The Blog

www.modelobserver.com Interview with Christine Anderson

An interview on how I approach my fitness program for training, nutrition, and supplementation for me.  I do use different approaches for each client because there should not be a one size fits all approach for everyone.   Special shout out to www.modelobserver.com on the opportunity to be heard,  thank you!!

 

http://www..modelsobserver.com/Christine_Anderson.html

December 30, 2013 0 Comments

CYBER MONDAY!!

The Kindle version of the book Christine Anderson, Founder/Owner of CAC, co-authored is now available on Amazon, and for a limited time it’s completely FREE! Grab it while you can:  http://www.rtrw.me/kindle/

Kindle_Edition_FB

December 1, 2013 0 Comments

Hey! Do you want to know CAC’s Three C’s of Fitness Success? Get your copy!

I’m going to say something that I never thought I would be saying but before I do, I have to share a few stories with you.  At the beginning of my personal training career, I wanted to be the best damn trainer/nutritionist (okay, so I still do). Then in the middle of my figure competition career, I wanted to get that coveted ‘Pro’ card.  Then I became a mom and I wanted to become the best mom with a good body versus being a crappy mom with a perfect 10 body.  I wanted a lot of things, yes I realize this.  So here’s what I want to share,  in the process of ‘wanting’ all these things, I never once said, ‘hey, I want to be an author in a BOOK!‘.  Finding peace in this thought:  everything happens for a reason and only God knows the reason is what helps me understand what is happening without trying to understand.  I never did get that stupid Pro card, yeah it’s stupid (that’s for another blog),  I don’t know if I’m the best trainer/nutritionist, and I want to believe I am a great mom with a decent physique, but what I know now is:  in the process of  achieving these goals I learned A LOT.  I share these experiences in my chapter of the book (Real Talk, Real Women), “The Three C’s of Fitness Success.”

To order a copy, go to  http://www.rtrw.me/christine

To order a copy, go to http://www.rtrw.me/christine

 There are 99 other inspiring women in this book, all of them sharing their   knowledge and life experiences.  I am so excited to get my copy and read everyone’s story!  Very special thanks to Katie Cates (Posing client) for connecting me with Miriam Khalladi, the woman with the vision and boldness to go forward with her dreams of creating this incredible book.

September 2, 2013 0 Comments

CAC August Interview with Tony of OAMG Photography

If you’re a fitness competitor, you know Tony of OAMG.  Everytime I see Tony’s brand (OAMG) I always think OMG.  Then I check out the photo shoot he did and then I really think OMG.  In the fitness industry, Tony is the most sought after photographer and his work is simply amazing.  I can’t remember how long I’ve been wanting to shoot with this guy (since forever, okay maybe since 2005) and it just never came to be so I figured an interview would be just as cool.  But believe me, if I lived in or near Chicago where Tony is located, this interview might not exist ?  As a fitness athlete, the goal of capturing your hard earned physique in a photo is more than a thousand words. It’s a journey of the sacrifice to achieve the ultimate physique.   Okay, moving on…..

 

Tony, thank you so much for doing this interview. For so many of us in the Fitness industry, we know who you are, but for those that do not or are new to the industry can you tell them who you, what you do, and how you got started? 

Tony Wilkens, OAMG

Tony Mitchell, OAMG

 

I’m Tony Mitchell, owner of OAMG and I’m a photographer. I’ve been shooting  since college while studying design back in the 80’s (I’ve just dated myself). After college I pursued a career in design and worked for a few architecture firms, before I opened my own practice in 1992 (The Tonka Group) and for the next 17 years I ran a successful interior architecture firm. While in Las Vegas after the completion of a interior design project, I met a photographer that was hired to shoot the project and got inspired to shoot again that was in 2004 and in 2008 OAMG was conceived.

 

I’ve watched your work over the years and my observation of your work is a combination of stellar fitness bodies, great use of lighting as part of the canvas, and how you focus on the physical beauty of each athlete. That was just my opinion, lol, but what do you feel sets you apart from all the other photographers?
I think having an extensive background in design & architecture, I’m able to bring those elements into each shoot. Lighting an interior space and lighting in photography are similar we position lights to achieve the best effect.  Like a musician I’m constantly composing as I shoot, searching to find the right angles, elevations, textures and lighting, therefore I’m not stuck with your typical stagnant image.   

 

I have to ask this question, because I hear about it a lot and I have my own opinion about it but I’m really interested in what you think. How do you feel about photographers that shoot fitness models for free? Do you feel it undervalues your work as an artist and have you ever been approached by people that want you to shoot them for free?   IMG_7195

Ha Ha don’t get me started, I get asked that question all the time. I’ll keep this response short so not to offended anyone. if you’re just starting out and trying to build a body of work you will do some free shoots, because you don’t have a name or portfolio of work to command a fee.  If you decide to make a career out of photography then you must charge for your work. Buying an expensive camera does not make you a photographer and the GWC (guy with a camera) have de-valued the profession by giving their work away.  For a professional photographer we work just as hard from traveling to the shoot (if you don’t have a studio), setup, shooting the photos, loading the photos to your computer, hours of editing meeting with clients, invoicing and marketing. We are no different than a mechanic, dentist or doctor, so yes I’m offended when asked if I’ll shoot free and just because you have a Pro status that means nothing to me.  My response has always been when asked, “do you work for free when payday comes? Do you tell your boss, keep your check because I’m working for free”, I doubt it.  

IMG_7146 - Version 2

 

Some people have a vision of what they want to shoot and then there are others that have no idea and want your vision. How do you go about determining what type of shoot will take place for the client?
 I research each model, and ask questions that will help me to develop a concept & vision for the shoot. Prior to shooting I send looks and ideas of what I’m thinking , along with what items of clothing to bring unless I’m working with a fashion stylist or designer, not only does this help the model prepare, it helps me to determine location, lighting and makeup.

