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.

Up Close and Personal with Hardbody Courtney Prather

I caught up with one of California’s fastest rising stars, Courtney Prather on the heels of her NPC National stage debut. Courtney heads into this weekend’s NPC JR Nationals with a ton of momentum having just won the Bodybuilding.com Fit Body Model Search. She was the runner-up earlier in the year at the FLEX Bikini Model Search contest and will look to leave Chicago with IFBB Pro status. She works full-time in hotel management and has nurturing spirit to her. Just don’t call her crazy cat lady.


Find out more about Courtney in this Hardbody.com interview. She talks about her diet, training, competing and more. Pick up the next Muscle & Fitness HERS magazine where you can see Courtney featured. It’ll be in stores later this month.

Name: Courtney Prather

Born in: Orange, California

Currently reside in: Long Beach, California

Occupation: My day job is in hotel management.

What peaked your interest in business? I worked the front desk of a hotel while I studied for my bachelor’s degree in business management. I always knew I wanted to own and manage a business one day, but the longer I spent in the hospitality industry, the more I fell in love with it. One day I want to run a boutique hotel in Costa Rica- that would be the life!

Contest History:
December 2010-NPC Excalibur Contest, 6th place
February- Flex Bikini Model Search, 2nd place/qualification for finals at Olympia
March 2011- NPC Muscle Contest, 1st place and overall bikini winner
June 2011 – Bodybuilding.com Fit Model overall winner

How did you get your start in competing? Not on purpose!  Last year I spent a few months training with the LA Temptations of the LFL (Lingerie Football League). I made the roster but with my full time job, I couldn’t handle the time commitment and had to pull myself out. My association with the league on Facebook led my now coach, Bea Fox, to reach out to me. She said if things didn’t work out with the LFL, I should give her a call to learn about fitness competing. I did, and the rest is history.

How long have you worked with M2 Fitness? I began training with Team Fox in August 2010.

How important has having coach been for you? It has been instrumental to my success. I am a very competitive and athletic person and I always have been. However, I learned very quickly that my previous workout regimen was not designed to get the best results out of my body. I was one of many girls with the common misconception that lifting weights will make you bulky; so I just didn’t do it- ever! I was what they call “skinny fat”, weighing only 110 lbs with 24% body fat. Today I am a lean 114 lbs at 13% BF and I have M2 Fitness Pros to thank for that.

Goals in the industry? Since I came into this with no idea how big the fitness industry is I had no expectations. I am grateful for every opportunity that comes my way and feel very blessed to have had early successes. The more I learn and the more I compete, the more I want to make a career out of this! I am passionate about fitness and healthy living and I am just excited to see where this adventure takes me. With that said, I definitely want to be an IFBB Bikini Pro and I am focused on achieving that goal in the near future.

You’ve got one of the best bikini booties in Cali. What’s the secret to getting and keeping a hardbody booty? I train glutes two times a week and I try to choose cardio that engages the glutes the most (stair running, kickboxing, incline sprints, etc). My coach modifies a lot of our leg workouts as well to ensure we sculpt the glutes and hamstrings, as opposed to targeting quads. But I have to add that a lot of what goes into maintaining a firm, toned butt is done in the kitchen. A clean diet is a must!

You continue to do well on stage, what advice would you give other women who are thinking about doing a show but unsure? If you think you can’t, you can. I was an incredibly shy and modest person and even though my body was ready, I didn’t think I would have the confidence to get up there until I did it. Remember, you are competing against yourself; focus on bringing your best to the stage and do not worry about the other competitors.  This has been a life changing experience for me, both emotionally and physically.  Anyone who gets on stage, regardless of placing, should feel accomplished.

You haven’t always placed first. You were 6th at the 2010 Excalibur before notching the overall at the Muscle Contest. What changes did you make from December to March? Excalibur was my first show so I was just proud I got through it, but by the next day I knew I wanted to do it again and I wanted to bring a better package. I listened to the comments and critiques of some of the judges. I studied videos of pros and practiced my walk/posing religiously. A few tweaks with my hair and makeup and I was ready to try again! It is all about progressing, learning from your past showings, and trying to improve.

What’s been the most enjoyable thing for you related to competing? My favorite thing related to competing is being a part of Team Fox. These girls are the best support system and have become more like sisters than teammates. Getting up at 5am everyday wouldn’t be the same without them, and knowing they will be there after the show whether you win or lose is an awesome feeling.

Is your fiancée supportive of you competing and how does that effect you during your prep? My fiancée is my biggest supporter and fan! I am not going to lie and say it has been easy, because there have been major life adjustments to get used to, but we have grown because of it. I think he gets more excited than me when I step on stage, which makes it fun!

What’s your favorite meal of the day and what’s it consist of? I would have to say my post workout protein shake. I work out most days at 6am, and I always look forward to my shake when I get home (the Magic Bullet changed my life). The blended concoction of chocolate protein powder, half a banana and 1 Tbsp of natural peanut butter is the closest thing to dessert left in my diet. I have the worst sweet tooth, so this shake on my heavy workout days is enough to satisfy that craving.

What songs are you listening to in the gym or when you sing in your car? Right now, I have “Pretty Girl Rock” by Keri Hilson on repeat. You need a certain confidence and “swagger” on stage, and this song reminds me why I am busting my butt in the gym and keeps me motivated.

Favorite exercise(s)? I love training shoulders, especially side laterals. It is something I never trained before, but I think rounded shoulders are very sexy and I just feel strong doing that exercise.

What’s your workout week look like? I weight train 5 days a week and do 30-40 min of cardio after lifting, my week looks like this:
• Mon – Back/Biceps
• Tues – Hams, Glutes, Calves
• Wed – Shoulders
• Thurs – Triceps, Chest, Abs
• Fr i- Hams, Glutes, Calves
• Sat – Rest
• Sun- Cardio

Do you do cardio on an empty stomach? I do not do cardio on an empty stomach. I always start my day with oatmeal, unless I am carb cycling, then maybe egg whites or a protein shake, but never an empty stomach. I know there are different philosophies on this, but personally I perform best and can push harder with something in my belly.

What supplements do you take? I live by protein powder, fish oil and a multivitamin, but that’s it!

Who inspires you in or out of the industry? My biggest inspiration is Jaime Eason. She is not only beautiful, incredibly fit, and classy, but an all-around genuine and nice person. I met her at a fitness expo and was blown away at how down-to-earth and humble she is despite all of her success.

You have three cats and now most people (self included) would say if you have three or more cats you’re “crazy cat lady”. Why are you NOT a crazy cat lady? I was afraid this would come up! I am not a crazy cat lady I promise!! Four months ago we only had one cat as a pet. The other two are rescue kittens that I found on the street when they were very young. My plan was to nurse them to health and find them homes. I just couldn’t help myself after getting to know them and had to keep them. I am not allowed to bring home anymore strays though or I might be a SINGLE lady with three cats (which some would say is slightly more crazy).

What’s your biggest pet peeve? People who call me a crazy cat lady.

HAHA. Touché

Favorite quote: “Self-improvement is the name of the game, and your primary objective is to strengthen yourself, not to destroy an opponent.”

Lamest pick up line used on you: Do people still use pickup lines? I guess, “Do you come here often?” is the most uninspired conversation starter I have been subjected to.

Are you a hair done up and make up on gym girl or hat on and sweats? Neither. I definitely do not get “done up” to go to the gym, but I train in clothing that shows off what I am working out. I like to see my progress and make sure I am targeting the right areas and sweats hide too much.

Ever had to hide peanut butter from yourself? Unfortunately, I have had to hide peanut butter from myself since that is one of my favorites. And my fiancée knows if he brings home any junk or sweets it must be hidden when I have a show coming up!

If you’re going to have a cheat day, what are you eating? A Frosted cupcake, or frozen yogurt, or red velvet cake, or anything with Nutella. Pretty much anything sweet, and yes I know I have a problem.

What’s next for you on the competition scene? My next competition is June 17/18, the Jr Nationals in Chicago. I am very excited to get on stage in my first national show and continue my efforts to become an IFBB Pro.

Where can people find more info about you or get in touch with you? You can check out my page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/courtneymprather

Thank you!! Good luck! You can see more of Courtney on Bodybuilding.com and FLEXonline.com. Pick up the next MUSCLE & FITNESS HERS to see her in print!

Hardbody Interview with Canada’s Newest Fitness Star – Jodi Boam

IFBB Fitness Pro Jodi Boam has been a gymnast for half of her life. She placed fifth in her IFBB pro debut and has the potential to be a top contender in every show she enters. She became the youngest IFBB Fitness Pro in Canada at age 23. Jodi was kind enough to share a bit more about herself days out from her first pro show on her homeland of Canada.

Look for her to make some noise this weekend at the Toronto Supershow and don’t be surprised if you see her competing on the Olympia stage this September. She has a fun personality and a killer set of arms. Read about her work out split, cooking dos and don’ts and why she’s a bad driver, even in her own drive way.

Name: Jodi Boam

Born in: Hamilton Ontario Canada – proud Hamiltonian, lol

Currently live in: Burlington, Ontario

Number of years competing in gymnastics: 11 competitive years!

What level did you make it to? I was a national level gymnast by age 15, and qualified to compete at the World Championships, but unfortunately had to pull out the week of, due to injury!

How’s your injury from the gymnastic days doing? My old injuries don’t bother me too often, only because I do know my limits and which exercises to avoid. Currently, My elbows are my main issue, where some days I cannot do my routine or train arms as any pressure causes sharp pains. But no, there’s nothing too crazy to worry or stop me.

How did you get started in competitive fitness:
Once I retired from gymnastics, I started weight training to stay in shape – where my best friend Rachel Davis introduced me to the world of Fitness through Mindi O’Brien. I loved weight training, was a great gymnast, have a very competitive personality and have a need to perform! it just fits me so perfectly, so both Rachel and Mindi both inspired to be where I am today!!

How’s it feel to compete with Mindi on the same stage? it actually feels like a dream!! She was my idol for years, and my coach and mentor since I started competing!! I wouldn’t even be at this level without Mindi O! To be on stage with my coach is seriously a dream – but definitely SOO terrifying lol. It makes me realize I AM in the “big league” and fighting for the top against the best out there!

Contest history:
Had my first fitness victory in 2007, where I instantly got hooked!
2011 IFFB PRO DEBUT – 5th in New York
2010 CBBF Canadian Nationals, 1st place Women’s Fitness Short and Overall Fitness Winner
2009 CBBF Canadian Nationals, 3rd place Women’s Fitness Short and Best Routine Award
2008 OPA Championships (Level 3), 1st place Fitness
2008 CBBF Canadian Nationals, 5th place Women’s Fitness Short
2007 CBBF Nationals World Qualifier, 1st place Women Fitness Short
2007 OPA National Qualifier (Natural Ontario’s) (Level 1), 1st place Fitness
2007 OPA Northern Ontario Championships (Level 2), 1st place Fitness

I understand you’re “Canada’s youngest pro” – How old or young are you? I turned 24 in March, but Earned my pro card August 2010 at Age 23! Unfortunately I am no longer thee youngest, but currently still the youngest in Canada to obtain it. Crystal Heck now holds that title earning her pro card recently at age 24, being just a few weeks younger than me.

What’s the most challenging part of preparing for fitness? Dealing with the bumps and bruises from practicing on the hardwood floor! After having bouncy mats for so many years, I often forget certain skills should not be done on wood, lol. Especially a plain old front roll! I’m sure all fitness ladies agree 😛

Who inspires you in the fitness industry? Mindi O’Brien was my first inspiration, who helped get me where I am today! Over the years, I’ve also gained huge respect and admiration for Oksana Grishina. She’s amazing and beautiful and all aspects and I’m looking forward to meeting her, and watching get a well deserved WIN!

You have some pretty wicked strength. What your workouts consist of? It often changes, but here is a basic Idea I’ve been recently following.
Monday: Chest
Tuesday: Legs
Wednesday: Shoulders/back
Thursday: plyo, cardio, routine
Friday: Biceps/triceps
Saturday: Hamstrings/shoulders
Sunday: off

Do you do cardio on an empty stomach? Yes! I actually really enjoy it (now that I have a treadmill at home…) I do 30-45 minutes fasted cardio, Which I find completely wakes me up, and energizes me for the day! I actually feel lost without it, and not as motivated through the day when I skip my morning cardio! Of course some days off is great too. ( this is mainly for comp. prep only… where off-season I may only do this 2-3 times a week rather than 5-6 times a week)

What type of cardio do you prefer to do? Intervals! Honestly, anything that really kick my butt! I will do sprinting intervals, plyo circuits, or running on the step-mill intervals. I enjoy that complete failure feeling – I know I’m pushing my limits every time!

What types of exercises do you do to help with your flexibility? Active stretching. Warm up with high kicks, or long stride lunges, etc. and also coaching gymnastics I will stretch with the kids or do demonstrations and such.

How many hours a day do you practice your routine or work on your gymnastics?
Well… it should be A LOT more than I do… routine is only once a week with my plyo days. Sometimes I will practice random skills after my nightly cardio, or try a couple skills at gymnastics while I’m coaching… but I actually wish I could do it more often. I am finding everything becoming more difficult over the last while, so training “gymnastics” more often IS a goal for me!

I saw a video where it looks like you and your friend Rachel like to be a couple of dorks in the gym. Are you the queen dork or you still working on that title? Between the 2 of us, I don’t even think Napolian Dynamite could top us. Sometimes even I wonder about our sanity lol. But if we choose the Queen geek between rachel and myself – Ill be proud to take the title – even if she wants it!! haha.

What can the audience expect to see on stage? Still being a rookie Pro, My main goal is to catch the judges and audiences attention, and make my name more well known! I want to be remember for upcoming shows, and for many years to come!

Are you excited about the routines being 2/3 of the total score? I am proud of the physique I bring the stage, but yes, I’m very excited about routine being a highly score!! I normally perform pretty well, and bring a jam packed, energetic routine! I just hope the judges agree as well!

