Jessica Mone’s Road to The Arnold… Live in the Moment

We are days away from the Arnold Classic and that has had me reflecting quite a bit on my competitive career. My 31st bday is creeping up on me (March 7th!… I will, however, accept early birthday presents at the Arnold 😉 ha!

jessica mone blog

I realized that in May it will be the 10 year anniversary of when I first stepped on stage! I’ve included pics from that first show below.

My first show was the prestigious Pittsburgh Pro/Am. Yes, that would be Mr. Jim Manion’s show! Talk about pressure! Lol. As you can see I was too busy freaking out being star struck taking pics backstage! There I am with my awesome trainer Mike Davies, my good friend Misty who I credit for getting me into competing, Michelle Adams (who I met attending my very first MD bootcamp weekend), THEE Dexter Jackson, Kelly Ryan and the absolutely gorgeous inside and out Elaine Goodlad! Elaine has become a friend and has done my makeup for shows and shoots over the years.

I ended up placing 10th at my first show, but I didn’t care… I was hooked!

I went on to win the overall at the next two shows, turned pro and made my pro debut at the Pittsburgh Pro placing 3rd in Figure! Talk about coming full circle!

I feel so incredibly blessed to have been a part of this industry for 10 years! I wouldn’t change a thing about my career in this industry. The good, the bad and the downright ugly. I claim it all!

If we don’t get so caught up in the wins and losses I’m sure each and every one of us can tell stories about how we have grown and learned throughout the competitive process.

Make sure you live in the moment, enjoy yourself and let it all soak in… Because in the blink of an eye 10 years will pass and it won’t matter which show you won or lost. It will be the memories and milestones that truly stick with you! I promise.

So as I step on the Bikini International stage I will have a huge smile on my face… Remembering that timid 21 year old girl first discovering one of her passions in life… And I will be thankful for the lessons and blessings I have received throughout my career.

God bless and thank y’all for following my “Road To The Arnold”!

@jessfit on Twitter.

jessica mone competing

Bethany Cisternino’s Road to The Fitness International

Bethany Cisternino is one of the top Fitness pros in the IFBB Pro League. She’s a threat for the top spots in every competition she enters and the 2014 Fitness International is no different. She was third at the 2013 event and has her sights set on the top spot. She’s been faced with the challenges that Mother Nature has brought to the East Coast with the ridiculous amounts of snow. Bethany hasn’t let that get in her way staying the course and coming in on top of her game.

Bethany Cisternino

She’s not only prepping for the show but also a teacher and coaches indoor track and gymnastics. The Bridgewater bad ass checks in with an update with just days to go until the big dance in Columbus.

Hey there hardbody peeps! We are a few short days away from the 2014 Ms. Fitness International and I am ready to rock! I’d like to share a few things I’ve found very important and critical to my prep this year (other than training).

I am at the Acura dealership because I hit a monster pot-hole and blew out my right front tire. AWESOME. No, not awesome. The snow and ice has been relentless this winter. I don’t think I have had a full week of school since before Christmas! One benefit from the cold weather and canceled classes… more sleep. I’ve had a chance to catch up on a lot of sleep and has allowed my body more time to recover.

Sleep is key. It is the time when your mind and muscles finally rest, recover, and grow. It can also be a huge factor in weight loss. I typically average 5 hours of sleep during the week. However, this prep I have made an effort to get at least 6 1/2 or 7 during the week. The weekends I never set an alarm. I listen to my body and let it get up when it wants to. If you are interested in benefits of sleep check out for more information.

Every prep I learn something new about myself. This prep, I have learned to look at my training, dieting, and hard work as a celebration. I’ve tried not to complain about cardio or dieting. My leg is not being amputated and pizza will be still be served after March 1st. Everybody trains hard. Everybody has obstacles and challenges. Nothing about being an IFBB competitor is easy. Stop complaining and celebrate it.

“Yup. That’s right. That’s me. Check me out. Look what I can do.”

I’ve learned it’s ok to be proud. This does not mean post everything on Instagram. I don’t need you to “like” my picture for satisfaction or justification. Yes, we all tend to post pictures for fans and followers, but I have made an effort to internalize my efforts.

I’m talking about self-worth and self-pride.

In less than a week that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Win or lose (hopefully win) I look forward to celebrating with my friends, fans, and fitness sisters.

I may even do a dance!

When asked what kind of dance Bethany will do she said, “My dance will definitely include some form of fist pump — I’m from NJ.” But of course. LOL!

Yeshaira Robles – Two Weeks Out From The Arnold

Yeshaira Robles gives fans an update via her Youtube channel. She gives a bit of a confessional style video. Yeshaira is prepping for the Bikini International at the same time her significant other, Marco Rivera, is prepping for the inaugural Arnold 212 Bodybuilding.

Yeshaira Robles Road to The Arnold

She ends the video update with a couple samples of her training legs two weeks out from the Arnold. You can subscribe to her YOUTUBE channel here and follow along as she heads into the Arnold.

Follow Yeshaira on twitter @yeshaira.

Yeshaira Robles’ Hardbody Road to The Arnold

Yeshaira Robles stops by with an update on her Arnold prep. If you’ve ever prepared for a competition with your significant other you know it’s often a roller coaster of emotions. Yeshaira shares a candid conversation she was faced with over cooking fish and shares her go-to recipe for cooking turkey.

Yeshaira Robles Bikini


What’s up Hardbodies?!

3 weeks “Holla”!  My prep is going great and I keep seeing lots of changes every week.  I look like a 12 year old because I’m getting tiny. I haven’t had a cheat meal. I will have one when I deserve one, reason why is becasue I was enjoying it during prep 8, 7 and 6 weeks out. OK, so I had one poptart when I was 5 weeks out but that was it. I’m hoping to reach my target weight by Valentine’s Day so that Marco can take me out for some sushi yum.

Marco and I have been playing around with different recipes. We try to make our food enjoyable rather then say “ugh” and “I have to eat this.”  I have to share this story with you guys. I told Marco the other day to please take out the fish from the fridge so that I can bake it when I get home. When I got home he had already prepared and cooked my fish. The next morning I leave for work with my meals. When its time for me to eat, I go down to the cafeteria and pull out the fish. When I tell you that fish tasted like it was from the sea oh man it did.

Marco came to pick me up from work that day, I told him “babe, Thanks for cooking the fish for me. What did you season it with?”

Marco: “Why?”

Me: “Because it tasted like fish.”

Marco: “It IS fish.”

Me:  “I mean fish like if I fished it out from the sea.”

Marco: “You know what I ain’t never cooking for you again.”

Me: “I mean I’m not saying nothing bad I’m just asking,” LOL. I think its best that I prepare my own food anyways haha.

See some of my prep videos on Youtube.

Soon we will be in Columbus! I can’t wait.

Until next time Keep Training Hard =D

Yeshaira Robles

Follow Yeshaira on twitter @yeshaira and “like” her Facebook fan page. You can keep up to date on Yeshaira’s YOUTUBE channel as well.

Read More on Yeshaira’s Road to The Arnold.


Oksana Grishina’s Road to The Fitness International

Hi Hardbody fans and friends! I’m always happy to share my thoughts with you before the Arnold Classic, so here’s another blog for you!

There are only three weeks to go before the show, and I can’t wait to get on the Arnold stage! My performance is just about ready. Now I’m working on my stamina, to put both parts of my routine together, and be sure I have energy to jump to the pole!

Fitness champion Oksana Grishina - Hardbody Road to the Arnold

Thanks to all of you for your interest in my routine, and your many supportive comments and shared videos. I really hope you like this new performance but, of course, this is still Fitness, so my focus is on completing strong and clean Fitness elements in my routine. I am very thankful to X-Pole for making this performance possible. I am grateful, also, to SAN Nutrition and Six Pack Bags for their constant support over the year. SAN supplements and my Six Pack bag both help me keep my energy up, while staying on my diet, day in and day out.

Fitness is a tough sport. Even as we work hard to perfect our routines, we must stay on a strict diet that challenges our energy reserves, and train hard in the gym to maintain muscle mass, tone, and definition to present a great shape on stage. We fight through pain and small injuries all the time, but sometimes it’s more than a body can take. Injuries are always a risk, and I am sad to see great athletes like Myriam Capes unable to make it to the stage. I know she’s a fierce competitor, so I expect to see her again at the Olympia. For the next three weeks, my goal is to keep my body as safe as possible, while finishing my prep.

Working with the pole has been a completely new workout and set of movements for me. I started from scratch, never having used a pole before, and it’s been really cool to experience the learning process from the beginning. It’s such a great workout for the whole body—arms, abs, back, legs! I am always working with my body weight, and I can see gains in size and strength in my arms from just the last few months. It’s hard work, but great fun, so give it a try. Of course, be ready for some bumps and bruises at the beginning, lol. But with experience, you’ll find your way more gently :).

As some of you may know, I’ve had a documentary film team following me around for a few months. Fall Guy Productions will continue to follow my prep and the competition at the Arnold, and I’m really excited to share some behind-the-scenes views of Fitness! I’ve never had to go through my prep in front of a film crew before, so this will mean some extra work for me, but it’s a new experience and I want to share my Fitness prep with fans. It’s a great opportunity to see what Fitness competition and the life of a Fitness athlete is like. I hope this gives fans, people in other parts of our business, and the broader public, a better understanding of what a Fitness competition is.

Thanks, again, for all the support you’ve been giving me online, through Facebook and Twitter. I will continue to post my pole workout videos, leading up to the Arnold. I hope some of you will give pole fitness a try. To all my sister competitors: stay safe, stay strong, keep motivating others, and good luck on the Arnold stage!!

With love,


Hardbody Road to The Arnold – Fit and Healthy with Jess

Top IFBB Bikini Pro, Jessica Mone updates us on her prep for the 2014 Arnold. Jessica will be competing at the Bikini International and has been kind enough to share her journey with Hardbody. Jess shares, “to the spectators you look like the epitome of health, but are you really?” Read on…

jessica mone blog


Fit and Healthy…?
It’s the day of the show, the moment you have been prepping for for weeks! All of the blood sweat and tears you have poured over the stepmill and 5 billion meals of fish sweet potatoes and asparagus have SO been worth it, right?!