 

 

I see so many aspiring fitness models and casual fitness models on social media, in your years of experience shooting fitness models, what is the most common mistake you find most make when they show up to shoot with you?

Not being prepared, modeling is not easy as most think, if your serious about having a career modeling, then study and do your homework.  I can’t stress enough the importance of posing and facial expression, the two will make or break a shot, you can have the best physique but if you cannot pose or display a great expression, the shot will suffer. Not every photographer will take the time to teach you, that’s not their job, he or she will guide you based on the concept of the shoot but if your standing there asking what to do next, that’s precious time being take away from the shoot.

 

Words you live by:   IMG_8858

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

 

How can people reach you and please list any social media:
www.oamedigroup.com
Twitter: @OAMediaGroup
Instagram TonyOamg
Facebook: www.facebook.com/tony.oamg

 

ME-2

August 15, 2013 0 Comments

So you wanna Brand your image? Meet CAC July Interview, Ben Guerra, Co-founder of Modern Whole

If you are in the fitness industry and want to create an image for yourself but not quite sure where to start or how to approach branding yourself, this is a great interview to check out. Ben Guerra, Co-founder/Operations Lead of Modern Whole (est 2008), grew up in El Campo, TX and now lives in Houston creating brands for professionals in the fitness industry as well as other industries. Ben graduated from the Art Institute of Houston in 2003 and his technical experience combined with his ability to understand who his clients are to put together a strong brand in the social media world is amazing.

1) Ben, how long have you been doing brand and web development?

After graduating from the Art Institute of Houston in Dec 2003, I immediately was hired by a small firm in town. I mainly focused on web design and development, but would occasionally touch projects that were focused on brand identity, logo design, etc. Obviously as the years pass, your skills and knowledge expand and you are able to provide more to your clients. Since 2003 I have probably helped create / revise over 40 brands, designed and coded over 50 websites, and worked on many other things like video, photography, magazine ad design, social media design, etc. I have worked on all sorts of digital media projects.

2) Your company does more than just brand development, can you tell me how your company brings it all together and how a person in the fitness industry can benefit from have an effective brand?

Yes, Modern Whole works on all types of digital media from web design, web development, logo design, brand development, application development, etc. And for the past 4 years we have been doing a ton of Social Media Marketing as well as Online Marketing for a lot of our clients. So when a client approaches us we like to ask a few questions (which can be found here: www.modernwhole.com/project-starter) so we can get a better idea of where they currently are and what they are looking to do. Then we suggest a few things that we feel would help their business grow. You can have a great logo, but a crappy website and vise versa. So you really want to make sure that everything you put out goes hand in hand. Sometimes people choose to work with a few different teams depending on their industry, which is not a horrible way of approaching it, but usually from our experience if you can work with a team that can handle many of your needs it usually works out better.

Here’s a full list of our services:

Web Design & Development
Application Development
Mobile Development
Graphic Design
Logo Design / Brand Identity
Marketing
Social Media Marketing
Newsletter Design & Development
Print Design (Business Cards, Letterhead, Flyer Design, etc.)
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
E-Commerce Development

Ben Guerra, Co-Founder/Lead Operator

Ben Guerra, Co-Founder/Lead Operator

3) Your company created my brand and web site (and I love it!), and I notice things on my logo that I didn’t notice at first. Like how you use subtle differences in the fonts, colors, and lines but still kept the logo clean. I mean, the attention to detail in the little things were pretty impressive. Can you explain the process on how the final logo/brand came to be for CAC or any brand you begin working with?

From our initial consultation I was able to gather many of your ideas, your personality, your focus and tie them into our ideas, research, etc. This initial process is done with all of our clients looking to build a brand, and create a logo identity. Something that sets our company apart from others is not only our eye for design, but the minimal design approach that we take. We believe strongly in clean, modern and minimal design.

We had a few ideas when it came to your logo design /brand, but one thing that you and I kept talking about was showing a silhouette of a woman. After trying different ideas of random women / images we thought… what better silhouette than YOURS?! So we then went through about 10 of your photos and picked one that defined you well. We then took that design and placed it inside a few shapes (the circle ended up looking the best) and came up with your logo. After getting the iconic look down we needed to place text in the design to complete the brand. This is when we started trying out different type faces / fonts. Keeping the clean look and feel, we chose san-serif fonts that were smooth, straight and very easy to read. Because of your industry we wanted to keep it ‘sporty’ but obviously with a feminine touch for you clientele.

Modern Whole created CAC brand and re vamped CAC web site.

Modern Whole created the CAC brand and re vamped CAC web site.

Before designing a logo for any client we run them through a creative process that we have created over the years. It is a creative brief which helps get as much information as possible on the client, their ideas, their competition, style, etc. This helps us nail down great ideas from the get go, without having to go through many trial and error phases.

4) For people that are considering creating a brand for themself, what would be some simple suggestions for them in choosing a) their brand, b) the right company to develop their brand.

Everyone is different. So we love to tell our clients to come up with their own ideas, visions, etc. before approaching us. This helps build a foundation around their brand allowing us to spin ideas off of that. There are many things to take into consideration when building a brand. One of the first things that should be done is finding out if your idea is already taken. You do not want to spend a lot of time with an awesome idea to later find out that the name you chose is already taken and you cannot proceed. So we like to have our clients verify that their name of the business is available.

Secondly, you should do your own research in your market and scope out competition. See what other businesses are doing and figure out what you can do to stand apart. You don’t necessarily have to come up with some new technology or out of this world ideas, but it’s good to know what you are going to be competing with before you start.