How many meals do you eat a day? 6

Favorite diet meal: ground beef with Yams – mixed with franks red hot sauce and tex mex spice!

What’s on the menu. Let me guess – Chicken and Asparagus? lol, not always. At the moment yes, only because I’m few days away from the show, so its very limited and strict! But I have many different meals throughout the course of my prep, my favorites being ground beef with yams, and my egg white and oatmeal pancake. Oh ya, and my protein shake with avocado and raspberries is amazing too!! MMMMM

What cooking experiment would you tell other women NOT to do? Well.. I did try cooking oatmeal and raspberries together – and then pan fry it to make a “cookie” but of course it didn’t turn out too great, and I think I had to throw that frying pan away!! Oh ya… and tried a tuna and asparagus egg white omelet! the 3 DO NOT mix well! Vomitorium! lol

Any cooking experiment that worked out and you’re proud to share with others? Blended vanilla protein powder with peanut butter… poured over cooked oatmeal! Just use small amounts of water so its thick and pasty! YUM! 🙂

Are you a bad driver or is the banged up car other people’s fault? lol, Oh God haha… I am a TERRIBLE driver! I admit… I’ve been in about 8 accidents, 7 MY FAULT! and 6 being me hitting PARKED CARS!! – and ya, I hit a parked car in a driveway THE DAY I bought it! .. needless to say, I’m on my 3rd car in 5 years! lol… BUT thank god nothing has been through insurance and my payments are still low!! LMAO

For those of us in the USA, what is “Bulk Barn”? They have everything from dog food, to candy, to baking powder! Where you can take as much or as little as you need, and just pay per unit price!! Its actually amazing! Especially for the gummy bears, chocolate almonds, and Reeces Pieces! lol.

Do you get pissed at McDonald’s workers often? lmao – don’t make me look bad!! But this women seriously got my coffee wrong BOTH times I went! I know it was FREE coffee… but still! McDUMMIES!! haha kidding

What will you be eating for your “first supper” – the first thing after your show? A cheeseburger is my go to!! every time – with fries, tons of ketchup, and a hot brownie with ice-cream for dessert! It never fails!!

When you’re not preparing for a show what would you be doing? I’m always training!! I absolutely love weight training! being at the gym is my happy place, and my time for myself. But if I’m not competing, then I will spend more time focusing on building my business and working more hours to safe for the business! I am currently starting online training for athletes and competitors and working a facility with my boyfriend to personally train them as well!

How long have you been coaching and how often do you coach? I started coaching gymnastics when I was 14 years old, and been going strong ever since. I normally coach about 3-4 times a week, having the 7-13 year old competitive program. Must admit, its a sweet job, especially to keep myself practicing and motivated, and remaining a great role model for the kids! Its a win-win job!

Any supplements that you use and would recommend to other women? Isolate protein, Agent M, Sub-Q, Fubar, L-carnatine, glutamend, vitamins, fish oils, pre-workout drinks (many kinds)! This is about everything I take, and fund great results from each!

What’s the key to recovery from the hard workouts and training? Good sleep, proper stretching, stay active afterwards – don’t just laze around to get stiff!!

What songs are you jamming to lately? David Guetta – anything from him!! Rihanna, Bon Jovi, and JUSTIN BIEBER!! haha seriously, I love a large mix of music from rock, heavy metal, and dance! but for working out – I like a strong bass to pump up to!!

Anyone you’d like to thank? My sponsors, FUSION BODYBUILDING, they have been amazing and provide unbelievable products!! Also my sponsors from PUR Nutrion, best friend and inspiration Rachel Davis, and of course my boyfriend -number 1 support system Eric Daye!

Do anything different this time than previous shows? Actually this time around, I am trying a new diet approach from previous shows! I am going to try the carb and fat loading before the show – whereas normally I coast along and don’t change anything – not even water during my last week of prep!! Thought I would try it, and see how it works for me!! Needless to say, I am extremely excited about getting carbs mid-week!! bring it on!

Where can people find more info on you?

Jodiboam.com is in the works, but almost ready to rock!! keep checking and to see when its up and running!! 🙂
also, many videos on Youtube just by typing my name!! GO, do it!! I need more hits!! lol

Thanks Jodi and all the best this weekend!

Hardbody Bikini Pro Barbara Bolotte – WHO DAT?

Barbara Bolotte is a woman who will make you do a double take and has a smile that will light up a room. She took the Bikini stage by storm last year when she earned IFBB Pro status in just her first year of competing. She went on to finish fifth in her pro debut at the Houston Pro. She’s had some time to refine things with the help of IFBB Pro Mary Lado. I caught up with the New Orleans rising star as she heads into her second pro show.


Born In:
I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Currently Reside in:
New Orleans

What did you study at Southeastern Louisiana University?
I studied fine art, with a concentration in painting and drawing.

What did you want to be when you “grew up”?
I wanted to be a famous artist!

And now?
Now…a fitness icon…

Number of years competing:

How did you get into NPC/IFBB Competition?
My best friend was competing in figure in a local show, and encouraged me to compete in bikini. I only dieted for three weeks haha, but I qualified for nationals!

You work with legendary Figure Pro Mary Lado – how did you two meet up and work together?
Jack Manson, a former trainer of the New Orleans Hornets and current Gymmatrix trainer, is an old friend of hers and felt we would be a perfect fit (he was absolutely right!)

What’s Gymmatrix?
Gymmatrix is a 24 hour gym where we also do group personal training. We train in small groups to make personal training affordable, and being around others keeps the clients motivated. www.gymmatrix.net

You finished in 5th at your pro debut. What’s the goal for this LA show?
I have spent every ounce of my energy, time, and dedication into winning this show. I have every intention of getting first.

Did you change anything up with your diet and training?
I changed up a lot of things! I added more cardio interval training, started taking boxing lessons twice a week, and I dieted much longer this time.

How long do you prep for a contest?
The hardcore physical training started four months out, and the diet started three months out.

What advice do you have for other women thinking of competing?
Competing is not for everyone. I don’t think people realize what a dramatic effect is has on your day to day life. If you are tough enough to handle it, it can be the most empowering and fulfilling experience.

Any supplements that you can’t live with out?
CLA and L-carnatine…

What do you do when you’re not working out?
When I’m not in competition mode, I spend most of my time enjoying the amazing city I live in. Count down till’ football season, WHO DAT’!!!!!!!

What’s behind “i take my clothes off when i drink tequila, nuf’ said….”?
I’m a good girl at heart, but tequila just makes me downright scandalous haha.

Favorite TV show?
The Office

Any hidden talents?
I build my own canvases, and do large scale oil paintings.

One of Barbara’s Paintings.


Weirdest thing a guy said as a pick up line?
“You have really nice eyebrows….”

What’s on your music playlist currently?
Britney Spears, Lil Wayne, David Guetta

Chicken or Fish?

Rice or Sweet Potato?
Sweet potato

Who makes your suits?
I ordered my past couple of suits from suits you swimwear, and teenybbikini.

Did you find some clear heels?
Haha actually no. I couldn’t find any in Nola, so I resorted to overnighting them. You definitely pay for waiting until the last minute!

Where can peeps find out more info on you?
My website Barbarabolotte.com is currently under construction, but I have a twitter and facebook page that I stalk pretty frequently!

Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
I would like to give a special thank you to Mary Lado for being such an inspiration, and to my clients and co-workers at Gymmatrix for being a great support system.

All the best and I doubt many people will be left wondering WHO DAT?! before too long.


Hardbody Interview with IFBB Figure Pro Gen Strobo

Gen Strobo is hitting the IFBB Figure stage for the first time this weekend at the Europa Show of Champions in Orlando. I caught up with the Florida Figure momma on the heels of the show. Check out what she’s been up to and what’s behind the Monkey Butt.



Currently live in: Pensacola, FL

Born in: Ft. Myers, FL

Nickname: HMmm… My family calls me Genni; Team Bombshell, Gen; A few names I wont mention call me: Hoo-dee-lee-hoo and Monkey Butt.

Haha well THAT certainly sounds interesting. I’m sure there’s some entertaining story behind those.

Your first time back on stage this year. How do you feel compared to previous shows? I feel much more prepared for this show than I did for Kentucky and Ft. Lauderdale.  For those shows I’d just come off of the Olympia and hadn’t really had enough time in between them.

When was your last show? Last show was Kentucky Muscle in November, 2010

You’re one of the taller competitors and had the challenge of adding muscle/size. How have you been able to do that? That challenge is with me on an everyday basis.  We have spent the past couple of years trying to figure out what will work best for my body type such as making tons of changes to my diet and definitely the way I train.

What type of foods do you eat to help you put on some muscle? I have spent a lot of time over the past year eating lots of red meat, salmon and white potatoes. Keeping my diet higher in fats and in carbs seems to be helping me out.

Did you have change your training up since turning pro? Over the past year we have changed my training to where I train much differently than I’ve ever done.  Most weeks I stay in the low 8-10 rep range and try to challenge myself on the weight.  I don’t do much supersetting anymore.

You have how many children? 2 daughters soon to be 13 and 16.

How do you balance mommy duties and competing? It is definitely a challenge to be a mom in the first place, but then finding time in between Cross country meets, after school programs and the tons of homework they have to train is even harder. Time management and late nights are all part of balancing my life. I try to dedicate a day to them no matter what I have going on and they pick what we do. They are both some of my biggest fans, and I can tell you they look forward to my cheat meal. They love to watch mom pig out!

What advice do you have for other mommas out there who are thinking about competing but not sure? I can tell you that it won’t be easy. However, nothing worth doing right is. But by doing for yourself and taking care of you first, it allows you to better take care of your family. Plus, it does give the children of today a better awareness to being active and maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle.

You have an interesting business. Tell peeps about that and how you go into that. I own G-Force Fitness and Nutrition.  We specialize in pre-packaged healthy meals and meal plans and also some great tasting Meal Replacement Bars!!!!

Where can people get these healthy meals you speak of? Well it’s only local. GForcenutrition2Go.com.

Who came up with the food on your menu? I came up with all the recipes. Nutrition is my passion and I have my nutrition specialist certification.  Currently I am the owner and chef and I love it. Lots of work but I enjoy every minute of it.

So will you be bringing the press pit samples to try out in Orlando? Ha no samples there.. I wish, maybe in a few months we’ll start to ship the bars and meals.

I guess we’ll be stuck starving. Thanks. Just kidding.

How important is it to have supportive people around you when competing and in life in general? If you surround yourself with positive people you become a more positive person all together. In this sport it is a MUST to have people around you that support you 100%.  Push you through those workouts, encourage you to stay on your diet, etc. Knowing you have someone in your corner, makes stepping into the “ring” that much easier.

If someone is struggling with negative people/influences in their life, what advice would you share in making a change? Change is never easy for anyone.  But if there is someone around you that is bringing you down with regards to the sport or hindering your personal growth then you need to step back and rethink their place in your world.  Those who truly want the best for you will support you in all you do.

How has your prep been different for this show or has it been different? Much different.  First, everyone knows I have a metabolism faster than a speeding bullet. I have had to learn even more that I have to listen to my body and feed it when needed.  When I feel hungry even if it’s not time for my next meal, I EAT. I used to think that I wasn’t working as hard as some girls I know because they were being restricted with food and having to do large amounts of cardio.  But we all have our problems and our way of getting ourself to the stage.  Mine just involves me making sure I eat every calorie I need and keeping my cardio to a minimum.  Doing this and lifting like a bodybuilder is helping me get my physique to a much fuller place that I’ve needed to be.

Any supplements that are on your “must have” list? I love the new ON Amino Energy (grape flavor baby).  It gives me that kick I need to get my day going and since I go to the gym immediately after dropping my kids off at school it gives me that kick in the “monkey butt” I need to lift heavy and push myself.

What the key to getting rid of monkey butt? Hmmm… well I’m not sure if there’s a sure fire cure for this awful disease.  But some painful scrubbing and a little baby oil seems to dull the effects. (I’m never gonna live this down am I?)

No. I guess we should mention that “Monkey Butt” arrived at the NPC Jr. USAs and can best be described as what is left behind from bikini bite/suit glue after a show. It’s not one of the more glamorous sides of competing.

What’s a talent people may not know you possess? Well, I think I’ve said before that I was a nationally ranked fencer for many years in my teens.  But, challenge me to a burping contest and I’m sure to beat ya!

WHAT? Fencing. I had no idea, cool! I’ll take your word for it on the belching. ha. Aight, rapid fire – first thing that comes to mind. BOOM. Say it.

Gallon Jug – Don’t leave home without it

Fanny Pack – Sexy, not!

Headbands – Olivia Newton John

Lady Gaga – Meat dress

Smelly dudes – Ewwww

Hairy backs – Get a Man-groomer

Number of gym shoes own – 5

Number of times I visit the gym a day – 1 to workout and then numerous times to all the gyms in town for my business.

Thanks Gen and all the best this weekend! Gennifer Strobo is also a Team Bombshell Instructor and you can find out more at bombshellfitness.com.

Registered Nurse Stacy Wright Debuts in the IFBB Pro League

Stacy Wright will return to the stage where she graduated from the amateur ranks and into the IFBB Pro League. The registered nurse from West Virginia will make her pro debut at the NY Pro Fitness on Saturday, April 9th. Despite putting in long hours at the hospital, Stacy gets in all her meals and workouts. I caught up with Stacy days out from her debut, check it out.


Stacy Dawn Wright

Born in: Charleston, West Virginia

Currently live in: Charleston, WV

Occupation: Registered Nurse & Personal Trainer

What’s the key, for you, to getting all your meals in while working and prepping for a show? My husband is AMAZING! On the days I work at the hospital, I work 12 hour shifts. Andrew prepares all my meals the night before so I can get my sleep, so all I have to do in the mornings is throw them in my cooler! My Six-Pack bag to be exact! haha! At the hospital things are nonstop. When I first started as a nurse, I had a problem taking time away from my patients to get my meals in but I’ve slowly but surely learned my meals don’t take that long to eat, and if I want to take the best care possible of my patients, I have to make sure I am fueled and healthy as well.