You look amazing on stage. To the spectators you look like the epitome of health, but are you really?

We all know what it takes to get in show shape and many of us would say that we feel the furthest thing from healthy on those days leading up to the show.

We have all heard about some of the damaging things people are doing to get ready for these shows, not knowing how bad they are really hurting their bodies.

That is why last year going into the Arnold I made the goal of getting into the best shape (mentally physically and emotionally) of my life. This was one of the best decisions I could have ever made!

I wanted to share with y’all what has continued to make my show prep, and more important, my every day life so much healthier!

My husband and I make a daily “green drink” that is truly an anti inflammatory, alkalizing,  immune system boosting, toxic removing, disease fighting, energy cranking, skin glowing, internal deodorant, bowel cleaning DREAM!!! 🙂 lol.

I could go through and list what each ingredient specifically does, but this blog would be never ending. I figured that little description would peak your interest and you would do your own research, like I did, and learn some amazing holistic ways to help better your health!

Sure, you can add some fruits in with this to try and make it taste better, but honestly we just chug it down bc the benefits far out way the need for it to taste good for me :).

See our “GREEN DRINK” ingredients / recipe here.

I can promise you, you won’t regret adding this into your health and fitness routine. Especially for us competitors that can tend to feel a little run down as the show gets closer.

I notice a definite increase in energy, less sickness, my skin has never looked better and I always suffered from issues with IBS (TMI sorry!) and I can’t believe how that has cleared up!. The amazing part is reading about the long term health and disease (etc) fighting benefits!!! They are endless!

We are 5 weeks away from the Arnold! I hope to bring a great look to the stage, but  I KNOW for sure I will be bringing a HEALTHY from the inside out look:) and to me that is truly WINNING!

Thanks for reading! God bless!

Please write to me in the comments or tweet me at @JessFit with some suggestions on topics you would like for me to write about in future blogs.

Read my first blog of the year here.


Road to The Arnold with Yeshaira Robles – 6 Weeks out

Top IFBB Bikini Pro Yeshaira Robles checks in with an update on her road to the Arnold. She’s currently six weeks out from the Bikini International and this time around she’s dieting with her significant other. The fit duo has a fun, light-hearted relationship where they keep each other in check. Check out what’s up with Yeshaira.


What’s Up Hardbodies?!!!

What have I been up to? Hmm… well, I’m six weeks out from the Bikini International yayy. I’m looking forward to a few things; Seeing everyone, wearing my bikini, having my hair and make up done and posing on stage. I don’t normally get all dolled up, so that’s why I look forward to competing. When I go to the gym I wear sweats and a tank top. I admire some of the girls I see wearing booty shorts and sports bras they look amazing. I told Marco (my fiancé also prepping for the Arnold) the other day that when I get really close to show time I’m going to wear those type of clothes to the gym. He looked at me and said ” Well if you’re doing a shoot yes, but not to work out.” LOL

Training has been going very well. At first I was sore all over, I had to roll out of bed. Now nothing hurts. Food has been more like fuel for my body. That’s how I think of it.

I can’t go food shopping with Marco. I like to add 100 calorie treats to the cart, but when we get to the cash register oooooo it’s a different story. He picks it up and says “Really Yeshaira? Is this what you’re going to eat”. I tell him, “It’s just for some in between snacks” he says “No put it back”. Now the lady at the cash register looks at me and looks at him. Here I am looking thin. I could just imagine what she’s thinking haha. (Damm he doesn’t let her eat nothing). So now I go food shopping by myself as well sometimes hehe.

Here’s another funny story with Marco. Last night I turned off the heat at home since it was warm. He gets out the shower and tells me “Did you turn off the heat?” I say ” Yes it’s hot in here”. He says “Hell no its cold!! Its because you’re fat”. LOL he’s the worst.

That’s all for now.

Thanks for reading and until next time Keep Training Hard!

You Guys Rock “Peace”!
Yeshaira Robles

Follow Yeshaira on twitter @yeshaira and “like” her Facebook fan page. You can keep up to date on Yeshaira’s YOUTUBE channel as well.

Read More on Yeshaira’s Road to The Arnold.

Cherish Each Moment – Jessica Mone’s Hardbody Road to The Arnold

You may be wondering… Jessica Mone, who dat? Jessica Mone is none other than 2014 Bikini International competitor, Jess Paxson. Jessica is back to share her journey to the Arnold stage and what she’s been up to over the last year, marriage being one of the many things. The blonde beauty finished fifth at last year’s Bikini International and is looking to not only match that placing and surpass it  this year. She reminds us all that there’s more to life than counting calories and getting too wrapped up in a show prep.

Jessica Paxson Mone Arnold Hardbody

A New Year New… A New Name?? 😉

Hello everyone! I’m excited that has invited me back for another Road to the Arnold guest blog! I figured I would fill you in on what has been going on in my life since the last time I stepped on stage.

It wasn’t the plan but the 2013 Bikini International was my one and only show in 2013. I was so excited to place 5th at the show and celebrate my 30th birthday, a few days after the show, in the best shape mentally, physically and emotionally of my life. That was my goal going into prep last year.

I was planning on doing at least one more show, but as the title of this blog states… I had a wedding to plan ☺. I married my husband, Blair Mone, on August 10, 2013 and enjoyed every second of planning and enjoying that time in our lives. We enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon and soaked up that special time! I never stopped training hard and sticking to a healthy clean eating lifestyle (but of course I indulged as well ;)).

I spent a lot of time focusing on my leg and glute training as that is something that I wanted to work on with my physique. I hadn’t had a full year off competing since I turned Pro in 2005 and made my pro debut in 2006. Not only was it good for me mentally but I feel like my physique will show the time off was a good thing as well.

As I go into my 11th year competing I’m finally figuring out this whole balance thing ☺. We as competitors tend to become all consumed with each bite of food we put in our mouths, each step we take on the treadmill, what show is next… measuring our lives in “how many weeks out am I?”… when we get a second to step away from it all and really take in the special moments in our lives without the distraction of contest prep, the truly important things in life tend to become even more appreciated.

A lot of my blogs focus on things outside of meal prep and training. Don’t get me wrong, I am focused and still love to train and compete. I just feel passionate about sharing the lessons I’ve learned that have made me realize just how important balance is in life.

I let this industry consume me for quite some time and let me tell you, it only led to disappointment bitterness, resentment and unhappiness.

Recently, my best friend lost a young friend of hers suddenly and tragically. It has really made me think even more about my own life and what I am doing to give back and make an impact living out my passion and purpose in life. Don’t let a competition or anything else consume you so much that you don’t enjoy the little things in life…because when the 12 week prep is up, that friend that you blew off because you had another 30 minute cardio session to do and asparagus to eat, just may not be there when you are done. Take time to reevaluate your priorities in life, I promise you won’t regret it.

Sorry to get all heavy on this first blog! Ha! I promise all the blogs won’t have such a serious tone; this has just been something that has been weighing on me that I wanted to share. Please write to me in the comments or tweet me at @JessFit with some suggestions on topics you would like for me to write about in future blogs.

We are just about six weeks away from the 2014 Arnold Classic and I am itching to get back up on that stage once again! This year I plan on competing in a few more shows than I normally do, so I am excited to see what the 2014 competitive season brings!

Thanks for reading! God bless!

Jessica Mone

Cherish Every Moment

Trish Warren’s Hardbody Road to The Arnold

Trish Warren joins us to share what life is like as a mother, wife, business owner and top fitness pro. Trish made her return to the stage last year after having baby. She picked up where she left off and didn’t miss a beat. Trish continues to up her level of difficulty in her routines and is a threat to the stop in every show she enters. Check out what Trish has been up to and what a “normal day” in the Warren residence looks like.

Trish Warren Fitness Pro

Happy New Year Hardbodies!

Last year was a monumental year for me as I had to learn how to balance my life between God, Branch, Faith (my daughter), my career, and competing. At times it was very trying, and I spent a lot of time praying for the strength to endure such a busy lifestyle. Most women would shut down and give up, but I somehow found the courage to keep pushing forward. I have been blessed to have a support group that saw the champion in me that I was struggling to find. Some of the fears I faced were, stepping back on stage after having a baby not knowing if I will be as good as my last show; can I encourage Branch as he struggled with overcoming a knee injury that was re-injured during the filming of Generation Iron when he was bucked off his horse Pistol?

Can I give my daughter the attention she needs to meet all of her important mile stones, can I maintain my full-time business while Branch and I prep for a big show, and will the decision for Branch to work with Neil Hill bring a favorable look, or will it backfire?


My fears stuck with me through the Olympia, and while I seemed calm and collective on the outside, I was numb and a wreck on the inside.

Leading up to the Olympia our schedule seemed unbearable! Branch was going to therapy 3-4 times a week, which was adding to the stress of our normal hectic daily schedule. We had to stay up late, and get up early to get in all of his meals, because Neil had him eating so much more than he previously had. Faith was becoming more adventurous so trips to the gym were becoming more difficult, and my routine sessions were often paused so Faith could show me that she could do what I was doing. I remember boarding the plane to Vegas praying for God to give me the ability to handle any outcome with a positive attitude knowing that his plan was perfect and I have to trust this. Branch and I both slipped a few places and the weekend was much quieter than I was used to. I felt that I brought a very balanced physique to the stage and a super entertaining routine, but this was not enough to keep me in the top 5.



I then decided to see if I could redeem myself at the Europa Phoenix but once again left with a disappointing outcome. This weighed very heavy on my heart and I needed time to decompress and re-evaluate my fitness dreams. I continued to seek God for answers and search deep within myself to see if I still have the ability to be a competitive fitness pro. I have decided to give it another shot at the Fitness International as competing is my passion, and I do this for myself. I will go into this show with no expectations other than proving to myself that I still have the ability to make improvements. So far I have found a balance that seems to be working for us.

A normal day at the Warren residence looks something like this..