Lastly, when looking for the best company to develop your brand, it’s quite simple. Open up a browser and type this in… www.modernwhole.com =) No but seriously, choosing the right team to help build your brand is crucial. You need to ensure that they know what they are doing, they have a nice portfolio of work that you like, they pay attention to details and that you feel comfortable working with one another. The relationship is a key factor.

5) Do you just create brands or do you attempt to create a long term vision with the brand?

In my early years of design I would just put a design together for a client, call it a logo, get paid and deliver it. My clients were always pleased, I was making a little money, and I was having fun. However, as you evolve and learn more, you start to deliver a complete understanding of the brand / logo identity. You want to create something that is timeless and meaningful to the client as well as their audience. After the brand is completed visually we like to suggest ways to promote and market themselves to an audience. We believe in helping all of our clients become successful. Now ultimately it is up to them on whether or not they choose to try out some of our suggestions.

Frank Torres is a Professional Trainer and had his logo and web created by Modern Whole.  www.F3fit.com

Frank Torres is a Professional Trainer and had his logo and web created by Modern Whole.
www.F3fit.com

6) What should an effective brand/logo possess? As an artist, I’m sure you have a vision of your work. Have you ever had a situation where your vision of a brand was so clear but the client was not quite getting it?

Each business has their own vision about how they view their brand, how they see their brand in a few years, etc. However, a lot of times they need that extra set of eyes, the extra creativity which is what we bring. We like to look outside the box and help our clients see things from different points of view. Like I mentioned earlier, getting as much information from the client initially is very important. This allows us to conduct our own research in a particular industry to help solidify ideas, concepts.

We do not always nail a concept down on our first try. Sometimes it take a few tries, multiple meetings, explanations of the ideas, etc. We understand that not everyone is visual either, so sometimes we provide a write up of how we conceptually created the design. That seems to help as well.

Something that is also very important is that you do not go for a ‘trendy’ design. What I mean is that let’s say that a certain style is in at the moment. You should not just go and create a logo / brand based on that. Because in a few years, when that trend is gone, you will be stuck with a dated logo. That is another thing that we take pride in as well. We like to come up with timeless concepts that can be used for many years. I mean, over time you may want to change a few things on your logo just like the major companies do… but you do not want to have to change it completely every 5 years or so.

7) What are words you live by?

Wow, there are many sayings, quotes and words that I live by, but pertaining to our industry I tend to find myself saying these few words quite often.

“You get what you pay for.”

Many have heard these words before, but they really have a deep meaning. When someone is looking for a service, whether it be a doctor, a barber, a personal trainer or a designer there are many things to take into consideration. Obviously money is always on people’s mind, however you cannot let that be the deciding factor. The reason being is, in our industry for example, there are many people out there that claim they are designers / developers and offer a very cheap price. But because most people don’t know what kind of questions to ask, what kind of things to look for, etc. many go with the cheaper company. We have had many potential clients choose another firm or another designer to do their work instead of us, but it always seems like they lack the passion, skill set, professionalism, etc. In some cases they may only lack one thing while in others they lack EVERYTHING.

Here is another phrase that we like to live by…

“A client is more than just a revenue stream.”

We like to build long-term relationships with our clients vs. just getting a client to make a quick buck. We really like to educate our clients to better help their business in any way that we can.

I would say more often than not our clients get our vision immediately. However, we have had instances where our ideas may have been too creative or ‘outside the box’ and we would have to go back to the drawing board. It’s all part of the process. We love what we do so we’ll keep trying until we nail it.

Pin Fit is owned by Professional Trainer, Delano Daniels.  Modern Whole created and designed his logo.

Pin Fit is owned by Professional Trainer, Delano Daniels. Modern Whole created and designed his logo.

8) Can you list your website as well as your social media and where people can contact you?

Website: www.modernwhole.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheModernWhole
Twitter: www.twitter.com/modernwhole
Instagram: www.instagram.com/modernwhole
Tumblr: www.whatwe.do

Email: Ben@modernwhole.com

July 16, 2013 0 Comments

CAC May Interview with Musclemania Pro Figure Athlete, Kimmy Ross

I met Kimmy at a Musclemania Camp where she wanted to check out what the competitors did at camp. It’s interesting to read how some of her paths led her to so many amazing fitness opportunities. I can’t give away her story so I hope you will read her interview and feel free to share it!

I know you as a Musclemania Pro Figure athlete and Musclemania Camp Coach, but you also teach Zumba and have a career that is not fitness related. Can you tell me what you do and how you manage everything in your life?

I am a Registered Nurse and I currently work for a pharmaceutical company as a Respiratory Care Educator. I’m nationally certified to educate patients and healthcare providers on Asthma and other chronic lung conditions. Though the pay is invariably different, I definitely consider my work as a Group Fitness Instructor part of what I do for a living. The role of fitness in my life and its impact on the lives I encounter in my classes provide me with a huge sense of fulfillment.
It’s never really easy managing it all because there are always so many other things that I have to juggle. I consider my self a pretty organized person and I believe that since there are 1,440 minutes in a day, I can always find increments of time to accomplish something. I admit that I also have a a hard time putting limitations on myself because I like to get things done and done well. I really hate having an overflowing list of things to do so I work tirelessly a lot of times striving for completion of something. One of my favorite sayings as it relates to this is, “I’d rather be exhausted from success than well-rest from failure.”

Let’s talk about your fitness journey, what was your first show and what was the experience like for you? Did you set a specific goal for your first show?