How important is it to have a supportive spouse when competing? My husband is my ROCK! Anyone who knows me, knows this! He is the one who gave me the belief and beginners knowledge that a little girl from WV COULD step on stage! He competes in bodybuilding and has the same passion I do for the sport. We live the lifestyle TOGETHER! I couldn’t be more fortunate for God to have sent me such a soul mate and best friend!

How long have you been competing? This year starts my 7th competitive year. I did my first show in the fall of 2004 and have grown and progressed SO much since then!

Did you play any sports growing up? I was in cheerleading and gymnastics since the 3rd grade. I also played softball that year and was on the jump rope team for 3 years in elementary school. I liked to try a little bit of everything! =)

What’s your family think of you competing in Fitness? They love it! At first, my parents thought of it like gymnastics, that after 17 or 18 your career was over.  They’ve since watched me grow and are still a part of my cheering section! They even drove out to the gym last night with their video camera to take “home movies” of their little girl doing her routine!

What’s a sample workout split look like for you? Again, it comes back to my work schedule at the hospital. I work three 12 hour shifts a week, so I do not train those days. My goal is just work, eat and sleep those days. On my 4 days off I split my workouts. I break it up and do legs, chest and biceps, back, & shoulders and triceps…then repeat. I hit abs as often as possible this year because it seems to be the hardest place to get lines to show up on stage! Let’s hope the change worked =)

How often do you practice your routine? I only run through my routine full out about 2 days/wk. However, I do run through little drills and sections more often. The closer to the show, the more I work on it to make sure it’s solid and I build up my endurance.

What’s your first and last meal of the day consist of? My first meal is eggs and white rice. My last meal is a protein shake with egg whites and yummy peanut butter!

Any supplements you take and would recommend to other women? Other than the obvious protein powders, BCAAs and glutamine have saved me in holding onto my muscle while working as a nurse. I go non-stop on my feet walking around for 12-14 hours on any given work day so trying to get my water in is tough. I go ahead and mix in the amino acids and glutamine (I get both in grape powdered flavor) and it’s a lifesaver!

Who inspires you in the fitness industry? I am going to take the cheesy answer here and say every competitor! It’s the truth though. Every competitor I meet has such an amazing story of what they’ve overcome to get on stage. Some girls I look up to them for their physique, others routine, others how they balance everything in life, and others are simply amazing women with wonderful & caring personalities!

What’s been the highlight of competing so far? By far, the best day of my career was winning 1st place in the tall class at Team Universe winning my pro card. I had to turn right around and come back on stage for the overall. I’ll never forget the feeling and giggle I let out when they moved me to the middle! I won the overall too!! WOOHOO! Best day on stage to date!

What do you enjoy most about competing? I love everything about it. I love making changes to my physique from year to year, working my way up the competitive ranks, learning new routine tricks, and yes, even the smell of the tan! haha

Are you excited, nervous or both for your pro debut? Of course I’m nervous. Who isn’t!? But I think the excitement is much stronger! I’ve done everything in my power to do my homework, improve, and I feel ready! Being my pro debut, I try not to put the pressure on myself as I really have nothing to lose! Just need to go out there and have a blast!! Soak it up!

What are you goals for this show? On paper, the goal is of course to place well. I’m also a realist though so I know getting top 3 at my first show is reaching pretty high (but of course, why not reach for the top!) My main goal, is the same as every other show. I want to step on stage, rock my routine, and leave people saying “WOW!! Watch out for her!”

Who do you work with on your choreography? I actually do my own choreography, as well with work with other girls on their routines. So check out my website for more info (www.stacywright.net)

Anything new planned for the pro debut routine? I do! New routine. LOTS of fun. I told myself when putting this routine together it’s something everyone should love and I didn’t want a single beat to go by without having a move to it. So action packed it is!

Goals for your competitive career? I plan to be around for quite some time! I’m only 27 and feel like I’ve been at this for some time, but now as a pro- the games have just begun. I love this sport and all it has to offer. I only want to continue to get more involved in the industry and hopefully work my way to the top!

What’s the best piece advice anyone has given you? HAVE FUN! Everything about the prep and competing can be so stressful, you have to CHOOSE to enjoy it! You can make anything fun or miserable. So why not enjoy the process, make the most of your experiences, learn and grow from them and take things one day at a time!

What do you have planned for your “first supper” after the show? I’m a Chili’s girl! It’s a tradition so we will definitely be hitting up some chips and salsa after the show!

Anyone you’d like to thank? I’d like to thank God for the gifts and opportunities, my amazing husband, Andrew, my parents and friends and family for all their ongoing support!

Also a quick shout out to those who have joined my team of sponsors- ABSolute Fitness, FitGems Nation,  & Tim Bertelsen for his music at DJMyRoutine.

Where can people find out more about you? Check out my website at www.StacyWright.net

For More info on the show:
Tribecca Performing Arts Center
199 Chambers Street
New York, NY

Phone: (516)933-1111
Email: steve@bevfrancis.com or bev@bevfrancis.com



Special Agent Blank Makes IFBB Pro Debut

One of the cool things about the fitness industry is learning about the diverse group that makes up the community. IFBB Fitness Pro Michelle Blank isn’t your average competitor. After the devastation of 911, the Jersey girl decided to do more with her accounting degree and became a Special Agent for the Internal Revenue Services (IRS). This weekend she will compete in just her third fitness show. She won her first show, turned pro at her second competition (2010 NPC JR Nationals) and will make her pro debut at the NY PRO Fitness. I caught up with Michelle days out from her debut.



Originally From: Ocean City, NJ

Still live in GA? Yes on lovely Saint Simons Island!

You have an interesting  job. Tell people what that is. I’m a Special Agent for IRS – Criminal Investigation. Currently I’m assigned to our National Criminal Investigation Training Academy as an Use of Force Instructor & the National Physical Fitness Coordinator for our agency.

I am actually teaching an advance training class to our field Defensive Tactics Instructors this week. So it’s very hectic at work during my final prep week, but my fellow instructors are very supportive of my prep.

Do you have gun? I can’t tell you where I put my gun, but it is secured and I am a good shot!

Noted. HA!

How did you get into that as a career? I learned about the IRS-CI Special Agent position my junior year at  college when a Special Agent gave a presentation to my Accounting & Finance Society. I was unaware the IRS had criminal investigators and was intrigued by the position but at that point never considered a job in law enforcement. My senior year of college began on September 11, 2001. I remember every detail of that morning. As I was getting ready to leave for school, the first plane hit the World Trade Center. At first the news was uncertain what had occurred. As I sat there watching Charlie Gibson on Good Morning America, I saw the second plane hit. I was in complete shock. I had to leave  for class so I continued listening to news reports on my car radio. As I was driving, the third plane hit the Pentagon. Interestingly one of my first classes was Violence in America. As a result of the horrendous attacks, our professor changed our first assignment to a paper regarding the events occurring that day. It was a difficult paper to write as so many things were uncertain and the number of  fatalities continued to change. It was a life-changing day for many reasons. The following month, the same Special Agent from the previous year, spoke again at our Accounting & Finance Society. At the end of her presentation, I asked her what I needed to do to apply. After the September 11, I decided I wanted to do more with my accounting degree than working in an office doing tax returns or putting together financial reports. I wanted to make a difference in some way. I felt that the position of an IRS Special Agent would give me an opportunity to serve my country and use my accounting skills. I applied for the job in October 2001 and finally became a Special Agent in 2004. In November 2009, I was assigned to our training academy to train our new agents as well instruct current agents in advancing training for defensive tactics and became our  agency’s National Physical Fitness Coordinator.

Are your co-workers supportive of your fitness endeavors? Work is very supportive. My passion for fitness is what led me to being assigned to our training academy. When the agency was fulfilling the position, they were looking for someone that not only had the ability to instruct defensive tactics but was supportive and enthusiastic about our fitness program. The agency felt I would be an excellent role model not only for our new students especially the female students, but also for our incumbent agents required to maintain fitness standards. They were very excited to hear about my win at Jr. Nationals and wrote about it in our CiBulletin that goes out to our agents on a weekly basis.

Any tips for those who work a full time job and struggling to eat healthy? Prep, prep, prep. I try to prep everything before I go to bed for the next day including my breakfast. I try to limit cooking to only twice a week and then it’s just a matter of putting the meals together each night. I have great support at work. My coworkers are supportive of my goal and have become use to my constant eating. I also have found which restaurants near work have items I can eat on my diet. This way I can on occasion go out to lunch. I just usually suggest where to go. We often have agents from around the country visiting the training center for various trainings or meetings. Usually the only time you may have time to catch up with them is during lunch.

What’s your athletic background – dance, gymnastics, sheep herding? I started dance with I was 4 years old. I mainly did jazz and  acrobatics. I was almost 11 by the time I started gymnastics. From 11 to 17 my life was gymnastics and I was hoping to go compete in college. When I was 16 I made it to level 9, but then I got a stress fracture in my lower back. I tried to compete the following year, but was still in a lot of pain. I decided to retire from gymnastics at that time. However, 9 years later, I found myself  back in gymnastics. I had started attending open workouts near a gymnastics gym near my house in Pennsylvania. The adult class was going to compete in the State Games for Pennsylvania and asked me to join them. I thought they were crazy since I had only been tumbling and had not touched the other events. In the end they convinced me and we had a great time. After that competition, we developed an adult gymnastics team and started competing in more competitions. The first year for our team, I competed at Regionals in the 15 and up age group and took second.

You are a woman who puts on muscle easily (or so I’m told). How do you train to prevent from getting “too big”? I only do strength training 3 days a week and do 3-4 sets of lighter weight with higher volume. I also take a month here and there off of lifting completely and only work strength moves for my fitness routine.For the month of December, my workouts consisted of light cardio and yoga. I did yoga everyday for a month.

What would bean example of your workout split?
My workouts are usually split as follows:

The other days I work my routine.

What’s your diet look like?
My diet usually consists of 5 meals and a post workout protein shake My diet has gone through 3 stages since January. Consisting of egg whites, tuna, chicken, tilapia, and flank steak. In the beginning it was a mix of all of those.

Then we took out the flank steak and added more Tilapia. I was getting too lean so we added more sweet potatoes and eventually removed all Tilapia and replaced with Flank steak for 2 meals.

Many people might not know but you’ve only done two shows and you’ve won both. Do you think that will help or hurt you going into this show? I’m not sure. I could find reasons for both. Such as nobody really knows who I am since I haven’t been on the scene that long. On the other hand, I think it shows my dedication to the sport and determination. When I set my mind on a goal, I don’t let anything stop me from reaching that goal. I have hit some roadblocks along the way, but adjusted and continued moving forward. One reason I didn’t jump right into a pro competition after I won JR Nationals in June was I wanted to take the time to make improvements the judges suggested and to become more familiar with the sport. Over the past 9 months, I attended several competitions to support my fellow fitness competitors and went to the Olympia and Arnold. I had the opportunity to meet so many great people and have gained many quality friendships. My extended support group has helped me so much in my preparation for my debut.

Did you change anything up with your diet or training this time around? Yes. This time I’m still lifting going into the competition. The last 2 times, the only strength training I did was my routine for the few months leading to the competitions. I’m coming in with more muscle size which has changed my diet as well. My metabolism is much faster this go around and has resulted in my coach keeping a close eye on my leanness and adjusting my diet accordingly.

You train with IFBB Fitness Pro Tracey Greenwood. How did you start working with her? My gymnastics coach Tina Cole asked me if I had ever considered doing bodybuilding and I said at one time I was interested in Fitness. My coach told me about Tracey and gave me her contact  information. I met Tracey and began working with her in January 2009. I was due to compete in June 2009, but broke my foot which pushed back my first competition to October 2009. I would have been lost without Tracey. I was oblivious to all the preparation that goes into Fitness competitions. Tracey helped me select my music, told me who to contact regarding my costume and swimsuits, provided me with all my diets, helped me with my posing, and not to mention all the things you need to prep for the day of competition. For me the routine was the easy part – everything else, clueless. Tracey,  Tina and I put together my routine in 2 hours. I love working with  Tracey. It was so comforting to have Tracey there at Jr Nationals. When she told me I did great, I knew I had done well. She’s up front and doesn’t sugar coat how she thinks you look or do. When she gives me compliments I know she means it and she’s not just trying to boost my confidence.

How long have you been dieting for the show? 12 weeks

Do you feel confident or scared sh*tless? Both! In the end, it’s all on me which keeps me confident. I am my biggest critic. I’m always striving for perfection, knowing there is always room for improvement.

What separates you from others in the fitness division? That’s hard to say. There are so many dedicated woman in the fitness division. I love to compete not only for myself but the opportunity to inspire others. My goal is not to just inspire others to be more physically fit, but to be a more fit person (mind, body and spirit) by living a more positive life with purpose and self accountability. Only you can make the most of your life and only you can stop yourself from reaching goals. Things do not always go as we plan, adjustments will have to take place, but with the right attitude and focus success will come. It’s not an easy road, but how boring life would be without challenges.

What’s on your “first supper” list to eat at after the show? Since we’ll be in NY, a piece of authentic NY Cheesecake.

Any hidden talents people might not know about? I’m a great navigator; I never get lost.

Always helpful when out hunting rabbits.

Any bad habits or random things… IE you sleep with a gun? I love sweets! My cheat meals usually involve ice cream, most likely a warm brownie sundae. Even throughout my JR Nationals diet, I had one Hershey miniature Special Dark Chococate with almond almost every night. I love most professional sports, but mainly the Philadelphia Flyers, Eagles, and Phillies. If I’m watching TV it’s mostly sports related and even though I’m in Georgia now, every morning I listen to the Sports Radio show from Philly, 610 WIP. BTW you can have Michael Vick back!

