Fitness Stack

Hardbody Profile – Surfing Sensation Tia Blanco


I see the name Tia Blanco continue to pop up online and after reading her “Who’s Rad?” profile I knew she was a Hardbody. Women’s Surfing continues to gain popularity and with young women like Tia leading the charge it’s easy to see why. She’s talented, humble, confident but not cocky. Despite still being a teenager she realizes the importance of working out and eating healthy.  She’s the real deal in and out of the water.

tia-blanco

When I asked her manager Matt Meyerson how he came to manage Tia and to share his thoughts on the surfing sensation he had this to share…

Tia was brought to me through her coach, Mike Lamm. He expressed that Tia was something special and when I finally got to meet her, I understood. I had been approached by quite a few surfers for representation but with Tia I knew immediately I had to sign her. The fact that she is a true athlete and leads a healthy lifestyle focused on diet, training and eventually qualifying for the world tour was certainly a huge motivation for me to sign her. In women’s surfing the athletes are more often than not over sexualized and there is a lack of emphasis on their ability. With Tia I felt she could be marketed in a completely different light… as a true athlete; the future of women’s surfing. We love having this shining star on our roster and can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.

Hardbody Profile – Surfing Sensation Tia Blanco

Birthday:
May 5, 1997

Any Siblings?
1 sister – Aja Blanco

You started surfing at 3 with your dad but when did you first compete in surfing?
I started competing at 12.

What’s been your favorite event/contest so far?
I really liked the last contest that I surfed in. It was the ISA World Games. I got to meet so many talented surfers from around the world. It was also neat to compete as a team representing your country.

Tia represented the USA and finished third in the ISA World Jr final.

Congrats on your placing in Ecuador! How was that experience?
Thank you! Ecuador was an amazing place. The people were super nice and the food was good. I had a great time meeting surfers from all over the world. The best part of it all was cheering for my team! Whenever a teammate did well in their heat we all screamed really loud! I had so much adrenaline and got goose bumps cheering for them. When I made the grand finale it was so awesome hearing my whole team screaming for me! Best feeling ever :)

Where are you off to next?
My next contest will be in New Zealand.

Sweet! That’s not a bad gig. I read you Tahiti is your favorite place to surf, why is that?
Tahiti is such a beautiful place that it took my breath away. The waves I surfed were probably the most perfect waves I have ever seen (Teahupoo, Big Pass, and Haapiti).

Which do you prefer the long board, short board or SUP (stand up paddle)?
I prefer a short board because I love going fast and feeling loose when doing turns.

Stand Up Paddle is getting more and more popular and a great workout. Any advice for those who are thinking about trying it and tips to doing it?
I like SUPing it’s really good excersize but if you’re new at it be careful. You don’t want to hit yourself or anyone else those boards. They are big and can hurt you. Start at mellow beaches :)

Any rituals before paddling out?
I do my warm up that my trainer taught me. Basically, I just warm up certain muscles in my body.

Are surfers athletes?
Absolutely! Sometimes we are put in tough conditions that require you to be in good shape. However, to be at the top of your game ‘surf athletes’ train hard for all conditions.

Is the life of a surfer like it’s portrayed on ‘Blue Crush’?
Haha maybe for some people. I think its different for all surfers. When I was little I constantly watched that movie! I can relate to when she would get nervous and play mind games with herself. Sometimes winning and losing is all in your head!

What advice do you have for other women thinking about trying surfing for the first time?
I would say try on a long board 1st when the waves are really small. Don’t expect anything just have fun and you will easily fall in love with the best sport in the world.

What’s the key to eating healthy on the road, especially when traveling as much as you do?
Sometimes it’s really hard but I manage to get it done. I usually go shopping right before I leave on a trip and stock up on quinoa, nuts, dried fruit, oatmeal etc. I think what many people need to realize that you don’t live to eat, you eat to live.

I read that you’re big on the Vegan lifestyle of eating. In basic terms how do you explain eating VEGAN to others especially those who comment on your protein intake?
Haha, I get that all the time. Most people always ask me where I get my protein from. What they don’t realize is that dark leafy greens, beans and nuts have more protein than meat will ever have. Also, plant based protein is a much healthier protein whereas animal protein can lead to different cancers and diseases.

You’re pretty involved in PETA – how did that come about and why are you so passionate about it?
They actually contacted me on Facebook because they heard I was vegan. I love animals and PETA is a movement that I strongly believe in and that I’m really passionate about.

What peaked your interest in health and nutrition, especially at such a young age?
My aunt and uncle. They are my inspiration.

Do you time your meals around your surf?
No I usually just listen to my body. I eat whenever I’m hungry.

Favorite health / nutrition related book that you’d recommend to others?
EAT TO LIVE is a really great book.

Coconut water – love it or not so much?
The funny thing is, I used to hate coconut juice when I was little now I can’t get enough of it.

Do you use almond milk, if so what’s your go to flavor?
I use almond milk all the time I like the plain kind.

Do you take any vitamins or supplements?
I take Tahitian Noni Juice from Morinda everyday. I use Braggs Aminos, Kal’s Flake Brewers Yeast, cacao nibs, chia seeds and whole flax seeds daily. Most importantly, I think nutrients should come from
the foods you eat.

What would be the Tia Special Shake – ingredients?
Spinach, Kale, dates, carrots and a banana mixed with almond milk and cacao.

Do you prefer to mix a shake?
I use a Vita Mix.

Do you notice a difference in how the food tastes in other countries?
Yes, I definitely feel as if certain foods are better in certain countries. For example, when you go I the tropics, they always have the best tasting fruit.

 

Surfing is obviously a heck of a work out – what else do you do besides surfing for workouts?
I like to hike, run, do yoga and tumbling.

What would be your favorite?
An hour of hot yoga or hiking

Do you run for time or distance (on the beach)?
I like to run about 4 miles at a constant pace.

What’s your favorite type of yoga?
I love doing hot yoga :)

What type of a cleanse would you recommend to others?
I actually just did a green juice cleanse for 3 days it was really good.

Do you feel like you’re treated differently being “a girl” or do the guys treat you like “one of the guys”?
I think the people that know me don’t treat me different because they know I can surf, but some people assume I can’t and treat me different.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest challenge female surfers face in the industry?
Getting sponsored. There are so many talented surfers now a days with no main sponsor. However, I believe women’s surfing is getting bigger and bigger every day so a lot is going to be changing.

You have a number of sponsors… What advice would you give to other women who are looking for sponsorship…Anything that helped you get big names like Reef?
I would say be nice and humble to every person you meet. You never know who that person is. Don’t think about it too much, just do what you do and work hard.

Tia’s Sponsors
Reef
J7 Surf Designs
Daphnes Greek Cafe
Sticky Bumps
Tonic Shop
DFS Movement
Forged in Fitness
RPRT  (management team)

Any advice for women looking to get into modeling…You’ve done quite a bit of it already at a young age – any dos or don’ts you’ve learned?
Make sure you know who you’re dealing with and be confident and relaxed.

What’s your favorite social media outlet?
My favorite is Instagram but I’m required to use all social media. I have a Facebook, Tumblr and I just got a Twitter account.

• Instagram: tiablanco
• Twitter: tia_blanco
• Facebook: www.facebook.com/Tia.Blanco
• Tumblr: http://tiablanco.tumblr.com
• Website: www.tiarahblanco.com

Anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to?
I would really love to say thank you to all the people that support me in this world especially my loved ones.

Thanks Tia and all the best!

Check out Tia’s interview with girlisnota4letterword.com. Thanks to Cindy Whitehead and Matt Meyerson of RPRT Management for the introduction and a special thanks to Sina Blanco for the awesome photos. Tia can be reached through rp-rt.com for sponsorship and other inquiries.

Photo credits: Sina Blanco



Interview with Iceland’s First (and only) IFBB Pro Margret Gnarr


Iceland’s first and only IFBB Pro took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to share a bit more about herself. Margret Gnarr will be making her IFBB Pro debut this weekend at the Bikini International in Columbus, Ohio. You may not have heard much about her before but rest assured you will in the coming days. Marget’s hardbody and looks speak for themselves but what you may not have known is that she’s a blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do. Get to know a bit more about Margret and give her a bit of encouragement as she’s not only competing as a pro for the first time but also representing an entire country.

margret gnarr


Name: 

Margret Gnarr

Born in:
1989

Currently live in:
Reykjavik, Iceland

Any brothers or sisters?
Yes I have 6 siblings, 3 brothers and 3 sisters

Where do you fall in the ages?
I grew up with two of my siblings to the age of 11 and I was the middle child. My brother is 2 years older than me and my sister is 3 years younger.

Any pets?
I have two dogs. Dolly is a Chihuahua/Cavalier mix and Ronja is a Icelandic sheepdog / Russian sled dog mix.

One food you will NOT eat:
Cucumbers !!! Hate them! Sometimes I say I’m allergic just to avoid eating them! I don’t know what is is with cucumbers. My dad and my younger sister are the same. haha

After my workout I typically eat…
Chicken, sweet potatoes and sweet peppers

Did you play sports growing up?
Yes, I was all over the place growing up! I loved all sports and I was very active from a young age. My favorite class in school was gym-class! I started in gymnastics when I was 6 but I didn’t have a lot of discipline so my parents sent me to Taekwondo for one year. At the age of 8 I went into figure skating and that’s when I started competing in sports and absolutely loved competing! I wanted to be the first figure skating competitor from Iceland to compete at the winter Olympics! At the age of 14 I hurt my ankles and couldn’t handle the landings after the high jumps so I took 6 months off from training and after 6 months my friend asked me about Taekwondo and told me she wanted to try it out. I went with her to our first training and after my first Taekwondo class I was hooked. I stopped figure skating and found another passion. Soon I got in the youth national team in Olympic Taekwondo Sparring and started competing. I have competed several times in Taekwondo and I have the black belt. I have been doing Taekwondo for over 10 years.

margret gnarr world champions winner

How did you get into competing in Bikini?
I have been interested in Bikini fitness since 2008 when it started in Iceland. My friend competed at the IFBB Icelandic Championship and I thought she looked so great. I have always been interested in modeling and I am also a singer so I love to be on stage. When it comes to modeling I was always told I had the face for it but not the body. My body was too athletic for modeling. When I saw the Bikini fitness class for the first time I thought to myself: “that’s perfect for me!” But at that time I had very low self-esteem after years of bullying and I knew I had to work on my self first to be able to handle fitness competitions. In beginning of 2011 I finally had the self-esteem I needed and decided to compete. My first competition was the IFBB Icelandic Cup in November 2011 and after that contest I was hooked!

A singer huh… Who is your favorite singer?
I have so many favorite singers! Can’t pick one:) Here are couple of my absolute favorite: Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran, Imogen Heap, Hayley Williams and Jonathan Davis.

Will you give us a sample of your singing at the Arnold?
Yes! Of course! Will you play the guitar then?

margret gnarr world champions winner

Yes, totally! (Note to self forget to pack guitar).

 

Contest history:
IFBB Icelandic Cup 2011 – 3rd place
Arnold Amateur USA 2012 – 4th place
IFBB Icelandic Championhip 2012 – 2nd place
IFBB World Championship 2012 – NP
Arnold Amateur Europe 2012 – 13th place
IFBB Icelandic Cup 2012 – 1st place
IFBB World Championship 2013 – 1st place

How long have you been practicing taekwondo?
– For over 10 years now

Do you still do taekwondo while prepping for a bikini show?
I do Taekwondo in my off seasons but 12 weeks into a bikini show I only train Taekwondo

by myself. The reason is I don’t want to get hurt or bruised on Taekwondo trainings. When I train Taekwondo I do a lot of sparring and you can get hurt and that’s not good when you are prepping for a bikini show. Doesn’t look very good on stage to be bruised. haha

Do you have any foods in Iceland that you won’t find in the USA?
Yes! Icelandic Candy, Icelandic dry fish, Icelandic yogurt skyr.is (You can find Skyr in Wholefoods but its not the same as in Iceland)

margret gnarr world championships contest

What is Icelandic candy like?
– Its heaven! Icelandic chocolate is the BEST! I will bring some Icelandic candy with me for everybody to taste!!

What’s iceland dry fish like or is there nothing like it and it’s super amazing?
Icelandic dry fish is awesome in competition prep. There are 83 grams of protein in 100 grams of dry fish and no carbs. It’s very popular in Iceland and we grow up eating it like candy.

What’s the biggest difference between USA and Iceland that you’ve noticed?
The biggest difference in general is the size and population! There are 320.000 people who live in Iceland! That’s like a small town in the US!

How’s it feel to be the only IFBB Pro from Iceland?
I can’t explain the feeling. I still can’t believe I achieved that dream. Ever since I started competing I wanted to be the first Icelandic fitness competitor to become an IFBB Pro. I am honored to be the first IFBB Pro from Iceland and I hope I will make my country proud.

How long do you prepare for a competition?I’m prepping all year round but I start the competition diet 12 weeks into a competition.

Do you follow the same training you did from a couple years ago?
No, I got a new personal trainer last year and changed a lot. Doing more reps, lighter weights and more cardio.

Do you workout with a trainer?
No my coach lives on the other side of the country so I workout alone but sometimes a have a workout partner.

What tips would you give women who are looking for a trainer – what should they look for?
Always look for a trainer that has the right experience for your goals. I also think it’s really important to feel 100% trust to your trainer.

What are you doing when not measuring food, hitting the gym or hitting pads?
I’m a personal trainer, a posing coach, a spokesmodel and a singer. I barely get any free time! When I have some free time I like to just lay in bed and watch TV shows with my fiancé and my dogs and I also love to go to the spa at my gym, World Class.

I understand you have asthma. How do you overcome having asthma with cardio – any tips for others who suffer from asthma?
The right exercises helped me with my asthma. I barely feel it anymore. The asthma was very bad when I was younger but after I started doing sprints 3 times a week my endurance has never been better!

Do you listen to music while you work out? If so what’s your go to song for this prep?
Yes! I LOVE listening to music! I listen to dupstep and I have the volume very high. Keeps me more focused. Currently I’m listening to Skrillex, Modestep, NERO, Korn, House of Titans, Aviici and more.

What’s your typical breakfast look like?
I always have oatmeal for breakfast and when I’m not 12 weeks out from a bikini show I like to add cashew nuts, green apples and goji berries in my oatmeal.

photo of margret gnarr

Any tips for surviving a long flight?
Get a good sleep! That’s the best thing to do!

Has this prep been different from previous shows?
Yes, I have been doing way more cardio than I’m used to. That was probably the only difference but what matters most to me while prepping for a show is to feel good mentally, physically and emotionally.

How important is it to have a strong support system around you?
I find it very important because it keeps me motivated! That’s why I always surround myself with peop

le who support me.

Any one you’d like to thank?
There are so many people I would like to thank. My family and friends for all of their support. My coach Johann Nordfjord for always being there for me. My Icelandic sponsors: Nings, Harlengingar.is, Jan Tana Iceland, BPro Iceland, WOWair, Fitness Sport, Hamark, NYX Iceland, LG Simar, NIP+FAB Iceland, Fitness Akademian, Mizu beauty salon and Kiss Kringlunni. My American sponsors: BN Shape and Ravish Sands. I am also extremely thankful to the IFBB Pro league for giving me this amazing opportunity to compete at the Arnold Classic, Bikini international. It has been a dream ever since I started competing in Bikini fitness and I am so honored.

What’s the best advice anyone has given you so far in life?
My coach taught me not to take myself too seriously and that has helped me in my competitions and life in general.

Where can people find more info on you?
On my Facebook fan page www.facebook.com/margretgnarr
Twitter account @margretgnarr
Instagram @margretgnarr

What’s your favorite social media outlet?
Facebook.

Thanks for your time Margret and we look forward to seeing you compete at the Bikini International this weekend. For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit arnoldsportsfestival.com and be sure to follow us on twitter.com/hardbodynews for updates through out the week.

Behind the scenes video from Marget’s photoshoot.

Photos provided by Margret Gnarr. Photographers Sasha Paleeva & Lalli Sig.



Interview with Canadian Fitness Pro Danielle Ruban


IFBB Fitness Pro, Danielle Ruban will be competing in her second Fitness International competition this week. She was away from competition in 2013 due to a shoulder injury but is rehabilitated and ready to rock in Columbus. Danielle took time from her busy schedule to do this Hardbody Interview and share a bit more about herself. The Canadian gymnast turned IFBB Fitness Pro shares her love for the expresso machine, why she would never cut it using a fanny pack and more.

danielle ruban

HARDBODY INTERVIEW with DANIELLE RUBAN

Name: Danielle Louise Ruban

Birthday: Oct. 10, 1983

Born in: Belleville, Ontario

Currently live in: Cambridge, Ontario

Occupation: Online Contest Prep Coach

Years competing: 5 this will be my 6th year

Competition history:
2012 IFBB Arnold Classic Europe – 12th
2012 IFBB Ms. Fitness Olympia – 12th
2012 IFBB Toronto Pro Supershow – 4th
2012 IFBB Pittsburgh Pro – 4th
2012 IFBB St. Louis Pro – 3rd
2012 IFBB Ms. Fitness International -9th
2011 IFBB Pan American Games Championships 1st in tall, 1st Over-all
2011 IFBB North American Championships 1st Over-all (Pro Card Awarded)

Any pets? Two big, furry German Shepherds

How about plants… do you have any plants… are you a plants person?
I love plants! But I could not be trusted to keep one alive.

If someone has more than three cats and single they are… Who they are?!? Is this a trick question? “Judge not lest ye be judged” ;-)

If someone wears a fanny pack to the gym they might be… A minimalist. I practically need a hockey bag.

One trend you wish would come back in style… I know I am going to embarrass myself here: Bell-bottoms.

What was your favorite event in gymnastics? The floor exercise, by far. I pretty much only did the other events so I could do floor routines!

How often and long do you train gymnastics/routine? About 2.5-3 hours, 4 days a week.

danielle ruban fitnessDanielle performs her routine at the 2012 Fitness International.


What areas have you worked on since your last competition?
Plenty! I have really focused on re-building my physique. I cannot wait to see how everything comes together at my first show back! I worked equally hard at improving my routine, which will be explosive and exciting! Those are just the physical changes; mentally, I have matured a lot as well.

Do you think it’s more challenging to get exposure for Canadians than your US counterparts? No – I think if you compete internationally and you reach out to the right people, we Canadians can have the same opportunities as American competitors.

What would be a “typical day” for Ms. Ruban?
I wake up at around 6:30, and my first stop is the coffee maker. I just got an espresso machine and I am loving it! If it’s a “routine practice” day, I’ll eat first and then away I go! Three hours later I am back home, and my dogs are looking at me because they want to get a workout in too. I take them to a park and throw the ball until they have had their fill. Next, I spend time communicating with clients or creating new/updated programs. Being a contest prep coach is extremely fun and rewarding, and I am grateful to have found a profession that I’m so passionate about.

This close to a show, I will weight train, but go early to practice posing first. I practice my presentation daily now that the show is so close.