The first time I ever stepped on a stage to compete as a Figure competitor was May 2012. I made the decision after I realized many seeds were being planted for me to do so. I was always in the gym and my workouts were intense. On more than one occasion I had been asked if I was a Figure competitor. I laughed at the notion because in my opinion I was nowhere near physically or mentally prepared for whatever that meant! After a few insightful conversations with one woman in particular, Dr. Rochelle Parks, who had been and remains a successful competitor and supporter, I did some research and made some decisions. I honestly thought it to be a highly unlikely undertaking since i could not imagine making the dietary or more specifically the wine sacrifices which I felt I needed in order to maintain my sanity at the job I had at the time.
Needless to say, I set a goal, made the sacrifices and took the plunge! My only goal was to NOT suck! I don’t know if you can publish that and I don’t know if it’s a life changing statement, but that was my goal. LOL

Kimmy Ross, Musclemania Pro Figure athlete

Kimmy Ross, Musclemania Pro Figure athlete

Training to compete becomes all consuming. It requires many hours of training and prepping over many weeks. It also requires a little sacrificing on our social life, was this the case with you and how did you handle it?

Preparation for my first show was at times overwhelming. With the knowledge I had gained through observation and research I decided to train myself. It was not long before I realized I could use some assistance with other aspects of the process that I was not familiar with – posing, strict meal preps, and nutritional supplements. Being in the gym was already my love, but I became this obsessed lover. I practically lived in the gym and when I was not there, I wished I were. Remember, I had a goal 🙂 . I found myself declining invitations from girlfriends, avoiding corporate happy hours and lavish meals with coworkers. With all my family being in Michigan and having a small circle in Houston, I felt alone and isolated a lot of times and I feared losing those friends. Truly the only people who understood were others who had taken or were currently taking the journey themselves. The friends who did know of my ambitions were very supportive even if they could not completely identify. They were amazingly supportive.
I decided the best way to handle it was to stay focused; talk with those who could relate and believe that it was all a part of short term sacrifices for long term success.

Kimmy Ross winning big at the 2012  Musclemania Lone Star show, winning Figure Overall.

Kimmy Ross winning big at the 2012 Musclemania Lone Star show, winning Figure Overall.

Having a Pro Figure card is what many competitors strive for and you achieved it in a short amount of time. What does this card mean to you and what do you think others think of having a Pro card means?

Having earned a qualifying Pro Figure card was an unexpected surprise. I mean, to a degree I had an understanding of what it meant and what it represented in the competitive world, but I suppose what it represented to me was validation. I knew there were a few people who for whatever reason(s) were not necessarily cheering me on. I know that everyone has their own team of supporters and ‘haters’. My past success and current Pro card proves that success is the best revenge. As for others who have earned their cards, I think it’s great. There will always be great competitors before me and after me. I can learn from them all.

What was the greatest challenge you faced while training and prepping to compete? What kept you going to finish what you started?

The greatest challenge I faced while training and prepping to compete was literally my intake and output! The dietary restrictions and water requirements were insane. I had to make a way to eat the meals I had prepared and get the water in. I do not work in an office. Most of my days at the time were spent on the road in and out of my car. The stories I could tell you about the digestive track and the human bladder would rightful earn their place in Ripley’s incredibly Funny Believe It or Not.
There were a few things that kept me going: God, my friends and supporters, my mentor(s), you, Christine were my awesome and kind posing Coach I referenced my ROCKY movies and music.

Every athlete has that one moment when they compete that they will never forget. I love these stories because these are so special and I know you have one to share, so please share away!

I could give you an entire list of cliche adjectives to describe my “amazing”, “unbelievable”, “incredible”, and “unforgettable” win, but none of them would do justice. I still get chills and teary-eyeed when I find myself passionately reliving not only the moment, but the journey that got me there.

Kimmy Ross' Jesus Cry moment!

Kimmy Ross’ Jesus Cry moment!

I can only compare it to one of my all-time favorite movies, ROCKY. Prior to making my decision to compete, I went to a MuscleMania prep camp as a spectator. I sat, observed and took pictures of women who I thought were ‘ones to beat.” I even positioned myself in the room so that I could hear the men coaching and jot down a few notes from those coaches as well. I then purchased a VIP ticket and went alone to my very first Musclemania show in Stafford, Texas. I sat up close and personal near folks who looked like they had knowledge about the competition world. There was one woman – a tall, beautiful blond with legs for days. Her body was impressive and I had her picture stored in my camera from the camp. I looked at it often along with others. The night of my first show after I had already won 1st place Masters and 2nd place Short, I was rushed back to the stage. I was sooooo clueless thinking, ‘Why do I have to go back? I already won.” I was told I had to compete in the overall judging (“Ummm, okay?”). As I stood on the stairs to go on to the stage I glanced up at the woman on the staircase in front of me. It was HER! The tall blond on my camera! I became really confused. I looked behind me to see if others were lining up with us. When I realized no one else was coming. I literally thought they just picked me because they needed someone to be on stage with her because surely I was not really about to “compete” against this woman. Well, I was wrong. Our names were called; we went on stage, posed and awaited the results. I heard the announcer say and the overall winner of 2012 Musclemania Lone Star is ‘First time competitor…” I knew RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT IT WAS ME because I had seen the blond lady in a previous show. So it went like this, “and the overall winner of 2012 Musclemania Lone Star is ‘First time competitor, Ms. Kimmy Ross!” I could hear my small group of friends who had traveled to Galveston to support me screaming! Me being totally unfamiliar with bodybuilding etiquette (inspite of all the videos I watched), went immediately into what I call the “Jesus Cry”. I WAS SO HAPPY! 15 rounds (15 weeks) and I got in the ring and competed against myself and my real life Apollo. There was no split decision. I, an unkown competitor took home 3 trophies that night and the title, Champ! It was my ROCKY scene come true!

After Kimmy won the Figure Short class, she went into the Overall title against the Figure Tall winner, Sondra Smith. And the Overall title goes to...... first time competitor Kimmy Ross!

After Kimmy won the Figure Short class, she went into the Overall title against the Figure Tall winner, Sondra Smith. And the Overall title goes to…… first time competitor Kimmy Ross!