What’s been the cheesiest line a dude has used? Just last week I had a few. One guy just kept saying “damn” as I walked by. Another guy started with “do you have a husband” followed by “where do you work out, that’s where I’m going”.

I haven’t heard that last one before. Sounds like he was being flattering. No? ok.

What’s the best advice you’ve received in life? Any words of wisdom you try to live by? My mom-mom gave me a plaque years ago that said “I believe in you because you believe in me” It has stuck with me over the years to not only believe in myself, but to believe in others as well. Though we control a great deal of what happens in our lives we are affected by those around us. It’s how we let those people affect our lives that molds who we are and how we live.

Where can people find out more info about you? My website ApprimeFit.Com. Apprime is latin for “above all” so my credo is “Fitness Above All” referring to not just your physical fitness but your mind, body and spirit.

Thanks Michelle all the best in your debut! See more of  Michelle’s competition photos on Bodybuilding.com.

For More info on the show:
Tribecca Performing Arts Center
199 Chambers Street
New York, NY

Phone: (516)933-1111
Email: steve@bevfrancis.com or bev@bevfrancis.com


Meet NPC Bikini Competitor – Yarelis “The Cuban Cutie” Gonzalez

NPC Bikini competitor Yarelis Gonzalez has competed in two shows and won not only her class but the coverall in both. She’ll be competing this weekend at the NPC Steve Stone Metropolitan Bikini Championships held in conjunction with the New York Pro Fitness. I caught up with the Cuban Cutie to find out more about her. She shares whether or not she’s dated a dude with a mullet, her thoughts on fanny packs and more.

Name: Yarelis Gonzalez but you can call me Ellis 🙂

Ellis.. is that was all the cool people call you? YES, only cool peeps!

Age: 23

Born in: Havana Cuba

Currently Reside in: Wilmington DE

Languages Fluent in: Spanish and a little Italian

Pets: Black Lab

What’s your his name? His name is Heppo. My baby sister made it up 🙂

Contest History:
2010 DE States bikini overall champion
2010 Hurricane Bay Tampa FL bikini overall champion

How did you get started in competing? I wanted to take it to the next level, no more go to the gym once a week lift a 7lb dumbell look around and go home, so I decided to do a show. A well put together and followed competition prep will take you there.

Are you saying no more pink dumbbells for you? 🙂 Heavy pink dumbbells for me.

How did you start working with Tracey Greenwood as your trainer? I met this girl who was training for a show and let’s just say she looked very healthy, (killer body, tight everything) I asked her how did you get all this? That’s how I got to Trixie.

What’s been the best part of working with a trainer? Tracey is just fantastic, she knows my body better than I do and has been dead on about every single detail. Her level of expertise is up there. I’ve never felt or looked better before.

What does your family think about your eating and competing? They love it, my mother gives me a lot of credit for the dieting portion of it. I grew up on rice and beans on the table every day, so adjusting has been a challenge.

Ever had a freak out before a show? Oh no.. never, way too cool! haha Yes Trixie can tell you.

HA! You’re right on track then.

What’s your workout routine split look like?
I welcome Mondays with a killer, butt kicking, fast-passed leg work out
Tuesdays is back/biceps
Thursdays chest, shoulders triceps.

How much cardio do you do every day? About 1 hour. I try to split it in two sessions most of the time.

What do you do for your cardio? I really like the stair stepper, I try not to run too much, it puts a lot of pressure on my knees. I keep my body guessing what I’m going to do next, it’s the best way to burn fat or at least it is what works the best for me.

Do you work out on an empty stomach? Just my cardio.

Favorite meal of the day? Breakfast…egg whites oats and blueberries. yuummm!!

What will you be eating for your “first supper”? The food I’ve been craving… chocolate pound cake! 😀

Where do you get your suits? Suits You Swimwear

What is the most fun about competing? Back stage, when I’m all dolled up. I glance at the mirror and see what I’ve been able to achieve!! It makes me happy.

Favorite Supplements? I like my Glutamine it is very hard for me to put on muscle specially with the dieting so it has definitely helped.

What advice would you give other women who are thinking about competing? If it is something you think about and wish you could do, do it! why not nothing bad can come out of it, only good things.

How many pairs of workout shoes do you own? Wait…….yes 4.

Ever worn a fanny pack? haha no, they are awful!

Ever dated a dude with a mullet? It’s in my bucket list.

Play any sports growing up? I cheered for 2 years in Cuba, and ran… because there are no cars lol jk

Are you more of a girlie girl or a tomboy? I’m such a girl, but there are days when I just don’t care.

Are you sweats or tight booty shorts kinda gym girl? sweats

Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks? Yarelis would like to run on Dunkins please!

Good call on Dunkin Donuts coffee. What do you order? Caramel hot chocolate or Iced Latte.

I saw that a pigeon left you a little present on your car window. Do you laugh or get pissed? Honestly it was already a crappy day, so i just laughed 🙂

Ever had to hide a jar of peanut butter from yourself? Yes, I need to find someone to do it for me though. lol

Favorite Cartoon character? Sponge bob

Favorite song to listen to in the gym? “Fighter” Christina Aguilera

What’s the key to a good Fist Pump? Good music and sweat.

Anyone you want to thank? My coach, trainer and friend Tracey Greenwood, my family for always being there for me and HardBody.com!

Thanks for your time and all the best this weekend!

For More info on the show:
Tribecca Performing Arts Center
199 Chambers Street
New York, NY

Phone: (516)933-1111
Email: steve@bevfrancis.com or bev@bevfrancis.com



Get to Know IFBB Pro Fitness Competitor Sylvia Tremblay

IFBB Fitness Pro Slyvia Tremblay is proof that age is just a number and that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. The multi-talented Canadian competitor will be competing this weekend at the New York Pro Fitness with her sights set on an Olympia qualifications. I caught up with Slyvia days out from the competition and she was kind enough to share more about herself.


Born in: Montreal, Quebec

Currently Reside in: Laprairie (South Shore of Montreal)

Heritage/Family Descent: Tremblay is originally from Europe, France.

Fluently speak what languages: My first language is French but I am also fluent in English.

Current Occupation: Well are you ready? I would say being a Fitness competitor! But since I am not making any money out of the competitions, I have to work a lot. Luckily, my work is related to my sport: I’m a suit and costume designer for fitness, figure and bikini competitors. I am a Model, Fitness Choreographer, posing coach and personal Coach at Club Mansfield in Brossard. And, to top it all off, I am a writer for Quebec magazine.

That’s all? LOL

Worst Job you’ve ever had: My first job! Working for a fast food restaurant when I was 16 years old!

How did you get your start in working out and hitting the gym? I’ve always been active when I was young; doing sports in school and doing ballet. After school I stopped my activities… and became 25 pounds over weight at 24 years old. That’s when I decided it was time for me to get back in shape and enter a gym.

Number of years competing? I’ve been competing for 14 years. I’ve competed in fitness but also Figure and Model.

You’ve competed in other organizations before the IFBB. What made you strive for an IFBB Pro card and compete in the IFBB Pro League? I realized it was time for me to get to the “real thing” and that it was really important for me to become a IFBB pro. I was ready for it! I had done all I could with the other organizations, winning many titles, it was a great experience and I had a lot of fun. I surely don’t regret it. I’m just happy and proud to be a IFBB pro now.

What’s been the highlight of your competitive career thus far? I have so many great moments and achievements in my career so it’s hard to say but one is for sure the day I won my IFBB pro status at the Canadian national in 2009! The other was to qualify for IFBB Worlds and place top 6 at the World’s Championship in Italy. Winning the Arnold Amateur also and since becoming a pro, it is to have been invited already twice to the Arnold International!

What is the key to staying healthy and being able to compete at the level you do? Stay focused and follow the plan, as my fiancé always tells me!!! I am working a lot so I have to schedule every single detail. Preparing my food in advance and plan my training sessions is very important.

Some people may not know but you’re over 40 and a HUGE inspiration to other women. What would you say to women who think they are “too old” to get fit or compete? Hahahaha! Yes I’m over 40, almost 45 and I’m at my best shape ever! First of all don’t let anyone tell you that you are too old, and don’t even think it yourself! It’s never too late to be in shape and perform. Always remember that our body is build to work, and work hard. Your mind set the bar, if you think you can’t do something you won’t be able to do it. Why? Because you programmed your brain to think it’s not possible. To achieve your goals, you have to push your own limits over and over and you will improve. When you get to this goal then push the bar a little further and then you will rise to a superior level. All this is possible if you believe in yourself, no one can do it for you.

Slyvia performing her routine at the 2011 Fitness International.

What would be a sample workout week? In preparation for a show, depending on how far I am from the show and how much weight I have to loose the plan is changing. As a fitness competitor I have to make a periodization so I can have the physique and the power to do my routine.

16 weeks out
4 to 5 times weight lifting
No cardio
2 practice of my routine
Stretching every day

14 weeks out
4 times weight lifting.
2 session of 30 minutes cardio in the morning.
3 practice of my routine

12 to 8 weeks out
4 times weight lifting plus plyo.
3 session of 30 minutes cardio in the morning
3 practice of my routine
Stretching every day.

7 to 5 weeks
3 times weight lifting, circuit training type.
4 session of 40 minutes cardio in the morning
4 practice of my routine
Stretching every day.

4 to 2 weeks
2 times weight lifting, circuit training type.
5 session of 50 minutes cardio in the morning
4 practice of my routine
Stretching every day.

In the last week I just do my routine twice in the week and cardio if needed.

What’s your favorite part of competing? I love everything about the competition but I have to say that it is the routine I love most. I love to perform and I love to work on new moves. The routine makes me push myself to my limit. Also what I really enjoy is to met my friends!

How often do you practice your routine? The most would be 4 times in a week.

Do you do your own choreography? Yes, I build my own routine but when it’s time to clean up and make sure everything is perfect I like to work with a choreographer. For example with my Flamenco routine, I went to see a professional Flamenco dancer because I wanted to make sure I was doing justice to the style of the dance. For this new routine, the “Beethoven” I just finished working with a guy who was amazing; he helped me a lot to create a very dramatic character and he had me change a lot of little details that will make a big difference. Those who have seen my routine at the Arnold will notice the changes.

Slyvia making moves look easy.

How did you get into making competition suits? First people have to know that my mom was doing all my clothes and she transmitted her passion of sewing to me. I started to sew when I was 10 years old and back in my early 20s, like many women I had a hard time to find swimsuits that was fitting. I decided to go and study swimsuit design and started to make on measurement suits for my friends and family. I soon got a large clientele of women that wanted to have a custom made suit. At that time I was far of thinking that I was going to make competition suits. When I started competing I was sure making my costumes and suit. Girls started to ask me to make theirs so, in 2003 I started to make suit for living.

What’s the biggest challenge of living in Canada and competing mostly in the US? I would say the flights. I have to be careful with that because it causes me water retention and so I have to fly days in advance so I can get rid of the water before a show. Another major thing is to find sponsors.

What’s your family and friends think of you competing? They find it cool and they are very proud of me. But I have to say that at first, it was not so easy. People around me did not understand the diet and the training regimen. I have to say that I have lost a few friends because they couldn’t understand. Now they are back to me saying that they are proud of me for having been determined and strong enough to follow my dreams.

What goals do you have yet to achieve? One that is very important to my for my fitness competitor career is to qualify for the Olympia and I wish it will happen this year. I’m not so young anymore…lol ! Business wise is to become a reference in fitness in my country and help the sports grow in Canada. And! Have my own commercial swimsuit line.

What supplements do you use and would recommend to other women?
I use:
– Isolate protein as post work out with glutamine.
– BCAA during my training
– Muti Vitamins
– Omega 3 ( fish oil)
– Vitamin D3
– Vitamin E
– Vitamine C
– Magesium

When you train hard, especially for competition and because of the strict diet. See a nutrition specialist first and get a blood test.

What hidden talent do you have that someone might not know about? Good question!!! I would say that I’m good at motivating people!

What’s your top song to listen to in the gym? Right now it is Born this way by Lady Gaga.

Goal for the NY PRO Fitness event this weekend: Make top 3 and qualify for the Olympia.

Favorite quote: No pain no gain!

What’s the best advice anyone has given you? Take small goals and achieve them one at a time. Also from my father: Never say you can’t do it, before you tried it.

Where can people find more information about you?

Thanks Sylvia all the best this weekend. Check out more photos of Slyvia on Bodybuilding.com.

For More info on the show:
Tribecca Performing Arts Center
199 Chambers Street
New York, NY

Phone: (516)933-1111
Email: steve@bevfrancis.com or bev@bevfrancis.com


Former Kick Boxer Carrie Ann Simmons Headed for Pro Fitness Debut

Currently residing in California, former kick boxer Carrie Ann Simmons is headed to New York for her IFBB Pro Fitness debut. This weekend at the Tribecca Performing Arts Center, Carrie will join 16 other women looking to snag one of three Olympia qualifications. I caught up with the always entertaining performer days out from her first pro show.



Carrie Ann Simmons

Born in:
Quantico, VA

Currently Reside in:
Marina Del Rey, CA

What did you want to be when you “grew up”?
I was torn between being a medical examiner and graphic designer (when I was a kid, we were called “commercial artists”). My 2 favorite shows were Quincy and Bosom Buddies (they worked for an agency).

Too funny on the “commercial arts”. I went to school for that as well. Guess that dates us a bit. lol

When did your interest in art begin?
Pretty young. My father was a great artist. I got it from him.

What musical instruments can you play?
Violin and saxophone. I went to Philadelphia’s Creative and Performing Arts High School. I double majored in Instrumental music and Visual art.

Can you still play all of them?
I haven’t played since after graduating college.

How did you get your start in working out?
My boyfriend in College was a National Level bodybuilder. He got me started.