• 6:30 wake up, and have coffee and make breakfast while Branch does his cardio.
• 7:30-9:30 work
• 9:30 make our pre-workout meals
• 10:00-11:00 train
• 11:30 make lunch
• 12:00-2:30 work
• 2:30 prepare another meal for Branch and I
• 3:00-5:00 work
• 5:00 prepare another meal
• 5:30-7:00 my cardio and routine time
• 7:00 cook again
•  7:30-10:30 family time. Make a shake before bed.
• 10:30 listen to a sermon from Pastor Troy at

Faith is with me most of the day and enjoys helping me work! She still goes to the gym with me and try’s to keep up with me as best she can. In the weeks leading up to the Fitness International I will be posting updates and recipes on my fan page, as well as blogs here on Hardbody. Thanks for your support and I will catch up with you in a couple of weeks!

Until Next Time,

Love Life and God Bless!
Trish Warren

Road to The Arnold with Yeshaira Robles

Yeshaira Robles is embarking on her return to the Arnold stage. In just a few short weeks, the New York momma will be competing in the Bikini International. She’s keeping us updated on her journey and what’s happening along the way. This year is extra special because she’s prepping with her fiancé, Marco Rivera. How is it prepping for a show together? See below and check out Yeshaira’s video on how she cooks the always popular tilapia.

Yeshaira Robles Road to The Arnold

Happy New Year Hardbodies! =D

Hope everyone enjoyed their Holidays, I sure did. I had one Christmas/Birthday wish that I was soooo hoping for… My biggest wish was for Marco Rivera (my fiancé) to get an invitation to compete at the 2014 Arnold Classic 212. When I found out the news I was jumping for joy. Especially knowing that we will be competing together at this amazing show. I got the privilege to compete there last year, and it was an incredible experience. We are 8 weeks out to the show and I literally just started my prep for it. Marco has been prepping since December.

How is it for us prepping together? Well it’s not that bad.I stay out of his way and he stays out of mine. It’s actually much more easier when we diet together. We both eat the same protein, carbs, vegetables etc. It’s more difficult when one is dieting while the other is not. There was an incident when I ordered pizza and the delivery guy came at the same time that Marco did from the gym. I was like “oh man he came early from the gym” he was pissed I thought my pizza was going to be tossed out the window LOL. My pizza days are behind me. It’s time to bring my best to the stage. I am very excited for this prep, and I’m looking forward to stepping on the Arnold stage again.

Let the prepping begin! Until next time keep training hard!

** Peace**


Follow Yeshaira on twitter @yeshaira and “like” her Facebook fan page. You can keep up to date on Yeshaira’s YOUTUBE channel as well.

Oksana Grishina’s Hardbody Road to The Arnold

It’s a new year and with that comes new competitions. We’re excited to bring the first of many HARDBODY ROAD TO THE ARNOLD blogs with some of your favorite competitors. Who better to kick things off than one of the fans favorite fitness competitors… Oksana Grishina. Oksana continues to raise the bar with her routines and last year she brought the crowd to their feet with her JOKER themed performance. She’s kind enough to share her journey back to Columbus here with all of you. Check it out!

Fitness champion Oksana Grishina - Hardbody Road to the Arnold

Hi Hardbody Fans!

I hope you all had a great holiday with family and friends. I wish you all a Happy New Year! May all your dreams come true!!

Each new season of competition means a new performance for me. And, for me, each season begins with the Arnold Classic, the show where I debut my newest performance. Of course, at the end of each year, I never know what to expect. Without an idea that touches my heart and soul, and moves me to create, I’m not likely to compete. But I’ve been fortunate to have experiences and ideas that surprise and inspire me.

When I first had this new idea, it seemed impossible to do, but I did not give up, and everything is now coming together well. As a Fitness professional, I have always been impressed by girls who do pole dancing. I think it’s important for those of us who live and work in the world of Fitness to see and know all different forms and practices. Pole Dancing is a beautiful combination of art and fitness, and I am interested and enthusiastic about the growth of Pole Dancing classes and competition. Of course, some people just see it as a form of striptease, but it’s really totally different, and so much more than that, and this is what I like. It’s a difficult sport, but still accessible to people without a strong background in dance or gymnastics. Like anything else, it takes hard work and practice.

Of course, Pole Dancing is new to me, so I had to try it! I went to my first class and… couldn’t do a thing, lol. Despite my strength and background in sport, I was surprised to find how very hard it was. Still, like all sports, technique is the key. I am starting from scratch, but there is no giving up. I decided to get a pole of my own to work with at home. They are pretty expensive, so I am so happy to have the sponsorship of X-Pole, the leader in pole fitness equipment! With their help, and some expert training, it looks like all is good!

With a pole at home, I’m working out as much as I can. Of course, this is another workout to add to my schedule, on top of weight training, acrobatics, and cardio. It’s a lot of time and work, but I love it!! The pole work has been painful—for my arms and my skin everywhere! I’m getting lots of good advice and making progress every day. As I am a Fitness competitor first, the pole is just a part of my performance. But, I hope that by incorporating Pole Dance into my Fitness routine, I can share Fitness competition with the growing Pole Fitness movement, and expose the pole arts to the broader fitness community.

As always, I plan to give you my best at the Arnold Classic. This new routine is challenging, exciting and interesting for me, so I believe it will be something the fans will like as well. I’ll keep posting videos to Youtube as I train, so you can see my progress on the poleJ. Many thanks to X-Pole and the Arnold Classic team for making this performance possible!

In addition to the Arnold Classic and X-Pole, my sincere thanks go to my sponsors SAN Nutrition and SixPack Bags, both who help me to stay fit and in shape, in a healthy way, all year long, despite a busy competition and travel schedule!

2014 is the year of the Horse… my year! Work as hard as a horse, believe in yourself and your crazy ideas, and you’ll be blessed with success!

Until next time Hardbody,

Oksana Grishina
IFBB Fitness Pro Champion

Follow Oksana twitter @OksanaGrishina and “like” her Facebook page. Oksana also keeps fans updated on her SAN Nutrition blog. Visit for more information and use #ASF2014 in all your social media when talking about this year’s event.

Oksana Grishina’s Hardbody Recap of the Fitness International

Oksana Grishina stops by to share share her thoughts on the 2013 Fitness International. She’s had one of the most entertaining routines of the Arnold Classic weekend and finished in the runner-up position. It’s been a long, hard fought road for Oksana to reach the top of the Fitness ranks and while many of her fans might be calling foul over her placing, she’s nothing but grateful.


Oksana Grishina After the Arnold!
View photos of Oksana’s routine here.

Hi fans and friends!!!

This was an amazing weekend for me! I promised to all of you that I would do my best, and I did just that. I did what I wanted to do. I did what I had to do. I made a promise to myself that I would nail my performance, that I would fully master this new character, which was so emotionally hard, and that I would complete all the elements of my routine strongly and cleanly. All of the months of hard work really paid off for my very important two minutes on stage. This is what makes me happy, and a second place finish at the Arnold Classic is icing on the cake!  It’s so great when you have a goal, work so hard, and everything goes as planned!

This performance was particularly hard for me. Throughout my prep, this character took a long time to figure out. On the day of the performance, I needed several hours to prepare and get into character.  Backstage, when I had finished my makeup, I knew I was close.  When I got on stage, I felt it fully.  After the performance, I was emotionally drained and crying back stage.  But, by this, I knew I had really brought the character to life.

oksana jokerOksana Grishina as The Joker

I felt like I did my best with my body, as well, but there are still things that I don’t quite like, and need to improve.  I still need to work on my posing, and I can work to bring a physique that is a bit softer to the stage.  Of course, it is important to always be changing and growing, so I welcome having improvements to make and new goals to set.  I’m working on them already.

I am so happy for Tanji Johnson! It was great to see her won ! Congratulations Champ!!! She is a leader and role model in Fitness, and no one is a more deserving Arnold Classic champion.  It was amazing to see all my sisters in Fitness doing their best. Congratulations to every one of them! We are all fighters inside, and we are heroes, too.  Just look at Fiona Harris. You may have noticed her breathing particularly hard during her routine. Well, the girl did all of that with a broken rib!  This is what I call a hero!  And, of course, we are all close friends, and support each other, too.  It is so important to have that mutual support and positive energy when you’re backstage.

I know some of my fans are disappointed with my placing, but please know that I am happy.  I always aim to do my best.  I still have my dreams.  And nothing feels better than the amazing response you give to me when I am on stage.  Your appreciation of my performance and all my hard work is really beyond anything money or trophies can buy.  Seeing fans standing and cheering in the auditorium is all that I can ever ask for J.  It was great to hear so many people saying that they had come to Columbus to see Fitness.  There may only be 10 of us competing, but I’m glad the fans see us as an interesting and entertaining part of the Arnold weekend.  With fans like that, we’re all winners!

I am fortunate to have the support of so many people.  Thanks to the fans for their constant encouragement on Facebook and Twitter, and at the shows.  Thanks to SAN Nutrition for their sponsorship.  SAN supplements give me energy in the gym, and help me with balanced nutrition throughout the phases of my diet and training.  Thanks to Lisa Miles and Laura Richards for their beautiful posing suits.  Thanks to my tailor, Jerry, for his help with my costume.  Thanks to Matt Willems of Perfect Driver Music for helping to make my performance music just perfect.  Thanks to my acting teachers at Playhouse West for helping me learn how to better express my emotions on stage.  Thanks to my family for a lifetime of support, no matter how far away they may be.  Thanks to the Arnold Classic organizers for putting on another great show!  It’s always an honor to be on the Arnold stage.  Thanks to the judges for their hard work.  Thanks to the IFBB for giving us a stage on which to compete, be creative and be stars!

Finally, I am so thankful to the people who have taken the time to put their heart, mind and soul into my prep… my acrobatics coach, Vladimir Sizov, who has taught me so much and pushes me hard in the gym every time.  He’s the only bodybuilder I know who has the skills and agility to actually compete in Fitness, lol…my manager, Tom Haynes, who is my second brain throughout the year.  At contest time, when I’m focused on my body and performance, his brain may be the only one that’s working, lol…and my coach and trainer, Boris Ivanov, who has put his knowledge and soul into helping me, with endless patience, make my dreams come true.  He’s been working with me for my whole pro career, and knows my body better than I know it myself.  I am truly blessed to have such great support.

Work hard, stay strong, never give up!

With love,

IFBB Fitness Pro

Follow Oksana on twitter at @OksanaGrishina and like her Facebook page.