My training coach is a ‘Strong-man’ competitor, and today we will train back and shoulders. It’s amazing – I am days out from my competition and still lifting more weight each session! It’s highly motivating. Once I’m back at home, I will do some more work before folding up my laptop and getting ready to relax for the evening with my husband and dogs. All of us pile on the couch and watch a good show or movie. Some nights, if he is at work, I will read or journal before bed. I am usually in bed by 10pm and before I fall asleep I visualize my fitness routine or physique round presentation over and over until I fall asleep.

Favorite body part to train?
Shoulders. I was out with shoulder injuries this past season, and they have come so far. I finally feel really strong training them – That’s what fun is for me.

Did the shoulder injury keep you out of competition in 2013?
Not competing in 2013 was a hard choice, but a wise one. I had bilateral shoulder issues which took a very long time to heal. No treatment was working on me, and it was really hard deal with mentally. I wanted to take time to build and improve my physique, and for 6 months I couldn’t even take my shoulder through a pain-free range of motion. Working with a chiropractor who used the Graston Technique (where scar tissue is aggressively broken down) is what really helped. I was finally able to start working through the injuries and making some gains in strength and physique development. It’s not realistic to go from show to show, stay in peak condition, and make muscle gains simultaneously. I took the time to invest in my future fitness career. I started training with Craig Bongelli, who is a StrongMan competitor, and he has really helped me become much stronger and more explosive. I am excited to display these improvements to both the physique and routine round this season! I also took the time off to focus on building my training business, where I prep competitors for IFBB affiliated shows. Training clients who end up having a great experience and do well is almost as rewarding as competing myself.

Least favorite body part to train?
Calves.

How important is a good coach?
It’s not important, it’s key. Speaking from personal experience, I can say my coaches Layne Norton and Craig Bongelli have helped me to chase my potential in a way I never thought possible.

What tips do you have for women who are currently looking for a coach… What should they look for?
I think a GOOD coach should have personal experience with competing (i.e. Be a competitor themselves), have experience coaching competitors, and should have some kind of applicable education such as Kinesiology, Anatomy or Physiology degree. I think it would be a great idea for the individual looking to compete to speak to current or past clients of the coach they are interested in working. I think a good coach should genuinely care about their clients, love what they do, and lead by example. They should inspire, not intimidate, and consider the competitors’ HEALTH first and foremost. Here is a great video log by my coach Layne Norton: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uheW7ZljTXo

danielle ruban fitnessDanielle at the 2012 Fitness Olympia

Favorite way to prepare chicken?

BBQ! But this winter, I opted to use the deep covered oven baker – Thank you Pampered Chef

Favorite flavor of Mrs. Dash?
If I had to choose, the garlic on. But salt is not the enemy, so why not have Montreal Steak Spice?

What do you eat the day of a show when you know you’ll be performing your routine?
Similar to what I would eat on a day I am practicing my routine. I will have already eaten some carbs the day before, and prior to prejudging, so that’s really all I need. Maybe a few sips of Revolution Nutrition KICK, too!

How important is it to have a strong support team when prepping for a show?
I have learned this prep just how very critical it is. I have always had the support of family and my husband and my sponsors, but this year I have friends who will be there to support and cheer me on, and have been there the entire journey. My coaches will be there, too. I am dedicating this show to those people.

Any sponsors you’d like to thank?
Revolution Nutrition for always being there to supply me with my Supplement Arsenal and Cynthia James of CJ’s Elite Competition Wear for my Fitness Costume.

Where can people find more info on you?
www.danielleruban.com
On twitter: @DanielleRuban
On instagram:@TeamRuban

Favorite social media outlet?

Facebook AND IG – Don’t make me choose!

How excited are you to be heading to Brasil?
Words cannot describe! I have always wanted to compete internationally in the sport I love, and now I will be going to South America for the first time in my life!! I may never have gotten that opportunity if I wasn’t doing what I am so fortunate to be doing, competing in Pro Fitness

Favorite motivational quote.
“THE GREATEST BARRIER TO SOMEONE ACHIEVING THEIR POTENTIAL IS THEIR DENIAL OF IT.” – SIMON TRAVAGLIA

See more photos of Danielle in competition and performing her routine here.



Hardbody PROfile: Elissa Martis – Doctor of Physical Therapy


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.

Elissa Hardbody Profile

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.

HARDBODY PROfile:

elissa abs dan ray photo

Full Name:
Elissa Leandra Martis

Born in:West Palm Beach, FL

Currently live in:
Jupiter, FL

Any siblings?
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

Occupation:
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.  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.elissa npc nationals winner

Contest History:
• Battle on the Beach, Daytona Beach, FL March 2013- 2nd place Figure D
• NPC Southeast Classic, Hollywood FL, 2nd place Figure D
• Jr USA’s, Charleston, SC 1st place Figure Class E
• Team Universe, Teaneck, NJ 7th place Figure Class E
• 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?
Chest

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!

What’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. 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? 
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? 
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.

elissa photo by dan ray

You’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. Make an impact and be a positive influence to women and girls who struggle with body image and health. I want to start a family and juggle all of life’s challenges while still making an imprint in the fitness industry.

Favorite quote:
It’s a biblical scripture that pulls me through difficult times: 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.

Where can people find more info on ya?
Facebook: IFBB pro Elissa Martis
Instagram: elissa621

Any eeps you’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

 



PROfile: Iron Games Winner – Taylor Matheny Benston


Taylor Matheny Benston shares what works for her when it comes to diet, nutrition, training and supplementation. The blonde cutie recently won her first pro win but she’s been eating healthy and cooking up a storm for years. Find out what workouts helped her build a pro physique and more in this bodybuilding.com interview.

taylor matheny benston bikini pro


What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

Being a nutritional chef helps me maintain a clean healthy diet year-round. I love weightlifting and only do minimal cardio.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?
I stay with a balance of fruits, fresh veggies, lean proteins, and complex carbs. I never deprive myself of any flavors or taste. I use fresh herbs and spices in abundance and I have special recipes for answering those sweet tooth cravings without feeling guilty!

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?
I have always been a big fan of Dymatize ISO-100 protein powders. They are great tasting and make amazing muffins and brownies! I make sure I always have my liquid calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D supplements on hand at all times. They help keep my bones strong and they are easy on the joints after all the lifting.

Read the entire interview here.



Olympia Interview with India Paulino


India Paulino has found a winning look and already has the Bikini International crown to her credit this year. Now she has her sights on the biggest show of them all… the Olympia. David Robson from Bodybuilding.com caught up with the Floridian to gain some insight into her contest prep.

india-paulino-olympia

Paulino tells Robson that she’s put her career as a police officer on hold and that she’s been traveling quite a bit. When it comes to food prep, India shares that she eats “a little less food” for a contest and has adapted clean eating as a lifestyle.  India goes on to say, “As far as training for a show, I would say I’m intense.” You learn about her favorite BSN supplements, what she’s been training since the Arnold and more.

Read the entire Olympia Interview with India Paulino here.

You can meet India at this year’s Olympia Expo where she’ll be working the BSN booth and of course catch her on stage as she attempts to dethrone Nathalia Melo for the Bikini Olympia title. Follow all the coverage on social media with the hashtag #olympia.



Interview with Camille Leblanc-Bazinet – One of The Fittest Women In The World


Camille Leblanc-Bazinet is one of the top ranked Crossfit Athletes in the world. She splits her time between Canada and the United States as she juggles college and being one of the rising stars of Crossfit. We caught up with Camille one month out from the 2013 Crossfit Games to learn a bit more about her. Camille shares what she eats, what duct tape can’t fix, her favorite song to sing in the shower and more. She’s definitely one hardbody athlete you’ll want to follow because she not only looks the part but also lives it.

camille-crossfit


HARBODY INTERVIEW WITH CAMILLE LEBLANC-BAZINET

Age: 24

Height: 5’2″

Weight: 130 lb

Born in:
Canada

Currently live in:
Montreal 80% / San Diego, CA 20%

Best part about Canada:
My family the food and Montreal is amazing

Best part about California:
Surfing, my husband coach and friends

What’s the best part of being a twin?
You are raise with your best friend

Were the two of you competitive with each other growing up?
We were not competitive together but I was competitive with everyone lol… We are way different she was playing hockey and I was doing gymnastic. We support each other a lot.

What’s the best song to sing in the shower or in the car?
“I will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. hahahahaha


Any chances we’ll hear you putting out your own album?
lol hahahahaha hell no… I love singing by myself it is so much fun but I am more than scared to sing in front of anyone.

Are you still going to school for chemical engineering?
Yes, I am still in school and I have 36 credits left can’t wait to be done.

Will you put that on hold for a career in CrossFit or what would you like to do as a chemical engineer in a “perfect world”?
In a perfect world I would love to keep doing things with CrossFit especially to help out women and girls with the way they view themselves… but I also have a big passion to try to make a difference in the world with my degree… I want to do recycling process for industry and air and water treatment to try to save our planet.

Do you feel being pushed in gymnastics at a young age helped you in CrossFit?
Yes, I would recommend anyone to put their kids in gymnastic simply to learn kin-aesthetic awareness… just to be better in general in anything they want to do.

What was the most challenging sport you’ve tried?
Crossfit hahahaha which is why I love it so much… once you think you get better at something there is something new to work on… It is just so much fun the variety of this sport.

What other sports do you participate in now?
Now I ski and surf for fun.

Do you do any other type of training besides CrossFit?
No I pretty much just cross fit for training… because it involves already pretty much everything… do weightlifting power-lifting, running, swimming, etc.

Who introduced you to CrossFit and do you remember what your first WOD was?
I was introduced while I was playing rugby some of my teammates were doing crossfit so they challenge me to come try and my first workout was 5 rounds for time of 400m run 25 burpees :)

camille-leblanc


What should someone look for in a CrossFit gym and trying it for the first time?

A lot of attention from coach and a warm welcome from the other clients… they’ll take care of you as if your in their family.

Do you eat before or after a WOD?
Both… if I do a long endurance workout I eat 2 hours before other ways 30 minutes before and I always eat after a shake and sweet potato.

Do you change your diet up in preparation for The Games?
Yes… I already eat clean most of the year but I just clean up more and I eat way more since I do more volume… pretty much meat veggies, almost no fruits, sweet potato and some nuts… with bsn synths-6, amino-x and I take religiously my extreme endurance.

What do you eat the day of The Games?
Anything that goes in… I struggle to eat when I am nervous so if I want to eat somethings I do so to have fuel. Mostly sweet potato pouch (baby food), protein shakes and tons of water and coconut water.

Do the type of shoes you wear in CrossFit help you an any you’d recommend to others?
Yes, I totally love Reebok weightlifting shoes when we squat so I stay back in my heels. I like the Reebok Nanos cause they are light and keep my feet near the ground for more stability.

Do you think women get the same exposure and attention in CrossFit as the men?
I think we might get a little more… It is great to see a sport where the women are put in front and where we seem to have as much attention… I think it might be because it is creating a new way for women to see themselves and it is inspiring for people.

What would you like to see more women do in the world of CrossFit?
Accept themselves and stop worrying about their weight. lol… gain muscle and be proud to be strong!

Do you feel like there’s pressure on women to look a certain way in CrossFit?
Yes, I think women still want to be small and ripped, but I think we shouldn’t care about the way we look as long as our fitness is going up.

Are the women friendly and hang out with each other at The Games or not so much?
Well for myself there is a group of athletes that I can’t wait to hang out with… I know that I always have tons of fun with the majority of those girls and the reason why is because I have a huge respect for them… everyone works so hard to qualify that it seems ridiculous to me not to be friend with them… and they are all so amazing.

One event that you hope is not on this year’s schedule at The Games?
Just rowing for a certain distance or time.

How much of competing in CrossFit is mental?
Well all year you train and once your competing the work is already done and then its 90% mental.

Do you have any rituals or things you do to stay mentally strong during an event?

Yes, my husband ask right before event if I am hungry… and that always fired me up (hungry to win).


Who are your current sponsors?

bsn, cep compression, extreme endurance, wodshop, via prive and Reebok shoes.

What advice do you have for women trying to get sponsorships?
Work your ass off and they’ll come to you.

Favorite BSN product?
Syntha-6 peanut butter cup

Any recipes you’ve created using a BSN product that’s your go to meal?

Yes in a magic bullet…
• ice
• chocolate coconut water
synth-6 peanut butter
• one frozen banana
• a spoon of peanut butter
Way too good!

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has given you?
Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t do… you make the call.

Anything duck tape can’t fix?
hahahahaha when your sole hurt lol

Favorite line in Forrest Gump?
Life is like a box of chocolates. (obviously)

Was it more pressure to compete head to head and have it broadcast on the web or didn’t matter to ya?
It was more like an honor and a chance to prove myself… there was nothing really to win but it was a crazy experience and people gave me so much love it was one of the best experience i ever had… obviously it made me push way harder too.


Any aspirations to try out for the 2016 Olympics?

Yes, I really want to give a shot in weightlifting.

Where can people find more information on you?
They follow me on Facebook via my fan page or on instagram @camillelbaz and twitter on the same name.

Thanks Camille. All the best at The Games and thanks for your time.


Photos Courtesy of BSN.

 



Pro Skateboarder Cindy Whitehead Talks Style, The Smithsonian and More


I caught up with our resident style’n guru Cindy Whitehead aka The SportsStylist® to learn a bit more about her life as a professional skateboarder. Cindy has a no BS approach to life and she’s the epitome of what living hardbody is all about. She’s one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet and reminds us all to follow your passions and do what you love. Cindy doesn’t just say it, she lives it.

 

cindy-whitehead

 

Cindy has a hundred and one things going on and she was kind enough to do this interview with us. She talks about what it’s like being a female athlete, her own style, life as a stylist, skateboarding down the 405 highway, her own skateboard, The Smithsonian and more.

THE HARDBODY 411:

Name:
Cindy Whitehead

Currently Reside in:
Hermosa Beach, California – the small beach town I grew up in!

You started skateboarding at a young age… Who helped you get started in skateboarding?

I asked for a board for my birthday because I saw people doing it and photos in magazines. Then once I started skating on the streets of Hermosa, the pier and the strand – local guys I hung out with encouraged/pushed me.

cindy whitehead skateboarderDid your parents approve of your skating passion?
They kind of realized that at a young age I kind of did my own thing. I had been living /traveling in a VW van with my mom and brother for over a year in Mexico & Guatemala when I was nine so “being yourself” was encouraged. And my grandparents lived nearby and they were my biggest supporters!

Do you still skateboard today?
Absolutely! I don’t drop into pools and skate vert like I did back in the day anymore but I do ride banked walls, cruise the street, as well as the strand by my house, and have fun.

How does one turn pro in the world of skateboarding?
You compete at the amateur level, practice hard, get some sponsors, win some contests and when you or your sponsors feel you are ready, you enter the pro division at a contest – which means there is prize money rather than just product when you win.

Once you turn pro in skateboarding are you always considered a pro?

Yes, you never go back to amateur status. Later when you stop competing you may still be referred to as a Pro Skater, OG Pro Skater, or a former pro skater – depending on who is talking about you.

Are there different divisions in pro skateboarding? Give the 411 on skateboarding for dummies, like me.
There are women & men’s divisions. Sometimes if there are not enough women competing the women compete with the guys in an “open pro division”. Then there are also types of skateboarding, like street, downhill, vert etc. and each discipline has its own pro division, but some people skate/excel in more than one category. Like my friend Judi Oyama, she is an old school pro skater in slalom & downhill as well as vert.

Who were your first sponsors?
My first big sponsors were Sims Skateboards, Tracker Trucks, Flyaway helmets and Puma Tennis Shoes

What advice would you give young skaters on getting sponsored?
I’d say it’s not all about getting sponsored; it’s about skating because you LOVE it. But to answer the question – sponsors look for someone who rides consistently, shows up on time to demos, contests and photo shoots and is going to show off their product well.

Do you remember your first magazine feature and what it was?

Oh yeah. It was a 2 page article and a centerfold in a skateboarding Magazine. I was grounded for a month at the time for ditching school to do a photo shoot, so when the magazine called my house to tell me that I had the centerfold my mom answered the said “that’s nice, but she won’t be able to see it until she is done being grounded in 10 more days”. Nice…

HaHaHa! That’s awesome.

cindy-whitehead7Cindy Whitehead Skateboarding magazine feature


Were there many girls skateboarding at the time you started?

There were not a ton of girls but there were enough to have pro and amateur divisions at most big contests. We were so spread out geographically that most of us rarely skated with or saw another girl skating vert at our home skatepark so coming together for contests was great! I met one of my close friends Judi Oyama at one of these events – in fact it was Winchester Skatepark and it was the contest I turned Pro at back when I was about 16 years old.

It’s stereotypical for men to look at women as lesser than in the world of sports, were there guys who were supportive of you and the other women in skateboarding?
I would say back in my day skateboarding if you gave respect and charged hard you gained respect from the guys. I never felt that the guys I skated with treated me as anything other than one of them. They never said, “let the girl drop in” or gave me preferential treatment – and I really appreciate that. It meant I was 100% accepted.

Did you sneak into pools and places you weren’t supposed to be in to skate?
Hell yes! Backyard pools, running and jumping fences and when the police arrived & if you didn’t run fast enough, or were unlucky, they sat you down on the curb with your hands under your butt and either wrote you up or called your parents or maybe on a good day, let you go with a warning. We got also got shot at with buckshot on the Indian Reservation when we snuck in to skate the legendary Arizona Pipes.

That sounds like quite the adventure!

What’s the thrill behind skateboarding or is it something you never fully understand until you do it?
I think it’s like anything you love – you crave it. For me it’s been about mastering a trick after falling hard hundreds of times trying it over and over again, the freedom of going fast, floating in the air when doing airs, hanging with good friends and pushing each other. Skateboarders are family for life. You can go anywhere in the world and say you are a skateboarder and I guarantee someone will have your back and welcome you in.cindy-whitehead1

There are photos of you rocking huge headphones while skating. What were you listening to?
Since they were “radio” headphones back then it would be anything from REO Speedwagen and the Beach Boys to Heart, Aerosmith and Led Zepplin. I wasn’t too into punk.

Are women getting more coverage in skateboarding now or are they still left in the shadows like the early days?
I think the women are getting more & more coverage for sure. They are excelling faster than ever, and banding together to make sure that 2013 is the year of the “Girl”. There are now more competitions, they are raising their visibility and are a force to be reckoned with. Amelia Brodka’s new movie UNDEREXPOSED is also something to look out for in women’s skateboarding.

Was Dogtown and Z-Boys an accurate portrayal of the 70s skating scene?
It was a fun movie made by friend and fellow skater Stacy Perlata, and it was about of one small part of the skateboarding scene during the 1970’s. It wasn’t meant to be an overall view of skateboarding – it was about the Dogtown crew. If you watch Stacy’s new movie, THE BONES BRIGADE you will see an amazing inside view of another part of skateboard history – the Powell-Peralta Bones Brigade Team. There are more movies coming out about different teams/parts of skateboard history and if we piece together important information from each of those, we can get a more complete portrayal on skateboarding history as a whole – and that itself is not a movie has been done. Yet.