Your website says “aerial performer”. What that is and how long you’ve been doing it?
I’ve been doing aerial/circus arts since 2003. I got started with a woman who gave lessons in Philadelphia out of her house (she knocked out an entire floor for height), she eventually started the Philadelphia School or Circus Arts. I loved the physical aspect of it and it was a great addition to my workout routine. I actually started getting good and sought out further training up in Vermont’s big circus school (run by former Cirque Du Solie performers) and eventually started performing. When I moved to LA, I started training at Kinect Theory Circus Arts in Culver City and now coach there.

That’s awesome!

What other talents do you have that people may not know about? Seems like you have quite the list of things you’re capable of.
I’m a great cook. My mother was a chef, I learned from her. I am also a former full contact Kick boxer. That’s what I was doing before all this. I started the weight training to try to add some size and strength for fighting.

You’ve competed in a number of shows over the last 10 years. Placing in the top and placing lower than you would have liked (I assume). What’s the key to sticking with it?
First off I love working out. I’ll be doing that LONG after I decide not to compete. I love being on stage and performing.

What’s your favorite part of competing in fitness?
It’s funny, because its my weakest point, but I love the routine. I love the costumes and themes and I always try to come up with super original look.

You’ve also competed in bodybuilding, right?
Yup. I was a middleweight. I won the NY Metropolitan and place top 5 a few National shows.

Which discipline is the hardest to train for, from your experience?
Every bodybuilder is gonna hate me… FITNESS! We have to diet, do cardio etc AND perform. I have MUCH respect for BBers, but no one in this sport works as hard as Fitness chicks!

Carrie performing her pro winning routine in 2010.

What’s the biggest challenge of competing?
The routine is ALWAYS a challenge. But mostly its finding the time for everything. I have a demanding job – which comes first. I LOVE fitness, but it doesn’t pay my bills.

Did you change anything up for your pro debut?
I tried to refine my physique a little more. Its an ever evolving process.

How often do you practice your routine?
Each week is different depending on my schedule and the availability of aerobics rooms and dance studios. There have been weeks when I had to push all the furniture in my loft down to one end and do it there. (My neighbors LOVE ME… NOT!)

Do you work with anyone on your choreography?
Yup a girl here in LA, Shondra Leigh. She’s a choreographer and dancer (who just got casted in the new Cirque Du Solie Michael Jackson show)

What supplements would you recommend to other women?
I know what I like and this is my honest opinion, since I am NOT SPONSORED by anyone.
– good multivitamin
– protein (currently using Gaspari’s Myofusion and Nutrex’s ProGram. Love the taste of them both)
– glutamin (Vitaminshoppe)
BCAAs (Animal)
– fat burners, I’m old school ECA (I use bronkaid)
– NO product (NoxiPro by CDT Labs)

How much cardio do you do a day?
Right now 60 minutes off season 30-45 depending 4-5 days a week.

Favorite bodypart to train?
Tie between legs and back. I leg press more than most dudes and I dead lift 315 for reps. I eventually want to do a powerlifting meet.

Goal for your debut?
I’d like top 5 in physique, but I ain’t holding my breath! I guess I’ll settle for not tripping during my routine 😀

What do you bring to the stage that separates you from the others in fitness?
In physique, I think I stand out because I carry a little more muscle, but that’s what looks good on me. Routine, I think it’s my showmanship and stage presence.

What’s been the highlight of your competitive career thus far?
Getting my pro card of course!

Lamest thing a guy could say to a woman in the gym?
Dear God, there are soooooo many. I think the lamest is when they insist on offering advice even when its apparent you know more than they do. They do it because you’re a chick. Guys never go up my boyfriend and offer training tips!

Fanny pack – cool or not so much?
Not so much

Sandals – socks or no socks?

Coffee or Green Tea?
Coffee. Cut me and I bleed it.

When you’re not preparing for a show what do you enjoy doing?
Same things I enjoy while prepping (except while eating cleaner food!) Trips to Vegas with my BF, Michael. We love it there. Good shopping, food, night life and entertainment. Going to the movies. Training and working out.

Where can people find more info on you?
I have a web site www.carrie-simmons.com I need to update it though. Its funny, because its mine, it gets shoved to the bottom of the pile for work!

Thanks Carrie. Best wishes this weekend.

Check out more photos from Carrie’s routine at the 2010 Team Universe/Fitness Nationals where she turned pro.

For More info on the show:
Tribecca Performing Arts Center
199 Chambers Street
New York, NY

Phone: (516)933-1111
Email: steve@bevfrancis.com or bev@bevfrancis.com

Oksana Grishina & Other Darkhorses to Watch At The Arnold

Oksana Grishina has quietly moved her way up the ranks of the IFBB Fitness world. Now that the routines are 2/3 of the overall score she’s a dark horse to shake things up at the Fitness International. She has incredible strength combined with a solid gymnastic background to do very well this weekend.

Check out the full feature on Bodybuilding.com and see a few other names who could shake things up this weekend.

Shelsea Montes Interview

Bodybuilding.com sat down with this pint-sized bikini competitor and Team Bodybuilding.com member as she prepares for the Arnold weekend. She might be small, but she brings the bikini swagger in a big way.

Check out my interview with Shelsea on the heels of the Bikini International.

Hardbody Interview: Who is Jessica Clay?

IFBB Pro Jessica Clay will be competing at the Arnold for the second time in her career. The first time she stepped on the Arnold stage was as a Fitness competitor but this time around she will compete as a bikini competitor. Jessica refined her physique and found her groove at the end of the 2010 season and she’s looking to pick up where she left off. Many people aren’t familiar with who Jessica Clay is so I caught up with the Columbus cutie to find out more. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this hardbody has more going on than just her looks.

Jessica Clay

Born in:
Delaware, Ohio

Currently Live in:
Columbus, Ohio

Any pets?
Yes dog Lily, and 3 rescued cats; animals always appear on my doorstep. Really want to rescue a hedgehog.

LMAO! A hedgehog… Can those be rescued and where might one find a hog hedging?

Yes there are several places to rescue a hedgehog, you def don’t want to buy one at a pet store, there are certain problems with some hedgehogs purchased at pet stores.
Pet stores have been known to keep male and female hedgehog babies together past the age of sexual maturity. If you purchase a female hedgehog from a pet store you may run the risk of having an unwanted pregnancy in a very young hedgehog.

Breeders will make sure that hedgehog babies are eating and drinking well after weaning. This will help make a more successful transition to your home. This is not always done with hedgehogs reared in pet stores.

Hedgehog breeders know their hedgehog’s lineage going back through the generations and breed based on a good health history. Most pet stores do not. Lol… I am looking for an albino one 😉 But you see I have 3 cats and that could become a problem.

FYI… check the pet store before you buy any type of animal or critter, this isn’t just about a hedgehog… That adorable puppy in the window… yikes… PUPPY MILLS

Most dog lovers know about the often horrid conditions of puppy mills, the unregulated breeding facilities owned by disreputable breeders. Dogs are often bred far too frequently, are kept cramped together in tight conditions, rather sad, and are not socialized with humans. These breeders do not always care about the health and strength of the breed, which often results in genetic illnesses, poor health in general and unlikable personality traits.

There are some pet stores that buy their puppies from commercial kennels regulated by the Department of Agriculture. However, even these pups tend to be unhealthy and unsocialized. This is partly due to the fact that commercial kennels tend to breed many different breeds in one facility and they breed for quantity, not quality. Therefore, their interest does not lie in the healthy promotion of a certain breed but rather in how many sales they can get. So, before you buy that cute puppy in the window, consider the downsides of pet store pups.

I think I need a nap after that one. That’s what I get for questioning your headhogging.

What kind of dog is Lily?
Cavapoo! She was supposed to be 8lbs but ended up being 18. She goes to work with me everyday along with 5 other pups that are at the office as well!

18lbs? What kind of diet do you have your dog on – or lack there of? Lol
My Mom feeds her a secret food and she won’t tell me what it is, so she won’t eat dog food so I have to feed her Organic Ground beef… Oh my… She isn’t chubby, I believe the breeder fibbed to me though on her actual size.

Lily kick’n it on the couch with some booties.

Owner of Clay Creative an integrated marketing communications agency. Co-creator of EcoChics Earthwear; environmentally friendly clothing line.

“Integrated Marketing Communication Agency” sounds like you wear fancy pants. What type of clients do you work with and how did you get into marketing?

Clay Creative has been in business for over 30 years, I took 51% ownership this year. It is a family-owned business with my Dad. As he begins to consider retirement I begin to take over. We do business with mostly Fortune 500 companies, for instance Abbott Nutrition (Similac, Isomil, Ensure, Pedialyte, etc), Scotts, Nationwide, Highlights for Children, McGraw-Hill and etc. I went to school originally for Psychology and switched over to the communication/marketing side and felt it was a better fit. I love it! I always thought I’d be in NY at a large agency, but my life became established and I decided to stay here and take over the family legacy!

What makes a clothing line environmentally friendly?
All of our products are 100% organic cotton or an organic blend. So it’s good for you and good for our planet.

What is “organic cotton?”
Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production. Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.

How did you come up with the clothing line?

My partner and I were sitting one day drinking some wine and talking about how we can make a difference, and all of a sudden the wine kicked in and we thought of EcoChics Earthwear. It is a way to spread the word… small steps lead to big changes… A percentage of all our profits go to American Forests (planting trees). So we try to spread the word in all angles possible. Clothes with a message, clothes for a cause.

Where can people find out more about it?
EcoChicsEarthwear.com, we are currently in the process of re-branding our message, look and feel.

Will you be wearing your own EcoChics track suit for upcoming competitions?
Yes. I will definitely be wearing an inspirational tee saying EcoCourage! That’ll be a good message for the Arnold! Courage to kick some serious butt!

The Eco Chics having some fun on a shoot.

How did you get into competing?
I am a former gymnast that was unable to compete in college due to an injury so I took a couple years off and during my Junior year of college I decided that I would like to try something new/compete again, so I researched and discovered Mike Davies/The Fitness Factory so I have been training with him ever since and began competing in Fitness.

What other sports / athletics did you participate in during high school college?
Gymnastics, track, basketball

Anything you do athletic wise besides train for the stage?
I do CrossFit at Rogue Columbus, TGM (Tracey Gardner Method) yoga, Tennis

Jessica kick’n some CrossFit ass.

What was your favorite part about competing in Fitness?
Practicing my routine at the gym, since I grew up in the gym the feeling there is very comfortable and safe. Also, I love the preparation and the nervousness, such powerful feelings.

What made you make the switch to bikini?

I tore my glute right before jr. Nationals before I won my pro card in fitness and figure at Team U. It took FOREVER to heal, it was so frustrating. So I thought it was time to adjust my thinking and give my body time to heal (as far as gymnastics/routine goes) so I tried Figure, but I found that I could not get as hard and as big as others, then just like that, it was fate (lol), bikini came about and I thought this is perfect for me, I love to strut and I feel it fits me perfectly.

A lot of women talk about getting injured from gymnastics. Why do you think that is and is there a way to prevent it?
Well I believe that what we know now with balanced nutrition is so important. The coaches need to be educated in those areas as well, not just gymnastics. Also, I think it is important to have strength training not meaning lifting but rather strengthening the attachments around the muscles. The constant pounding of a gymnasts body is so bad, I think more focus on the muscles around the joints is a good idea. And nowadays there is more padding to cushion the falls and constant pounding, not when I was doing gymnastics, we were lucky to have one spring floor. So kids today have more body support to work with. Gymnastics is an extreme sport, if you have never played this individual sport it is hard to comprehend the intensity of the sport, it takes balance, concentration and athleticism and mental toughness… “never cry” suck it up and do it…

You’re one of the chosen to be part of the Bikini International. How’s it feel competing in front of you hometown fans in Ohio?
Ooo la la I am so stoked, I have so many friends and family coming to see me, I am so excited I could do a little dance! It’s gonna rock!

A little dance – like Elaine on Seinfeld or more of a Rick James dance?
Like Carlton on Fresh Prince 😉

Are you preparing any differently for the Bikini International vs the Fitness International?
The prep is still the same except I don’t have a routine to practice for, the prep is hard work each and every day, but I love it! Hours of work a day of preparation is so rewarding at the end of the day! Woo hoo!

Any tips on making chicken taste better?
Hold my nose, chew really quick and swallow. I can’t stand chicken. That’s how I eat my eggs as well, I pour the amount in the measuring cup, grab a pink straw and drink it super quick.

Any supplements you couldn’t live without?
Met-rx Glutamine, Met-rx Super Green Powder. And I love my Xtreme Shocks!

What’s the one song that gets you pumped in the gym currently?

The Temper Trap “Sweet Disposition”, and Swedish House Mafia “One” and Madonna “Revolver”; I also listen to opera during my morning cardio.

You listed three songs instead of one but ok. LOL. OPERA during morning cardio? What’s up with that?
Opera is relaxing yet it gets me moving at a good pace and gets me ready for the day!

Do blondes have more fun?
Well of course!

Will you be at any booths or making any appearances during the Arnold weekend?

Met-rx! Go team Met-rx! Such an amazing group of peeps!

Met-rx booth? Sweet! They are great people & we love Teresa. Have you worked with them before?
Yes I have been with them for going on 2 years, this will be my second year with Met-rx, yes Teresa is a great friend!

Any advice to young women looking to get into competing?
Indeed, what I have learned in this industry is NO MATTER WHAT be yourself and don’t change or lower your standards for anyone or anything. It is important to keep your morals and values strong for you as a person but then it’ll reflect to others, be a role model to yourself and it will reflect to others and don’t let anything get in the way of your vision. Hard work and determination does pay off, it may take you longer to reach your goal but you will get there!

Jessica performing her fitness routine.

Do you carry a gallon jug with you at all times?
No I don’t think that looks very feminine, just a personal opinion.

I hear you’re quite the world traveler – how did you get started traveling the globe?
Life is short and I have quite the bucket list… no time to mess around… I want to hit all continents by age of 40. I am somewhat of a gypsy, I go with what I feel like on a day to day basis, no time to plan rather plan and do it and make it happen asap! I have always enjoyed experiencing new cultures, languages, food, climates and etc., there are so many other things outside where I live to see and experience, it is overwhelming to think about at times… so much to do so little time.