Some athletes do multiple shows in a year and some choose one or two shows a year. Which approach is better for you and why? What is your goal you try to achieve when you step on stage?

I have learned that the first thing people want to know once you step off stage is when will you step back on stage. Oh my goodness. It became the most anticipated question when speaking with people even to this day. For me, it is not the quantity of shows I will do. It will be the quality of the shows and the quality of my work. The encouragement that was instilled in me to choose the Open category in Las Vegas Fitness Universe against several creme de la creme competitors and to be the oldest in the Top 5 challenged me to push the envelope. I am thankful to God for insightful individuals like you Christine who helped me chart my course and challenge myself. With your guidance I was able to bring home another huge honor as 3rd place winner in November 2012 Fitness Universe – Musclemania’s largest international show. If you gonna win, you may as well win BIG! The choice I have made thus far have worked for me without regret.
My goal on stage has changed a little from what I mentioned earlier. Of course, I still want to be a fierce, friendly competitor on stage, but now when I strut across stage, I also want my spotlight to shine even brighter so that it reaches that person who may be sitting in the audience like I did a year ago trying to make the decision to take a life changing journey.

Words to live by: Be a woman of your word.

Words to live by: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

May 16, 2013 0 Comments

April Interview with Nichola Smiles – Bikini Competitor, Mom, Engineer, and Fitness Instructor

When I first met Nichola Smiles at a Musclemania camp, the only thing I knew about her at the time was that she was about to compete in her first show; I had no idea she was a single mom, Civil Engineer, and Fitness Instructor. Nichola’s transformation is incredible and her story lets you know that no matter what, if the mind is willing the body will follow. You can also follow Nichola’s fitness life on Facebook, www.facebook.com/Fittersmiles.

Some of us seen your before and after picture but many of us don’t know the details of your transformation. I’d love to know what made you decide to lose the weight, how much did you lose, and how long did it take?

As described by Nichola when asked for this photo, "THE dreadED PICTURE"

As described by Nichola when asked for this photo, “THE dreadED PICTURE”

It had been about 8 months since graduating from the University of Houston and I took full advantage of having more money in my pocket by going to too many work lunches, happy hours and reverse happy hours. I first noticed that my weight had gotten out of control in January 2008 at my friend’s wedding. I recall seeing a picture thinking “Holy Sh**!” By the time of the wedding I was approaching 180 lbs and I knew that moment i had to change. People always ask the question now, ‘How long did it take you?’. I had no idea four years ago I would be a fitness competitor. Getting to this physique came in phases. My first goal was just to get to 145 lbs for a girls trip to Miami in 2008. I was content with my shape until I decided to become a Group Exercise Instructor which further changed my body. Then after 2 years of teaching and being 130 lbs, I thought “What’s next?”…Compete!!! At my first competition, my body completely transformed to a muscular physique, weighing 110lbs at 5’2”. However, that weight is not realistic for me during “off season” and I am currently 120 lbs +/-
5lbs!

Of all the shows you competed in, which one was the most challenging for you and why?

Before and After

Before and After

My first show was challenging. I didn’t know what to expect at all. I was changing a “normal” body and changing it to a “competitor” body. So naturally I thought, “How on earth will this happen?” I guess that is why I have a great personal trainer and awesome posing coach. The best advice you have ingrained in me is to not have any expectations. Just do what needs to be done and have fun in the process.

Like many competitors, you are more than just an athlete. What other roles do you have and how do you manage to juggle everything and still compete?

A lot people don’t realize that being an athlete is a very small part of my busy life. I graduated from the University of Houston 6 years ago with a BS in Civil Engineering. I have worked as an engineer for KBR since then. I am also a fitness instructor for 24 hour fitness, a job I am truly passionate about. BUT my most important job though is mother to my 14 year old son, Joshua. I had him at a very very young age. But I never let my circumstances to define me. My parents always emphasized the importance of education, so no matter what I knew that not graduating high school and college was NOT an option. People are always shocked that I have ALL THIS going on in my life and I still maintain a positive attitude. I have even been teased “Damn, do you drink a lot of coffee?” I am not going to lie, being a teenage mother and engineering student had to be the most challenging time of my life. There were several days I had “temper tantrums” but those days are long gone. I have truly been blessed and I know any goal is possible as long as you stay committed.

Nichola and her son, Joshua

Nichola and her son, Joshua

What is it about competing that you enjoy so much besides achieving a stellar physique at the end of the training process?

The greatest thing I would say that I get from competing is meeting new people that have the same passion and ambition. Naturally, I am drawn to meeting new people. I have made some long lasting friendships from this experience. The training process can be quite stressful and exhausting. However when you surround yourself with fellow competitors going through the same process, it can be quite entertaining. The moments when you are violently hungry and you are scrounging for that last morsel of rice, or that moment during peak week when you are rushing to the restroom because you feel that you “might” spring a leak, no one understands the pain more than your competitor friends. It definitely provides great entertainment on Facebook newsfeeds :D.

You traveled to Las Vegas to compete in one of the biggest shows, Fitness America Pageant, what stood out to you the most from this show?

It was BIG! The stage, the venue, and the number of competitors. To be honest, I was intimidated! The moment arrived for registration; I was blown away to see 200+ bikini competitors in line. I know I worked hard for this show, but DAMN! Every single girl was on their A game. I was honored to share the stage with some of the best athletes from all over the world.

There are so many women that want to compete but haven’t made the decision to do it. What would you say to a woman that is considering competing but not sure about it?