Are there any girls that stand out today and ones to watch?

Absolutely! So many great girls are skating/competing today – Lizzie Armanto, Alana Smith, Julz Lynn, Nora Vasconcellos , Leticia Bufoni, Mimi Knoop, Amelia Brodka, Allysha Bergado, Amee Jay, Katherine Folsom, & Jean Rusen, are just a few names to watch for in the women’s division. The younger girls like Poppy Starr Olsen, Annika Vrklan and her sister Klara, Bryce Ava Wettstein, Jordyn Barratt are some that I am keeping a close eye on. See how long the list is and I haven’t even named them all! That makes me smile.

Wow, that’s awesome.

Does skateboarding still mean freedom to you? How is skateboarding a lifestyle?
Yes absolutely. Every time I skate or am just around people that skate I feel like I am “home”. Family. Love. Those are all things that come to mind. It’s a mindset we grow up with and an understanding and a deep appreciation of one another as skaters and people.

What was your “style” of skateboarding?
Skating pools and half-pipes I had to be a bit more aggressive and charge the wall but I also tried to have a smooth style when I skated – that was and still is, something that I thcindy-whitehead5ink is important.

What would you typically be rocking at the skatepark for a wardrobe?
Shorts (padded if I was trying a new trick) OP cord shorts if not. A fitted team tee or striped short sleeve, low socks, Pumas or Nikes (before I was sponsored by Puma), red knee and elbow pads and a bad ass flyaway helmet if I was skating in a skatepark.

So you were the stylish one at the park…?
I think we were all pretty stylish – even the guys! If you look at mainstream fashion now, they are constantly referencing and emulating those looks, so we all must have been doing something right to be trendsetters!

Do you feel like your work as a stylist was influenced by skateboarding?
Absolutely on certain shoots, like the commercial I just did for a big shoe company. It was all about the skater lifestyle and influence via the styling so you can imagine what a rad day I had working on that!

You keep a blog where you identify trends and cool shit. (itsnotaboutpretty.com) It seems like skateboarding is “Fashionably cool” lately. Do you like the integration and is it an accurate portrayal?
I think anytime a sport like ours is being looked to set trends and used as a fashion reference, it only helps us in the long run. I do find it interesting when I see something in Vogue where the model is in high heels and a beautiful dress holding a skateboard – but being in the fashion industry, I embrace it all, and I understand the fashion world’s fascination with it.

Skateboarding is often associated or thought of as a California sport. Were there any other hotbeds for skateboarding in the 70s?
There were kids skateboarding all over – Florida was a big area for awesome skateboarders – my Sims teammate, Mike Folmer came out of Florida and he was a huge pro skater, as did legendary freestyle genius, Rodney Mullen. Places like Cherry Hill, NJ and Apple Skatepark in Columbus, Ohio also had amazing skaters. These areas had a couple of the best skateparks outside of California! California had the most parks and the main magazines were based here, so yes the coverage was greater BUT skateboarding was happening all over the USA.

We used to see “no skateboarding” signs everywhere – do you still see those around?
I unfortunately still do. Even right near where I live. I am hoping in time that will change.

You skateboarded down the 405 FWY during Carmegeddon. Was that the biggest adrenaline rush for you as a skateboarder?

It was one of them for sure. And it was a hell of a lot of FUN. The planning, the trying – we tried for over 2 hours before we could safely access the 405 fwy and not get caught. Finally getting to skate it was mind blowing. I have lived in LA all my life and I spend more time than I’d like to on that fwy so it really felt like a F-You of sorts over the usual traffic I encounter daily.

405 skateboarding, cindy whitehead

Cindy skateboarding down the 405 interstate while closed. #crazyCool

It received quite a bit of press and you didn’t get arrested so that’s a score. LOL! Speaking of F-You…You have your own skateboard now “Girl is not a 4 letter word” a collaboration between you and Dusters California – what does that mean to you and how did the idea come about?
The idea came about one day over lunch at my house with Michael Brooke who is the owner/editor of Concrete Wave Magazine and is also the founder of Longboarding For Peace, and Nano Nobrega who is the creative director at Dusters California skateboards. We were all talking about the cool stuff Longboarding for Peace is doing all over the world, and Michael suggested that Dusters do a collab with me and we tie it in to LB4P and any other non-profit I wished to help out. So that’s where the idea was born and 9 months later here we are! I am very excited about this collab as I believe in everything LB4P is doing and being able to also contribute to GRO (Girl Riders Organization) is awesome too as many more girls will be able to try out and/or continue their love of skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding etc.

How involved were you in the creation of the board and what’s your favorite part of it?
I was very lucky to be involved in every aspect of the design process while working closely with Nano Nobrega in making this board. The phrase “Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word” is something I thought up and have been using for awhile now and I like the strong message it sends, the artwork & lettering was all hand done by me via pencil, paintings and ink and the message on the tail of board is a combination of phrases I like/say often. We discussed colors and board shape + size at great length – I really wanted a cruiser board that everyone could easily ride but that could also be ridden in a skatepark (old school style!) if you wanted to. Some of my favorite things are the gold trucks that are completely badass (you don’t see too many boards with gold trucks out there), the little skull and the words “Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word” in the wheels, the skull embedded in the grip tape, and the Longboarding for Peace logo as well as GRO on the tail in metallic gold. It’s these elements of design that set Dusters apart from a lot of other boards on the market. And I am stoked they went the extra mile for me in every part of the design process to produce a board that I am 100% stoked with.

A portion of the board sales will go towards GRO “Girl Riders Organization”. Why that organization and where can people find more about it?
GRO (girlsriders.org) helps girls of all ages get into action sports so if you wanted to learn to ride a skateboard, snowboard or surf you could show up at a GRO clinic and have people help you and provide all the gear so you could try that sport out in a safe, female friendly, environment. GRO has done a lot to teach young girls about the female riders that have come before them and to help further women in action sports, and I fully support that message.

Where can people buy the board?

The board is being stocked at skateboard shops all over the USA and abroad. Boards are hitting the stores as early as June 15 in some parts of the USA! You can follow us on Facebook at Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word or via the Dusters California website to stay up to date on where boards are being sold.

It will also be part of the VANS WARPED tour, right? What’s the skinny on that?
Yes! We will be giving away 1 board at each stop on the Vans Warped Tour All you have to do is pick up a “passport” at the Concrete Wave/Longboarding for Peace booth, get 6 non profit booths at the Warped Tour to stamp it to be entered to win. I am really stoked that the board is part of the tour this year!

You’ll be speaking at INNOSKATE and be part of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, along with Tony Hawk. That’s pretty rad. How did that come about?

The amazing people at the Smithsonian Museum (Jeff, Betsy, Jane & Kate) have been so awesome to all us skaters over the past couple years and I can’t say enough nice things about them – I feel that they are now part of the skateboarding family – they know us all that well. Their team flew out here again recently for IASC & the Skateboarding Hall of Fame & the next week they called me up & asked me to speak at Innoskate (not email text, etc.) How professional and nice is that? I was so excited – what they are doing on June 22 is part of skateboarding history. There will be a 1/2 pipe set up in front of the museum; guys and girls will be doing demos on the ramp all day. Various speakers will discuss skateboarding, innovation, fashion, and the future of skateboarding and everyone is going to have an AMAZING time! For the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation to put on this huge unprecedented event is really something you don’t want to miss. You can actually read more about it here: http://innoskate2013.tumblr.com/about.

What items will the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s sports collection be accepting from you on June 22?
I am donating quite a few of my late 1970’s & early 1980’s skate gear and apparel as well as the prototype of the new “Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word” board and all it’s original artwork. I am really honored to have some of my personal skateboard history be accepted into this amazing museum!

Cindy's Smithsonian donation.

Cindy’s Smithsonian donation.


That’s a HUGE honor. Do you have your speech written or will you wing it?

I have a general idea of what I’m going to be talking about for Innoskate but yes, some of it I will be winging so it feels more authentic and that’s how I think I work best.

You also have your own shirts / clothing coming out, right?

The t-shirt line is new, and we are just getting started, but we have gotten great feedback so far on the prototype’s we have made. They say things like “Pretty Radical” and of course “Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word”.

When will that launch and where can people find out more about it?

The hats and t-shirts will be released in the next couple of weeks and can be found on the new girlisnota4letterword.com website and via our facebook page.

Thanks for your time Cindy. You’re an inspiration! I really appreciate you sharing a bit of your story here on Hardbody.

Thank you so much for having me on Hardbody, it is an honor! And I’d like to give a shout out to the amazing people & companies who made all of the above possible; Longboarding 4 Peace, Dusters California, Concrete Wave Magazine, Dwindle Inc., Vans Warped Tour, the Smithsonian Museum, GRO, my awesome husband, and every girl and guy out there that loves skateboarding. xx

Try to keep up with Cindy at…



A Recharged Nicole Wilkins is Ready for New York


Nicole Wilkins has solidified herself as one of the best IFBB Pro Figure competitors of all-time. She’s steadily climbed her way to the top of the Figure ranks and  hasn’t placed lower than second since 2009. She was the first woman to achieve pro status in not only Figure but also Fitness, at the same show. Something that will never be matched since competitors are no longer allowed to compete in both at the same show. She tried her hand at Pro Fitness and with some success but it wasn’t until she focused her efforts solely on Figure that she shot to the top.

nicole-wilkins
The 2012 competitive Figure season wasn’t the best of her career but now that she’s settled into a new home and taken some time off, the champ is back. Keep in mind, “not the best” for Nicole was winning the the 2012 Figure International (for the third time) and three runner-up finishes, something most competitors only dream of accomplishing. This weekend Nicole will compete on the stage where she achieved pro status, the Tribecca Performing Arts Center. The nervous excitement will likely be there again but this time she’ll be after the New York Pro Figure title.

We caught up with the popular fitness model, spokes-model and champion figure competitor on the heels of her return to the stage.

HARDBODY INTERVIEW with NICOLE WILKINS

How’s it feel to be back on stage?

I am excited and a little nervous. I feel like it has been so long!

How long of a break did you take?

I haven’t stepped onstage since the beginning of Oct last year at the Sheru Classic in India.

This was the longest break you’ve taken in a few years, right?
Right. This was the longest break I have had since 2006.

What was the most helpful thing for you to take a bit of a break?

I was really tired and burnt out last year. I wasn’t feeling my best and I needed to take a step back to enjoy myself in the gym again. I had more time to get settled into my new home, spend time with family, go wine tasting in Temecula, gain some strength back, enjoy dinner dates, etc. When it was time to start the prep for this show, I was ready.

What was the most challenging part of not competing for months?

There is not as much structure. I love routine and order. It was also a little difficult to sit out of the Arnold. Other than that, I honestly enjoyed every minute of it. It went by pretty fast.

Did it feel weird not prepping for a show over the holidays?

Yes definitely. I caught myself a few times. I still ate clean and worked out like normal, I just had some dessert :) My family is pretty healthy even during the holidays and always make me plain chicken, yams and veggies. I have been competing at the Arnold since 2008, so I have dieted through the holidays every year since then. I had developed a bit of a habit I guess.

This weekend is your return, did you do anything different for your NY PRO Prep?
Every prep my body is a little different – especially the older I get. For this show, I still lifted heavy and incorporated carb cycling, but we were careful not to overdo anything. I am the type of person that will run myself into the ground if that is what it takes. It can be a blessing and a curse. I also recently moved to Temecula, so I was able to pose every week with Kim Oddo. It helped that he could see me regularly.

Do you pack all your food for a show like New York?
I always pack my own food on all of my trips, whether I am competing or not. I measure everything out and put it in baggies. Oatmeal, yams, rice cakes, almonds, steak, salmon etc. I bring it all in my 6 Pack Bag (www.sixpackbags.com). I have to be prepared and food is the most important part! ;)

When’s your last weight training day before a show?
Wednesday I will train shoulders and it will be my last training day.

When do you stop doing cardio before a show?
Usually Wednesday. This time I may do 30min in the morning on Thurs before I fly out.

Who makes your competition suits?
Maggie Keaveny (www.maggie-suits.com). She is amazing and has been doing my suits since 2007!

What’s the best part of living in California now?
The weather!!! I did not miss the cold snowy winter. I love that I can hike outside up the hills, lay in the sun and go running in the morning – the weather is always the same. I also moved from a tiny tiny apartment into a house, so I am loving the space.

Most challenging part of living in Cali?

Definitely missing my family and friends back in MI. Thankfully, I have gotten to see them just about every other month since I moved. I travel a ton so I try to get back as often as I can. My parents and some of my best friends will be in NYC and the Olympia and I will go back in July for a week for my show (NPC Nicole Wilkins Classic July 13 www.michiganfitnessshows.com).

You have a video blog on Fitness RX for Women – what topics do you get asked about the most?
Definitely diet and motivation. It seems like most people have the training part down. The challenging part about the nutrition is that no body is the same and your body is constantly changing. There isn’t a ‘one plan fits all’. With the thousands of different diets out there, its no wonder people are confused. And as far as motivation, no one can give that to you. You have to find it within yourself. It comes and goes all the time. Just be consistent, find something you are truly passionate about and don’t let anything or anyone stop you.

Are you still training others?

Yep! I do one on one training during the week and I also do online training. My current site is being renovated so it is best to just directly email me at nicole@nicolewilkins.com

Do you train dudes or only women?
It is primarily women but I do have a handful of men. I don’t discriminate ;P

Where will peeps see ya after the NY PRO?

I will be home for about 3 days and then off to Finland and Sweden for 10 days, home for 3 days, then off to Chicago for Jr. Nationals, then to New Orleans, Texas, Team Universe in Jersey, USAs in Vegas, then to Massachusetts and finally Windsor all before Aug 10th. I am tired just looking at that schedule!

What’s your favorite way to communicate with fans?
Facebook at www.facebook.com/nicolewilkins01
Twitter @nicolemwilkins
Instagram @nicolemwilkins

Mantra heading into this weekend’s show…
Give it to God and have fun!

Thanks Nicole, safe travels and we’ll see ya in The Big Apple.

Thank YOU! See you in NYC!

View Nicole’s competition photos here.

 

 



One Hardbody To Watch – Nicole Witbeck


Nicole Witbeck may not be a name you’re familiar with now but you will. She’s one of the few blonde bikini competitors in the IFBB Pro League and she could stop traffic with a flip of her hair. She turned pro relatively quick, having only competed in two regional shows before stepping on stage at the 2012 NPC USAs where she achieved pro status. This weekend she’ll be competing in her third pro show and despite not making the top five at the Battle on The Beach, she’s one to watch this weekend.

nicole-witbeck
Nicole shares a little tough love on eating and why she loves butter. This former track athlete shares a bit more about herself and why she’s one hardbody to watch!

Name: Nicole Witbeck

Born in: Portland Oregon

Currently Live in: San Diego California

Did you play any sports growing up? Dance (if you consider it a sport) and I ran varsity hurdles in high school.

110 hurdles or 300/400m? 100 high

Siblings? One brother

Youngest or oldest? Oldest, but some think he’s older just due to his sheer size.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a secret agent, then I grew up and realized they don’t exist in the way I thought they did.

Like the cartoon character MAD… SPY VS SPY? Never heard of it, I’ve always been a Star Wars junkie, so more sci-fi type stuff. Actually, dearth vader is currently my background on my iPhone :)

Other than hitting the weight room what do you with you day? I spend a lot of time outdoors, whether its the beach, hiking, and playing golf.

Have you always worked out? I’ve always been active- not necessarily In a gym. During college I was so focused on my accounting degree I rarely saw anything but the inside of a library.

Did you get an accounting degree and put it to use? I did work in accounting for about a year and I am starting to get back into it! I took some time off to really put my all into this sport.

Any accounting tips for your fellow fitness peeps? lol financial tip- go back and look at how much you used to spend on bars and eating out- then each month put that money away into a savings account. Use that savings account to help fund your competition career.

How did you get into competing? I went to one of my brother physique competitions and though hey I can do this! So I called his coach and got started that day. I did the emerald cup three weeks after that in Bellevue Washington.nicole

You did only a handful of shows before turning pro right? Yes, I did two regional shows and got my pro card in Las Vegas last year!

See Nicole’s competition photos here!

What’s the biggest difference competing in NPC to the Pros? Just the attention that you receive- people look up to you as a role model or inspiration and that’s an amazing feeling knowing you are encouraging others to obtain a healthy lifestyle.

What’s something you wish people would have warned you about and learned the hard way? That I would probably never eat butter again. My favorite food is just straight up butter – and that’s obviously not on our diets.

Wait butter? So you would take a stick and just chew on it like a candy bar? lol yes, I mean I didn’t do that often, but the saying “want some bread with your butter” that was coined after me. My parents said growing up they would find me sneaking into the fridge late at night eating out of the butter tub.

Best thing about competing? Everything! I love the lifestyle and the way I feel. Being on stage and the competitions are just a fun way to show off all that you have worked so hard to achieve.

What’s it like being married to a Navy Seal? I am grateful to all that serve in our armed forces, so I’m very proud to be married to someone who puts his life on the line for our freedom. He constantly pushes me to be better and to never give up.

Like to work out solo or train with someone? When I’m lifting I prefer to train alone just because music really fuels the intensity of my workout. However, Cardio is more fun when I have a partner to laugh with.

What’s on your music play list currently? iHeart Radio- linkin park station

Favorite sport to watch? Football- and mainly because San Diego is an awesome place for hanging out and watching games.

Yes, San Diego is a nice warm place to watch the Charges lose to the Broncos. Are you a chargers fan or Seahawks? Chargers, I was never really a Seahawks fan so I adopted the chargers when I moved to San Diego, like every other person who lives there.

Favorite sport to play? Golf when I’m playing well. I also spent every weekend skiing back when I lived in Oregon.

How’s your golf game? Well… I’m not a scratch golfer by any means. But I can get ahold of a few every once in awhile.

Do blondes have more fun? I think that I have a lot of fun being a blonde!!! Especially in this sport, there are so few of us I have the ability to bring my own look.

What’s your favorite healthy food to make? Dried fruit- I can’t get enough dried pineapple.

Any tips for making fish taste better? I use a chipotle or spicy seasoning to cover up the taste, but when I don’t use seasoning my tip would be to suck it up- I don’t see food as pleasure just fuel to get me through the day.

Rather cook or do laundry? Well my husband would say do laundry because he thinks I’m a clean freak, but I would prefer to cook or bake any day!

Biggest pet peeve? When guys lift up their shirts and stare at their abs in the mirror at the gym. Like really???

Bad Habit.. Coffee, I don’t even want to know how much I spend on Starbucks in a given month.