What are some of the adventures have you done over the years?
I lived in Merida, Mexico and London, England. I love to travel to the most exotic places; I visited 4 eco-systems in Brazil where I slept in huts and ate strange plants and fished for piranhas. Did a bike and barge off the coast of the North Sea. Went horseback riding in Albert, Banff, Canada where less that 1% of the population has ever seen, slept in the freezing cold with foil to keep me warm, Most recently, did an excursion through Costa Rica where my boyfriend was bitten by the most venomous snake, yikes. And I will be visiting very soon Borneo, Malaysia where I will be studying climate change with a Science team of experts and snake proof boots are a requirement 😉

Favorite place you’ve visited thus far?
Hmmm each place has it’s own flare, I can’t have a favorite it just wouldn’t be fair to judge. I can only say my favorite thing about each place, all places have its unique quality.

What’s the biggest difference when it comes to eating/food in other countries compared to the US?
Ewww… foods in other countries rock, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t eat… I will eat anything… I have eaten bugs, plants and weird/odd things that I have no idea what it is, as long as it won’t kill me I will eat it!

You’ve fished for piranhas in Brazil…Did you catch any?
Oh yes I was the master piranha catcher!

How do they taste?
Actually you do not eat the actual fish you boil it and eat the broth, the broth is said to be an aphrodisiac! It was very tasty!

“Said to be an afrodisiac” (air quotes) was it?

No it wasn’t, unless I saw an anaconda, then I would of been so excited… That doesn’t really make sense. Oh well … I still explained the soup, huge dork I am…

Piranha Soup (Caldo de Piranha)
This is a typical dish from the Pantanal, flavorful and appreciated for its aphrodisiac quality.
The soup is usually served in a bowl or cup, adding a healthy dollop of hot sauce. Some people prefer to thicken the soup with manioc flour (manioc is like our potato in the states, although it is a poisonous root there is a tough process to extract the poison) tastes like sawdust, yum.
The soup is usually served as an appetizer with a side of crackers, before a fish meal or barbeque.

Have you tried sleeping in foil in Ohio to keep warm?
LMAO… Well since aluminum isn’t the best for a human, I don’t typically, but if my electric goes out I will most definitely do it.

Jessica in Costa Rica.

You mentioned Costa Rica. I was just there and it’s AWESOME. Where did you go and is this about your boyfriend getting bitten by a snake and is he ok?
We (my boyfriend and I) visited the Eastern side of Costa Rica, it was supposed to be an adventure trip sleeping in huts and doing crazy activities, but we only made it to day 3 and we had arrived at Mount Arenal and the sky was overcast so we couldn’t even see the volcano that our hut was in… and I of course wanted wine, chips and salsa at 9pm, we left our hut and headed on the trail, I was a few steps ahead of him and sure enough he yelped and said something bit him, he said he thought it was a lizard, I said they don’t bite, we ran back inside our hut I took a look at the bite and I knew right away it was a snake, I seem to know a lot about snakes… so I packed all the crucial materials, mind you I had just showered so I only had raggedy sweats on and tennis shoes with no socks and most definitely no make-up on… I told him to grab the camera and take photos of the snake to make sure the docs can see the type of snake it is if we need antivenin… so … long story this is, I will make it short… we made it to the lobby like place and I yelled for someone… they came I showed the pic of the snake and right at that point my bf collapsed and started convulsing … it normally takes 10 minutes for the venom to attack a human if it is a venomous snake… it is the top 3 most venomous snakes in Costa Rica/ South America. Yikes 2 options, rush to closest clinic to be treated with the antivenin, made it in time, but then we had to rush no nearest hospital, which was a hour and a half away which was a public hospital or 4 hours to the private… it was life and death so we picked the closest the public… most miserable experience ever. We were there for 5 days… I had to sleep in this ghetto hotel called Lucky’s… I took it as a sign… lol… all the docs could say in English was “he is so lucky”. Blah… thank God I speak Spanish or else I would have had no idea what was going on… on and on, we transitioned back to San Jose where we had to keep him bed rest for 3 more days because of the infection… needless-to-say, we made it to the US, we had several scientists following this situation and guiding me thru the process… people were fascinated by this experience… so he almost died in Costa Rica and then back home he almost died again one exact week later with what is call serum sickness… but he made it out alive… whew amazingly crazy experience, one to definitely tell my children someday… if it was me that was bitten, I would of died because of my size. The terciopelo “fer-de-lance” attacks a human thru the blood and nerves, it attacked him evenly… it was a 4.5 foot adult snake, which if it was a baby snake it would of released too much venom that would kill a human because baby snakes can’t control the amount released so again we were lucky! Word of that trip “LUCKY”

Any plans to go back to Costa Rica?
Yes, I think I’d like to go back and visit some friends I made there someday and maybe visit the western side to surf… Perhaps I’ll make the trip back there less of an adventure trip.

Why Malaysia as the next trip?
My business partner and I with EcoChics Earthwear are obsessed with the rainforest, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to study with a team of scientists on climate change in Malaysian Borneo and also a great thing to blog about to actually prove “EcoChics” do make a difference!

Climate change?
Climate affects the distribution, diversity, and abundance of species, the pattern of habitats, and ecosystem dynamics. It also shapes human responses to the environment, which ultimately influence economies and social patterns. A sustainable future depends on everyone developing a better understanding of how climate change will affect vulnerable species, habitats, and the ecosystem services that support human life. The time for action is now!

Wow! I’ve gotta say that I had no idea that the quiet bikini competitor backstage had so much going on  in life. Thanks for taking the time to share it with the readers of Hardbody and all the best at the Bikini International.
Thank you!

You can get in touch with Jessica through her website and you can follow her on Twitter at @jessclay. Learn more about the Arnold Sports Weekend & the Bikini International here.

Profile photo by mirandi productions and other photos via Jessica’s facebook page.

Arnold Competitor Profile: IFBB Bikini Pro Jennifer Andrews

IFBB Bikini Pro Jennifer Andrews found out she made the coveted list to compete at the Arnold while watching Yogi Bear in the theater. This former NFL cheerleader thinks TV is a waste of time but enjoys knitting. There’s a lot more to this bikini competitor than a pretty face and a hard body. Check it out.

Name: Jennifer Andrews

Born in: Lexington, KY

Currently Reside: Lexington, KY

Contest History:
Coastal USA – 1st in my class
North Americans- 1st in my class
Eastern USA- First in my class
Nationals- Overall winner
Ft. Lauderdale Cup pro– 4th

Current Occupation:
Liquor and wine sales representative and owner of Fine Fanny Fitness Personal Training

Being a liquor and wine rep, do you ever cheat and sip a the vino?
Absolutely! Red wine is good for us right? 🙂 I always consume in moderation.

What’s your favorite wine?
I always enjoy a great Cabernet. My favorite right now is one called UPPERCUT.

How did you get into competing in the NPC and now the IFBB?
I wanted to take my fitness challenges to a new level and what better way than to put myself in a bikini and go on stage? I researched and found that the NPC is the best organization and I am honored to be a part of the IFBB.

How long did you cheer for the Cincinnati Bengals?
I cheered for the Bengals for one year. That one year was one of the most challenging yet joyful years of my life. I say every year I am going back to the NFL.

What made your year with the Bengals challenging?
I would wake up workout, work my 9-5 job, leave for practice at 5 pm to commute 1 hour and 20 min to Cincinnati and return home at 11:30 pm. I commute with 3 other teammates and if it was not for them I am not sure I could have made it. A goal weight is given to each cheerleader at the beginning of the season and twice per week we would have to weighed in. If you were over by 3 lbs you may not cheer the next game. 32 girls are on the team and only 28 make the field for a game. Your spot was never guaranteed and that was stressful as well. You would think this would cause tension between teammates but it actually made us closer. The girls I cheered with are some of the most amazing ladies that I will be friends with forever. I never had to give up my spot because I fought like heck to keep my weight and remember all my performances. We had practice twice per week instead of one month of conditioning. We practiced every Tue, Wed, Thur. Requirements for all practice were full hair, full make up, booty shorts, panty hose, sports bra, and a good attitude. The pay was horrible but the memories were priceless!!

Jennifer back on the field where she spent a year as a Bengals Cheerleader.

Do you feel being a cheerleader has helped you on stage as a bikini competitor?
Absolutely! Being a cheerleader taught me the sass and class that I like to take to the stage. I had to learn how to live a healthy life style and how to maintain a certain physique. Being a performer in front of 70,000 people has helped me feel comfortable in front of a crowd.

You’re part of Team Bombshell – how did you come to join the team and what’s your favorite part of being a bombshell?
I found team bombshell at a competition. If you look carefully it isn’t hard to tell which girls are trained by the best! My favorite part of being a Bombshell is having an amazing support system that makes sure I am working hard and feeling good. Nothing is ever over looked and I know if I listen to my coaches I will always bring the best ME on stage.

You took home top honors at the NPC Nationals – how did it feel when your name was announced as the overall winner?
It took a moment to register that not only did I just get my pro card but I also was the overall champion. I only dreamed of doing this so I guess I could say it was a dream come true. I felt honored and blessed to have been chosen for the overall to represent so many amazing athletes. Hard work does pays off!

In your pro debut you, you ran into some stiff competition and were out of the top three for the first time. What was your pro debut experience like and how was it different from the amateur ranks?
My pro debut was great and the Ft. Lauderdale Cup was one of my favorite shows of the year. Of course we all want to place in the top 3 and get an Olympia invite but I was honored to take home 4th. I was not my best at my pro debut but I learned a lot that I can use in future competitions. Competing as a pro is different and more challenging because once you reach the pro level there is no room for mistakes.

What’s your favorite part of competing?
Besides the few seconds on stage where I get to be sassy I really enjoy the people in the industry. I have met so many supportive people that I will be friends with forever.

One talent people may not know you posses?
I like to knit and I love to give my projects to cancer patients, new babies, and my 13 nieces and nephews. I am a wine advocate and as a liquor and wine sales representative it is a part of my job that I enjoy the most. I also have a gold belt in shu-lin karate and one day want to get my black belt.

Have you ever had to use your skillz in karate to fend off anyone?
Yes, I was in a dark alley this on time and fended off three men at once!! Just kidding! No I have yet to put my moves to good use.

Good to know. lol

Favorite TV Show?
I don’t watch TV. I cannot sit still long enough to give the TV even 30 minutes. I feel like if I am not moving I am missing out.

Ok, so wait. You can’t sit still to watch tv but you can sit and knit… How does THAT work?
I know I feel like watching TV is such a waste of time and if I am knitting I am still accomplishing something. OK so maybe I fall to sleep every night to Family Guy. My husband loves the fact that I never want the remote! Heck I do not even know how to Tivo or whatever it is. LOL

Best Tip for getting in all your meals you could give a competitor?
Start Early!! Early bird gets the worm 🙂 Watch the clock and eat when the clock says it is time not when you say it is time.

Last thing you ate?
3 Oz of chicken, 4 oz of sweet potato, and 1 tsp of omega 3 oil. No veggies this meal.

Biggest Pet Peeve?
LAZINESS… I cannot stand it when people tell me they want to lose weight but they do not want to work for it!! There is not a quick and easy way to get fit!

Where were you when you found out you were invited to the Arnold?
It was December 23rd and I was actually in the movie theater watching Yogi Bear with my best friend and her little boy. I could not have asked for a better Christmas present.

Goal for the Arnold / Bikini International?
My goal is to follow my plan 110% so I can take my best to the stage. Hopefully my best will be good enough to take home a WIN!!! I feel like a winner already for being chosen for such an amazing show. Off the stage my goal is to have fun and meet lots of people that I can network with.

Good luck in Columbus and thanks for taking the time to share more about yourself with our readers.

Jennifer is managed by Fitness Management Group (FMG). If you’re interested in booking Jennifer for photo shoots or appearances you can do so FMG. Get to know Jennifer more by becoming a fan on her Facebook Page.

Profile photo: JM Manion.

Hardbody Profile: Actress, Writer & NPC Competitor Rachel Zeskind

Rachel Zeskind is not only an actress and writer but she’s also a rising star in the NPC Bikini division. She finished her the 2010 comeptitive season with a class win at the Excalibur. She has her sights set on the NPC USAs in Las Vegas this summer but has a number of things cooking before then. Find out more about the woman who has worked along side the likes of George Clooney.

Born in: Washington DC

Currently Reside: Los Angeles, CA

What did you want to be when you grew up (as a kid)?
Wonder Woman

How many questions does it take before someone asks you “what do you do” when first meeting them?
Usually 2 unless they forget to ask my name and then it’s the first question.

Any hidden talents that people may be unaware of?
I love doing stunt fighting, jumping off things and generally acting like a bad ass. I do my own stunts!

Guilty pleasure? Pinkberry!

I’ve gotta check this place out, I keep hearing about it.

What brought you to Hollywood? The entertainment industry.

What was your first “big break” in LA? Working with George Clooney on his HBO show ‘Unscripted’, my character was cut out but that experience opened a ton of doors.

What’s been your favorite role to date? I love them all, they are like your children…loved and unique in their own ways. Of course there have been a couple that were more like a red-headed step child 🙂

Do you prefer writing or acting more? I love them both! I find that the more I act, the better of a writer I become and vice vera. I am currently writing a fitness and nutrition book as well as a book geared towards fitness pro’s.

How did you get into competing in the NPC? Crazy story! I actually had a serious injury and the doctors told me I would be in pain forever if I didn’t have surgery. I was determined not to go under the knife so I began getting acupuncture as well as Laser Ouch One treatments. As soon as the pain was manageable I did resorative yoga and then started lifting. Coach Khanjo Hakeem saw how hard and consistently I trained and recruited me onto his bikini competition team! He introduced me to this amazing sport and I fell in love with competing!