Nichola posing with friends and fellow competitors, Kimmy Ross (left) and Dr. Rochelle Parks (right)

Nichola posing with friends and fellow competitors, Kimmy Ross (left) and Dr. Rochelle Parks (right)

Like NIKE “Just DO IT” It’s a great bucket list item! It initially was a “before 30” bucket list item for me, but it eventually became more. It might sound cheesy but in one year of training and competing it changed me for the better. It taught me to be selfish. But selfish in a good way. I loved that the time dedicated to this hobby was focused on me accomplishing a goal. You have to make so many sacrifices. Yes, your social life suffers quite a bit, but the greatest thing is that, I learned how to tell people “NO.” I learned that you can’t go around pleasing people all the time and life is about doing what makes you happy. In this last year of learning more about the bodybuilding industry, I discovered I had a deeper passion for fitness outside of just teaching group exercise classes. I guess the hours of cardio alone time allow you to meditate and learn about yourself.

What’s the funniest/comical situation that has ever happened to you while preparing for a competition?

I have so many situations that are comical, maybe cause weird comical stuff always happens to me. The one that always stands out in my mind was a posing session with you when you called me out on my ashy feet. LOL! We were about to start, and you happened to glanced down at my feet and you had the look of horror as you said “Giiiiiirrrrrrlllll, what is up with your feet, you need to put Vaseline on those feet!” What’s really bad that you couldn’t event start my session until my feet were properly taken care of. I knew it was bad when you GAVE me your personal stash of Eucerin. I know never to make that mistake again and I bought a big ole thing of Eucerin.

Words you live by:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.

I remember running the Houston Half marathon 5 years ago and I would chant this in head just to motivate me to keep running. I recall feeling like I wanted to quit and start walking, then a woman ran pass me and on the back of her shirt was that exact saying I had chanted all along. Talk about perfect timing. I took it as a sign not to give up on anything.

April 14, 2013 0 Comments

March Interview with Bikini Client, Lisa Weetmen – GO BIG OR GO HOME!!!!

For most first time competitors, choosing a local show is the first step. Well, for Lisa Weetman she decided to compete in LONDON as her VERY FIRST SHOW! Oh wait, but before getting to London she hung out in Greece for a few weeks and here I am (her nutritionist) saying, ‘sure, no problem’! As you read on, you’ll find out there were a lot of interesting challenges and she shares with us her journey around the world as a competitor.

Photo credit: Steven Grant of Grant Photography

Photo credit: Steven Grant of Grant Photography

2012 was your first year competing in Bikini, how many shows did you compete in and which one stood out to you the most?

I competed in two shows. One in America, and one in the UK. Musclemania London European and Commonwealth Championship, and Musclemania Space City. London stood out to me immediately because of the style and mannerisms of the European contestants. Both show had the same production, same backdrops, same lighting, same setup, same type of music. However, a very different atmosphere. If you think about Soccer, it’s a worldwide sport but every country has their own approach. The Brazilian’s are known to be passionately flamboyant players, where as the British bring a no-nonsense attitude. Same sport, unique style. I saw Musclemania to reflect that same concept.

Even though I am British, I had been coached in the US, so my own culture felt foreign to me! I felt conflicted in London as my US Posing Coach had smacked the British stiff upper lip out of me, to create an American showman, only to put myself right back in the thick of it. It’s interesting; it seems no matter where you are in the world, contestants want to perform with energy, with charisma and to ultimately put on a show, but how interesting to see how culture defines what exactly that means.

Lisa Weetman in her theme wear, King's Gaurd, at the London Musclemania show

Lisa Weetman in her theme wear, King’s Gaurd, at the London Musclemania show

You went big on your first show, what I mean by that is you decided to compete in Musclemania London as your very first show! What made you decide to do that show?

A wise person once said to me, to always push to be the best version of yourself. At the heart of my decision was a very scary and exciting choice to experience what I am on an eternal quest for, personal growth. I was okay with the unknown and possibly falling flat on my face because failure or success wasn’t on my mind. My self esteem was the goal. To better myself was the goal. I knew what i wanted, and I wanted it bad enough to take my two left feet to another country and simply experience.

Traveling out of state to compete can be stressful, so I’m sure traveling out of the country is even more stressful. What were some of the3 challenges you found yourself in and how did you overcome those challenges?

“I am stuck on an Island in the middle of Aegean and I can’t find Nutrition Depot anywhere!”

Three weeks prior to the London show I spent time in my families home in Greece which posed some interesting challenges….I’m cringing just thinking about it.

Diet was by far the most frustrating part of the whole experience. Some nutritional supplements that are illegal in the US, are legal in Europe. Food you can buy here (US), is not available elsewhere. So we had to be very careful to read the label on all supplements I was taking, and finding what food sources were available.

Going to the pharmacy on the island was quite a humbling experience. Describing to the little Greek ladies that I needed natural water pills like Uva Ursi or Dandelion Root, required demonstrations of being bloated and lovely descriptions such as “makes you go pee pee”. It was also quite interesting having conversations with the locals about the acquisition of grapefruit, and the feeling like it was my birthday when it finally arrived on the Island.

Photo credit: Steven Grant of Grant Photography

Photo credit: Steven Grant of Grant Photography

Traveling while dieting for a competition is exhausting. I found my body needed a lot of time to adapt, and my mind needed even more time to stop wanting to punch everybody in the face. Which brings me to stress. Oh the joys of stress coupled with dieting and exhaustion. Have you ever felt like everyone is avoiding you? Traveling overseas is simply hard on your mind and body. I felt overwhelmed a lot of the time. Which brings me to my solution. Support. I overcame all these challenges because I didn’t do it alone. I worked with an amazing Posing Coach before I left (Jennifer Becerra Wilson) and practiced everyday while away. I was in constant communication with my nutritionist (CAC) who talked me though everything, researched alternatives, asked for pictures, and kept me focused. I would not have been ready to compete abroad if I didn’t have the right people guiding me. Team work, that was how I overcame.

Then you competed in Space City (Houston beginner show) a month later. Each show is different so can you share what you thought was a stark difference between the London show and the Houston show?