Social media where people can find you? Twitter: @IFBBNicoleMarie Facebook: Nicole Marie Witbeck- IFBB pro

Where else will you be competing this year? I’m looking at Pittsburg, and from there will just see where things take me!!

nicole-hardbody

 



Hardbody Rookie PROfile – Courtney King


Courtney King is one of the youngest competitors in the IFBB Pro League but you’d never know it by the way she conducts herself on and off stage. The windy city native is on the heels of her first pro competition and has a solid chance at winning it all. Courtney takes time out from her prep to share a bit more about herself in our Hardbody PROfile.

 

courtney-king

Name: Courtney King

Born in: Chi-Town! Chicago, IL.

Currently live in: Daytona Beach, FL.

Are you the oldest or youngest in the fam? I am the Oldest! I have a younger 17 year old brother.

Contest history:
• 2011 teen nationals championships bikini- 1st
• 2012 jay cutler classic bikini- open bikini overall & bikini class B 1st
• 2012 npc jr USA’s- bikini class D 13th
• 2012 junior nationals bikini – 7th
• 2012 team universe bikini – 3rd
• 2012 npc teen collegiate and master national championship-collegiate bikini 1st and overall , teen bikini 1st and overall
• Npc USA championships – bikini earned pro card class D 2nd

Did you play any sports growing up? My parents had me in every single sport possible! Haha, growing up I’ve done everything from gymnastics to soccer, track, swimming, basketball, cheerleading, even flag football when I was younger! (I know I’m embarrassed to admit that) haha

How did you get your start in the NPC? Two words… Nicole Nagrani! I Remember when I was 17 years old looking at her win the bikini Olympia at 19 (my age now) and thinking “wow! I want to be just like her” luckily now since moving to Florida me and Nicole became really close friends and she is one of most genuine and beautiful girls inside and out I’ve ever met! I’m so grateful to have became such close friends with Nicole! She’s the one who inspired me to start competing..and still does.:)

Thing you like best about competing. I like the journey and process! It’s cool seeing what hard work & determination can do and how much your body can transform with the effort and drive you put into it! I also love meeting so many motivated and inspirational people that all have a strong passion for what they do!

Thing you could do without when it comes to competing. Getting JanTana color off your skin! And walking around at the shows with everyone shoving their faces with protein bars and having really bad gas. Like come on… Just stop eating haha

Cardio in the morning or not so much?  Unless my coaches say otherwise… Yes! Haha, I don’t really mind morning cardio though, it gets my day off to a good jump start!

What’s your favorite body part to train? I would have to go with legs on this one!

One body part you dread training? I love training! It’s something I do everyday so I don’t dread any training day. :)

What feedback did you get from the judges at your last show? They said that I needed to work on building my upper body if I wanted to compete with women in there 20’s and 30’s. They also said since I’m younger it takes time, but I think I’ve made improvements on my overall physique since I turned pro back in July!

When you’re not prepping for a show what do you like to do? I’m very laid back! I don’t mind just hanging out with my family or friends and relaxing!

First thing I do in the morning is… Thank God for another day :) but besides that I get up usually check my phone and lay in bed for an extra 5 minutes and then brush my teeth, go pee and start getting ready for my AM cardio! lol.

Last thing I do at night is… By the time I go to bed between school and training I’m usually exhausted so right when my head hits the pillow I’m usually knocked out. Haha

One thing I HAVE to have in the morning. I love my morning oatmeal! (Always gotta have it) haha but besides that  as corny as this sounds.. .I feel like I have to have a good attitude every morning! If not then I feel like it just ruins the rest of my day.

One food prep tip I learned and wish I knew when I first started… I wish I knew to freeze all my meals and make everything in bulk ahead of time! (Not the day of) who does that?! Only I would. lol

What do you want to be when you grow up? lol HAHAHAHA! I actually LOLed at this question, thanks Isaac! :) Hmmm let’s see as of now I’m really undecided with what I want to do in my future! I’m a freshman in college right now so I’m just doing my general courses as of now before i have to pick a major. It’s hard to decide!

Rather be in workout clothes or glammed up? Workout clothes! But come on now what competitor wouldn’t?!

Girly girl or tom boy? That’s a tough one…I would say it’s split in between! I can be super sporty and tomboy, and then again It’s always good to get your girly girl on and done up at times! It’s a tie, so id say I’m a “Tom/Girl” :)

Most ridiculous thing a guy has said to you in the gym? I’ll never forget a guy once offered me a “free massage” because he just got his masseuse certification. (I’m sure he did) Hahah, thanks but no thanks buddy ill have to pass! :)

My favorite cheat meal is… Gosh I don’t even know! I think this is a hard question for anyone. I always crave different things, but I really love pancakes! I also am a huge trail mix junkie. Give me those two and I’m set!

My favorite spot to chill is… Probably my room. Haha peace & Quite!

 

Check out Courtney’s competition photos and check back to see how she did in her pro debut, this weekend at the Battle on the Beach.

 



Erin Stern Sticks to The Plan


Erin stern is on track for the 2013 Figure International held in Columbus, Ohio. She was recently interview by Bodybuilding.com’s David Robinson where she talked about this year’s competition and more. Stern offered some great advice, “I found that the best way to handle the pressure is to make a plan and stick to it. I focus on what needs to be done. I have learned to filter the feedback and understand that I won’t make everyone happy.”

 

erin-stern-track
A question often asked of Figure competitors is what would you like to accomplish? If an amateur they typically say, “turn pro” and if a pro they say, “win the Olympia”. When Erin was asked what she would like to accomplish by being a Figure athlete she answered much differently. Perhaps it was because she’s already won the Olympia or maybe she’s gained insight at what being a pro competitor in the spotlight can be about. Erin shared, “I want to teach and help other women incorporate balance into their lives. I want to help other women be strong, healthy, and natural.”

Read the entire interview on Bodybuilding.com.



Interview with Bikini International Competitor Jaime Baird


Jaime Baird has been one of the leading ladies in the IFBB Pro Bikini division since its inception. She’ll be heading to her third Bikini International next weekend where she hopes to stay in the top spots. Bodybuilding.com’s David Robinson caught up with the Florida pro for an interview. Jaime hits on training, motivation and becoming the online editor-in-chief of FitnessRX for Women.

jaime-baird-preview

EXCERPT:
Can you describe your current training approach and the specific results it has produced? Have you made any changes to the program you used in 2012?

My training is always intense and it evolves throughout my prep so I see continued progress. So, it’s hard to say how my training is different from last year’s prep. I focus on making the most of each and every weight training session so my muscles stay full while I’m leaning out.

How important is nutrition to your competition preparation? Do you follow a similar dietary protocol year round?
Success in this sport, or anything related to your health, begins with nutrition. You can train your butt off, but if you don’t eat strategically, you won’t see results.

My diet definitely varies from off-season to pre-contest. My off-season nutrition, while still mostly clean, has a bit more variety and calories from carbs and fat. And, I definitely make room for a chocolate chip cookie or two when I’m not counting down to a show.

jaime-baird-training
Read the entire interview on Bodybuilding.com.

For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit www.arnoldsportsfestival.com and use #ASF2013 in all your coverage on twitter.


20 Questions with Nathalia Melo


If you missed our Live Twitter Chat with cover model and reigning Bikini Olympia champion Nathalia Melo don’t sweat it. We’ve compiled the top 20 questions that were asked of the Brazilian Bikini star and what her answers were. Twitter forces you to be short and to the point as there are only 140 characters available in each “tweet.

nathalia-melo

20 Questions with cover model, bikini champion and personal trainer Nathalia Melo.

Keep in mind this was on twitter and you’ll notice abbreviations and shortened words to keep within 140 characters. #ASKNAT TWITTER CHAT

1Q. What made you decide to move to the USA from Brazil?
1A. I felt like there were many things and dreams I wanted to go after! Here was the perfect place!

2Q. What’s the biggest misconception people have about you?
2A. Ha! I’ve seen lots of ppl think I don’t understand their sneaky offers because English isn’t my first language and I have an accent.

3Q. What is your first language and will you be at the first @ArnoldSports Brasil this year?
3A. First language is Portuguese, and YES will be at the @ArnoldSports Brazil! So excited! Oh… and ”HOLA” is not Portuguese! =p

4Q. How did u keep urself motivated during ur first competition & how did u keep ur nerves down?
4A. I always liked workin out, so the changes in my body kept me motivated. I wasn’t really nervous… Not shy here! LOL

5Q. Aside from the language what was the biggest change from Brazil?
5A. The opportunities! There are a lot of opportunities in the US… I am very thankful for all this country has offered me.

6Q. What’s your biggest inspiration or drive? By the way always love your first appearance on @muscle_fitness
6A. It inspires me to know that all my hardwork and dedication inspires ppl all over the world to be fitter and healthier.

7Q. Do you typically do a.m. cardio on an empty stomach?
7A. Yeah! I tried eating before, but it didnt work well… I got sick! Oooops! LOL

8Q. I know your family is important to you. How have they supported you and your fitness career? Especially early on.
8A. I moved to US solo when I was 20, and worked my butt off to support myself, but now they understand n support my choices.

9Q. Did you play sports/dance/cheer/ballet, or do gymnastics growing up?
9A. I played everything, and sucked at them all! Hahahaha… I’ve always been into sports tho!

10Q. Do u have any advice for a first time #bikini competitor 6 weeks out from my first show?
10A. Do it for YOU and enjoy the ride!

11Q. Now that you’re getting alot of exposure do you have any new goals because of it?
11A. Of course! You always wanna be better than you were yesterday! Lots of cool things in the make…stay tuned!

12Q. Do you watch the @UFC and if so who is your favorite fighter?
12A. I could say ”The Brazilian ones”, but that would be 75% of UFC…hahaha… I do like Anderson

13Q. Other than “Awesome”, How did it feel winning Olympia last year?
13A. I still cant believe it! Everytime I watch a video or see a picture I am like ”Daaaang, That’s me!!” LOL

14Q. Do you ever drink a glass of wine?
14A. AbsofreakinLutely! I am human too! LOL.. I take 2 times off a year, and enjoy myself with good food n cpl glasses of wine.

15Q. Do you have a cheat day or cheat meal during your prep and if so what do you like?
15A. Not during contest prep. I could but i rather not have. I found it to reduce my cravings. After comp. I love chocolate! <3

16Q. How did you first get published in a magazine & any advice for new #models?
16A. I shot wit @liftstudios and he submitted my pics,n the mag liked them.Look for published photographers or reach out for the mag

17Q. Do you cook all your own food at once for the week and how do you stay on track when traveling?
17A. Cook 2x week. Food tastes a bit fresher. When traveling in season I take all my cooked food with me

18Q. How often to do you lift with weights and do you ever train other women?
18A, Weights 5x/week. I am a personal trainer, n 99% of my clients are women.

19Q. Do you still run as much as you were last prep & is it only outdoors or do you use a treadmill? Any incline, if so?
19A. Lots of running again! I run mostly on the treadmill cause in FL there are no ”inclines”LOL Once or 2x/week I run on the track

20Q. Will you be doing any other competitions after the @arnoldSports & will you have more camps if so where?
20A. I’m doin @FitXEvent and the Olympia. Confirmed seminars so far in Moncton and Newfoundland both in Canada. More to come..

That wraps it up for our live twitter chat with @nathaliamelofit. #askNat See her compete at the @ArnoldSports in 2 weeks.
HUGE thanks to @hardbodynews everyone who was a part of our Live chat! I had lots of fun and can’t wait to be on stage at @ArnoldSports

Follow Nathalia on twitter at @nathaliaMeloFit. You can see her compete at the 2013 Bikini International in Columbus, Ohio. Follow us on twitter at HardbodyNews. Check back for more live twitter chats in the days ahead with other Hardbody people.

 



Jaime Baird Bikini Olympia Interview – “Fitness fuels life success.”


IFBB Bikini Pro Jaime Baird continues to refine her physique and has positioned herself as one of the leading ladies in the division. She will be heading to the Olympia once again this month and as with most competitors plans on bringing her best look to date. Bodybuilding.com caught up with the always professional Jaime for an interview where she talks about a busy schedule, staying focused and more.

Judging by your professional resume, you appear to juggle many interests at once. How do you balance your competitive aspirations with other important areas of your life?
It can definitely be a challenge. However, I feel that fitness has made me more effective in all areas of my life. I like to say: “Fitness fuels life success.” That said, time and energy are limited resources. For me, making good use of the early morning hours is a key to fitting it all in. I accomplish so much between the hours of 5-and-9 a.m. (there are fewer demands on my time early in the morning). Also, I’ve had to become extremely scheduled—accounting for every minute in a day. If I want to add something, I must delete something. So, I’ve had to become comfortable with saying “no” and prioritizing. Although to be honest, I still struggle with both from time to time. Sigh. Please send any tips and tricks my way.

Read the entire interview here.

 



Bikini Olympia Interview: Sonia Gonzales


Bodybuilding.com‘s David Robinson caught up with 2010 Bikini Olympia champion Sonia Gonzales. Sonia is heading to her third Olympia in hopes for repeating her 2010 finish. She dropped to 5th at last year’s show however has two wins under her heels this year, including the Bikini International. Sonia tells Robinson she’s been working on her glutes and bringing in a rounder booty to the show.

 

How do you handle the pressure associated with competing in a major event such as the Olympia?
I pray and I know God has put me in this event for a reason; it’s all his plan and that’s truly what I believe. It’s not an accident that I’m there. I believe it’s truly a gift from God.

Where do you feel you will land at the 2012 Olympia, and why? Do you see yourself as a favorite to win?
I am going to bring my best shape ever. Let the best woman win. It’s God’s plan, and he will put me where he thinks I need to be!

Read the entire interview here.



Hardbody PROfile – International Model & IFBB Pro Vida Guerra


I caught up with International cover model and IFBB Pro Vida Guerra just days out from her bikini pro debut. She’ll be taking the stage for the first time as an IFBB Pro Bikini competitor this weekend at Jon Lindsay’s IFBB Los Angeles Grand Prix. Vida is no stranger to the limelight over the past 10 plus years but the bikini stage proved to be a different type of challenge for her. She (self-admittedly) wasn’t quite comfortable in her transitioning physique the first few times she stepped on stage. She used a frustrating placing as motivation to achiever her bikini body.

vida guerra pro bikini fitness model

Vida has been known for her Cuban caboose more often than not over the years. She was was crowned “”FHM’s Model of the Year” in 2004 and has been on the cover of PLAYBOY, FHM, Maxim and countless others. Vida has put her big booty days behind her and has her sights set on making her mark in the world of fitness. She’s appeared in Muscular Development, FLEX and Muscle & Fitness magazines since taking up bikini competitions. She was kind enough to reveal a bit more about herself and a answer a few tough questions along the way. Enjoy.

Name: 
Vida Guerra

Born in:
Havana Cuba

Currently reside in:
Los Angles, CA

How old were you when you moved to the States?
When we left Cuba I was 5 yrs old when we finally step ground on American soil I was 6yrs.

Did you face any challenges growing up being from another country or no big deal?
Yes. it was very challenging for me had to learn the language and it was a whole different world then where I grow up luckily for me I was young so adapting to it didn’t take long.

Vida on the cover of Urban Ink magazine


What languages are you fluent in?
I speak English and Spanish and really want to learn how to speak Italian and French.

How did you get started in modeling?
I got started modeling professionally in 2002 before that I was always playing with the camera at a young age.

How many covers have you been on to date?
Wow, I don’t really know lol

Ha too many to count. Nice.

Any shoots you regret ?
No, I don’t really regret anything in life everything always happens for reason and everything is perfect as is. :)

What’s the best piece of advice  you give young women just starting out in modeling?
Make sure you do your research and don’t be so quick to believe anything you hear.

You’ve appeared in a few music videos as well. What was the funnest music video you appeared in?
It would have to be Kanye West “The New Workout Plan.”

You once posed nude for PETA. Are you still a supporter of PETA?
Yes, I support PETA I love animals and PETA provides a voice for them.

Are you a vegetarian?
I was until last year when I started working out & I wasn’t getting the right amount of protein in my body. It was causing me to get a little sick so I started eating organic meats and felt much better.

You’re well known for your backside. Does that bother you or embrace it and go with it?
It doesn’t bother me I love it but there is more to me then that. The people that know me can speak on that.

Biggest misconception people have about you?
Probably everything that the media and internet has created.

Do you still have a body guard?
No, but when I have events the venue does get one or two for me.

I read on TMZ your bodyguard helped put a beat down on some dudes and you were sued. True?
No, it’s not true lol… That guy was an old manager’s friend and after an event that I had I went home and I guess that guy stayed there and got into a fight. I forgot his name.

What’s the most ridiculous rumor you’ve read about yourself?
Omg, almost everything that’s on the internet it just keeps getting funnier and funnier. They have tried to attached me to many Celebs and that’s just not the case.

Soooo dating a celeb – cool or no thanks?
No thanks :)-

How many fan sites do you think are currently online devoted to you?
I have no idea. lol

What was your first bikini competition?
My first NPC bikini competition was June 25, 2011. I took first place and overall. My first competition ever was in April of 2000 in New Jersey I competed in figure class when it first started.

What made  you enter the NPC ranks?
I entered because this was something I started in 2000 and never follow thru on it because I didn’t want to do figure but once I found out about bikini it was game on. This was a good way for me get back in shape and not hide behind a airbrushed pic. :)

HA! Ya, not models are ever airbrushed. lol

What changed in your diet/nutrition to bring your backside down?
Last year, I really wasn’t on a diet and never did cardio. Just figuring out my body trial and error.

What was the most challenging thing preparing for your first bikini competition?
For my first show was the easiest I had no idea what I was doing just had fun with it and after that was when it became an obsession.

You appeared a little nervous on stage your first couple of times. A woman who has been seen by millions in magazines gets nervous on a NPC stage? What’s the deal with that?
I know. I wasn’t comfortable with my body yet I was in between bodies and knew I still had much work to do.

What advice would you give bikini competitors when it comes to rock’n the stage?
I would say to have fun with it be in the moment and out of your mind :)

Haha. Truer words have never been spoken.

You continued to improve your physique and stage presence, what stopped you from calling it quits after the first two shows?
I will never be a quitter. That’s how I’m design. It just motivates me more I love it.

You turned pro at the 2012 JR Nationals with your best look to date. What do you attribute that to?
I believe it was all timing everything was align for me. And I was pissed from my last placing at JR USA, so I gave  it all I had and it never felt so right until that moment. Thank you Jesus!!

You were doing cartwheels at the winner’s shoot. (No really she was literally doing cartwheels) Do you have a gymnastics background?
No, but I was in dance ballet and karate growing up I also played softball and football.

So we’ll see you in the Fitness division some time?
Who knows what the future hold I always like to challenge myself and keep growing as a person.

Entering your first pro show this weekend, what’s the goal?
The goal is to win #1 so I can go to Olympia. I’m going to have fun with it and bring my A game. I know there are a lot of veterans and I’m just a rookie on the pro stage but I love challenges.

And after that what is on the Vida game plan for the Fitness Industry?
A whole new world has open for me and the sky is the limit.