You placed first at the Excalibur that had to be pretty exciting. What was the key to winning your class? I think it takes all the tools in your tool box to win. It’s the hard work and discipline to bring the right package, your support system, your posing and confidence…a lot of it is mental.

Was that your first show or what other shows have you done? My first show was about 5 1/2 months before the Excalibur. I took 4th at the West Coast Classic and that’s when I really got the passion for the sport. I saw what I had to do and went for it. I rebuilt my whole body since I had no glutes or hamstring (my previous injury had created a dead zone). So I had a lot of work to do! I put on 10 pounds of muscle in that 5 1/2 months.

Has competing helped or hurt your acting career?
It has helped, in many ways. Also there has been some cross over between the two lately. I am currently working on an exercise DVD series.

When working out what’s jamming in your headphones? I am a serial monogamous when it come to my workout jams. I will put one song on loop and listen to it over and over during my workouts for a few months before moving on to a new song. My current favorite is ‘Like a G6’.

Workout solo or with a training partner/trainer? I train with my coach Khanjo Hakeem three days per week and then I train two more weight lifting days on my own and one yoga day. I also teach and coach now when I have time so it seems like I spend a ton of time in one gym or another!

How do you juggle the schedule of filming and competing?
It’s very very challenging at times! Right before my first competition I did two films back to back. The first wasn’t to difficult because it was filmed here in LA. However, the second film ‘Lake Death’ was shot on location in Big Bear so I actually dragged weights, bands and ALL my food with me!

Are you a jugger? (carry around a gallon jug of water): Absolutely! I actually am a big fanatic about hydrating. I drink a minimum of my body weight in ounces every day of alkaline water from Harmonious Waters in North Hollywood, I go through about 10 gallons a week! That water is amazing though, it ph balances your entire system!

What advice would you have for other women who have a hectic schedule?
No excuses! If you really want your body to be different then your habits and lifestyle will have to change. Put in the work and stop believing the lies in side your head that keep you from becoming the very best version of YOU!

What’s next for you – competing and acting wise?
I’m in talks regarding an action film and looking forward to playing some very strong characters in the near future. As for competing, I’ve been talking to some sponsors and getting ready to begin my work for the NPC USA’s in July!

Where can people find out more and keep in touch with you?
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rachelzeskind
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rachelzeskind
YouTube: www.youtube.com/therachelzeskind

Meet IFBB Bikini Pro Abbie Burrows

Abbie Burrows went into her first National NPC show as an unknown. She proved that if you show up rocking a hardbody you can do well and don’t need to be “known” to place. Abbie not only placed, she left an IFBB Pro. I caught up with Colorado’s newest pro for an interview.

Born/Raised in: Cheyenne, WY

Currently Reside In: Denver, CO

Occupation: Administrative Director for a Marketing Company (My Biology degree has come in very handy, just kidding!)

Did you play any sports growing up? Competitive Fast Pitch Softball (Pitcher) for the Rebels/2 time State Champions and University of Wyoming Club team, 2 time National Tournament. Skied for 15 years, Snowboard for 10 years. Cross Country Ski, Mountain Bike.

How did you get into the competing in the NPC and now the IFBB? Last Fall was my first show (Colorado Natural), I ended up placing 2nd. So, I decided to actually train and diet and see how well I could do. I trained 8 weeks for the Colorado State that following summer and took Overall.

What advice do you have for other women who are thinking about competing but not sure? If you are a single mother like I am and work 40 hours a week, you need to be well organized and have great time management…You will also need to realize that achieving something like this will put stress on your relationships with friends and loved ones. Your true friends will stick by you through it all the way without doubt. That being said, last piece of advice is to surround yourself with people that believe in you and want you to do well.

You teamed up with IFBB Pro Taylor Waldrop for your prep – how did that come about? We played football together on Denver Dream (Lingerie Football League). She is the one who put me into contact with Jeff Taylor to compete in the Colorado Natural. She gave me the confidence and motivation to continue to train and compete. She wrote out a diet and worked out with me a few times for the Colorado State. For Nationals, we worked together 2-3 times a week. Without her push and belief in me, I wouldn’t be where I am today!

How important was it for you to have a trainer? For the local shows it wasn’t absolutely necessary, but on the National level, it was important for us to work together 2-3 times a week. You can really see the differences in my body from the Colorado State show to Nationals. We already have a game plan for changes we are going to make for my Pro Debut! Not only is she my trainer, she is one of my best friends, so it was nice to be able to lean on her for emotional support as well.

How many National NPC shows had you done? 3, but I only trained for 2.


You were kind of an “unknown” going into this show. Did anyone try to discourage you or say you wouldn’t be able to turn pro so quickly? I had a few doubters, some of which were closest to me, which was upsetting, but it gave me even more push and motivation to work as hard as I could and give it my all.

What’s your favorite booty building exercise? The most amazing butt equipment is at Armbrust Pro Gym here in CO, specifically one legged leg press…push with your heel!

Favorite contest prep-meal of the day? Oatmeal!!

What’s one tip you could share with women to help make food taste better? Mrs. Dash!!! I absolutely hate the taste fish…so not only do I have EVERY flavor, I would go through about 1 container every 2 days. They also have Mrs. Dash marinades!

Are you part of jug nation? :)No, I am a part of the 33.8 oz bottle of Smart Water club…perfect size for 2 crystal lite packs! I drink 4 a day.

What’s your goal as a pro? My goal is to definitely have fun but show up to win… I’m pretty competitive so not placing well in anything would be upsetting. I always give 100% in anything I do. My goal in any Pro show will always be top 3.

When might we see you make your pro debut? I was hoping to use some of my momentum from Nationals and compete before 2011, but sometime in early 2011. I would also like to find a sponsor before my Pro Debut as well!

Thanks Abbie and good luck!

This weekend Abbie will find out if she makes the cover of the Mile High Sports magazine. It’s between her and one other woman for the coveted Snow Angel cover. Check back this weekend for an update.

IFBB Pro Angela Mraz Interview on Univision

I couldn’t understand a lick of this interview, well except the words “Arnold Classic” but one language is universal… FITNESS. IFBB Figure Pro Angela Mraz is looking good in this interview where they show her working out and training others.

Check it out and if you speak Spanish, feel free to comment below what was said in the interview. 🙂

Hardbody Profile – IFBB Pro Krissy Chin

We caught up with IFBB Figure Pro Krissy Chin on the heels of the Border States. Check out with California Krissy had to say as we put her in the Hardbody hot seat.

Where are you living now?
I am currently living in Temecula, Ca and I absolutely LOVE it here!

A birdie told me you’re not part of Team Gaspari, is that true?
I am a proud member of Team Gaspari. I was actually invited on by Rich and the team last December. The same week I received an invite to the 2010 Arnold. You can find me along with the rest of the Team Gaspari Athletes at…


You can also follow my Team Gaspari Blog:

To help clarify, at this time-Gaspari Nutrition does sponsor me and I am a part of Team Gaspari. However, I am not under an “exclusive contract.”

What product would you recommend for women, that are you personal favs?
Honestly, I truly LOVE and use almost the entire line of Gaspari products. They are that GOOD. My top 2 personal favs, which I would highly recommend to women are:

– IntraPro – our whey protein isolate (I confess I am an IntraPro addict!)

– Spirodex-one of our newest product releases, which helps with enhancing mood, increasing thermogenesis, suppressing appetite and it also enhances mental alertness and focus (my lifesaver during contest prep timeJ)

You took some time away from the Olympia and followed it up with the Houston Pro. What areas are you focusing for the Figure stage?
My coach/trainer Kim Oddo and I have been working very hard this year in trying to streamline my overall package and to tone down my muscularity for the figure stage. We also worked on bringing up the shape and size of my glutes and legs (which we accomplished-yeah!), which have been my weak areas in the past. A personal goal of mine as an IFBB athlete is to continually refine and improve the package I present on that stage each and every time I compete.

What’s your goal for this weekend’s Border States show?
Truthfully, my goal for this weekend’s Border States Show is to present my best package to date and to hopefully move up into the top 3 and qualify for my 3rd Olympia.  I landed in the top 3 here last year in San Diego and I am hoping to repeat.

Would you ever consider competing in the women’s physique division if it meant you could add some size instead of “downsize”?
I know there has been a lot of recent talk and speculation about the women’s physique division.  I am going to have an open mind about the division and wait to hear what the NPC/IFBB set as criteria for this particular division.  It sounds great so far because it will open up another avenue for women to compete just as the bikini division did in the NPC/IFBB.

What opportunities have come your way from competing in the NPC/IFBB that you may not have seen had you not competed?

I am in my 7th year of competing with the NPC/IFBB and let me just say I am so THANKFUL because it has been and continues to be such an amazing and incredible journey! Competing in the NPC/IFBB has given me numerous opportunities that most likely would not have been possible have I not competed.  Some of these opportunities include: shooting with some of the top photographers in the industry including you of course;), being featured in mainstream fitness magazines in supplement ads, featured as a rising star in Ironman Magazine (Thanks to you- Isaac and Lonnie T.), featured in Status Magazine’s Supermodel Calendar, obtaining sponsorships from Pro Tan and from supplement companies & now being with one of the top supplement companies-Gaspari Nutrition, formerly co-hosting a radio show, was wallpaper of the week on Bodybuilding.com, being interviewed on air as well as online…so many opportunities, so much to be thankful for due to competing in the NPC/IFBB.  However, one of the best opportunities is having the opportunity to have met and to continually meet so many incredible athletes and people within the organization/industry as well as many people who are family/friends/fans/supporters of the industry.

Where can people find more info on ya, to stay updated?
My website: http://www.krissychin.com/
My Team Gaspari Athlete’s Page/Blog: http://www.gasparinutrition.com/teamgaspari/krissychin/
My Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/krissy.chin
My Twitter: http://twitter.com/KRISSYCHIN

Thanks Krissy & good luck.
Thank you Isaac and Hardbody.com for this interview!

IFBB Bikini Pro Jessica Jessie on Comcast SportsNet

IFBB Bikini Pro Jessica Jessie was recently interviews on Washington’s Comcast SportsNet and she shows the interviewer a few Bikini workout moves. Jessica takes the interviewer through a workout complete with frog jumps, sumo stomps and more.

I think he was slightly distracted, what do you think?

Props: csnwashington.com.

Video: Adela Leaves Jenny on The Block

IFBB Figure Pro Courtney West caught up with 4x Fitness Olympia Champ Adela Garcia in Houston, Texas. Adela was 4 weeks out in this video. She shows some of her new training techniques and talks about her pumpy. Yes, her pumpy. IFBB Bikini Pro Shelsea Montes makes an appearance at the end of the video. Another comedic performance. Check it out.

Thanks to Courtney for conducting the interview and Adela for taking the time out of her busy spider monkey wall climbing.

IFBB Figure Pro Courtney West Interviews IFBB Bikini Pro Shelsea Montes

Shelsea “Six Pack” Montes was the very first IFBB Bikni pro, winning the 2009 NPC JR USA overall bikini title. She qualified for the Bikini Olympia this year in New York. Fellow IFBB Pro Courtney West caught up with Six Pack after the 2010 NPC JR USA. Shelsea trains with Fitness Olympia Champ Adela Garcia as she heads into this weekend’s big dance. Adela makes a special appearance in the video, wielding a sword.

Watch Shelsea compete in the first ever Bikini Olympia this Friday in Las Vegas.

Tianna Ta Interview: Tackling Her First Olympia

IFBB Bikini Pro Tianna Ta shares a bit about herself and some tips on how she nabbed a sponsorship in the fitness industry. Tianna qualified for the Olympia at the Pittsburgh Pro and will look to make her presence known at the first ever Bikini Olympia next Friday. Check out the full interview on Bodybuilding.com.


What advice would you offer women in regards to shooting and picking a photographer?
Research, research, research! When I started modeling, there was one thing that I always kept in the back of my mind: my morals! That will never change. I always researched a photographer before I worked with them, to make sure that I liked his/her style. Just because someone owns a camera, it does not make them a photographer. Just as someone who takes pictures to post on Facebook, does not make them a model. Credibility takes you a long way. I never wanted to and never will work with a photographer who has a bad rep. This industry is not as big as it seems and girls talk to each other. Anyone who has multiple bad recommendations, I will never work with, so ask previous models who they have worked with and how their experience was. Also, if you are looking to shoot with someone, ask the photographer to send you their release before hand so you can read it. It has never happened to me, but I know girls who were given releases after they shot with a photographer, and if they didn’t sign it, the girls would not receive their pictures. So don’t let them waste your time, and don’t waste theirs!

Check out the full interview on Bodybuilding.com.

Nicole Nagrani – The IFBB’s Youngest Bikini Pro Heads to the Olympia

I caught up with Nicole Nagrani days before heading to the first ever Bikini Olympia. Find out how the youngest IFBB Bikni Pro (only 18) juggles dieting, training and an accelerated Med Program. She’s not your average 18 year old.


Some people say girls should be 18 or older to compete in the bikini division. Do you agree?
I have to say that I am neutral on this topic. Personally, I competed in teen figure before 18. Since Bikini is a relatively new division, I don’t think people actually realize that Bikini athletes train as hard as the other athletes in the bodybuilding industry. I know I work just as hard as my mother, if not harder and she is a figure competitor. The subject of being young and competing in this division only becomes an issue because of the stereotype that comes along with it. People think it’s just pretty girls strutting around the stage, but it’s really not. I think people need to look at this division as a sport, instead of a pageant, and then when it comes to age it really will not be such a controversial issue because people will realize that it’s girls walking around the stage showing off their hard work and not just being flirtatious posers.

Check it out on Bodybuilding.com.

Backstage with Brooke Mora after Qualifying for the Olympia

Hardbody.com and Bodybuilding.com take you backstage at the 2010 IFBB Tournament of Champions Pro Bikini contest. We caught up with runner-up Brooke Mora in her IFBB Pro debut. Find out what happens when you take away her carbs and see her at the 2010 Bikini Olympia.