Well, after competing in the Space City show, I felt a stark difference between the two in that, Space City held a higher standard in quality of what I understood to represent the Musclemania organization. It appeared to me that the American contestants are better coached to meet standards and expectations. How the contestants choose to represent themselves in Musclemania, I felt was more professional in the US. However, it is my understanding that Musclemania is still new to London and could possibly be still trying to differentiate itself from the other organizations.

Lisa competing in Space City during the Bikini round. Photo credit: James Allen Photography

Lisa competing in Space City during the Bikini round. Photo credit: James Allen Photography

So you’re going back to compete at the London show in 2013 and this time you will be even more prepared. If someone was thinking about competing overseas, what would you tell that person?
Pick up a copy of the survival guide, “put your big girl panties on” and JUST DO IT.

Risk taking is naturally scary, but it is also one of the most important things you can do to move out of your comfort zone and spark growth. Take the risk, it will build your self confidence, your self respect, and courage. Surround yourself with supportive people who are knowledgeable and will cheer you on. Ignore your critics and the judgements of others. Understand that risk taking is an investment in yourself. It has to be your decision.

Prepare, expect the unexpected, and practice.

That’s what I would say.

Best advice anyone ever gave you?

Question everything.

Words to live by:

Always let your conscience be your guide – Jiminy Cricket

How do you want to be remembered as a competitor?

As kind.

March 10, 2013 0 Comments

Interview with Kat Barefield, Registered Dietitian with DotFit

CAC February interview is with Kat Barefield, Dietitian for DotFIT. What makes Kat incredibly impressive is her background in Athletic Training and Sports Nutrition as well as being a Registered Dietitian. I’m used to seeing Dietitian’s on TV that look like, well, Dietitians. Kat looks like she could compete, I asked her this question and I wasn’t expecting her answer! She’s smart, has a very cool job with one of the top online fitness and weight loss program, DotFIT, and probably heard every excuse in the book when it comes to losing weight. I hope you enjoy this interview with Kat as much as I did!

Kat Barefield, Registered Dietitian DotFit

Kat Barefield, Registered Dietitian DotFit

What motivated you to become a Dietitian, where did you attend college, and what is the most challenging part of being a Dietitian?

I earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Athletic Training from San Diego State University. After getting married and having my son, I went to work in the fitness industry and found the nutrition aspect of fitness, performance and weight control intriguing. I decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Sports Nutrition while working and having my daughter. Following that, one of my mentors, Neal Spruce*, helped me complete dietetic courses, a 2 year dietetic internship and I passed the registration exam to become a Registered Dietitian. The most challenging part of being a dietitian is keeping up with all of the new information in such a broad field – weight control, medical nutrition therapy, dietary supplements, sports nutrition, food science, etc.

*Neal Spruce is chairman of the board for the prestigious National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and founder of dotFIT Worldwide. Neal is a fitness specialist, author, licensed teacher, researcher, bodybuilding champion, personal fitness consultant and speaker.

Prior to creating dotFIT, Spruce founded Apex Fitness, a research and development company that eventually became part of Fitness Holdings World Wide, the parent company of 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc. While with Apex, Spruce and his team developed fitness programs used in over 1500 fitness facilities worldwide, currently serving over 500,000 new participants annually. Spruce also created the revolutionary bodybugg® calorie management system, which in 2005 received the “Best of What’s New in Personal Health” award from Popular Science and was featured on NBC’s hit television show, “The Biggest Loser.”

You probably work with a lot of people that struggle to lose weight, what are the 3 most common mistakes you see them make?

I’ve found that the most common mistakes people make when attempting weight loss is 1) not doing the mental and emotional preparation to stay motivated throughout the process of changing long-standing habits, 2) going away from what got them to their goal and 3) attempting fad diets and quick fixes. Also, many people don’t take the time to identify the crucial moments in their daily routines which cause them to make poor choices, and then plan strategies to deal with them. They rely too much on their willpower, which is drastically overrated in my opinion.

There are so many online nutritional coaches available, what 3 things should a person consider before hiring one?

I believe credentials, experience and referrals are important when hiring someone for nutrition coaching. It’s important that people get evidence-based recommendations and not be misled by diet and fitness trends.

What makes the dotFIT program different from other online nutrition programs?

The dotFIT program is a holistic, evidence-based program which incorporates proven tools for success. The program is delivered by certified fitness professionals, includes a line of professional products which are delivered using a professional method. The client ends up with a customized online plan based on their goal, which includes daily calorie burn and intake targets, menus designed by dietitians, progress tracking, a food log, and exercise log and a customized dietary supplement plan. Fitness professional further tailor it towards their client and incorporate exercise plans for the client. Another level of accountability is added with the trainers ability to access their clients program and view their data at any point in time.

Dr. Mike Clark is the Chief Science Officer of Sharecare (host to dotFIT), former CEO of NASM, and Physical Therapist for the NBA Phoenix Suns and other professional athletes.

Dr. Mike Clark is the Chief Science Officer of Sharecare (host to dotFIT), former CEO of NASM, and Physical Therapist for the NBA Phoenix Suns and other professional athletes.

Any words of encouragement to someone that is trying and has been trying for some time now to lose weight but not succeeding?

First, successful weight losers attempt multiple times, so don’t give up. Next, take the time and do the work to create a vision for yourself at your ideal body size/weight. What will your life be like if you achieved that goal? How will you feel and what would you do differently? Contract that with what your life will be like if you never accomplished your goal. You can journal the vision, or create a collage or simply do a list of pros and cons. Once you know why, you can endure any “how” – that’s one of my favorite sayings.

What is the biggest nutrition myth you hear all the time and what is fact?