Where can people find official info on/from you?
My website: www.vidasworld.com
Twitter: @vidaguerra
Facebook.com/Vidaguerra

The best for now is twitter. My website is in the process of getting done

Anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?
Yes, I would love to thank my bombshell team Shannon and Rob. Also my sponsors; Nike, P28bread and Nuts-n-more. Jesus!!! My family, friends and boyfriend Billy they have supported so much in my journey and I could have not done it alone.  Also my beautiful and loyal fans that I have had for a decade now they continue to inspire me to be better and thank you for your time and this interview. I really appreciate it and look forward to shooting with you in Vegas.

Why thank you. The pleasure was mine and look forward to the photo shoot in Vegas too.

Check back to find out how Vida did in her pro debut and stay tuned for and exclusive HARDBODY photo shoot with Vida in La la la Lassss Vegas! Check out Vida’s NPC Bikini contest photos here.

Lead banner image via Musculardevelopment.com by Per Bernal.



Behind The Hardbody: Libby DiBiase – Mom, Crossfit Athlete & More


Libby Dibaise is a HARDBODY. She’s built rock solid physique with years of gymnastics, soccer, track and crossfit. Libby not only looks the part of a hardbody but she also lives it. We caught up with the Omaha native to learn more about her background, how she became sponsored by Reebok and Gaspari Nutrition and insight into the world of crossfit. Libby also shares some advice for moms and whether or not Omaha Steaks live up to the hype.

Name:
Libby DiBiase

Occupation:
Nutrition Consultant, Team Gaspari Athlete, Reebok Crossfit Athlete

Born in:
Omaha, NE

Currently live in:
Omaha, NE

What’s the best thing about living in Omaha?
We have all four season’s here, it’s not too small of city, but not to big either. I love it.

What’s the one thing you wish you could change about the Big O?
Winter. It get’s way to cold here for my liking.

Is the steak really good or a myth?
Oh yeah, no myth, Omaha Steaks is where it’s at.

What’s the best cut to order?
Filet.

What sports did you play growing up?
I started out in gymnastics and soccer and slowly transitioned into track and field leading up into high school.

Favorite sport to watch?
Gymnastics

What was your favorite event in track?
4x100m Being part of team is so much fun no matter what sport, I always felt like I ran a lot faster than individuals races since I had other people depending on me. Also, the 100m and 300 hurdles. Nothing over 400m, that’s way too long.

Are you a girly girl or more of a tomboy?
A girly girl. Even though I throw around heavy weight and get sweaty and nasty when I workout, I still like to get my hair done and put my makeup on. A girl’s got to look good right?

Who am I to argue with that?

When did you first start lifting weights?
My sophomore year of high school.

What would you tell other women who think weights will turn them into looking like dudes?
Genetics largely determines how we look, so it would sure take a lot to make any women look like a man without genetics and/or drugs. Lifting weights makes you strong and being strong keeps you young.

What’s the silliest comment a dude has said to you about being buff?
Did you get arrested today?
No, why? For having those guns.
Seriously, this was said to me.

Did that line work?
No, absolutely not, that’s no way to pick up a girl.

How long have you been crossfitting?
Around 6 years

When someone asks what crossfit is how would you describe it to them?
It’s difficult to explain without experiencing it, but in short, it’s weightlifting mixed with track and field and gymnastics. We also use rowing, plyometrics, and strongman implements as big part of our training. It’s different everyday, it’s intense, and most importantly it actually works.

Were you skeptical at first or loved it from day one?
No, I loved it. I get bored so quick so that’s why I kept coming back, since it is different everyday, I was hooked.

What do you say to the people who claim crossfit promotes bad form and you are more prone to injuries?
I think that people watch videos on the internet of people doing crossfit workouts, and they think that’s crossfit. Crossfit does not promote bad form, but crossfit does promote results, with that being said, when people push for maximum intensity in sport and strength and conditioning technique is not going to be perfect. The best crossfit athletes and the best coaches view technique as the most critical piece to intensity and intensity is the most critical piece to results. New athletes will always move like new athletes and new coaches will always coach like new coaches so there will always be some bad technique out there. But doing functional movements with bad technique is still safer than not doing them at all. Obviously we would like to have functional movements with good technique. All sports have injuries. Is football dangerous? Is soccer? Gymnastics? Hockey?…..etc.

Is the head band part of your signature workout attire?
Lol haha Yeah, Since I started I’ve always worn a bandana or headband. Usually I just cut the sleeve off a t-shirt and wrap it around my head, total jerry rig.

Will you be coming out with your own line of headbands or just keep cutting off sleeves whenever you need a new one? 
That’s a good idea, but in the meantime, yes, I will keep cutting off sleeves until I find something else I like better!

Do you follow the paleo diet and live and breathe the crossfit culture?
For the most part I eat paleo, but I add in oatmeal and protein powder. I’m not super strict. I found the best way to eat healthy is to just have those foods in your house. If you don’t have any sugar, starches or processed foods, you won’t eat them. It’s the best thing I’ve discovered.

Do you eat differently before a competition then your usual day – if so what changes?
Nope I eat the same. I might eat a little more than usual since we might have multiple workouts in a day.

Any experience on what to avoid on game day?
I have learned to not over analyze any workout. Grandit there is strategy involved in some of the workouts, but if I think about them too much it ends up hurting me rather than helping me.

Favorite crossfit workout?
Anything with heavy thrusters and muscle up’s

Least favorite?
Rowing and farmer’s carries.

Will we see you in the individual or team games this year?
Well, our regional was just a fre weeks ago. They took top 60 from sectionals. I went as an Individual this year and I wound up getting 9th overall. They take top 3 to the world games. I wasn’t disappointed in my performances since physically I knew I did the best I could. Obviously there were little things I could of done better in some of the workouts, but it does sting not making it, it just wasn’t my year. It gives me a whole year to get stronger and work on little things. Our team, Crossfit Omaha got 4 th as a team in regionals. They take top 3 also for the world games. They just missed the podium. This year will be the first year I haven’t’ gone to the games since 2008, either as an individual or on the team. But, I think this experience for all of us at regionals will mentally make us stronger and hungrier for next year.

Do you think the competition is getting tougher as more people discover crossfit?
 Yes, every year someone comes out of the woodwork, that’s going to happen. Since Crossfit linked up with Reebok, more and more people know what it is,and know you can compete. The purse for the games is also getting larger. So, I think we might see professional athletes from other sports dabble in crossfit too.

Gym you train at?
Crossfit Omaha

Why that gym over others?
This was the first Crossfit gym affiliated in Nebraska. It started out in the strength and conditioning gym at the University where I ran track. They accumulated so many clients that Ricky Frausto and Joe Westerlin, the owners, decided to open there own crossfit box. So I have stuck with them ever since. The coaching there is phenomenal. To me, that is what set’s apart this gym to others. It’s the little things they help us with (technique, efficiency, and transitions) We have had a handful of individual and teams qualify for the games also.

If I’m joining a crossfit gym for the first time – what should I look for?
Crossfit is not a franchise that is why every gym is unique. You have to find the best fit for you, to make sure it’s a welcoming environment and that technique is always taught prior to workouts.

If someone is new to crossfit how often would recommend they do it?
I would tell them to not be intimidated or scared to start. Everything is universally scalable, so everyone can do it. If they are new and starting out, I would still recommend 3 days on one day off.

Which of your athletic background has helped you the most in Crossfit?
I would say probably gymnastics. There is a lot of different gymnastics movements involved in crossfit and you use a lot of upper body strength in a lot of the workouts.

Areas you need to improve?
I always have areas I need to improve on. Mostly Olympic lifts,endurance, and grip strength. My hands are the size of a five year old boy, so I’m constantly working on ways I can improve grip for heavy lifts.

Ha. So  man hands is an advantage. Gotcha.

How many days a week do you crossfit?
3 days on, one day off.

Do you lift weights other than your crossfit workouts?
No not usually. If I don’t do a crossfit workout I’ll usually just do Olympic Lifting. But, I’m up for most anything, everyone started out lifting isolation or doing the normal one body part at a time workout. So anything to keep me active and is fun. I’m down for.

You competed in Figure before, ya?
Ya, once.

Ever think about doing another one?
No, I Iike food. Just not for me. But I am very impressed with anyone who does that, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

What female athletes do you admire – past or present?
I have 2 right now. Annie Sakamoto. She is basically the original OG of crossfit. I watched her in videos back in 2007 and thought; I wish I could be as good as her. She never competed until last year, she made it to the games, and she made it this year also. She has 2 kids, and most of all she always has a smile on her face when she’s competing. She has fun, and that’s what it’s all about. The second one would be Ronda Rousey she is a fellow Team Gaspari Athlete, and a MMA Strikeforce champ. Basically she can beat up the guys, and you wouldn’t want to mess with her, she’ll kick you’re a**.

Sponsors:
Reebok Crossfit, Gaspari Nutrition & Atlas Power Wraps

What advise would you give to women who are seeking sponsorships or what has helped you not only get but keep your endorsements?
Well, this is what I love to do, and If you do what you love, people will catch on and start noticing. Put yourself out there, you have nothing to lose.

How did you connect with Reebok?
Reebok actually just contacted me at work one day. They just called me up and said they were interested in meeting with me, and told me all about what they were doing with crossfit, and how it was going to move forward.

Gaspari found you at an event, right?
Ha, yeah. It was a very random way I met everyone from the company. I was competing in a team crossfit competiton at the UFC expo in Houston. The phone I had then always died. I really needed and outlet so the closest booth was Gaspari Nutrition. So I walked over and asked if I could “borrow” their outlet for a little bit. Struck up and little conversation with them and a month later I was linked up with the company. It’s crazy how things happen and who you end up meeting!

Favorite Gaspari product?
Myofusion Probiotic Chocolate. Great to cook with, Also, detonate, should be out soon, just wait.

I read somewhere that you cross fit up until your pregnancy with your son – true?
Yes, that is true. I worked out until the day before I went into labor. I’m pretty sure that a workout I did put me into labor. It was called “The Inducer” Funny right, someone from the gym found it a told me to try it. I was 38 weeks when I did the workout, so the baby was completely developed. Anyway, it was 7 rounds of 7 pullups and 7 wallballs at #12. The next day I went into labor, I really didn’t think it would actually work! I’d have to say working out my whole pregnancy helped me get through labor pretty easily.

What’s the most challenging part of being a mom and getting your workouts in?
The hardest thing would definitely be time management. I have to carve out time later in the day just to get to the gym. Between working full time, training and doing my other random jobs it does get a little overwhelming and frustrating. But, it is all worth it in the end. I love being a mom and my son is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

What piece of advice would you give other mothers who say they are too busy?
You are never too busy for your health. If you can find even 30 minutes to do some sort of physical activity it will help you tremendously.

How important is it for moms to lead by example in health and fitness, in your opinion?
Very important. It starts when you are little. The reason I am so active and eat healthy is because of my parents. You learn what’s around you. So, if you are surrounded by it, you live it. They way children eat when their growing is crucial. It can not only affect them physically but mentally, and also the way the act (attitude, and demeanor) Exercising and eating healthy is something you have to choose to live. It’s worth it.

Did you golf in Boise earlier this month?
I sure did. We were down there for the bodybuilding.com expo and a couple of us from Gaspari Nutrition golfed in a charity golf tournament for the Jayden DeLuca Foundation. We had ALOT of fun. Let’s just say I was a little rusty, but got into the groove of things after a couple holes. But, I think all of us need to stick to what were good at, and that doesn’t include golf!

What’s one thing you’ve yet to do that you’ve always want to?
Skydive

One thing that scares the hell out of you?
Watching Criminal Minds by myself in my house.

Anyone you’d like to thank?
Oh yes. I would love to thank Reebok. For all of the gear and letting me travel to all these places that I’ve never seen. Gaspari Nutrtion, for all of the new friends that I have made and products they let me try, and giving me chance! Atlas Power wraps, for giving me the best wraps possible to protect my wrists. Also, my parents who help so much with my son Cruz. I am lucky enough to go to all these great events, so I need someone to watch him. They are always there to help. I am truly blesse and thankful for all of the sponsorships and people I have in my life. I couldn’t do it without them.

Where can people find more info on ya?
On facebook: Libby DiBiase
Twitter: @LibbyDiBiase1
and I blog on Gasparinutrition.com, you can find it here: http://www.gasparinutrition.com/teamgaspari/crossfit.aspx

You can see Libby in the newest Fitness RX for Women magazine on sale now!

Lead image courtesy of Gaspari Nutrition, Inc. by Ian Spanier.
Other images via Libby’s Facebook.



Hardbody Interview: Tara Scotti Returns to Competition


If you’re new to the IFBB competitive scene you may not recognize the name Tara Scotti. Those of you who have followed the Figure division know exactly who Tara Scotti is. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Tara for nearly a decade and she’s the type of friend that you can go months without talking to but as soon as you do it’s like you never missed a beat. When Tara told me she was thinking of coming back to compete, I wasn’t surprised. She’s a competitor and when she puts her mind to something look out, she means business. A lot has changed in Tara’s universe since we last saw her on stage. I caught up with Tara for an interview as she returns to the competition stage for the first time in nearly six years.

Tara competed in the 2001 NPC Figure Nationals (the first time figure was part of Nationals) and finished in the top five. She stood next to eventual Olympia champions Davana Medina and Jenny Lynn at that show. She stepped away from the scene for a couple of years but the competitive spirit brought her back in 2003. When she returned, she took home the overall NPC Eastern USA Figure title and locked her sites on turning pro. Tara competed at the 2004 NPC JR USA Championships and won not only her class but also the overall Figure title. In those days, only the overall winner was awarded IFBB pro status. She wasted no time jumping into the big leagues and ended up  fifth at the 2004 NY Pro Figure, her IFBB debut. Tara put together an impressive competitive resume with several top five finishes and notched a win at the 2005 Toronto Pro.

Fast-forward to 2012 and Ms. Scotti is BACK and she’s never felt better. She’s met the love of her life, had a baby and ready to return to the stage that started her pro career. Tara will be competing at the 2012 New York Pro Figure competition and she was kind enough to share what she’s been up to since we last saw her compete.

What’s up wild woman how the hell have you been?
Hi Isaac. So happy to be talking to you and Hardbody.com once again! Haha!

Still living in New York?
Yes, of course I am still a New Yorker!

A lot has changed since we last heard from you…
Ya think? So much has changed.  All for the best and all positive. What hasn’t changed is my love of fitness and my competitive drive.

One major addition in your life, you had a baby, how old is she?
Our little bundle of joy, Brooke, aka Brookie Cookie, is 8 months. She’s absolutely amazing. I am just loving being a mom so much.

Did you continue to train while you were pregnant?
I lightened it up but still hit stairmaster and elliptical daily. I never wanted to let myself go too much. I’ve seen how hard it is to grab hold of after the baby comes through friends & clients so I was always cognizant of it. I think whatever I did has contributed to Cookie having superhuman strength. That baby is an infant Hercules!

How did you diet/nutrition change during the pregnancy?
No weird cravings like I expected. I kept my diet clean for the most part but allowed myself my favorite treats like pizza and cheeseburgers once in a while. No alcohol. I have passed some of my diet and training tips to friends of mine that are expecting and they seem to be having a pretty easy go of it.

What was the most challenging part of your first pregnancy?
Hmmm… letting go of some of my control. I like things a certain way, orderly (some would even say mild OCD but I say nah) and a baby comes, or even before the baby comes, and you just have to let go of some of that control. The baby is first priority above everything. And the sleep deprivation is no joke. Even on nights when she’s sleeping longer, I’m up checking on her or staring at the monitor.

Will baby Brooke be getting a brother or sister any time soon?
Well first let me say that Brooke has a sister, Taylor who is 9 years old. Even though they are half sisters the bond and love they have for each other is full blown sisterly love so I don’t feel like Brooke will be alone in the world if I don’t have any more.  That’s my nice, long answer for “No way I!”

HAHA. Fair enough.

What advice would you give mothers out there in regards to staying fit after a pregnancy?
I’ve been able to help some clients greatly in this regard and they are loving me for my advice now. Don’t wait for after the pregnancy to stay fit. Keep your fitness a priority (albeit a smaller priority than non-pregnancy times) but make time for even a small cardio session. And absolutely do not use that time as an excuse for binging; you will regret it after.

Speaking of advice, are you still training people?
I sure am. We have an amazing home gym here at our house. I have a few clients come here daily and then one day a week I have a packed schedule of clients that I go to train at their homes. My mom watches Brooke on that day. I am very fortunate that I can be a stay at home mom & not really work at all right now but that’s just not me. I like generating an income & I love what I do so it’s a win-win situation. :). I have been fortunate enough to have the demand for 1-2 more days of training clients but I am easing into it.

When was the last time you competed?
Isaac! That’s like asking a woman her age.  HA, Seriously…. I think it was West Palm Beach 2006.

Tara after the 2005 Pittsburgh Pro

You’ve decided to come back and compete in the 2012 NY Pro, what made you decide to come back?
Kevin. He reminded me how big a part this was in my life & although I have an amazing life & couldn’t be happier- he flat out asked me if I missed the sport & thought I should dust off the clear heels at least one last time. After doing some soul searching, I felt that I could come back with out sacrificing any time from my family which was hard for me in the past.  I have balance now. I am in the best shape of my life. Never felt better or more comfortable in my skin. I am excited. And it feels good to be excited about the sport and competing again.

For those that may not know, Kevin is your husband…
Kevin is my soul mate & the love of my life.

Has he been to a show and knows what to expect on you getting all painted orange err golden brown?
He has been to shows & has worked out with top bodybuilders in the past as they trained for shows so he gets it.  Kevin also used to wrestle and fight so he knows and understands competing as an individual and the psychology behind it.  He is amazing. This is the first time he is seeing me as an oompah loompa. :)

Why did you stop competing when you did?
At that time in my life I was competing non stop.  Not really an off season. One show to the next. I had won a pro show, competed at the Olympia twice, I felt my placings were always quite respectable. I wanted to exit the sport with my head held high. I didn’t want to be that person who stays too long at the party. I was exhausted physically & mentally. I must also add that I was not in a great place personally & I see now how that was a big factor in me exiting the sport. My life fell out of balance toward the end.

What’s been the biggest obstacle for this prep?
Being tired. Being a mommy is tiring. Lol. But seriously, and ironically – this has been the easiest prep I have ever had. I am  fortunate to have an amazing gym here at my house so when I put Brooke for a nap, I go down & train.  And after she goes to bed I do my cardio. It also helps that Kevin is so supportive & doesn’t mind eating grilled chicken and asparagus 7 days a week. :)

Do you follow the industry since your time away from the stage?
No, not really.  I am grateful to have made the great friends I have made over the years but since my last show I really do not know any of the new competitors.

Physique you admire most past or present?
I have always been a Monica Brant fan. She’s one of my good friends in the sport. Her longevity & marketability is inspirational to me.

What’s the goal for New York?
Lol. I started off my training with the mindset of “I’m only doing it for me, not too competitive, blah, blah,blah” but as you can attest – that’s just not me. Hehe. So now I’m all about qualifying for the O. Hehe

Will this be one and done or are you planning on going back to Canada where you won your first pro show?
Let’s see how this one goes & then ask me again.I think I have a great efficient routine right now and I am feeling great!