Hardbody Hot Seat with IFBB Bikini Pro Zara Pineda-Boorder

Zara Pineda-Boorder was a relative unknown a month ago but now she’s making waves in the bikini division. Zara took home top honors at the 2010 IFBB North American Championships in the bikini division. She’s wasting no time getting into the mix of the IFBB Pro League. Zara will make her debut this weekend at the IFBB Detroit Pro. Get to know a bit more about Zara and what it’s like competing in Canada vs the United States.

Zara Pineda-Boorder

Born in:
Manila, Philippines

Currently live in:
Toronto, Canada

Contest Posing Coach, Fitness Trainer, Real Estate Entrepreneur

How many bikini shows have you competed in before the North Americans?
I did 2 National Canadian Shows – CBBF Natural Physique Championships (2010, April) placed 2nd & CBBF Canada Nationals (2010, Aug) placed 4th.

What’s the biggest difference between the two when it comes to diet and training?
When I trained for figure, my goal at the time was to bring up my upper body. I trained to make my back, arms shoulders bigger and to improve the shape of my legs. I worked on that for a few years until I felt satisfied with my overall physique change. When I switched to Bikini, I had to streamline my physique this time and make everything tight. I was used to doing 2 cardios, 7 days a week, along with 5 days a week strength training. So for Bikini, I eased back a little on the cardio (so I don’t lose my curves) and I focused more on full body circuits 4 days a week and cardio 2x a day but not for as long.

With diet, I basically kept it the same. I eat 90% organic, and have been eating this way for the past 5 years. It’s important that I get the most antibiotic free, preservative free, and non-gmo or hormone grown foods. I eat lots of wild caught fish, and grass fed, free range chicken and beef and eggs. I have fruits and veggies and I love, love love hemp oil. That’s basically my diet… plus some almonds and buckwheat rice cakes for snacks.

Why the switch from figure to bikini?
Although I loved competing in figure, I felt good about switching to Bikini when it was introduced and I did every Bikini competition within the CBBF/OPA stream, to qualify for Nationals. I think it suits my personality better and I placed 1sts and 2nds at regional and provincial shows leading up to the National shows.

Was it hard to come back to competing after taking a break?
I had a nice relaxing time when I took a break from competing and I’m grateful to have had that time with my husband to travel with him and his work adventures. During that time I also penned a 400 page novel, co-owned a gym in Makati, Philippines, got married, studied Russian, in Moscow and relaxed on my diet and ate as I pleased.
Coming back to the stage was thrilling. It was a two year break and my body responded well and craved the intensity of 7 day a week training again. I was happy to be back. And when Bikini came, I was even happier.

What’s the biggest difference between competing in Canada and the United States?
In Canada, Pro Cards aren’t awarded as often as in the United States. Exposure for IFBB stream competitions aren’t as mention in Canadian Media Magazines, as are the lesser known Federations that are present in Canada. Media mags seem to be tied to these claimed “Natural” shows more than the IFBB Pro-status granting Federation. I think appealing to the masses with these federation’s amateur shows, only waters down the competition and subsequently, the athlete’s true competitive spirit for the sport itself, is lost to the glam that most of their competitors, only compete for. I might get flack for that, but I only see it that way so I’m not gonna overlook that and speak against it.

There are only a couple of opportunities to turn pro in Canada. Do you get any push-back or negativity when you compete for a pro card in the States?
No, I didn’t get any negativity when I requested my letter for the North Americans. I was actually qualified to do this show after competing at the National Natural’s in April. I was told that the States would “love me” and I guess winning the overall and my pro card in Cleveland, proved that theory right. I just always thought that Canada was still a bit too reserved for my personality on stage… so while, I did and placed well and mainly in the top 3 at my previous shows, I was just a little bit “more” on stage for them to know what to do with me. hahaa…but I felt right at home on the American stage 🙂

Do you think the media in Canada gives women a fair shake when it comes to publicity?
There are way too many Canadian Female athletes that are so under-rated; from bodybuilding, fitness, figure and bikini. I think the proof is in the pudding, when most of the females featured in the Canadian mags compete for fame and not for the sport. Some females want only this and that saddens me. I don’t care for being in a magazine because of anything else than being a winning, consistent athlete in the sport. But that’s just me.

Do you find it difficult to get the same amount of exposure as the American competitors?
I already knew that Americans get more exposure in entertainment/fitness industry than Canadians. I’ve learned that over the years so I know now how to handle it.

Why the IFBB over other organization?
When I used to read the fitness magazines, I admired girls like Jenny Worth, Monica Brant, Julie Wallis and Dale Tomita.

You were “unknown” to most in the United States, yet took home top honors at the 2010 North American Championships. Do you feel you’d get the same exposure had you not competed in that show?
I know that I wouldn’t have had any exposure had I not come to Cleveland for the NA’s. My goal was to get my IFBB Pro status and I just did what I had to because, no one was going to hand me my win or my exposure in Canada. I really felt I stuck to what I really knew I could achieve, and didn’t stop until I did.

You’re wasting no time getting into the big leagues, what made you decide to jump into the Detroit show?
I’m doing as many shows as I can til the end of the competitive season 2010. I’ll take a break during the holidays and hibernate. But I feel like I just can’t stop now. I’ve come too far to get here so this is where I can grow as a competitor and compete with the best of them. It’s what I’ve always wanted to attain so I’m going for it!

When you’re not eating and training what might someone find you doing?
I love nothing more than traveling, and spending time with my close family and friends. I also invest in real estate with my husband and enjoy that as well.

How important has it been to have a supportive husband?
We support each other and it has always been that way in our relationship. We’ve been together 10+ years, and married for 5, so he’s been with me since the beginning of my competitive career and through the highs and lows with me. When I’m able to travel with him and his work (film business) I do and support him and when he can be
there for my competitive schedule, he’s always there. There are times when our schedules don’t sync up, but we’re there more than not. This is soo important in any relationship and without the total support, it’s difficult to succeed in the relationship and in the competitions.

What advice do you have for other Canadian women when it come to competing?
Do what’s in your heart no matter how much work you need to put into it and how much you need to sacrifice year after year, because when you finally reach your goal, it feels soo sweet!! Trust me!

Anyone you’d like to thank?
Everyone who has always supported what I do day in and day out.

How can people find you or find out more about you?
New website coming out soon, soon. FaceBook (search my name) is my place of dwelling until my new site comes out, but feel free to browse my outdated website in the meantime. lol 🙂

Thanks Zara and all the best this weekend!

Photo via FLEXonline.com

Meet IFBB Bikini Pro Brooke Mora

This weekend Brooke Mora will make her IFBB Pro debut. She earned pro status at this year’s NPC USA and is wasting not time jumping into the big leagues. Brooke is considered by many, myself included, to be a top contender at this weekend’s IFBB Tournament of Champions. Despite being carb depleted, she joined us in our Hardbody Hot Seat and shared a bit more about herself.

Name: Brooke Mora

Currently Reside in: Los Angeles, CA

Born Raised in: Sylmar, CA

Occupation: Director DVD/Blu-Ray Production

How did you get into directing DVD/Blu-Ray Production? I was just given the opportunity through a friend that was looking for someone to help his department. I went in not knowing a thing and 10 years later… came out a wizz-kid! lol (kinda)

July 2nd your birthday? Yes

One day away from a REALLY COOL birthday – mine’s the 3rd. We should celebrate next year!!!

Did you play any sports in high school?
Varsity Softball and Cheerleading. Yes, cheerleading is a SPORT! haha!

Are you you a girly-girl or tomboy?
Honestly, I’m the perfect mix of both. I love to throw on a sexy dress, heels and get all dolled up for a fun night out, but I can just as easily throw a mean spiral in a friendly game of two-hand touch. Well maybe not so friendly… I am very competitive!!!

How did you get started with competing in bikini? Well, I’ve always been active and athletic. I have done 3 triathlons and have always been comfortable in the gym, but it wasn’t until my friend Beatrice Andrade (fellow NPC Bikini competitor) suggested I really train hardcore for a competition. I owe it all to her. Being new to the world of competition I just thought you had to be really “buff”.  But Bee informed me that there was a new division called Bikini.  Being that I love a challenge, very competitive and love the stage, I said “OMG, I’m in.”  Bee got me in touch with her trainer IFBB Bikini PRO Michele D’Angona and I signed up with her on the spot. The rest is history!!!

What’s your favorite part of a triathlon? Well, biking was my favorite because it was my easiest with these thunder thighs.

What’s your favorite part about competing?
My favorite part about competing is being on that stage, feeling confident knowing that all of your training and dedication has paid off! It has truly changed my life!

What’s the biggest misconception you hear from people when you tell them you’re a bikini pro? They usually say but you’re not that buff… lol! Then I have to go into this long explanation. lol!!

You recently shot with Muscle & Fitness – how did that go? Yes, I shot for the Muscle & Fitness HOTBOD spread set to come out in the December 2010. issue  The M&F team was a complete pleasure to work with.  It was so relaxing and comfortable. I felt I could really let myself shine for the camera. Photographer John Russo was amazing. Leith O’Leary and Chris Hobrecker of Muscle & Fitness were so accommodating, the absolute best!!  Keep your eyes open for my issue on stands in DECEMBER!!!

How was it different from other shoots you’ve done? Well, I would have to say that everyone was so professional and organized.  They knew exactly what they wanted and gave me great direction. I wasn’t waiting around for hours. It was awesome!!

Did you do anything different for your pro debut then other shows? Being that is it a couple days until my pro debut I think you’ll see that I’m a bit leaner in my lower body come Saturday. I’ve also played around with different poses, so my stage presence will definitely be a bit more playful! 😉

Will you be downing champagne if you qualify for the Olympia? Ooooohhh ya, you better believe it! But only one night of celebrating is allowed because Olympia is only 2 weeks away! Watch your camera it might get wet from all the champagne being sprayed.

Where can people find more information on you? follow me on Twitter.com/brookemora or on Facebook.com/brookemora.

Thanks Brooke and Best Wishes in your debut.

Photo in header by: Carolynhampton.com

Backstage with Ava Cowan

Hardbody takes you backstage with Ava Cowan before her IFBB Pro debut. Ava shares insight on a number of things before going on stage. She ended up narrowly missing out on an Olympia qualification by placing 4th last night.

Thanks to Mark Mason for manning the camera.

Jessica Paxson-Putnam Switches to Bikini

I caught up with one swimsuit cover model and IFBB Pro, Jessica Paxson-Putnam to get the scoop on why she’s switching to bikini. Jessica is one of a few women who have decided to hang up their figure suits and give the new bikini division a try. Here’s what she had to say…


You’ll be competing in Jacksonville again this year but in bikini – why?
I have been competing in figure since ’04 and have loved every minute of it, but when I heard about the new bikini division I couldn’t help but get excited. I have watched from the sidelines and I like what I have seen! I was ready for a change and just wanted to try something fresh, new, and exciting!

Has it been easier to prep for bikini vs figure?
Honestly, for me it hasn’t been. I’ve still had to diet and train just as hard. Getting in shape doesn’t come easy for me, so prepping for bikini really wasn’t easier at all.

What have you changed in your prep – training/nutrition wise?
My trainer (Mike Davies) and I have added more boot camp workouts, running, plyos, sprints etc.., which has been really fun for me. When I prep for figure I can’t do a lot of high intensity cardio because I worry about losing muscle in my legs. In bikini they are looking for a more overall toned physique, so I didn’t have to worry about that when I was prepping. As far as diet goes, I have done a more protein/fat/veggie diet. That seems to work best for me.

You received an invite to compete in the Figure International but opted to not to compete. Will you look to compete in the Figure International next year or submit for a bikini invite?
I guess that will depend on how I fare in bikini :). I would love to stick with the bikini division because I am having so much fun with my training and am happy with how my physique is looking. If I do well, I would love to submit for a bikini invite to the Arnold.

What’s one thing you bring to bikini that other women don’t?
Oh wow, well… I don’t want to sound pretentious, especially since I haven’t even stepped on the bikini stage, but I will say that I am very happy with my presentation and stage presence. I have a dance/cheerleading/gymnastics background… so I am a performer. I love being on stage and I feel like that shows.

Which bikini competitor stands out to you and is the direction you like?
I think all of the top women (who have qualified for the Olympia) are great! I love Nathalia’s sass on stage and think Dianna Dahlgren has a beautiful, marketable look.

How long have you been sponsored by Optimum?
I have been blessed to have been sponsored by Optimum Nutrition and American Bodybuilding since 2005 when I turned pro.

Favorite ON product?
I am LOVING the new Platinum Hydrowhey!

When the results are announced at the Jacksonville Pro, where will Jessica Paxson-Putnam read?
Well, of course I would love to be the WINNER! :). Nobody trains for second place ;), but we will see 😉

Thanks Jess. See ya in Florida.

Hardbody Hot Seat: Dina Al-Sabah Returns

We caught up with IFBB Pro Dina Al-Sabah two weeks out from her return to the competitive stage. In part one, she discusses her background on and off the stage. Find out how many degrees she has to her credit and how many different languages she speaks. Dina is one of the only competitors to compete in bodybuilding, fitness, figure and now bikini.

Stay tuned for part two and three from this interview.

Airport Interview with new IFBB Pros Nicole Nigrani, Kristen Nigrani & Joanne Murphy

While waiting to board my flight out of Newark, I caught up with three new IFBB Pros. The NPC Team Universe overall bikini Champ Nicole Nigrani, her mom Kristen Nigrani and Joanne Murphy. Joanne and Kristen both turned pro in the Figure Division. Nicole shares when her first pro show will be and who she is gunning for. She’s the youngest IFBB Bikini pro at age 18 but don’t let that fool ya, she already has one year under her belt in an accelerated medical college. The cool thing that has never happened before was she turned pro on the same stage and night as her mom. Check it out.

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