Candice John’s Final Stop on The Road to the Arnold

Candice John checks in to give us a look at what it’s like to be hours away from a competition. This isn’t just any competition though, this is THE ARNOLD. She shares some tips for new competitors and what to do and not to do before a show.


The 2013 Figure International is here!

With mere days to the 2013 Figure International, I am totally psyched. I feel great as my contest prep has been on point. My trainer does not believe in doing anything drastic in the final week, so we just stick with what works… keeping things balanced and monitoring my daily progress. I do not do any crazy carb depleting or Rocky-style training to kill me in the last days to a show. The diet, workouts and posing have been grueling from the start, so I don’t really have to increase the intensity in the end. I can feel the adrenalin pumping through me. I’m in “GO” mode all day long. It’s sometimes hard to sleep because I’m always mentally updating my checklist, sometimes jumping up in the middle of the night to pack another item in my luggage.

This week is also about beauty. My skin, hair, nails and toes must be looking their best. If I’m going to present myself in a two-piece suit to thousands of people, I should be looking good from head to toe, right? I always tell myself before a competition, NEVER try someone, something or somewhere new. No new hairstylists, beauticians, hair salons, spas, etc. I try to stick to who and what I know. I’ve been competing for some time now and I know this rule better than anyone. Now it got interesting for me this week since I had to break the rule because a curve ball was thrown at me. My trusted esthetician, unbeknownst to me, decided to move to a different state, so my thinking was, ok, keep calm and just google a trusted spa. I decided my risk would be lower if I go to a fancy schmancy spa at a five star hotel. What could go wrong? They should have the best estheticians and facial products, right? Well, the facial was absolute crap and I was left wondering, how can I ask for my money back with interest. I am certain that I could have gone to CVS or Walgreens, get a good facial cleanser, toner and moisturizer, and I would have been able to do a better job. It would have cost so much less!

A very important lesson to all new competitors is, do your research. Never get caught off guard. One has to be prepared for anything at this time, so I asked questions from past Figure International competitors about their experiences, especially with regards to the weather, and I used this information to compile a list of things that I would need. I have my fluffy bath robe, snuggie, fleece socks, and portable heater for backstage. Not to mention my hot water bottle, ear muffs, and body lotion to prevent my skin from becoming too dry. I continue to look at the weather in Columbus, Ohio every day on, hoping and praying that I’m not going to see temperatures in the single digits (yes, I look at the celcius forecast).

Even though I make an exhaustive list of the things that I would need, I still have to keep in mind the weight of my luggage. So the night before I leave for a show, there is usually a battle between the number of items on that list and number of pounds on my digital luggage scale. For my trip to Columbus, I ended up with two suitcases instead of the one I initially intended. I think it is because I packed different types of clothing. The first being my, “for sure” clothes…that’s clothes I’m definitely going to wear. The second being my “anything can happen” clothes, which includes clothes and items for unplanned photo-shoots to snow-storm attire…you name it, I’ve packed it.

Though this is my first Figure International appearance, I feel ready physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’m also humbled by being selected to compete at the Arnold Sports Festival 25th Anniversary and super excited to be part of this unbelievably momentous occasion. I’m packed and on my way. I Hope to see you guys in Columbus. I’ll have that Caribbean sun shining through to me, so come by say hi and feel Trini’s warmth.

Candice “Trini” John

Ryall’s Road to The Arnold Review

IFBB Fitness Pro, Ryall Graber-Vasani shares her latest hardbody blog before stepping on stage at the 2013 Fitness International. Ryall talks about what it’s like being in just hours away from the show and reflects on her journey to get here.



Hi Hardbody fitness fans!
The time has finally arrived and The Arnold is here. I have just arrived in Columbus after a full day of travel and I SHOULD be exhausted but my adrenalin has already kicked in and I may notbe getting much sleep now! The host hotel is outstanding  – ‘health baskets’ in our rooms with all kinds of samples and goodies as well as incredible athlete menu for the entire event. The organization around this event is truly world class. I can’t wait to see my fellow fitness family and soak up every moment of being at my first Fitness International. Pinch me! OUCH! Not a dream? This is my reality and I am truly living it. Feeling so fortunate, beyond grateful and so freakin’ amped for this experience.

To wrap up my Road to The Arnold, my final two weeks of prep has had some unexpected challenges. This particular time had to become a very self-focused period and demanded every ounce of energy I had to keep going beyond the pain and the fatigue and beyond what I had thought was the edge of my ability. However overcoming these obstacles has made this particular journey the most valuable competition experience for me yet. Overcoming adversity creates great strength and I am stronger than I was yesterday. So as I see it, as difficult as many days on my road to the Arnold were, something was not only learned but also achieved over the past two weeks.  All of the hard hours I put in with the expertise of my choreographer Renzo and now I have it – my new routine is ready to rock!  I’m beyond excited to perform it for the first time at The Arnold and I hope you will all love it!

I believe that to be successful in any pro sport requires a certain level of selfishness – just for a short period of time. These are the crucial, final moments that demand your utmost focus to optimally physically and psychologically prepare you for competition. It may be a few weeks or as short as a few days but these times are a must to achieve success. I don’t feel guilty about this ‘all about me time’ as I understand, for me, this is crucial. I am very grateful that during my ‘me’ time I’ve finally found the right core of people to surround myself with that truly understand (without judging) my dedication, discipline and total passion for competing in Fitness. Thanks to my amazing team of talented, positive and empathetic coaches, the support of my parents, who has always encouraged me to chase my dreams and who will be in Columbus this weekend watching me life my dreams; Very special. The positive energy from my Sister in Alberta, my special friends and fitness family (you know who you are) has been so uplifting and motivating. I thank each of you so much for your calls and messages over the last two weeks. And last but not least, CJ with CJ’s Elite Competition Wear who has generously sponsored my routine outfit and 2-piece for this weekend – she did a beyond killer job!

I’m ready and so honored to bring my best to The Arnold. Through many difficult days I have immensely enjoyed the challenges of this journey and I now plan to enjoy every single moment of my first-ever Arnold. AND every single moment of some cheesecake when it’s all over

Thanks for the support and for following my Road to The Arnold.

Here’ s to living the dream!

One Week Out Training Video.

Check out Ryall’s website and give her facebook page a “like”. You can see her competition photos on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Photo courtesy of Ryall Vasani.

– See more at:

Candice Keene’s Pre-show Practices

Leading contender for the Figure International crown, Candice Keene shares some of her tips to stay sane during contest prep. She shares her current book of choice, iPad app for visualization and more. Read what Candice is doing in the final days before heading to Columbus for the Arnold Sports Festival.


Hey All!

Another week down, another week to go! This point in the “last leg” of prep is very crucial, not only physical but mental as well. As we all know, the closer the show the lower the carbs go… aka brain fog and zombified Lol. Since I have a tendency to forget what I need to do at times, I have been Mind Mapping what I need to get done going into the show. Mind Mapping is awesome! It helps me organize and break down my tasks for school and prep, etc. It is a powerful visual thinking tool to keep the mind organized, free from becoming overwhelmed, and lessen that brain fog!

For those of you iPad owners, there is an app called iThoughts. This also helps with visualizing goals and planning ahead.

Speaking of visualizing, another thing I do before each show is create a vision board. Even though I have the imagery in my head, the actual practice and engagement of taking part in the vision board creation is very powerful. By looking through magazine clipping, quotes etc., your mind is allowed to be “set free” and you become creative with it. The purpose of vision boards or goal writing is to “put it out there.” I believe by putting it out there, it will come back to you.

Another important thing I do before shows is positive self-talk practice imagery, or visualization… Super Important!! So those are a few of my preshow practices I like to do to keep on track and to keep my head right! Remember, the mind is a powerful tool…be sure to use it right and to your advantage!

A week from today I will be in C-Bus!!

Until Next time!! Xo CK

Follow Candice on twitter at @candicekeene, Instagram @candicekeene and like her facebook page. Check out her competition photos on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Lead image courtesy of Candice Keene.

– See more of her Hardbody Road to The Arnold blogs at at:

Bethany Cisternino – Instinctual Training

Bethany Cisternino is one week away from the Fitness International in Columbus, Ohio. She shares how she’s mixed up her training and what she’s doing in the final days of preparation for one of the biggest shows of the year. Bethany hits on training more instinctual this year and why this prep has been her best yet.


Bethany Cisternino – 2013 Fitness International Contender

Hello Hardbody Peeps!

I can’t believe the Arnold is T-10 days! I actually fly out 1 week from TODAY! It is make it or break it time. No time for tired, pouting, or negative thoughts. If they creep in I turn up my music, put my head down, and push right on through. The next 7 days I will focus on fine tuning my physique. I will begin to back down my weights, meaning I will not train as heavy but incorporate more sets.

This is difficult for me because I get what I call gym ADD; after 3 sets of one exercise I’m ready for the next challenge! I usually do 3 sets (not including warm up) of about 5 exercises. This week I will do 4 or 5 sets of 4 exercises. This makes me focus on conditioning instead of size, roundness, or muscularity. Because it is conditioning week I have increased my cardio by 10 minutes a day. It doesn’t sound like much but as an entire week it is 70 minutes which is a lot!

Looking back at this prep I have to say I think it is my best to date. By best I mean happiest, fullest, and most energy. I didn’t follow a set meal plan or training regimen. Every day my meals changed based on how I looked and how I felt. Don’t get me wrong, I eat the same basic foods; whey protein, eggs, chicken, turkey, oats, rice, and sweet potatoes. However, the amounts of carbs and fats changed depending on my energy level and intensity of training. Over the years I have learned to trust my body and the process.

I truly believe that for women diet and training should be more instinctual than traditional. There may come a time when traditional is needed but as a science I truly believe that we can turn our bodies into metabolic machines without becoming cranky, miserable, “bleeps”.

The Arnold Classic is one of the most fun weekends of the year! I wish all the competitors the best of luck! See you next week to find out my competition essentials and what is in my “show bag!!”

Bethany Cisternino

Message me on twitter @Bfitness80 and see you soon!
For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Oksana Grishina’s Cooking Obsession

Oksana Grishina stops by one last time before the Fitness International. She’s about 10 days out from the Fitness International in Columbus, Ohio and apparently has food on the brain. Read what Oksana has been cooking up en route to her run at the Fitness crown.