What type of diet/nutrition are you following?
A very different one from years past. Eating clean but less. Not every 2 hours. More like breakfast, lunch & dinner & a extra shake post workout. My days of carrying around Tupperware are behind me. I’ve built my muscle base years ago. It’s easier to maintain muscle then to build.

Any supplements you’d recommend to women?
I have found a couple of supplements that have helped me maintain my focus and stamina post having Brooke and a great multi-vitaman as well. I like to feel natural and not rely heavily on caffeine. Let’s see how I place before I go recommending my secrets!

IFBB Figure Pro Tara Scotti

So we won’t be seeing you in bikini or women’s physique but Figure, right?
Yes, Figure.  If it were a few years ago I’d probably give physique a try but I am leaner & smaller these days so I am a perfect fit for the current Figure division.

What do you think of the new divisions, since they weren’t around in your day?
Ummm… I think Physique is great. Even though I am a lot smaller these days, I am and always will be a fan of female muscle.  That bridge between Figure and Female Bodybuilding was much needed.

Are you on Facebook / twitter or you still hanging out on myspace? :)
HA.no myspace, wise ass. On Facebook but under a pseudo name that I have just for family & close friends. Some imposter schmoe has my TaraScotti name and uses my photos on facebook  & it’s been quite frustrating to get it shut down. It’s creepy & annoying that some weirdo is posing as me. I am working on getting it closed and hopefully having him punished somehow. Kev was a law enforcer and his peeps are looking into it.

Thanks T! All the best and welcome back!
Thank you Isaac.  Always great chatting with ya!
Competition History:
1998 NPC JR. USA Fitness Overall
2001 NPC National Figure Championships (Team Universe) Tall 4th
2003 NPC East Coast Figure Championships Overall
2003 NPC Eastern USA Figure Championship Overall
2004 NPC JR. USA Figure Championship Overall
2004 NY Pro Figure Championships 5th
2004 IFBB New York Pro Figure- 5th
2005 IFBB Pittsburgh Pro- 4th
2005 IFBB Atlanta Pro Figure-2nd
2005 IFBB California Pro- 4th
2005 IFBB Toronto Pro- 1st
2005 IFBB Charlotte Pro – 5th
2005 IFBB Olympia- 14th
2006 IFBB Pittsburgh Pro- 4th
2006 IFBB Colorado Pro- 4th
2006 IFBB Olympia- 19th
2006 West Palm Beach – 3rd



Hardbody Profile: Michelle Brannan The UK’s First Bikini Pro


Michelle Brannan is making her IFBB Pro Bikini debut this weekend at the St. Louis Pro. She has a background in dance and after seeing a video on YouTube she decided to pursue competing in the Bikini division. Michelle made history last year when she became the first woman from the UK to achieve IFBB Pro status. I caught up Michelle to learn more.

 

 

Born in:
Hampshire UK

Currently Live in:
London UK

What age did you start dancing?
I started dancing Latin Ballroom at 18 years old

What’s your favorite dance to perform?
I love to dance Lambada, Lambada is a sensual Brazilian partner danced now danced to various Latin and afro Latin music such as Zouk and Kizomba.

Do you have a dance partner for Lambada?
I don’t currently have a dance partner, I took a break from dancing to concentrate on competing. I am hoping to dance again soon.

What’s your favorite dance to teach?
I am UKA certified to teach Lambada and as this is my favourite dance I love to pass on my knowledge.

Have you seen Dancing with the Stars – does the UK have a version of that?
We have Strictly Come Dancing which I think is similar.

Do  you think you could teach someone who has never danced to dance?
I could teach anyone to dance. Every skill is learned and even if you are born with a good sense of rhythm, you are not born knowing the steps. Everyone has to start somewhere.

How did you get started in physique competitions?
In 2009 I came across a video clip on You Tube of a Bikini fitness contest and was blown away! These girls bodies were another level. I decided I wanted to look like that so I researched everything about fitness and bodybuilding. Six month later I entered my first show and won, it was such an incredible feeling I decided to continue to compete. In October 2010 IFBB’s UK amateur federation UKBFF introduced Bikini and I won their first ever show and then placed 1st the British Grand Prix Amateur Olympia. In June 2011 I joined Team Bombshell who helped me improve my physique and I subsequently placed 3rd at IFBB Amateur World Championships in Serbia in October 2011 where I  earned my Pro card.  I am the very first UK athlete to earn IFBB Pro status through the Bikini class

Do you think your dance background has helped you with your stage presence for Bikini?
Dance has been a massive help to me, it has given me  experience of being on stage and performing for an audience which nothing quite prepares you for unless you have been up there.  I used to dance with a Salsa group who were the twice European Salsa Team champions and we performed all over UK and in Egypt and Greece. Latin dance as also helped me with body awareness, I am used to putting my body into different positions and contracting and relaxing certain muscles, it helps that I don’t have to look down on stage to make sure my legs are in the right place!  I am still working on my stage presence, confidence is key, I have done 7 shows now but I still get nerves going on stage.

This will be your pro debut this weekend, what are you most excited about?
I am so excited to be competing as an IFBB Pro, my main goal when I started competing was to get my Pro card so now I have done it, anything else is truly an honour.

For those that don’t know where did you turn pro?
I turned Pro at the IFBB Amateur World Championships in Serbia last October.  Being from UK the only route to pro status is to place 1st at the IFBB Amateur European Championships or Top 3 at IFBB Amateur World championships both of which contests you have to qualify for. At the World Championships there were 28 girls in my class and all the best of their country so competition is tough, I feel very lucky to be an IFBB Bikini Pro.

How does it feel to be the first Bikini Pro from the UK?
I am very honoured to be the first Bikini Pro from UK, I was lucky enough to represent UK at the European and Worlds Championships and at the first ever Arnold Europe. I am hoping to be the first UK Bikini competitor at the Olympia

What’s the biggest difference competing in the States vs the UK?
The biggest difference is that most of the shows in UK are Amateur. In October we will have Pro bikini for the very first time at the British Grand Prix. Bikini is new to UK and Europe but is growing in popularity.

What type of weight training do you do?
When I started I thought I had to lift as heavy as I possibly could; and in the beginning that was not a lot but since joining Team Bombshell, I do a wider variety of training incorporating higher reps. I love training legs but I try to stick to lighter weights as my legs get lean and defined quickly so I need to keep the body balanced.

Any supplements you like and would recommend to women?
I use a whey protein with my oats in the morning and couldn’t live without `good bacteria` tablets for a healthy digestive system

Where can people find more information on you?
My www.michellebrannan.com or find me on facebook.

Thanks Michelle and good luck!
Photos courtesy of Michelle Brannan.



Hardbody Interview: Recording Artist Ali Lee – Keep It Right There


I met Ali Lee at the 2011 LA Fit Expo and she definitely looked the part of a fitness model but so do hundreds of other women. Looks will only take someone so far but anyone who has met Ali knows she has the “it factor”. You may not be able to put your finger on exactly what “it” is right away but you know there’s more than meets the eyes. Little did I know, Ali has already accomplished more in 22 years than some people do in a life time. She’s a classically trainer singer, dancer and has a single (“Keep It Right There“) that’s climbing the charts and showing up on MTV.

I caught up with Ali to learn more about her and what she’s doing to stay in shape while traveling non-stop. She was kind enough to do this interview and shared some valuable nuggets of wisdom along the way. My favorite is when Ali shared, “If you feel it and you work for it, you can achieve what you want.” That’s living in a hardbody state of mind. Enjoy…

Born in:
Tallahassee, Florida

Currently live in:
I’m currently between homes in Georgia, Kentucky, and Florida.

Do you have siblings?
I have six cousins that I love like siblings. Some of us are only children and we are all pretty much around the same age so we are very close. Our family is big on making time to spend with each other.

Were you a trouble maker growing up or the good kid?
I was the instigator growing up, or at least I always got blamed for whatever we were in trouble for. At school I really didn’t try to be a troublemaker but I was kind of odd so I felt like “why should I try to fit in anyway?”

Any pets?
I am a major dog lover. I have five pets. Four dogs and a neighborhood cat (but I love her like my own).

What would be the coolest animal to have as a pet?
This will sound like an exaggeration but MY pets are the coolest pets to have! Every pet I’ve ever owned has been great! Except for my fish that died.

Afraid of…?
I’m not afraid of jack squat! I’m not really squeamish and I don’t have any phobias.

What did you want to be when you “grew up”?
I wanted to be a lot of things: a gymnast, a ballerina, a singer, an astronaut… My mom always told me I could be anything I wanted so I wanted to be everything!

How old were you when you started singing?
I would say three.

What was your favorite song to sing?
“Johnny B Goode” was one of my favorites. My mom always listened to 50’s and 60’s music when I was growing up so I have a lot of old favorites.

You mentioned Whitney Houston was an inspiration on your blog. What’s your favorite Whitney song to sing?
Thanks for reading my blog! I actually quoted one of my favorite Whitney songs, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” My favorite Whitney song to sing is “Saving all my Love for You”

Photo Courtesy of Ali Lee

Any other artist that you looked to or look to today as inspiration?
I’d love to meet or work with the artists who inspire me! Bruno Mars, Jason Derulo, Jennifer Lopez, and David Guetta are all amazing entertainers that I really love

Favorite genre of music to listen to?
I have different favorites for every activity. I work out to dance/rock music. I love to listen to musicals and Broadway songs. I listen to whoever is on the radio when I drive in the car. I like reggae or anything chill when I’m at the beach.

Can you REALLY sing Opera?
I was trained in a classical style, which is fortunate because it’s the basis of all music. Working with Bret Manning has taught me how to use that style and make my voice have more of a “pop artist” sound.

So you don’t have to be an um “husky” lady to belt out opera?
I think that’s a myth. I know plenty of thin people that have beautiful voices.

I read you were part of an all-girl group, how long were you in Blaze Blah?
A very jam packed year. It was a few other girls and me. It was just another experience that I am able to look back at see that I learned a lot from that time in my life.

What’s the advantage of being out on your own as an artist?
I play well with others but having creative control make the process a lot more fun. I get to wake up and only make songs that I want to make. At the end of the day I own the win or the loss and it’s cool getting to put everything I imagine into action because, believe it or not, it’s hard to get taken seriously as a 22-year-old woman.

Your single is climbing the charts. Do you have plans for a full album or is there one?
I have plans to do a lot of things this year. I don’t know if creating an album will be one of them but I definitely have other songs in the works.

As people can see from your photos and your video, you rock a hardbody. Were you always in shape and into fitness?
Frankly, no. I just got to a point in my life where I wanted to be the best I could be and that’s part of it. Looking at all the amazing fitness models you’ve interviewed makes me want to hit the gym even harder!

The video for your single shows you dancing and rock’n it. What inspired the dance room?
We wanted to show where “Ali Lee” really is in her head. That’s where it is: sweating, working, making mistakes, trying again, and accomplishing a goal in an empty room with some music.

How did you get into dancing?
I quit gymnastics and picked up ballet and I was hooked.

Were you into sports growing up?
Ballet.

Haha.
Don’t laugh because that is a sport. We go hard!

Do you write songs as well?
I co-wrote my next single with my producer Keith Thomas. I also write short narratives and poems for myself.

You’re obviously super busy, what’s the key to staying in the shape you do?
I always find a time or place to work out. If I eat what I want for the day, I make sure to spend that extra time in the gym to make up for it. It’s a lot about balancing your decisions.

What’s a day of eating like for you?
My family and friends make fun of me because I always get so much food and then end up eating only half of it. My eyes are way bigger than my stomach. I eat pretty much what I want and when I want unless I’m working to get in super shape.

Ever carried a gallon jug of water?
Yeah, all the time. It’s the best way to get your water. Plus a gallon jug is heavy.

What type of weight training do you do, or do you hit the weights?
The weights hit me. I do light weights in high reps in a circuit to keep my heart rate up.

Do you take any supplements, if so what’s in your arsenal?
I drink a lot of water. I’ve tried a few different things but at the end of the day water has been the thing that has kept me feeling good and looking healthy. I also take in a lot of protein.

What’s the best advice someone has given you in regards to fitness?
When you feel tired, that’s when your workout starts.

What advice could you tell other women who are struggling to stay in shape or get into shape?
Just go consecutively for two weeks. Make that your initial goal instead of going with the goal of losing five pounds in two weeks. If you do that, you are creating a long-term habit so it’s helpful in the long run.

Photo Courtesy of Ali Lee

What question do you find you get asked the most while doing appearances?
“Will you marry me?” I usually say, “No thank you, not this time, but maybe next time.” :)

You’re getting married though, right? How important is it to have a supportive partner?
I haven’t tied the knot yet but life is good.

I read you started a couple companies – can you share what those are?
Kyra Fox Records came about after having the fortunate opportunity to work with several small labels, none of which were offering me anything that fit me, in particular. It got to a point where I knew that in order to be happy as an artist I would need to branch out and attempt it as an independent artist. Or die trying. But by no means am I doing it alone, though. I have an amazing team with me.

Any advice you’d give women for building their own brand and image?
Get it, girl! Take yourself seriously at all costs. If you feel it and you work for it, you can achieve what you want. It has nothing to do with anyone else.

Anything you’ve done along the way that you wish you hadn’t or wish someone would have warned you about?
Plenty, I wish people could have warned me about. But I feel like every step I took played into the person I’ve become and the artist I’ve grown into.

You’ve done some modeling as well… Do you enjoy it?
I enjoy anything where I get to do my craft. Anytime I get to do something fun is a good day!

What’s on the horizon for Ali Lee – any new ventures?
A whole lot! We have a lot of things planned. 2012 will be very very busy!

Where can people find more info on you?
My website, ali-lee.com or my fan page, alisarmy.com. They can always ask, if they are my friends on my Real Ali Lee Facebook page or follow me on Twitter @TheRealAliLee! I try to respond to everyone who asks a legitimate question.

Where can they hear more of your music?
“Keep it Right There” is available on iTunes, Amazon, everywhere, and is now on the radio! I’m excited about the next single, which will be out soon.

Thanks for your time Ali and all the best in the future.



Unfinished Business for Monique Ricardo


Monique Ricardo, formerly Minton, took the fitness modeling world by storm when she starting competing in the NPC. She’s been on the covers of FLEX and Muscle & Fitness HERS and seen inside a number of other fitness magazines. Monique achieved IFBB Pro status in the Figure division but transitioned into the bikini division. Rewind to a year ago, she was preparing for the inaugural Bikini International but had to withdraw. It was mid-way through her prep that Monique found out she was pregnant with her first child. I caught up with Monique as she prepares to take care of some unfinished business.

 

 

Do you still go by Momo?
Sometimes

Momo Ricardo then?
Yes Sir.

How about Momma Momo?
Well, I am a momma now! lol

So take us back…you were accepted and invited to the 2011 Bikini International but you found out you were pregnant – right?
Yes! I was a few weeks into my 2011 Arnold training when I found out I was pregnant!

Congratulations! How old is the little guy?
Baby Maxwell is now five months.

Was there lots of kicking and punching during birth?
Yes! He was upside down my whole pregnancy and kicked my ribs the whole time!

As a new mom what’s been the biggest challenge?
I think the biggest challenge of being a new mom in the beginning is trying to find time to workout or really do anything! A newborn needs a lot of attention!

 

Momma and Maxwell

Did you workout during your pregnancy?
I did some cardio and rolled in my gi until 6 months, after that I had no stomach muscles to sit up and my hips didn’t move correctly. I lifted weights in the beginning but my doctor told me not to lift so heavy to protect the baby. I couldn’t lift light weight. I guess a mental thing. So I stopped after a few months.

How much weight did you gain?
I gained 20 pounds of total pregnancy. Five pounds of actually weight, after baby, fluids, etc.

What tips would you give moms out there about staying healthy and exercising?
Eat healthy!!! It helps so much with total pregnancy and post pregnancy! Being fit and then becoming pregnant makes your birth experience much easier and faster. I was only in labor for 23 minutes!

Wow that’s crazy. I’m sure a number of women wish they were in labor that long. LOL.

What’s one thing you wished someone would have told you or you knew before giving birth?
I got so much advice from many people about giving birth! A lot of women shared negative experiences, which just scared me! I had such a pleasant experience giving birth and was so surprised how easy and enjoyable it was! I wish someone told me to bring more snacks though. HA! hospital food sounds good on paper but doesn’t taste like they describe it! lol

Is it harder to get the bikini body back or no problems?
I worked super hard after having the baby! I had a Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) tourney 3 months later, so I needed to catch up fast! I was in the gym lifting heavy and on the mat rolling hard! I probably should have slowed it down a bit but sometimes you gotta go big or go home! haha

Are you still practicing MMA – what level are you at in your BJJ?
Yes! its part of my life! I am now a brown belt under Eddie Ricardo

 

All she does is Win! Win! Win!

What did you think of Brock getting knocked out?
I don’t think he was ready to come back to the fight…the guy guy had 12 inches of intestines taken from his belly and then he goes and fights Overeem who punches him in the stomach!

Are you glad he retired?
You can’t be the champion forever.

Can Overeem beat Junior?
No. Junior is more hungry, younger… in my opinion better on the ground, standup and boxing!

What about Chael Sonen – what’s your take on him?
He is very smart intelligent person who trains and works out really hard, he is talking a lot of crap trying to get a fight with the champion, and that’s the only way with his record that he is going to be able to do it. Some girls would take their clothes off to get attention… Chael Sonnen talks for attention.

Will he be able to beat Munos?
Munos is a better fighter but Chael is stronger mentally… which can win fights!

You trained with the Nogueiras – how hard was it to watch Minotauro get broken by Frank Mir?
I realized that night what a warrior he was! He didn’t even make a face or sound. I admire when a man acts like man and not run to his momma and stays home playing video games!

Monotauro and Monique

Did you see The Warrior that you made an appearance in?
Yes!

What did you think of it?
It was very good! had a great storyline and one of the better MMA movies out there!

People may not know but how long were you there filming?
Almost 3 months!

Are you still with Team MuscleTech?
I am Team MuscleTech! :)

Will you be at their booth during the Arnold?
I will be at there booth!

What’s your favorite product?
They have a new fatburner out called Hydroxystim! It’s awesome. I’m using this product for my Arnold training.

Any issues with taking any supplements and breast feeding?
I didn’t take any supplements while breastfeeding, So it wasn’t an issue for me.

Who is a better model you or your sister?
Well it depends…I have three sisters and they are always competing to see who is gonna sit at the head of the table. haha

Anything else happen while away from the stage?
Not that I can think of. I had a lot of time to enjoy my pregnancy, my family and new baby!

What made you decide to compete again after having a baby?
I have never competed in the Arnold and I have always dreamed of competing there one day! I got the chance and I took it. I love setting goals and competing is fun process, so why not?! I’m also part of Team Bombshell and I appreciate all the help I am getting from them.

