place finish?
I truly believe the difference was allowing my body to rest. Team Universe was my 4th show in 4 months. Competition prep is very taxing on my body and I did not allow myself time to rest. I had about a 2 month off season that allowed me to mentally, physically and emotionally recuperate.
What body part do you enjoy training the most?
I love training shoulders and Back
Body part least enjoy training?
You enjoy fastest cardio in the morning, why is that?
It wakes you up, gets your heart rate and metabolism going and makes the day feel very productive. Missing a day of fasted cardio makes me feel guilty and sluggish all day!
Whatâ€™s for breakfast?
Oats!! We make oatmeal pancakes with muscle egg egg whites, oats, stevia, cinnamon, cocoa! Accompanied by an egg white omelet with onions and spinach.Â It’s my favorite meal of the day!
Do you work with a trainer?
Yes. Catherine Holland. She is also an IFBB Figure Pro. She has done an amazing job and has really been able to tune into my body as well as help me learn more about what body likes/dislikes.
How did you meet up and work with Cat?
My boyfriend, Jordan Zabriskie, introduced Me to Cat. He also is a competitor and was working with her for his physique shows. She ended up being a great fit for me, and has gained a good understanding of my body in the last year.
How much do you fluctuate from a contest to a show?
Off season I’m normally 134 and show day I’m usually 125-127lbs. Every off season I’ve gained more and more muscle so I’ve been fuller yet still staying lean. It’s a learning and growing experience with each off season I encounter.
How many weeks prep is best for you?
I find that 6-8 weeks is when I really make changes. Keeping a clean and healthy diet all year long really helps keep my prep efficient and on the shorter side.
Favorite food when prepping?
I love oats!! And flank. And sweet potatoes. And the occasional allowed almond butter!!
Wow you are an Oats Super Fan… Any particular kind / brand of oats?Â
Good old fashioned oats. While we normally live on an organic, hormone free, gluten free diet as much as possible, we have found it difficult to afford that with two competitors in the house.
Least favorite food during a prep?
Tilapia. I’ve never been much a fish person. And having to prep and reheat fish just feels wrong. I prefer my fish to be fresh.
Any tips on how to make tilapia taste better?Â
I douse it in lemon juice, and season with salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic. We occasionally use Walden farms products and the sesame ginger taste great with it.
Do you take a cheat meal / day? If so what do you have?
I generally do one a week. Usually it’s Sunday. Closer to comp week I usually do filet and baked potato. But when I have some leeway I love our homemade buffalo burgers with sweet potato fries or a burrito.
Biggest support system is?
God has truly guided me through some hard times the last few years and helped me overcome my knee surgeries and personal setbacks. My boyfriend, Jordan Zabriskie, is my heart and soul. He also competes with me, despite his heavy work schedule as a chiropractor and business owner. Having the two of us maintain a clean diet has really been crucial to my success. It also has been a blessing to have friends and family who understand and appreciate the sport that support me and motivate me when I need it most.
What advice would you give other women just getting into weight training?
My biggest piece of advice is to not be afraid of lifting heavy. Muscles are sexy and healthy, And the key to seeing change in your body is diet. No matter how many hours of training or cardio you do, without a healthy sustainable diet, you won’t see the results you crave and strive for. Don’t let your hardwork go to waste by eating processed sugary foods and making poor meal choices.
Youâ€™ll make your pr debut at the Arnold. How did you decide on it for your first show?
After winning overall, one of the popular questions I received was when I would make my Pro debut. At that point, all I could think of was going to Disney (seriously!) I did not expect to win nor did I anticipate the overall. I was focused on that show alone and the future was a distant thought. At the photoshoot the next morning with J.M. Mannion, he looked at me and told me that I had a really good possibility of being invited if I applied. At that moment, I knew I had to apply.
What changes are you focused on heading into the show?
My goals are to improve my V taper and build my glut and hamstrings. Coming off the surgeries, I’ve been at a disadvantage with the inability to do plyos and intense interval sessions. Now that my knee is stronger, I’m praying to make some great changes in the coming year.
Long term goals in and out of fitness?
Make it to the Olympia.Â Make an impact and be a positive influence to women and girls who struggle with body image and health.Â I want to start a family and juggle all of life’s challenges while still making an imprint in the fitness industry.
It’s a biblical scripture that pulls me through difficult times:Â Philippians 4:13 ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’.
Any supplements or protein you include in your training?
I love Isopure protein. It’s delicious and low carb. BCAA’s are delicious and help with muscle recovery.
Favorite fitness accessory:
Absolutely my iPod. Put in my headphones and get work done. I’m in the zone during my workouts.
Ever carry a gallon jug around?
I like to carry a large water bottle (64 oz) and measure my water that way. Being a physical therapist in a hospital, I’m not able to carry around a gallon jug.
Any eeps youâ€™d like to thank?
Id like to thank God for guiding me through challenges abs blessing me immensely. My boyfriend for being my biggest supporter, my Coach Cat Holland for her impeccable guidance, my posing partner Maximus ( our dog) for helping me with my back pose;), and my family for their continual support and love. A special thank you to the following; J.M. Mannion for the opportunity to compete, CJs’ Elite Competition Wear for providing a beautiful competition suit, Juan Hernandez for posing guidance and instruction , Isaac Hinds for taking the time to show interest in my fitness journey and amazing photography , and Dan Ray for being an awesome photographer/friend.
Thanks and we’ll see ya in Columbus!
Photos Courtesy of Dan Ray