Oksana Grishina – 2013 Fitness International Contender

Hi everyone!

It’s the week before the Arnold! Time is going so fast but, honestly, I can’t wait to get on the Arnold stage! I’ve already started packing my bags, lol. In this prep, I’ve learned a lot. First of all, from my best friend the “food Channel”. HA! I learned how to cook cheesecake, donuts, cakes (all different kinds), tiramisu, ice cream, homemade bread… the list goes on forever, haha. My friends tell me to please stop cooking, it’s too much and sometimes not tasty. Of course, I can’t taste my own cooking, so I can’t tell if it’s any good. I guess they’re trying to be still polite with me.

I love how my body changes with every workout! It’s so great that my body appreciates all of my hard work! I have 4 more performance workouts and it’s important now to be safe. I spend a lot of time to warm up my body well, so I have less risk of injury! Close to the contest I don’t have any day or night time. I eat and workout around the clock, using all 24 hours. I sleep whenever I need to and anywhere I want to, lol.

Again, I want to thank all my fans for their support through this prep! You know how much I appreciate it! See you on the Arnold stage, and also make sure to stop by the SAN booth on Saturday and Sunday. I’ll be there all day long. Don’t forget to bring some tasty food for me, lol.


IFBB Fitness Pro

Follow Oksana on twitter at @OksanaGrishina and like her Facebook page.

For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Read Oksana’s previous blog entries.

Trish Warren’s Hardbody Mom Workout

Hardbody momma, Trish Warren gives us an update on her busy life en route to her return to the Fitness stage. Trish juggles being a wife, mom and business owner while preparing for one of the biggest competitions of the year. She shares how she includes her adorable daughter into her workouts. Trish shares a few workout photos where baby Faith goes along for the ride and appears to be having a blast.


With less than 2 weeks to show time, I can honestly say that this has been one heck of an amazing journey! I’ve enjoyed every moment of this with my daughter Faith who just turned 1! It’s hard to believe that our normal mornings of watching news and having coffee have turned into watching cartoons and catering to a 1 yr. old!

My comeback will be very memorable to me as I realize that I’ve had to compromise on so many things. For instance I have a hard time just going to the gym to grab a normal workout! Faith gladly makes herself part of my training time! If I want to ensure a successful session, I have to keep Faith entertained and out of the way of the other gym members. This is a typical training day with Faith.

First we start with ball squats, and yes I said ‘WE”. Faith and I will do 50 reps. Next it’s on to single leg lunge with a back kick. I will do 15 a leg. Remember I have to get as creative as I can to keep Faith from being bored with the same movements.

We will then go on to single leg stiff leg deadlifts, I will do 15 a leg really concentrating on perfect form. Faith actually helps me stay balanced during this exercise. From there we will go into 25 a leg side lunges, and finish with 30 body squats going as deep as I can go. I will go through this routine 3-4 times total depending on how well Faith is holding up!

After workout, we both grab a healthy lunch and then it’s on to our hour of cardio. I love to run, and Faith loves being outside, so it’s a match made in heaven! The weather has been beautiful here in Texas which makes for a pleasant afternoon outing! Faith usually gets her 30 minute beauty nap in during our run, so by the time we make it home, she’s all rested and re-energized and I am doing my best to drag myself in and grab a cold piece of chicken before I pass out!

This is the time that Branch gets to keep his princess entertained, so I can tend to our logistics business, it’s pretty funny watching him push her around the house on her Barbie car! Oh yes she has him wrapped around her little finger! This has not been a “normal” contest prep, but it has been good for me! I am stoked about being back and can’t wait to see how the weekend unfolds. Thanks for following my journey and I will see you in Columbus.

Until Next Time,

Love Life and God Bless!
Trish Warren


Check out Trish’s contest photos and competition history. Follow her on twitter @trishwarren and on facebook. For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Photos courtesy of Trish Warren for HardbodyNews.

What it’s like to live, eat and train outside the USA

Candice John is an international IFBB figure competitor and faces challenges many of her fellow competitors don’t. Living outside of the USA can present a set of obstacles many people may not be aware of but Candice gives us a look at what it’s like to live, eat and trains outside of the USA.


Candice John – 2013 Fitgure International Contender

Having left my life in the sunny Caribbean island of Trinidad to stay in the USA for the next few months, it seems fitting that in this article I give Hardbody readers a bit of insight into my life as a very active figure competitor, who splits her time between the US and her home country.

I imagine that there are many women who live outside the USA who have the dream I once had i.e. to compete in the USA as a professional IFBB figure competitor. Many of them might think that their dream is unattainable, since there are so many obstacles in their way. Unlike the NPC, in my region i.e. Central-American and Caribbean, only one IFBB figure pro card is given out each year and the transition into the pro ranks can be challenging.

After winning my pro card, I must confess that it took me a couple of years to acclimatize to the new competitive environment. I was like a deer in headlights at my first show, but sharing the stage with the best in the industry helped me recalibrate my modus operandi when I returned home.

What’s it like as a competitor when I live in Trinidad?
Thinking of it, once they have a reliable data connection, international competitors aren’t really at a disadvantage when it comes to staying in contact with their coaches and others in the industry. Because we live in an age where we can access information and communicate with others with ease, I was able to research and find the best figure coach and team in the USA. Though I was thousands of miles away, I was able to get the proper guidance and support which were critical to my success as a competitor. My old diet and training were supplanted by ones that were structured for a professional. As a result,the changes to my body were immediate and I started to move up in my placings.

One thing that technology has not dealt with so far is the weather, lol! Being fortunate enough to come from a country that has warm weather for the most part of the year, having to deal with extreme cold weather is often a major adjustment. This was the case in New York a couple of weeks ago. It surely made staying looking pretty, with make-up intact, a difficult task. I was a complete mess. A pink nose from the constant blowing, watery eyes which made my mascara run. It looked like I had been bawling my eyes out. Lipstick filled the cracks of my chapped lips and to top off, the Caribbean girl in freezing weather look…ashy skin with frizzing hair. I was a sight to behold. I know you women who experience this totally understand what I mean. Luckily, my only concern when I was in Trinidad was that it was too hot outside.

What’s it like to eat my local foods whilst competing and dieting?
In Trinidad, I don’t always have access to the specific foods on my diet. For example, we do not have fresh asparagus, so I sometimes have to tweak my diet accordingly, by incorporating other types of vegetables. I have even found recently that due to the high use of pesticides on local cucumbers, I developed an allergic reaction. My lips swell and turn red, not a cute look at all, so this has resulted in me removing cucumbers from the already strict list of things that I can have. Organic produce is also scarce in our larger supermarkets. Though a couple health shops might carry organic goods, the selection is extremely limited and expensive.

Trinidad has limited distributors, so supermarkets often get their produce on a set day of the week i.e. Thursday. This is a big problem for me when I run out of the items on my meal plan, so to get around this I stock up every week, but I hate having so much food in the house, even if it is all healthy stuff. I run the risk of closing my eyes and slipping in an extra ounce here and there, lol! On the other hand, when I’m in the US, there is an ample supply and a wide variety of produce in the supermarkets. I honestly look like a tourist or country bumpkin because I could spend an entire day at Whole Foods, just cruising the aisles looking at the wide variety of colors of fruits and vegetables.

What’s it like training in Trinidad?
Training in Trinidad remains pretty much the same as I have a plan given to me by my coach in the US. In Trinidad, I am more flexible with my training times as I have a full home gym, so I can train anytime… NO EXCUSES EVER! Also, I do a great deal of outdoor training, using hills and stairs. If any one of you ever visit me, there is a very steep hill near to my home, which makes for a killer workout. When you get back to your treadmill in the gym, and raise the incline to 15%, it will be a walk in the park, lol. There is also an athletic facility nearby, to which I have 24 hr access. In the US, you need to get permission or you need to be affiliated with a college/university to gain entry to use their facilities (track, stairs, etc.). When I’m home, I do not have to worry about these things.

What’s it like living in the US as an international competitor?
Competing as an international IFBB figure competitor is definitely not for the faint of heart, as much of the time includes staying in different hotels, living out of suitcases and really not having that one space to simply call home. I enjoy the time I spend in Trinidad, however I really look forward to re-assimilating myself when I come to my second home i.e. USA. It’s my time to reconnect with my fitness life, my fitness world and it gives me the opportunity to live amongst my coaches and team mates. I really look forward to this, for it’s refreshing to be around women who live my lifestyle and who have the same level of discipline necessary to excel in the sport.

When it comes to traveling to the US, this is when the expense starts. Firstly, it’s very expensive to travel to the United States from Trinidad to compete, let alone compete in the number of shows that I do yearly. Before I land in the US, my credit card would have taken several hits, as I would have booked airfare, accommodation, transport, etc. I implore anyone who chooses to live this lifestyle that shopping around for the best deals and being highly cost-efficient is a must. Look at various hotel rates and never go with the first quote, budget in advance just to know approximately how much you may need, it may be more, or it may be less. Get every reward card possible… I have Marriott, Hilton Honors, you name it. Get club cards, airline memberships and anything else that can get you free upgrades or special services like waiving of baggage fees, upgrades to first class, room upgrades, access to lounges…you get the idea. Also, don’t be afraid to ask hotel managers for discounts, especially if you are staying for a long time. I always felt that I would sound cheap if I asked managers for a discount, but what I found was that if you could reach them on a human level, they are sometimes willing to take off an extra 10 to 15%. What the heck, you have nothing to lose!

One thing that frustrates me a bit when I live in the US is my lack of independence. In Trinidad, I drive on the left side, whereas in the US, motorists drive on the right, so I haven’t mastered the art of driving yet in the US. I am therefore heavily dependent on cabs, which can be time consuming when you have to wait on them to go anywhere. They are also quite expensive. My daily cab fare can reach as much as US $40. Renting a car might cost around the same, but when I add the cost of gas and the risk of spending time in jail for hitting a pedestrian with my rental car, I think taking a cab is my best choice. There is the option of public transport, but after an intense workout, the last thing I want to do is stand and wait at a bus stop. I guess, you have to weigh it out and see what is best for you.Though you might be geographically far away, a must have is an EXTREMELY supportive spouse and family.