Good Luck in Columbus! If you want to keep up with what’s happening with Monique, “Like” her facebook page. Check back as Monique updates us here on Hardbody.com with her Arnold prep.



Hardbody Fitness Exclusive with World Famous Model Denise Milani


Denise Milani is considered one of the most popular pin up models in the world. She’s appeared in magazines and on websites like FHM, Maxim and Esquire. While Denise is a hit with men and searched by millions each month, she’s embarking on another path. She’s decided to take her passion for health and fitness to a new level and recently competed in the NPC Bikini division. We caught up with Denise shortly after stepping on stage at Jon Lindsay’s NPC Exalibur, held in Culver City, CA.

denise milani hardbody

 

Denise was born and raised in the Czech Republic but currently calls California home. Check out what Ms. Milani had to say about her first competition, future plans and more.

How long have you lived in the United States? 14  years

What brought to LA? The Sunshine and opportunity.

You’re the oldest child in your family, what’s the best part of being the oldest? I can be an example and hopefully give good advice/ :)

What’s the worst? Nothing is bad about being the oldest. I love it.

How did you get started in modeling? By accident. I got discovered by sportsbybrooks.com and did some modelling for fun. The rest is history.

Has modeling become full-time job? It’s not a job if it’s what you enjoy! It’s fun, so I do it a lot.

Most annoying question? “Are you Denise Milani?” :)

Do you feel it’s important for women to have a web site? It’s only important if that is what you enjoy.

Strangest request from a fan? I’m sure there are some strange requests, but I haven’t heard them.

Guessing the beauty of having a manger. LOL.

When did you switch from myspace (which had a huge following) to Facebook (which has over 119,000 followers)? When myspace wasn’t cool anymore! :)

What advice do you have for women thinking of having their own website? Make sure you surround yourself with people you can trust. Don’t do anything just for the money, make sure it is what will make you happy.

How long have you been into fitness? I have been into fitness since I was about 15. I remember telling my mom when she went grocery shopping not to forget to get me the Muscle & Fitness Magazine (which was the only fitness magazine in Czech at the time). I always admired fitness models and the industry, but didn’t truly love it until I started to understand the science behind it after completing my national certification for personal training.

Who is inspiration? I really admire everyone in the industry, both competitors and trainers, but a person I would really like to meet is Tony Horton. I love the way he connects with people and leads as an example.

Those of you who don’t know, Tony Horton is the creator of P90x.

Why did you decide to compete? I believe to take my fitness knowledge to the next level, there is no better way than to compete. I want to experience being at my peak potential and learn everything I can along the way so I can help others do the same.

Anything you were nervous about in regards to competing? There were a lot of things! Mostly I was hoping everything would come together at the right time and I could be at my best the day of the competition. I really enjoyed the whole journey. The bad and the good.

What was the best part? Meeting all the people in the industry was the best part. The other girls were awesome, and everyone was so friendly. It made me feel at home. I also like knowing that there is always room to improve.

Wierdest part… Let’s guess the tanning? Of course it was. It was an insane experience! The retouching in the cold was the hardest part!

Did you tan before? No, just the day of.

Was it difficult to find a bikini and who made it? Yes, there was a lot of effort put into making the right bikini. The nice girls at Fresh Peaches in Rancho Cucamonga made it.

Did you work with a trainer? The training I did on my own, but I had help with the posing and refining my pre-contest diet.

How much cardio did you do? I did less during the contest prep, but more regularly.

What type of workouts did you follow? I did weightlifting but not too much cardio. Once a week I did plyometrics. Towards the end I did full body workouts.

What did your diet consist of?

PROTEIN:
• Chicken
• Egg whites
• Talapia

CARBS:
• Cream of rice
• Yams
• Lots of vegetables

FATS:
• Avocados
• Nuts
• Olive oil
• Flaxseed oil

The diet was pretty crazy, but I found a lot of good alternatives to things I usually eat. Some of these I will continue to eat instead.

 

Denise Rock'n The Hardbody!

What’s next?  More competitions!

Best place to find out more from you? DeniseLifestyle.com

All the best in your future competitions and we look forward to your new competition journey.

Denise won in unanimous fashion, collecting all first place votes, in her first NPC Bikini show. While she didn’t win the overall title she proved that she is one to watch in the NPC Bikini division. Follow Denise on Twitter  @Deniselifestyle and @DMilaniOfficial. Stay tuned for more with Denise in 2012.

 



Hardbody PROfile: Narmin “Funsize” Assria – IFBB Pro


Narmin Assria has finished in the top five of every bikini competition she’s entered. This weekend she’ll look to keep that streak alive in her IFBB Pro debut. This California girl may not be the biggest woman on stage but she brings a ton of sass and can hang with the big dawgs. I caught up with Narmin on the eve of her pro debut. Check it!

Name: Narmin Assria

Born in: Chicago IL

Currently live in: Murrieta, California

Any nicknames: Nar Nar, funsize

Did you play any sports growing up?
Yes I danced all four years in high school.

What would your friends say you are like – the wild one, quiet, etc?
My friends would without doubt describe me as the one that has a good time, not too wild but definitely not the quiet one.

Is that how you’d describe yourself? Yes

Dog or cat lady: Both, I grew up with a cat my whole life she was my baby, but now I am definitely a dog lover. I want a yorkie soo bad, there so cute and little!!

Contest history:
– 2010 NPC California Championships, Bikini Class A, 2nd place
– 2010 NPC USA Championships, Bikini Class A, 4th place
– 2011 West Coast Classic, June 25th 2011 Bikini Class A, 1st place
– USA Championships, Bikini Class A. July 29- 30 2011 1st place, earned IFBB PRO status

How did you get into competing? I have always been a gym rat, saw a show and knew I can do it. I love competing whether it was in any sport, so it was perfect for me

Best part of a competition: I get to meet such amazing people that inspire me even more every day. Doing what I love. Being center stage and showing off all my hard work, and always going home a winner because I know I worked hard and have been blessed threw out my journey as a fitness competitor.

Not so great part: Le’ts see… the diet, I love food!!!! But I absolutely put all the junk food to the side when I’m prepping and stay focused.

What’s a your breakfast consist of:
4 egg whites and a cup of oatmeal :)

Any favorite supplements: Gotta love Evogen, EVP, pre-workout solution!! It gets me going in the gym

How much cardio do you do? About 20-30 min, 5 days a week

Stupidest thing a guy has said to you in the gym: haha hmm I can’t even think of anything I try not to talk to them when I’m there.

Sandals on a guy – ok or gross? Sandals are okay for the beach otherwise cover up those toes guys haha

If I guy takes longer than you to get ready… unattractive

What expectations/goals do you have for your pro debut? My goal is to come into my Pro debut with a bang, and qualify for the Olympia!! I’m going to go out there and have fun, rock that stage like it was any other show I have done!! To come out on top but if not that’s okay because there is always room for improvement, and more shows I will be competing in ;)

What music do you listen to while working out? Rocking that house music!!

Are you a booty short and bra top girl or sweats and a hat when working out? Definitely a booty short girl, rocking a hat ;)

What are you going to be for Halloween? A Sexy firefighter :)

All the best in your pro bikini competitions. See more of Narmin’s competition photos here.



Hardbody Moms: Interview with Siliana “Freakishly Strong” Gaspard


Siliana “Sil” Gaspard has only been competing in the NPC bikini ranks for a few months but she’s already a top national contender. I caught up with the Hardbody momma, no seriously she has a 17 month old son, on the heels of her next competition. Sil will be competing this weekend at the NPC Texas State and don’t be surprised if she’s contending for the overall crown. Find out how she trains, what was up with her husband getting arrested in Columbus, the video ending up on TMZ .com and more.

Name: Siliana Gaspard



Any nicknames? “Sil” and “Abs”… pretty basic.

Currently Reside in: Houston, TX



Born in: Sofia, Bulgaria

What age did you come to the United States? We moved around a lot. I have lived in Bulgaria, France, Switzerland, Montreal, London, Ontario, and finally the States. We moved here in 1998.

Are women fit and active in Bulgaria or not so much? I would say not so much. Its divided, really. We have a lot of great tennis players, and gymnasts, but then a lot of the women smoke cigarettes and don’t really exercise. I mean, they are almost all thin, and some of the most beautiful women I have seen are in Bulgaria. Seriously, I think they have the most beautiful women per capita then any other place I have been to. They all make an effort to look good.

Sounds like I need to visit Bulgaria.



Occupation: Blessed to be self-employed with my husband.


Play any sports or activities growing up? I played tennis almost all of my childhood. We went to tennis tournaments just about every weekend. My dad had my brother, sister, and I on the tennis courts everyday after school, hitting tennis balls, doing running drills. We ran about 5 miles 3 times a week at a local park. I remember people being so amazed because I ran alongside my dad, at his pace, the entire time. It was all worth it, my siblings and I were all ranked Juniors players in Ontario, Canada, and in Florida.

Do you still play tennis? I am no where near as good as I used to be. Tennis is a lot of fun, and I would like to get back on the court. But, no, I don’t play as often as I used to. I was actually teaching tennis earlier this year to 3-4 year olds, and 10-15 year olds, I loved it!

Any hidden talents people may not be aware of? I wouldn’t consider them talents, but I am fluent in three languages (English, French, and Bulgarian.) Being multi-lingual is such a blessing. And, I am freakishly strong for my size; right now my heaviest weight on squats is 315lbs-the same as my husband’s!



Number of years competing: You mean months? =) Been at it since July 2011.

Competition History: My first show ever was the Branch Warren Classic July 16, 2011: 2nd place Bikini B. My second competition was the Dallas Europa Super Show August 12-13, 2011, 1st place Bikini B, and the Overall Bikini Title. My first National attempt was at the IFBB North Americans in Cleveland, OH where I got 3rd place in Bikini C.

 

How did you get started in competing? I lost all of my baby weight, but I was still “skinny fat.”
I wanted to get in shape and start modeling again. Fitness modeling was mentioned to me by several people, and the topic of competing came up. I decided to do my first show for my own sense of accomplishment and hard work after having a baby. But after that first show, I was hooked and wanted to compete again, and again.

How did you get started in weight training? My husband hired me a personal trainer after the birth of our son to have someone help motivate me to get back to where I wanted to be. The trainer’s wife is a body builder, so naturally he had me lifting weights. After a few weeks, I really liked the results I saw from weight training, and not just cardio and 5lbs dumb bells like I had been doing before.

Most people won’t believe it but you have little one when they see your bikini body. How old is your lil guy? My little boy is 17 months now! He is such a sweet kid, I love watching him discover new things.

What advice do you have for other moms on staying fit after a pregnancy? Watch what you eat, foremost. Secondly, you don’t have to get crazy with the exercise right after birth, but rather, do small things like, take the baby on daily walks, get started with programs like Baby Boot Camp etc. Just start out slowly, and incorporate your baby in the exercise so you are still bonding and having fun together. I took my son on daily walks around the neighborhood, or a park, because we both enjoyed it. He got to take nice naps out in the fresh air, and it kept me moving and burning calories. The thing that bothered me the most was the fact that I didn’t want to leave him to go focus on myself and be “selfish.” So I found a gym where I could bring him on the floor with me (in his car seat) and for my cardio, I bought an awesome Jeep jogging stroller, and the baby and I went running during his afternoon nap time.

Did you workout throughout your pregnancy? I did at first, but then became very nauseated during the end of the 1st trimester, and I stopped going as much. I would go about 1-2 a week with my husband, but I started listening to all of the myths about how if you exercise too much you could hurt the baby. So I stopped going, but I was still very diligent in watching what I ate. Next time around, I am definitely going to continue working out the entire pregnancy, I think its better for the mom and the baby.

Any supplements you’d recommend to moms? Gaspari Myfusion (Banana flavor protein) tastes great, and its healthy and an easy meal replacement for busy moms. I know in my house, I feed everyone else first before I get to eat, so it holds me over until I can eat a meal.



What type of diet do you follow… high protein / low carbs? Exactly. High protein, low carbs. I don’t follow a diet religiously, I make conscious choices. If I am hungry, I eat. But I eat healthy and clean, and I don’t over indulge. If I am prepping for competition, then obviously I stay away from sugars, high fats, and carbs. But, by no means do I look at the clock and say, “Oh time to eat again.” I don’t have all of my meals packed and with me at all times, and to be honest, I had Chik Fil A last week, twice.

How much water do you drink a day? Right now since I am prepping for Texas State Saturday, I am drinking about 1 gallon and 1/2 daily. But usually I would say about 8 full glasses.

What’s your favorite body part to train? Legs and Abs. I love doing legs because I love adding more and more weight to the rack for my squats. I love the way people, mostly men, look at the weight like “there is no way she can get that”, then I hit it (my goal is always at least 5 times) and it makes me feel like such a badass, its such a rush of adrenaline and endorphins. I also like training Abs because, well, I never get to train them! So when I am finally given the green light to train them, it feels good. I think a lot of people see my photos and assume that I train them all of the time, but I’ve honestly only worked on them a total of 20 mins in the past 4week.



Give readers an idea of what a workout would consist of.
Well… my last workout before competition was Wednesday and it was an overall body workout, so I can run that one by you…
I started off with 6 minutes of rowing.
Then went to cleans and presses with a 45lb bar. 10 up clean, 10 up press.
Then down to 10 push ups real quick.
Add 5lbs to bar, 8up clean and press, drop down 10 push ups.
Add 10lbs to 45lb bar, 6up clean and press, drop down 10 push ups.
Then curls and rows with the bar, again alternating with push ups. (Oh, did I mention no breaks?)

I’m exhausted reading this.

Then straight to tricep pull downs, burn outs.
From there, squats. 10 up squats with 225lbs, drop down push ups 5 times with 7.5lbs dumb bells.
Alternate push ups and squats for 5 sets. (No breaks)
Then we did kettle bell squats, dumb bell squats, and finally finished with 2 full circle push ups. =)

How much cardio do you do a day? I think people will hate me for this one but, none. I train very hard during my work out that I do not need it. If I did cardio, I would start losing muscle mass.

What type of cardio do you enjoy best? When I do get to do cardio, I enjoy running. Either sprints or long distance. I get such a high after a good run; it lasts all day, and keeps me feeling great.



Do you work with a trainer? My husband Shad implements a plan that Charles Glass put together for me. Shad and Charles are good friends, and we know him from Gold’s Gym Venice. When I told Charles I wanted to start competing, he put together a plan for me, and Shad enforces it. When we go to L.A., I train with Charles, and he gets to kick my butt.

Best song to work out to right now: Well one my favorites for now is “girl you be killing em, you be killing em, girl you be killing em.” Because in the nicest way possible: I WANT TO KILL THESE GIRLS. =) In friendly competition, of course! I also like the Wale/J. Cole song “Bad Girls Club” because it has a good beat, and it gets me pumped for squats because it goes “drop it low…how far can you go…” and in my head I think “oh I can drop it low.” Yes, I am a dork.



Last good movie you saw: Bridesmaids was HILARIOUS! And Thor. I didn’t expect to like it, but it was awesome!

Your husband was in the WWE – how did you two meet? I was living in Tampa at the time, and he came down to Tampa to hang out with his friends. We were both at the same club. (Yes we met at a bar, so tacky.) I was there with a friend, waiting for the guy who I was dating at the time to show up; he never did. So, needless to say, got a glimpse of Shad, thought he was attractive, (had no clue who he was) but he wouldn’t look twice at me! Obviously that really aggravated me. I got snobby about it and dissed him, but my friend chased him down, he asked me to dance to the Grease theme song LOL. I still wasn’t into him, so my friends literally took his phone, put my number in it, did all of the talking for me, meanwhile Shad’s friend was hitting on me…it was a big mess. But he sent me a message like a couple days later on MySpace, and we just started talking and getting to know each other.

HA, Are you still on MYSPACE? Haha, NO! That was in like late 2008, early 2009 when MYSPACE was still cool. That account has been long gone!


photo from tmz.com

What was the deal with him being on TMZ during the Arnold weekend or if you told us you’d have to kill us? LOL. No, lucky for Shad I hired him a very good lawyer ASAP, and we had that taken care of. Basically, it was just one bad cop that was over zealous and abusing his authority. In the video online that Josh Barnett took, you can see Shad on the ground, not resisting, with like 3 officers on him at all times. And the charge? Jay walking…in the sidewalk. Yes, you read that right. Jay walking in the sidewalk. Was it necessary? Of course not. Shad had done nothing wrong, and our lawyer had all of the charges dropped. It’s unfortunate that many good police officers reputations are tarnished by a few bad ones. But in the end, we were happy to just have the charges dropped and move on from it.



Any project you and he are working on to watch out for? Shad just wrapped up filming for a prime time TV show, it airs in January. He also has a graphic novel coming out called “Assassin and Son” He is also waiting to hear back from two major movie roles he auditioned for. I am prepping for Nationals in Miami, and just started working with a PR agent to help put me out there better.

Goals for competing? I would like to get my PRO card. I am going to try and go for it again at Nationals in Miami later this year. I would really like to show women, especially moms, that it is possible to have kids and be healthy, and look good. I just want to help inspire people be the best that they can be, whatever field they choose.



How can people find out more info about ya? Friend me on facebook and ask me!=) or follow me on Twitter @SilianaGaspard.

Thanks Siliana and all the best! Check out her bikini competition photos on Bodybuilding.com.



Hardbody PROfiles: Meet Candice “Candy Girl” Lewis


When she took the stage at the NPC Jr. Nationals she was the clear cut winner in the Figure division, at least in my book. Candice Lewis is has the genetics that’ll make you do a double take. She’s beautiful, tall and well balanced. Combine that with polished stage presentation, a tiny waist and tight booty… well you have yourself a pro.

This weekend at the Ft. Lauderdale Cup, Candice Lewis from Arizona will make her IFBB Figure debut. Candice never finished lower than first while in the amateur ranks. She’s one to watch as she could make an immediate impact in the pro ranks. I caught up with “Candy Girl” and she shared more about herself.

Name: Candice Lewis

Born in: Chandler, Arizona

Currently Reside in: Chandler, Arizona

Any nicknames: Candy. My dad calls me candy girl.

It’s cold when the temperature gets below:
70

Clearly you haven’t spent much time in the Midwest. LOL


Favorite Sport:
Football

Favorite football team: AZ Cardinals

Did you play any sports growing up: I ran track since I was 11 years old. I ran cross country and I was a cheerleader in high school.

What did you want to be when you grew up: A ballerina

Favorite past time:
Playing tether ball in school.

Those still exist? Sweet. Tether ball rocks.

Favorite band/artist:
Rihanna and Darius Ruckus

Do you like Darius as Hootie or on his own doing country? Darius doing country. Even though Hootie had some good jams back in the day.

Do you get asked about often when at the grocery store?
The clerks always ask me while I’m checking out at the grocery store “is this what I have to eat to be skinny”

Any hidden talents? I think I can sing.