I hear a lot, but the biggest one is “I’m not losing weight because I’m not eating enough.” The fact is, people who truly do not eat enough to support their body end up wasting away and become malnourished and some die of starvation. The research shows that people truly think they eat less than they actually do – whether it’s being a poor judge of portions/calories and having what I call “calorie amnesia”. That is, eating mindlessly because they’re not paying attention.

Kat was a featured guest on Dr. Oz's show for a weight loss segment and also part of the Nike Elite trainers for his Move It and Lose It weight loss program in 2011. Kat was on Dr. Oz's show when he launched the program and also hosted a couple live webcasts with him in NYC for the program participants.

Kat was a featured guest on Dr. Oz’s show for a weight loss segment and also part of the Nike Elite trainers for his Move It and Lose It weight loss program in 2011. Kat was on Dr. Oz’s show when he launched the program and also hosted a couple live webcasts with him in NYC for the program participants.

Some of my friends (and me) are dying to know if you ever competed in a figure/fitness competition? If no: ever consider it at some point? If yes: we want to hear about it!

I have never competed in figure/fitness. I’ve thought about it, but my passion is really in Latin/ballroom dance like Rumba, Salsa, Cha Cha Cha and bolero, and I do plan on competing in this. I’ve always believed that you should do what you love, and I feel so much joy when I dance.

Best advice given to you and how do you apply it to your life now?

Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from what you can do. Every time I feel overwhelmed by life, I break it down to baby steps and focus on that one step. Also, the time is going to pass by anyways, so why not accomplish your goals and dreams? When I was working, raising young kids and earning my master’s degree and Dietitian credential, I would always tell myself that. That process was one of the toughest experiences I’ve had, and I knew that I would get through by chipping away, one baby step, one chapter, one exam, one day at a time. Finally, God has bigger dreams for you than you could ever dream for yourself. Trust Him, He knows what He’s doing, so you’re never alone. In fact, we’re all in this together.

Kat’s social media contact info:
Twitter: @KatdotFIT
Facebook: www.facebook.com/katbarefieldRD
dotFIT’s Facebook: www.facebook.com/fitnesshealth

February 11, 2013 Comments Off on Interview with Kat Barefield, Registered Dietitian with DotFit
314567_4983139293097_1962987610_n DSC_9532%20bw%20web[1] mm_16 HDR4[1] (2) 530961_4803047190907_1718520606_n HDR4[1] Nina-028web

CAC Interview with Nina Kneblik, Bikini Competitor

For some people, they live, work, and train in the same city. For Nina, she lives, works, and trains in three different cities and recently competed in one of the biggest shows in the country, Fitness America in Las Vegas.

1) Along with being a bikini competitor, what other roles do you have in your day to day life?

In addition to being a mother to my 18 year old son and a loving wife to my husband of 21 years, I’m fully employed as a Senior Administrative Secretary for OB/GYN at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.

2) How do you manage your time during the week to get everything you need to do to prep for your competitions?

I manage my time by creating a weekly schedule to get everything I need to prepare for competition 12 to 16 weeks out. My schedule includes cooking 5 to 6 meals a day, scheduling weight training, posing sessions, and making sure to complete 5 to 7 hours of cardio a week; very often waking up at 4am to get my cardio in. My husband, Jerry, helps me in so many ways. Sometimes he grocery shops to ensure I have what I need to stay on my meal plan. When we’re out together, he often makes sure I’m eating my meals on schedule. He builds my confidence by telling me the improvements or changes he sees in my body. Most of all, he attends my competitions and helps keep me organized and focused.

3) Besides achieving a stellar physique on competition day, what would be the next best thing about contest prep that you like?

The confidence I get from seeing the changes in my body week to week. The encouragement I get from the people supporting me such as my trainer, posing coach, family and friends.

Nina's Themewear outfit custom made by Memorial Tailors in Katy, TX.

Nina’s Theme wear outfit custom made by Memorial Tailors in Katy, TX.

4) You recently competed in the Fitness America Pageant held in Las Vegas, can you tell us about your experience competing at this level for the first time?

Preparing and traveling for the Las Vegas show was quite challenging. Since the show was a series of days rather than one day, I had to cook and prepare food for 4 days and store it in a cooler that was suitable for travel. I also created a check list of everything I need to make sure I wouldn’t forget anything. The experience competing at this level was unbelievable! I’m honored to share the stage with so many amazing competitors from around the world. I placed 10th out of 25 competitors in the Bikini Classic Division (Bikini Classic is 35+). Regardless of the outcome, I”m ecstatic with the results being my first national show.

5) What type of professional service(s) did you feel you needed to hire in order to be prepared for the stage or did you decide to compete on a whim and try your luck at it?

I feel it’s important to hire professional services in order to be successful in preparing for a show. Even after two shows, I’m still learning and feeling more confident every time I step on stage. None of this would be possible without the help from my trainer, Travis Johnson of CORE Fitness, my trainer Larry Clark at Xcel Fitness, my posing coach Christine Anderson of CAC, my theme wear designer, Mario Duarte at Memorial Tailors and my competition suit designer, JoAnne Hopkins with Ripple Swimwear. All of these people played an important role in helping me look amazing on stage.

Nina with her trainer, Travis Johnson of CORE Fitness

Nina with her trainer, Travis Johnson of CORE Fitness

Nina with posing coach, Christine Anderson and her daughter, Nohea

Nina with posing coach, Christine Anderson and her daughter, Nohea

6) Do you have any words of wisdom for others thinking about competing?

To be patient. It doesn’t happen overnight. Anything is possible if you believe.

7) What was the best advice anyone has given you while on this journey of competing?

Enjoy every opportunity and live every moment with no regrets. It’s when you’re not scared of losing that you win everything.

Photo shoot with photographer, Eva Simon in Las Vegas

Photo shoot with photographer, Eva Simon in Las Vegas

January 11, 2013 0 Comments