My spouse of 12 years is very understanding and supportive. In my absence, he handles everything, from our home to our business. He also tries to travel to as many of my shows as he can. My family members, as well, are fantastic. They respect what I do and shower me with so much love and support. Facetime and Skype help make the days shorter and not so lonely.

In ending, I hope that by sharing some of my experiences as an international IFBB figure competitor in the US helps women from around the world, who have that dream of competing in the IFBB, realize that it can be accomplished.

For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Jessica Paxson – Confessions of a Hardbody

Cover model and IFBB Bikini Pro, Jessica Paxson checks in with just over one week to go until the Bikini International takes place in Columbus, Ohio. Jessica says, “I have not been training for the Bikini International.” Find out what she’s talking about in her Hardbody Road to The Arnold blog.
Jessica Paxson – 2013 Bikini International Contender
I think my ‘Road to the Arnold’ blog should be titled, “Confessions of a Hardbody”. That has definitely been my ongoing theme, so I thought I would end my final blog with the biggest confession of all.

Here it goes… for the past few months, I have not been training for the Bikini International. I am sure I have a lot of explaining to do, so I will start typing.

As 2012 came to a close, I decided sit down and write out my 2013 prayers and goals. I really do not like the whole “New Years Resolution” thing. One of my goals was to get in the best shape of my life for the Arnold Classic. As I contemplated my goals a little more,  I began to think about the fact that I would be turning 30 March 7th, a week after the Arnold. So many thoughts and emotions were running through me and I became very convicted. I scratched out “get in the best shape of my life for the Arnold Classic” and wrote “be the healthiest inside and out I have ever been (mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually) when I turn 30”.

Of course that still meant I wanted to train the hardest I ever have and step on stage at my best for the Bikini International..but this time, I truly would be doing it for me! My goal was to train for life, not a show. As I am about to compete in my third Arnold classic, I can honestly say, I have never felt better.  I am in the best place I have ever been in my walk with Christ and I am truly filled with joy and purpose like never before, which I know is key to everything else in life falling into place.

I have enjoyed my training, pushing it to levels I never have, my diet was spot on, and I changed things up with an awesome holistic approach that has my body functioning on higher levels and feeling amazing.  I didn’t go through this prep tired and drained. I had energy and a new purpose to help push me. I see so many women that are competing that kill themselves with training, diet, and cardio. Doing so many things that are incredibly harmful to their bodies…and for what?! A few minutes on stage?, a magazine cover?, a trophy?!.

Let me tell you, the stage lights will soon fade, the magazines will pick another cover model, and that trophy that means so much to you will collect dust. You only have one body and once chance to live a healthy life! Take the time to reevaluate your priorities for your training and competing, it is so very worth it!

This time when I step on stage I will truly feel that I have already won. I will walk out on that prestigious stage with my head held high and feeling so thankful and grateful to God for all of my many blessings…and hopefully I will look good doing it ;), ha!.  This experience will make celebrating this milestone birthday with my amazing fiance, family  and friends just a little more sweet :).

Thank you for letting me share my journey to the Arnold with y’all! All the best and God bless!


Follow Jessica on twitter at @JessFit.

For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Hardbody Momma Yeshaira Robles Road To The Arnold

Yeshaira Robles stops by after being knocked down by the flu. She’s back and ready to rock on with her Arnold prep. Yeshaira fills us in on what she’s been doing and what she was awarded when she made the trip to Daytona to visit her team.


Yeshaira Robles, 2013 Bikini International Contender

Hello Hardbody Nation!!!

Wow So I’m officially 2 weeks out to the Bikini International… I’m really excited and nervous. I’m feeling good though and can’t wait.

Did any of you get sick with the flu?? I did it was horrible 1 whole week of sickness. :/

I’m back to normal now. This past weekend was a great one. I went out to Daytona Beach to teach Super Camp for Team Bombshell. It was a great weekend, all the girls are AMAZING and very Inspiring to each other and me as well. Sometimes I get lazy and I’m so glad I made it to camp because it was definitely something I needed. The girls gave me an extra boost.

I was awarded the 2012 Team Bombshell of the Year by my team. It was a honor to receive this award. Let me share a little something with you guys… in the beginning of 2011 when I joined this amazing team I remember that there was a poll for us to vote for bombshell of the year and I told myself; “I would love my name to be up there one da.” Ladies, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams, remember it’s not coming to you YOU have to go get it.

I received few emails from some lovely ladies asking me how can we loose that lower belly fat after pregnancy I answered them individually but I wanted to share for those who might be curious.

After my pregnancy, I started eating small clean portions every 2-3 hours (grilled chicken, fish, sweet potatoes, egg whites, oatmeal, greens, fruits, brown rice) and incorporating 60 minutes cardio sessions. Eventually when the weight was dropping I still noticed that belly pouch. I started wrapping myself with a neoprene belt and putting albolene (you can purchase it at duane reade) around my stomach during my cardio sessions. I started to see a big difference. I also added 4×50 crunches and 4×50 leg raises. Now they have some great products in the market that you can use like Sweet Sweat, Beauty Bum, and Fat Fader. Some really good stuff.

If you eat bad foods and no cardio etc it will store right in the belly I know cause it happens to me. LOL!

Until next time Stay Fit and Rock on 🙂

Follow Yeshaira on twitter at @yeshaira and like her Facebook page. For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Alea Suarez – 7 Tips To ‘Fitting It All In’

Alea Suarez stops by with two weeks left in her Arnold prep. She shares the challenges of traveling, sick children, managing a business and more. How does she do it all? Check out her tips on fitting it all in and why she says “forget balance”.


Fitting It All In
By Alea Suarez

Hey Hardbodies! Wow! Prepping for the Arnold has definitely had its challenges for me this past month. I traveled to San Francisco to see family for a birthday party, my youngest son got the H2N3 God awful flu and somehow the rest of the family managed to avoid it, thank God! My business is picking up, which I am grateful for, but a little hard to manage while Hubby had to travel for work for a week and in the height of our oldest son’s basketball season.

People tell me, “I don’t know how you do it all.” Honestly, some days I don’t know either but I do have some competition survival guidelines I try to stick to in order to get it done. Mind you, this HAS to be flexible which is sometimes difficult for me, but here it is:

• Make a L.O.P. (List of Priorities) I write down what HAS to get done that day in order of importance & try my best to knock them out in that order when I have any time.

• Make a POA. (Plan of Action) My schedule is different every day so I go through everyday of the week & make an hour by hour schedule “booking appointments” for my “To Do tasks” where I don’t have a client scheduled. I try to time everything out from cardio & returning e-mails to an hour of laundry & returning text messages. I often fine there are not enough hours in the day & that’s where the LOP comes into play & can shift & change as clients schedule or cancel. That drives me a little crazy because once I get set, I don’t like to have to adjust. But I’ve learned it just goes with having your own business. Whioch leads me to #3…

• Forget balance. Balance is BS, especially for business owners who work from home part-time & homeschool part-time. When you’re trying to meet deadlines with children around, it’s laughable to think that you can somehow neatly schedule your life into “work” “family” and “me” time. Instead, I TRY to embrace the idea that sometimes your life is going to be crazy and hectic, and at other times, the pace will be a little slower.

My rule? Whatever your focus is at the moment, be present. When work is crazy, work hard to keep up. (This includes final couple of months of competition prep ;-)) Those are the weeks you’ll make a weekly meal plan for the family too so you can shop ahead & know what you’re going to make for the family. When work is slow, catch up on your LOP & enjoy your family time whenever you can, even if you have to schedule “Family time” in. Take time for your partner. Don’t worry about creating “balance” every single day; instead, look for a sense of accomplishment over the long haul.

• Do it when you can. I mean this literally “Whenever Possible.” This for me, includes: When a client cancels, waiting in line, during my warm-up or cool down on the treadmill, on the stairmill, at my son’s basketball practice, at my daughter’s gymnastics class, etc.

• Be brutally honest with yourself about time-wasters. 
I’ve talked to so many people who swear they “don’t have time” for something they really want to do, but then I watch them chatting instead of working out; partying instead of prepping their meals or working on their career goals. Of course we all need downtime, but since most people have to be on the computer anyway, it’s easy to fool ourselves that we’re “working” or “networking” when really, we’re spending about five minutes of every hour working and the rest, Tweeting our Instagram self-portrait (BSP) in the bathroom mirror and then engaging in long discussions about others’ BSP. Some multi-tasking makes my day more interesting, and it’s always possible that I’ll stumble across an amazing business idea & get inspired by someone’s quote or update pic while reading my Facebook feed…but at some point it just becomes time wasted. If you constantly feel behind, ask yourself if you really don’t have enough time – or if you’re filling the time you do have with activities that aren’t moving you toward your goals.

• Let work and life blend.
I assume you’re competing (or aspire to) for a reason: you want to compete, but you also don’t know how it would be possible. Am I close? We all want to make sure our loved ones (not just kids, friends, family, partners) aren’t getting shorted because of our competition, but in my 4 years of being self-employed & competing, I’ve found that the advice to completely separate work and home is just unrealistic. Instead, I’ve learned to embrace the fact that my work and home lives do blend for much of the day. 
That might mean I’m scheduling clients while taking my kids to run errands or checking my email from the playground bench while my eight-year-old plays. It also means that I’m careful to set aside at least 2 hours every night of focused, “totally available” time to devote to home and family. I also get up before the kids get up to do my cardio and/or train clients most days. That way, I feel like my family is getting both “quantity” and “quality” time…and I feel a lot better about the time I spend in the gym and the multi-tasking I sometimes must do.

• Do it your way.
 While I have my ways, everyone & family situation is unique. Reading about how other competing parents manage their time and energy can be inspiring, encouraging, and also gives you lots of helpful ideas you might be able to modify for your own life. The key word is modify. We all have different circumstances, goals, and work styles that can affect everything from whether you’re the get-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn-before-kids-or-work, or the burn-the-midnight-oil type, to whether you do best leaving the office or house on a much needed lunch break. 
Be flexible, and realize that what works during one season of your life might not work during another. But most of all, get to know yourself: there are lots of ways to be a successful competitor, working (or whatever your juggling) parent, so create the life and career that works for you.