Are you the oldest, middle or baby of the family?
I’m the 2nd oldest of 10

What’s your family think of you competing and becoming a pro? My family loves it. They are very supportive. My little sisters always call over their friends when I come visit them. They finally think I’m cool.

How did you get into figure competitions? I meet my trainer one day working out. It was all history from there.

Competition History:

Arizona local show 07′ 1st overall, California State 1st overall 11′, Tournament of champions 08′ 1st overall 09,Pacific Naturals 08′ 1st overall, jr nationals 1st overall 11′

How much does your weight vary between shows? About 5 pounds. I loose weight once I stop lifting.

What’s a sample of your daily eats look like?
5 Egg whites – 1/2 cup of oats
5oz fish 4oz 3-5 asparagus and 1/2 cup rice
5oz ground turkey

Biggest challenge dieting for a show? Not to over eat on the yams.. I just love them. Yummy.

What’s your favorite body part to work out? Legs

What’s the key to building a kick ass set of wheels? Lunges and lunges with weights and more lunges and squares.

How do you feel you look compared to Jr. Nationals en route to your pro debut? I’m more balance and I feel I have a more mature look. Because I been lifting more.

How important has having a trainer been for you? It’s one of the most important parts for me. Damian Sagovia keep me motivated on my off days.

If you could give other women some advice on staying healthy and fit what would it be?
My advice would be to make staying health and fit apart of your everyday life. Like brushing your teeth.

Do you enjoy modeling? I enjoy modeling because it gives me a chance to inspire people to workout.

What do you do to “get into the zone” of model?
Music gets me in the zone for anything.

Goal for the industry: I would like to make this my career. They say “Do what makes you happy and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

I couldn’t agree more with that quote.

If 10 years you’d like to…?
Be a fitness model help people to live a health fit life.

How can people find you? Icandylewis on twitter.

Anyone you’d like to thank: God, friends and family My trainer Damian Sagovia fb friend. The NPC & IFBB and you, Isaac Hinds for this interview. :)

All the best, you have a bright future ahead! Check out a few photos of Candice here.



Hardbody Profile: Crazy Florida State Fan – IFBB Pro Brittany Tacy


Brittany Tacy calls Florida home and it’s fitting that she would make her IFBB Pro Bikini debut at the Ft. Lauderdale Cup this weekend. She placed 6th at this show last year competing as an amateur and has been on the fast track to success since. Collecting three first place trophies and an IFBB pro card along the way. I caught up with the hardbody on the heels of her debut. Get to know Brittany Tacy – she’s one to watch!

Name:
Brittany Tacy

Born in:
West Palm Beach, Fl

Currently reside in:
West Palm Beach!

Cat or dog:
Dog…big dog :)

What kinda dog and what’s his name?
American Bulldog, he’s almost 100lbs!! His name is Jensyn and he’s my big baby :)

Did you play any sports “growing up”?
Oh yes! I was a baton twirled for 10years, I was a varsity cheerleader, I played for the girls flag football team (an actual varsity sport, not just powder puff) and I competed for 2 years on the girls weightlifting team in High School.

Can you still twirl a baton?

You bet! I was at the “advanced level” twirling with girls in high school when I was only 11 years old.

What position did you play on the football team?
In flag football, you normally play both offense and defense. I was a wide receiver and an outside linebacker, which is the equivalent to a corner back in regular football.

Gators or Seminoles?

Seminoles all the way!!! I’m a crazy Florida State fan haha

How many tattoos do you have?
6 :)

Any you regret?
Ummm, none that I really ‘regret’. But one of them doesn’t have the same meaning anymore.

Favorite musician/band?

That’s a tough one! My favorite band would have to be Rise Against, and I love working out to their music too. I’m also a big fan of Lil Wayne, because he lyrics are genius.

Motto you live by:

“One life one chance”

Any hidden talents:

I can draw and paint! Not sure if that qualifies as a hidden talent though. haha

Abstract or realism? Oil or acrylic?
Realism. I like to draw and paint landscapes, flowers, animals, etc. My specialty is anything tropical. I can paint one hell of a sunset!

Quality your friends would say is your best:

My sense of humor…I’m quite the comedian ;)

How did you get into competing in the bikini division?
I’ve always aspired to get into the fitness industry but never really thought I could put on the muscle for figure (which I would love to do in the future). So when I found out about the Bikini division, I felt like it was something I could do. However, I wish it was called something different. “Bikini” always gives people the wrong impression, we’re not Hawaiian tropic models!!

I remember tweeting after seeing you in Orlando earlier this year thinking you were had “it”. You didn’t win the overall there (I call for an investigation, ok not really but) any whoo. Did you work with anyone in prep for that show?
I remember that too, and I felt so cool that THE Isaac Hinds was tweeting about me haha!!! But nope, I’ve actually never worked with anyone since day one. I do all my own training, diet, prep, posing…everything! Making it to the pro level without the help of a coach or trainer is something I’m very proud of.

Number of shows and placings: (this year)
2010 Ft Lauderdale Cup: 6th
2011 CJ classic: 1st & Overall
2011 Europa Show of Champs: 1st
2011 NPC USAs: 1st

Give the ladies an idea of what your sample day of eating is like:
M1: 5 egg whites, 1/2cup oatmeal
M2: 4-5oz chicken, 4oz sweet potato, steamed spinach
M3: 1-2 scoops CytoGainer and 1 banana (post workout)
M4: 4-5oz extra lean ground turkey, asparagus and 15 almonds
M5: 4 hard boiled egg whites, one yolk
M6: 1 scoop CytoSport Complete Casein made into pudding

You have some pretty sic abs – genetics or what did you do to built those bad boys up?
Well thanks!! I think it has a little to do with both. I definitely have good genetics, but I’ve done a lot of weighted AB training and my diet is consistently clean all year round, on and off season. The only difference is I have cheat meals when I’m not training for a show.

What would one of your shoulder workouts consist of?

Super-sets! I train really heavy and I always incorporate super-sets in on shoulder day to really build up all three parts of the deltoids.
-4 sets 8-12 overhead dumbbell press
-3 sets 8-12 Arnold press
-4 sets 8-12 rear delt fly
-4 sets barbell upright rows
-4 sets 8-12 side lateral raises (drop set)
-3 sets of plate raises

How much cardio do you do?
Here comes the shocker….30 minutes, once a week. I train at high intensity and my diet is always on point, so that combined with my body type, is what keeps me lean. If I did hours of cardio a day, I would be what you call “overly conditioned”, and that is no good for the Bikini division!

Favorite brand of shoes?
I’m definitely a Nike fanatic.

Supplements currently taking:

(all CytoSport products)
– Monster Amino
– Monster Pump
– L Glutamine
– Whey Isolate
– CytoGainer
– Casein protein

Favorite CytoSport product:
I love combining 1 scoop of Monster Amino and 1 scoop of Monster Pump as my pre-workout drink. The blue raspberry is my favorite flavor :)

Goals for the industry:

Qualify for the Olympia, compete in the Bikini International, and win a pro show. In addition to just competing, I hope to stay in this industry for a long time and make a career out of what I love doing.

How’s your significant other been through your journey?

Overall, he’s been amazing. Never missed a show or photoshoot. However, he’s not my favorite person when he’s eating ice cream while I’m in contest prep… haha!

Favorite meal of the day and what’s it consist of:

Breakfast fo sho! 5 egg whites with spinach and 1/4 cup fat free cheese. And 1/2 cup oatmeal with cinnamon, Stevia, and banana extract. It’s like a banana muffin!

How much weight do you fluctuate from on to off season:
2-3 lbs maybe. Usually that’s only after a cheat meal or a few cocktails. I’m about 2-3 weeks out from my stage weight all year round.

Goal for this weekend’s Ft. Lauderdale Cup:
Place in the top 5. I would be even more stoked to come in the top 3 and qualify for the Olympia!!

Where can peeps find more about you:
Follow me on Twitter – @BTacyIFBB_Pro

Anyone you want to thank?

My boyfriend, Ryan, for being my biggest fan. Powerhouse Gym, Core Cuisines, and most importantly, CytoSport for the sponsorship & supporting me 100%. And of course, thank YOU, Isaac, for giving me the honor of doing this interview!

Thanks Brittany. All the best. See more of Brittany’s photos and profile here.

Lead photo by: Paulo Jardao.



Hardbody Interview: Sonia Gonzales Bring’n it Back


The reigning Bikini Olympia champ, Sonia Gonzales is taking the stage this weekend at the Europa Supershow in Dallas. She was a little off her game at the 2011 Bikini International but she went back to the drawing board and is back. Will we see a new and improved Sonia? I saw a sneak preview at the NPC USAs when she was poolside doing a photo shoot and I can honestly say I’ve never seen her look better.  I caught up with the Bikini champ for a quick interview, read what she had to say.

Where ya living these days?
Hang’n in wine country… Temecula CA

You’re there just hanging out looking purdy or you still doing nails?
I’m still working in the salon p/t,, I love the beauty biz!!!

You’re the reigning Bikini Olympia champ – why compete in the Europa Supershow?
I wanna do a lil warm up.

Some peeps have criticized you saying you had no booty. I saw you doing a photo shoot with JM Manion in Vegas and looks like you rounded your rump. What workouts have you been doing to build your butt?
Ha, the booty? Funny you ask !!! All I’m going to reveal or say is that I had a very productive off-season and the booty got some TLC!!!

Have you changed your nutrition at all since the Arnold?
Yes I’ve a few cheat meals, I enjoyed my self!!! Good food and good times with friends and family.

Some thought you were a little off at the Bikini International, do you feel this show you are better than in Columbus?
Most definitely I work with Kim Oddo who is my nutritionist and trainer. We went back to the drawing board and made a few tweaks, and we are very happy with my progress.

What gives you the edge over your competition this weekend?
My determination, focus and love of the sport !!! Swagger baby!!!

One of the secrets in your and Adela’s arsenal is the waist cincher. I heard some of your competition started using this, will this help them beat you?
HAhaha Bring it!!! Their Cincher is tight, but mine is tighter!!!

When you hear your fellow competitors talk smack does it distract or motivate you?
Honestly I just last laugh. All that means to me is they are insecure. A little class goes a long way!!!

You’ve trained with Kim Oddo for several years, what’s the biggest benefit of having a trainer like Kimbo in your corner?
Kimbo… anybody who knows would say this trainer/nutritionist has a sixth sense about him. He definitely knows his stuff. He’s a perfectionist and he takes the guessing game out of it. He treats every competitor the same and his attitude is to WIN!!! He’s amazing!!! I’m forever loyal!!

Will you be 100% for this show or are you saving your best for the Olympia?
100% every show!!!

What will you be eating backstage before going on for prejudging?
I won’t know till game day !!!

New suit or no?
Nope, why change what works!!

Who makes your suits?
Chynna dolls, CJ swimwear and illusions by Aggie.

How long will we see Sonia Gonzales competing in Bikini?
I haven’t ever put a time limit on it.

How much cardio are you doing a day?
Maybe 20 mins

What song is cranked up in your headphones?
Some stuff by Adele, Rhianna, Eminen, a lil of everything

Anyone you wanna give a shout out to?
Just want to thank you to my family, friends, FMG, Kim Oddo, GNC and God !!! Thank you for all the love support.

Thanks Sonia and good luck.

Follow us on twitter at twitter.com/hardbodynews and use #EUROPATX for the hash tag.



Hardbody Europa Supershow Interview: Ava Cowan “Bring Value to Your Name”


The 2011 Europa Supershow has one of the largest figure lineups of the year. The competition on stage will be hotter than it is outside in the Texas heat and one of the competitors heating things up will be Ava Cowan. Ava has finished third in her last two shows. She leaped into top contender status at this year’s Figure International finish, placing behind Nicole Wilkins and Erin Stern. Pretty solid placing, right? Damn right. She went on to compete in the IFBB St. Louis Pro where she again finished third. Ava’s highest placing came in last year’s Ft. Lauderdale Cup where she was the runner-up. Might we see Ava win her first IFBB pro show this weekend?

 

I caught up with Ava as she heads into the Dallas Europa Supershow. She shares insight on running a business and how she’s used competing to help her build her brand. Check it out.

Currently live in: Delray Beach, Florida

How’s the supplement store going? Great!  We are doing very well, paying the bills and rent plus have a great new manager, Jimmy Anzardo. Who is great with running the store and with our customers!  So no complaints here.

What’s the biggest challenge of running a business? Finding people who you can trust with the keys to your business.  Mark and I travel a lot so we need to make sure we get great people to work with us.  Thankfully, Jimmy came to us and has been a great fit.  Also, knowing how and what products to put on the shelves is always something you can only learn with experience.  It also helps to find companies that are willing to help us promote their products so we can sell it in our store and create more awareness.

Ava Cowan is a name many women have come to know in the fitness industry. Can you look back and pinpoint a moment that was your “big break”?  There have been several high points that I feel have put my name “out there” so to speak.  But the biggest break would have to be my signing with Gaspari Nutrition in 2009.  They put me on the map on a whole other level with advertising Internationally.

What professional goals do you have that you’ve yet to achieve? A publishing contract.  I am an excellent writer and feel I could bring an already existing fan base to a magazine through regular articles and videos discussing nutrition, training and lifestyle concepts and techniques.

Has competing in the NPC/IFBB helped your business off the stage?  Yes, immensely. By being an IFBB figure athlete, I am able to compete against the top athletes in the world.  If you place at a top show, you are then considered the best “worldwide”. No other organization can give an athlete that much prestige.  By having the ability to be a top-ranking athlete, you are then able to market yourself in a ways that only the top athletes in the world can.  Worldwide recognition translates into more marketability as a competitor.  It had been my experience that the only way to get a great athlete contract is to be with the NPC and IFBB.

You have quite the fan base growing on Facebook and twitter. Do you recommend other women use social media to help their personal brand?  If you do not have an Internet presence you do not exist as a brand.  The power of creating a name is imperative to any thriving company.  That includes branding yourself.  You must bring value and an audience to your name.  The way to do that is through creating and maintaining an audience online.

How’s your training been since we last saw you on stage?  I feel good about my efforts regarding a total transformation with my physique.  With the help of Kim Oddo, we have come up with a look that is so much different than last year.  I have backed off from the massive amounts of weight training, and have just let my natural shape come back.  My body is curvier and I have a much more streamline/ feminine look than I previously did.

Biggest challenge prepping for this show:  I always struggle with being hungry.  I have been able to help my hunger by adding in more vegetables to fill me up.  I eat a ton of cucumbers with vinegar.

10 years from now what will Ava Cowan be doing? Living in a beautiful home on the ocean with a family of my own.

Favorite Gaspari protein flavor?  Milk Chocolate Myofusion.

After the Europa Dallas will you be doing Arizona or nothing until the Olympia? No, I will be doing the Olympia after Dallas.

Anyone you’d like to thank? God for putting this dream in my heart and allowing me to full-fill it.  Gaspari Nutrition for supporting my career as an athlete.   I could only be traveling and living my dream because of Rich and Liz Gaspari and Joe Volgey.  I would like to thank the IFBB for giving me the ability and platform to compete worldwide.  I would like to thank Kim Oddo for revamping my look.  And for having the eyes I need to give me what I need to be successful in this sport.  I would like to thank my fiance Mark Alvisi for working so hard on building our future day in and day out, my Dad, and my friends Jessica and Suzana.  Thank you for loving me.  A special thanks to my fans who continue to support me everyday and throughout my career.  No matter where I place.  And thank you Isaac for this interview.
Follow Ava on twitter.com @avaCowan and become a fan on her facebook page. You can see competition photos of Ava throughout the years on bodybuilding.com and see how she’s transformed her physique into the winning form its in today.

 



Hard Body Profile: Cover Model Jelena Abbou


Jelena Abbou is one of the top fitness models in the world and she’ll look to become one of the best in IFBB Figure this weekend. Jelena will be competing at the Europa Show of Champions in Hartford, Conneticut and judging by how she looks days out from the show, don’t bet against her leaving with a top three spot. She’s been to the Olympia stage before and we’ll see in a couple days if she can re-qualify.

 

 

Originally from Serbia but now calls New Jersey home, Jelena Abbou has stunning good looks and and an hour glass figure. At times her genetics have prevented her from doing well in the competitive figure division however she’s switched up her training and nutrition and balanced her physique from top to bottom. I caught up with the East Coast hard body on the heels of the Europa Super show.

Name: Jelena Aboou

Nickname as a kid: Jeca

Currently live in: Hackensack, NJ

Where did you grow up? Small little town in Serbia called Gornji Milanovac

When did you move to the United States? 1997

What made you decide to move to the United States? I wasn’t really planing to move for good but after visiting I decided to stay…so I never went back.

Do you ever go back to visit? My whole family is still there so yes I go to visit but not that often.

Did you play any sports growing up or how did you get started competing? Never played anything competitive just little bit of everything. I always liked watching fitness on ESPN when I was younger but since I had no gymnastic background and can’t dance to save my life I was so excited when figure first came out, so I decided to try. So ever since I got hooked!

What’s your family think of your competitions? They like it, not many girls in Sebia and especially not in my town that compete.

How did you get into modeling? I sent my pictures to Oxygen magazine for “future of fitness” and more then a year after I sent it they called me to test shoot for cover, and I made that cover.

Consider that your “Big break”? Yes it was my first cover.

What modeling jobs have you been doing lately? Aetrex shoes advertisement,catalogs and Landice treadmills

You tried your heels at bikini but now you’re back in Figure. Why the switch back to Figure? I just think my body shape is better for Figure, I get too lean and look too muscular for Bikini.

You’ve refined your physique and really look your best coming into this weekend’s show. What did you do differently with your diet? Switching from Bikini I had to start eating a little more protein and closer to the show less carbs.

What type of training do you do? I do moderate weights, my reps for upper are anywhere from 8-15 and lower 12-15.

How did you get those killer abs? Guess just born with it :) Haha no for real I’ve done weights for abs in my earlier years or training and just blessed with small waist.

What you mean you didn’t do a thousand crunches a day? Yeah no, never!

What projects have you been working on away from the stage? I’m working on my active wear clothing line, it’s called Pretty Phit. I’m very excited about it, something I always wanted to do. It’s high quality made of supplex, and HardBody ladies know all about quality and fit of supplex. Here is the web site www.prettyphit.com.

Rapid fire – first thing that comes to mind. OMG 2 days before the show!!

Favorite Cartoon: Tweedy bird

Favorite tv show: True Blood, Weeds

Favorite song right now: Eminem, Not Afraid

Last meal you ate consisted of: Just had my breakfast, egg whites and oats

First thing you are going to eat once the show is over: PIZZA and ice cream

Dog or Cat: Dog

Worst job you’ve ever had: Never had a job I really didn’t like.

Guys with beards are: Smelly LOL

Women with hairy backs are: Men

Goal for the Europa Super show: Top 3

Do you work with a trainer? I was now I’m on my own.

Thanks Jelena and all the best this weekend! See some of Jelena’s competition photos on Bodybuilding.com.



Disclaimer: Reader discretion advised, please consult your physician before beginning any exercise or diet program.