That’s Hardbody!

Alea Suarez

Follow Alea on twitter at @AleaTigress and like her facebook page. You can see her competition photos on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Aleisha Hart’s Vision To Success

Canadian IFBB Figure Pro Aleisha Hart will be competing in her first Figure International. She’s coming off a trip to the Olympia and has her sights set on making her presence known in Columbus. Aleisha shares her top four tips to staying focused and creating her vision to success.



Well here I am a few weeks away from my first Arnold Classic IFBB Pro Figure. WOW~ what an honour to be 1 of 15 pros selected to be a part of this event.  What a great way to kick start another pro season! After having a phenomenal 2012 season and getting to finish on that Olympia stage ~ I couldn’t ask for more!!

It has definitely been a quick turnaround time after only 8 weeks into my off season, but getting this invite has truly set the pace for my journey to the Arnold. Creating the vision and being in that right mind set has always been priority for me, especially to be able to push myself to that next level and to keep myself in the zone. To be honest, it was a struggle starting out after the holidays with such a short down time, but my passion for this sport, wanting it so badly and the pure excitement of this invite has me determined beyond belief. Once in a lifetime opportunity at hand again~ FEELING BLESSED! Here I am weeks away from another amazing experience and feeling energized as things are coming together nicely. Big thanks to coach Jack Titone for his guidance, his belief in me, and for his no sugar tolerance and cracking the whip!!! Thx moose!!! My friends, family and hubby Sean are my biggest supporters, it is truly the best feeling in the world having the ones you love the most behind you every step of the way. xo

I have realized that be a successful athlete you truly “NEED” to create that tunnel vision focus and having a strong belief when aiming for any goal. The mind becomes the most powerful tool when wanting to achieve and succeed at anything.  Being able to compete at this caliber has been an honor and is my biggest accomplishment to date~ but at the end of the day the real competition comes from within yourself. Learning to mind the mind, pushing passed your limits and making anything possible is the true test of self-determination. Feeling your best, looking your best, training your hardest, sticking to the plan 100%, not giving into those weak moments and not allowing any hiccups to get in the way… these are some key points that keep me at the top of my game and always coming in a true winner!

Here are 4 tools I like to use to help me stay focused and not lose site on my goal: Try adding them to your goal plan whether it is a smaller goal or something over the top…plan of action is a must!!!

• CREATING MY VISION BOARD – Creating a vision board helps me to visualize my end goals more clearly, which inevitably inspires me to take consistent action and keeping pushing for top success. It also serves to remind me of my goals every day and why I do what I do!!

• CREATE MILESTONES – If you just set one huge goal, sometimes it can be discouraging – especially when you don’t achieve it after a short while. Some people may give up or even procrastinate on their goals altogether. I think it is important and helpful to break one big goal into smaller goals, this allows you to be consistent with reaching and always working towards something. It truly helps me to achieve anything I put my mind to!!

• TRACK YOUR RESULTS – It’s important for me to track the results of what I do which allows me to continue aiming for something more~ achieving higher results. Tracking is my connection to my end goal, this will let me know whether I’m on track or off track, ahead of the game or behind ~ which in turn lets me know whether to tweak my actions or to step it up a notch.

•  KNOW YOUR “WHY” – Be passionate about your “WHY” when you have a goal!! If you keep giving up on your goals halfway, perhaps you were never serious about them to begin with. For me, if I’m really serious about a goal, I will never give up on it – I keep hammering away, regardless of the obstacles and struggles. Nothing comes easy, but in the end it is always worth it. Allow yourself to be in the uncomfortable zone and learn to enjoy it. Have your “why” close to heart and why your goal is important to you. Have a strong belief in everything you do!!! Be passionate about this and have it mean something big ~ this way you will never give up on yourself and the reason why you are on this journey in the first place.

Train hard ~ stay focused & dream big! Wish me luck at the Arnold.


Follow Aleisha on twitter at @aleishafitness and like her facebook page. Check out her competition photos and history on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Candice Keene’s Hardbody Road to the Arnold: Life is a Journey – Learn from It

Figure International contender, Candice Keene checks in just a couple weeks out from the big show in Columbus. The IFBB Figure Pro shares what her state of mind is like and what her mantra is for 2013. Read what’s happening in Candice’s world as she prepares for her first show of the year.


Hey Guys!

I know I’m a little late updating you all on my Road to the Arnold. (Sorry!!!)  These last two weeks have went by so fast and have been so busy that it kind of felt only a week went by! It’s craziness I tell you!  I have to look at my calendar to remind myself what day it is frequently. Three weeks to go till I hit the stage! I am sooo excited for this show too! Everything seems to be falling into place: Right frame of mind, already on point physically, my determination to be my best is on fire, and there is just something about the year 2013 that gets me full of excitement just thinking about it. Maybe because I AM READY!  I am ready to take on whatever comes my way.  I am ready to finally come into my own.  Each year I think I have finally figured myself out, but each following year I continue to prove myself wrong.  I am constantly discovering new things about myself.. Love it!

Life is a journey; a journey to enjoy, but also to learn from.  Every day is a learning experience. Every day I find something new about myself.  As of right now, my inner-self is telling me to listen to those tiny thoughts in the back of my head, and to listen and trust my gut. Also to not be afraid to look blindly ahead, to jump, and to trust that whatever lies ahead will be nothing short of amazing.  You never know what ‘could be’ unless you take that first step into whatever it is you want to do or become.

Anyhoo, I hope everyone is enjoying their week!  I have tons of studying to do the next week. Had my first exam the other day, one tomorrow, and one next week…so focused I must be!  Sometimes people ask how I manage to do school, compete, and my business… Well, don’t think about everything on your plate…you just DO IT!!

My words of wisdom for the week: “Pay attention to your heart, your mind, and your gut…they usually never lie!”

Until Next Time!! ~CK

Follow Candice on twitter at @candicekeene, Instagram @candicekeene and like her facebook page. Check out her competition photos on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Lead image courtesy of Candice Keene.

‘The Ugly Truth’ – Nicole Duncan’s Hardbody Road to the Arnold

Nicole Duncan checks en route to the Arnold stage. She’s a bit hard on herself, which we can all be at times especially when prepping for a competition. Give Nicole a shout out and let her know you don’t think she sucks (her words not ours).


The Ugly Truth

Nicole Duncan, 2013 Fitness International Contender
It’s just 23 days from the Arnold and I can hardly breathe. I have been going through the motions hit or miss and it’s really bad. I’ve let stress and emotion derail my training so much that I’m barely holding on by a thread. When these off course paths occur, I’m left wondering where the time went. It’s not like I’m binging on food or sweets. I’m just at a standstill… literally.

Where did the time go? I get home drained mentally and physically with a ton of things still left to do including laundry, grocery shopping, food prepping, work, routine choreography & practice. I am up to my ears in tasks but they are just not getting done. Skipping meals, lacking water, missing supplements, choosing work & clients over my training, not getting up on time for myself and not making time for myself, the cycle has steadily taken a nose dive. I have no one to blame but myself.

I just would like to apologize to the readers of for my lack of posts and encouragement. I suck. It’s just that simple. I know that I will rise from this at some point. God & cardio are about the only things that make me feel better (usually as a combo). Much love and respect to all competitors who hold down jobs and families and so much more. You are the true champions.

Fitfully Yours,
Nicole Duncan

Follow Nicole on twitter at @fitnicinc, like her Facebook page and visit her website Check out Nicole’s competition photos here. For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Oksana Grishina – Stay Positive & Avoid Distractions

Oksana Grishina stops by to give us an update on her Road to The Arnold. She talks about the types of food on her nutrition plan, avoiding distractions and staying positive.


Hi Hardbody Fans!

Time is passing so fast… it’s hard to believe I’ll be leaving for the Arnold Classic in just 3 weeks! I’m excited and getting ready to go. My shape gets better every day, but I get more tired every day, as well, lol. My performance and costume are ready, and I’m now working to build and maintain my stamina. Of course, at this point, it’s so important to avoid injury, so I’m focused on being smart and safe in all my workouts. I can’t afford any distractions.

No matter what class you compete in, these last few weeks of dieting are very hard. Individual competition, by its nature, is a very selfish pursuit, and this is most clear as you get close to a contest. Body, mind and emotion are all so sensitive, and that focus on self, and the specific work of prepping for a contest, is the way to stay safe and strong in these final weeks before the show. I’m trying hard to stay positive, and I will bring that positive energy with me to the Arnold stage.

People often ask me about my diet and how it changes as my prep goes along. The foods I eat stay pretty much the same. I eat mostly vegetables and protein–fish, chicken, and egg whites. I get fat from avocado and nuts. My carb intake is way down, but what carbs I do get come from potatoes, rice and oatmeal. I’ve found food that works for me. It’s boring but, this close to the contest I don’t care about taste, only about what gets results, so boring doesn’t bother me. Of course, I am so thankful to my sponsor, SAN Nutrition, for supporting me with their nutritional supplements. Without supplements, it would be very hard to maintain the energy and focus I need to stay strong and safe through hard workouts while on a strict diet.

I’m going to take a break from my acting classes until after the Arnold. I love my classes, but they take up a lot of time, which is so valuable to my contest prep right now. Acting also demands so much of me, emotionally. I love how it gives me a chance to exercise very different aspects of myself but, for now, my focus has to be on fitness. Thankfully, with my passion for fitness and acting, I will continue to have great opportunities to explore and develop my physical, mental and emotional potential…and I will always be a work in progress, lol. See you in Columbus!!

Love ya!

IFBB Fitness Pro

Follow Oksana on twitter at @OksanaGrishina and like her Facebook page.

For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Jessica Paxson Fitness Confessions – Hardbody Road to The Arnold

Jessica Paxson checks in to give us the latest on her road to the Arnold. Jessica talks about ditching excuses and instead of just looking like she’s in shape, she really is in shape. Jessica is just a few weeks out from the Bikini International in Columbus, Ohio.


Jessica Paxson – 2013 Bikini International Contender

“Don’t just look like you’re in shape, BE in shape!!!!”. Ah, I can still hear the words of my trainer Mike Davies being yelled at me as he would put a going through one of his brutal boot camp workouts. I have to confess, it’s been a long time since I have trained with that motto in mind. I started out in this industry as a fresh faced 21 year old. I came from a competitive dance, cheerleading, and gymnastics background. I was up for and ready for the challenge of training hard and busting my butt to get in shape for shows and challenging myself with new and different training styles. I think somewhere along the way I got lazy.

Of course you cannot be that lazy to get your body in shape for a show, but I stopped really challenging myself with my training, and kind of lost that excitement and passion I had when I trained in the gym. Don’t get me wrong, I pushed myself and had great workouts, but it just wasn’t the same. I would attempt a few boot camp style workouts and my joints would hurt, I would be winded and pissed off I wasn’t at the top of my game anymore. So, I never stayed consistent with it.

After getting tired of making excuses, I am happy to say… I don’t just look like I’m in shape, I AM in shape! I have added one boot camp class a week (starting with two this week) and my training has changed to more giant sets, plyos, and circuit style workouts. I pushed through the aches and pains, and I feel GREAT! I am loving the challenge and I have that fire and passion back! I love the group of women (and sometimes men) that take my fiance and I’s boot camp class. We all have a love hate relationship with the class and push and encourage each other. It’s a total rush! If you are a competitor, you know that show prep can get draining and repetitive. So, challenge yourself! Do something different with your training and enjoy the process! Nobody is making you do this and what is the point of getting stage ready if you are miserable while doing it?!

Happy training to y’all! Stay fit and God bless!


*If you live in or around the Centerville Ohio area, join Blair Mone and I for a boot camp class Thursdays at 7pm and Saturdays at 11:30 am at Club 51 Fitness (51 E. Spring Valley Pike Centerville Ohio 45458). Email me at for details!

Follow Jessica on twitter at @JessFit.

For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Ryall’s Road to the Arnold – Amping Up

IFBB Fitness Pro Ryall Vasani stops by to give us an update on her Fitness International prep. We’re under one month out from the big show in Columbus, Ohio.  Read what Ryall’s up do and her hardbody state of mind.


Ryall Vasani – 2013 Fitness International Contender
Hi Hardbody fans! Anticipation is indeed building with less than 4 weeks to go until the Arnold Classic… I’m starting to feel excited now!

I had a very productive week in the gym. I’m still focused on building a wider back, fuller delts and calves and adding more volume to my outer quads. I’m very goal motivated – I’m go back to the drawing board after each competition to re-evaluate the feedback I received from my coaches, judges and fellow competitors. I use a training journal daily to keep me focused, on track and motivated to lift heavier than the week before. I’m currently consuming around 1800 calories/day and feeling really good with the fuel I have for the amount of training I’m doing. My last competition was just December 8th and since then I’ve stayed on track with my nutrition and training. It truly has become my lifestyle as I enjoy how I look and feel when I eat healthy. This has made ‘dieting for competition’ easier as I go – the more I live it the more it becomes a greater part of me and the less extreme my diet has to be for my preps. By staying in shape and not adding more than 5Lbs of body fat to my physique in the off-season works really well for me. Not to say I don’t enjoy the odd treat because OH YES I DO… I have a guilt-free indulgence when I feel I need it (usually every couple of weeks), however I’m very focused on keeping these moments in moderation and getting right back on track. Plus the more body fat I have the harder my routine practices are. It’s like flipping around with a permanent weight vest!

The past week my primary training focus has definitely been amping up the intensity of my routine. I find the endurance component is always my greatest challenge. 2 minutes straight of go-time – flipping, pushups, strength moves and holds (and doing them all with a smile!) taxes the cardiovascular system like nothing else. So in addition to skill training and routine practices (which happens 5 days/week) I’ve been doing 4 sessions/week of interval training with a variety of work to rest ratios to hit all three energy systems. I’ve also added an endurance drill after every routine practice and I’m telling you this is really hard to do AFTER a full routine session! There have been days I can barely finish these drills and I’m crawling across the floor in a pool of sweat to get it done – which is when I remind myself that if it was easy everyone would do it. I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else. But I do believe you have to better than you ever thought you could be.

Here’s a clip from today’s crazy endurance drill.

Thanks for reading and for following my Road to The Arnold.



Check out Ryall’s website and give her facebook page a “like”. You can see her competition photos on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Photo courtesy of Ryall Vasani.

Soft Tissue Therapy & Active Stretching a Staple for Fitness Pro Bethany Cisternino

One of the leading ladies in the IFBB Pro Fitness divisions, Bethany Cisternino checks in with and update on how she trains and what she implements to avoid pain. She says, “there is no secret or magic diet that works for everyone” and no we couldn’t agree more. Bethany is under 5 weeks out from the Fitness International in Columbus, Ohio.


Bethany Cisternino – 2013 Fitness International Contender
What’s up hardbodies?! I hope you had a productive week. I am within 5 weeks of Fitness International and it’s time to step it up a notch. Weight training and routine training definitely get more intense and there is no room for self – doubt or excuses.

There is no secret or magic diet that works for everyone. After years of competing and manipulating my diet and training regimen I believe I have a good grip on what works and does not work for me. What works for me might not work for anyone else. I do a 12 week prep slowly incorporating cardio, then I add in routine training 6 weeks out, and I weight train hard and heavy all the way through my diet up until the week of my show.

After 18 years of gymnastics, and in my 7th year of fitness, my body cannot handle too much routine training. As I get older my muscles get sore faster, my joints ache more, so I cannot train like I used to. At most I practice my routine 3-4 times a week, most of my conditioning comes from weight training and traditional cardio. While I have learned to train “smarter”, I have also learned there are people that specialize in muscle and joint management who can also help me. I want to be able to walk when I’m 50!

Soft tissue therapy and active stretching have become a staple in my training. Soft tissue therapy is considered a neuromuscular therapy. Soft tissue therapy (STM) techniques are designed to influence musculature, connective tissues, and the nervous system. STM has many benefits (relaxation is one) but for athletes who are constantly stressing their tissues, muscles, and metabolism, STM could be a great path for your body. STM can help muscle function and balance by releasing tension allowing the muscles to relax and regain their strength so muscle pairs work in harmony. STM can also increase blood flow to an area which increases the rate of supply of nutrients and removal of waste and possibly the substances that cause pain.

If you have any questions about soft tissue manipulation, tweet or direct message @Meridian_sports or @Shulim25. David at Meridian Sports has been a huge part of my training and every day health!

Have a “hardbody” week! Message me on twitter @Bfitness80 and help me decide what body part to talk about next week!
For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Fitness Pro Ryall Vasani Road to The Arnold

Ryall Vasani was born and raised in Canada but now calls Barbados home. She’s working on a new fitness routine for her first trip to the Arnold. Ryall shares how she went from placing last to becoming a top contender in every show she enters. Find out more about hardbody fitness pro, Ryall Vasani.




Ryall Vasani – 2013 Fitness International Contender

Hi Hardbody! It’s Ryall Vasani here bringing you my news as I prep for my first-ever Arnold Classic.

A Little Bit about Me:
I was born and raised in Alberta, Canada but now, this transplanted Canadian girl, call the sandy beaches of Barbados home. In 2007, I competed in my first fitness competition (I was living in Bermuda at the time working as a Dental Hygienist) and won both the Bermuda National Championships and the Central America and Caribbean Championships to qualify for my pro status that same year. And so the dream began!

Reflecting on my 2011 Season:

I had just come off my most exciting season to date. I took 10 months off after 2010 to rest and put on some muscle. My season started in Sept 2011 and I competed in five competitions between that time and December. My results were greater than I had ever imagined…I had finally found the right team of coaches and found my own balance with training to make a difference in where I had been placing in previous years. The highlight was indeed finishing 7th at the 2012 Olympia. It was magic. It was my first competition that I truly soaked up every moment (I am typically a bundle of nerves!) and enjoyed the actual experience of performing. My last competition in Miami ended on a high note with a win in the physique round and an overall 3rd place finish.

My 2011 season was the first season I realized that I’m not just competing to win, I’m competing because it’s a huge part of the person that I’ve become. The other realization I had last season was how powerful our minds are in helping us to achieve our goals. This was the first year I believed, in my mind, that I could be a champion. Having faith in myself, working harder than I’ve ever worked before and keeping a positive attitude every day (not just at competitions) were key factors for me being the best ‘me’ ever. Win, lose or draw – I showed up with a positive attitude and brought my best. You can’t quit if you lose (I placed last in a competition in 2010) – you’ve got to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and set a plan for the next event.


My Prep for the 2013 Arnold:
I am beyond excited, honored and so thankful to be competing in the 25th Anniversary Arnold Classic. My preparation is in full swing as I’ve just returned from a productive weekend training session in Miami with my choreographer Renzo. I’m working very hard on a shiny, new routine with improved skills and a lot of energy. I also spent a week in November in Spokane, WA training hand balancing with Steve Atlas. This year I’ve restructured my training to include more skill, endurance and routine work, as this was my weaker area last year. I want people to remember my routines, to see how much fun I’m having up there and for my performance to leave them smiling and saying WOW!

As for my physique, my coach Tad Inoue has my body on track and I’m feeling really well at this time (on days when I get enough sleep!). I was delighted to receive some positive feedback about my physique last season, so now I’m working on fine tuning some areas and bringing an improved package to the stage. This is a really nice change from always needing more muscle and spending 5 days/week on heavy lifting sessions!

My greatest challenge right now is trying to balance my nutrition and fitness consulting business with a full time competition schedule. Some days I feel like a hamster on a wheel and it’s all I can do to hold on. I really love my clients and my work as helping others achieve success has been the greatest part of my success. I never want to give this up, so I’ve had to slow down a bit – I’m not really Wonder Woman! I’m learning what I can handle as I go. I’m also realizing that the illusive word ‘balance’ is very difficult to achieve in this sport. I know my challenges are small compared to many and I keep this in mind every day when I wake up. Attitude is everything!

With less than 5 weeks to go until the big show I couldn’t be more excited. I love to compete and I love pushing myself to be the best I can be every day. I am living my dream. For me I’ve already won!

Thank you so much for reading and for all of your support.

With love AND lunges,

Check out Ryall’s website and give her facebook page a “like”. You can see her competition photos on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Photo courtesy of Ryall Vasani.


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