Friday, April 15, 2016

Interview with Brittani Simpson

In our earlier days, we saw this woman named Brittani Simpson, who was tearing it up in the figure and bodybuilding rankings in the local level and had high hopes for her when it came to competing in the National level and eventually the IFBB. Unfortunately, fate dealt a cruel hand and unfortunately, she was unable to pursue her pro card, which we honestly thought was inevitable at that point in time. Earlier this year, she made her return to the stage after a long absence, and it's almost like she picked backed up right where she left off. We asked Brittani if we could do an interview with her and she was very gracious in taking the time to do one with us. 

Also, photos used in the interview belong to Brittani herself (unless otherwise noted below the photo(s))

An elegant photo one day after her return to the stage this year.
Photographer: Tracy Coggin

FitGems Nation (FN): Thank you for wanting to be interviewed by us, Brittani!  Let's start off with telling us a little bit about yourself (name/occupation/how long you've been in the fitness industry, etc.)
Brittani Simpson (BS): My name is Brittani Simpson, and I work for E. & J. Gallo Winery as the Shopper Marketing Manager for the Northwest.  I've worked for Gallo for over 20 years in Sales and Marketing and a couple of years in our International Division.  However, my first occupation is Mom. This role always has priority in my life, and I've been blessed to have a challenging and rewarding career with Gallo, while being present and involved with my kids' lives.
I have always been active in many sports and started lifting weights in college in 1990.  As a challenge to myself to get "in the best shape of my life" after having kids, and to push myself way out of my comfort zone, I decided to compete at the NPC Vancouver Natural in 2008.  I was already in great shape at 11% body fat (always using hydrostatic testing), and in 9 weeks I leaned down to 6% and won the Masters Overall in my first competition.  Although I had never been to a show, nor did I know anything about them or the fitness industry, I had an incredible experience and decided to continue with improving my physique and compete again in the fall of 2008.  I won Overall Figure at the NPC Seven Feathers and NPC NW Championships shows and became even more excited to pursue a Pro Card.

FG: How did you get involved in the fitness industry in the first place?
BS: When I would train at the gym, people would sometimes ask me if I competed.  I was only 122 lbs and a size 2-4 (not what I envisioned as a bodybuilder!) so I had no idea what they were talking about, but then I found out about the Figure division and could see that it might be a fit for my body type.  I am a modest person and have struggled with body dysmorphia, and my "size", my whole life so I thought it might be a good opportunity for me to work through those issues and enter into a sport that actually celebrated my physique type.  As a child and teenager my mom would always say that I should be a bodybuilder, but I always wanted to be a ballet dancer.  Apparently, mothers often do know best!

FG: What do you enjoy most about competing and/or modeling?
BS: I love learning something new about myself and my capabilities every time I prep for a show.  It always takes me to a new level!

FG: Which do you feel is your greatest strength while training: cardio or weight-training?
BS: Weight training is my biggest strength and has added the most value to my life.  I am an avid outdoor enthusiast and also participate in many other sports, so weight training is essential to keeping me active and involved in what I love to do.

FG: What is the hardest thing you have had to deal with when it comes to the fitness industry?
BS: There was a lot of confusing and contradictory nutrition and workout information coming at me when I started, and it took me some time to figure out that there are many ways to accomplish a similar result, but I needed to find out what was best for my body and my long term well-being, while also fitting it all into my demanding schedule.

FG: What division do you compete in, and what’s the best thing in your opinion about competing in that division?
BS: While I can put on muscle easier than most, I prefer to stay smaller and stay in the Figure division.  I have fairly advanced osteoarthritis and find that I have less pain when I am lighter on my joints. I will not be moving to the Physique division as some would like me to do.  I also like that I can be totally natural and be in a sport that is suited to my muscular body type while staying very feminine.

An early photo of Brittani from 2009
Photographer: Duane Harper

FG: You were a top rising star back in 2009, when you took the Emerald Cup by storm, doing very well in both bodybuilding and figure (as pointed out years ago on our own site: While to many, a pro card seemed like a foregone conclusion, you disappeared altogether. Do you mind sharing with us what made you decide to step away from the stage for a while, and what made you decide to come back now?
BS: Well, first of all, I really appreciate your support and encouragement. Thank you so much for such a wonderful article!  I actually started training immediately after the Emerald Cup for the USA Nationals and believed I could get my Pro Card with a few changes and a bit leaner physique.  I hired a coach from Dr. Berardi's team at Precision Nutrition, Krista Schaus, to take me to the next level with a deep dive into my body type, hormones, etc.  It was an intense 6 months of training and dieting with body fat tests every two weeks (12 pt caliper and hydrostatic) to see how I reacted to different diets and work outs.  However, during this time, I was in the middle of a difficult divorce and custody battle.  Additionally, in the fall of 2009, we found out my dad had Stage 3 Prostrate cancer with very few treatment options available that could save his life.  My parents were at my house almost every weekend to get tests in Portland, and between taking care of myself, my two young kids, and them, I was pretty overwhelmed.  Then, just 2 weeks before Nationals, one of my nieces had a psychotic break induced by a traumatic incident that year.  My parents needed my sister and I at the hospital to help understand all the medical jargon, but my niece needed us also.  Subsequently, my sister went to be with my parents, and I went to be with my niece.  I decided that my family needed me more than getting a Pro Card, and I stopped my prep less than 2 weeks from the show.  I knew I was making the right choice and have no regrets.  I still had a lot to deal with in my divorce, and eventually I won the custody battle, settled everything and moved to Camas, Washington, in 2011.  I never stopped training, but I also needed to focus on adapting to being a single mom, managing my career, and the travel that comes with it.  My company and my kids are very supportive of me competing again, and I have a great routine and wonderful support system established now.  Everything fell into place last year for me to be able to start prepping for a show.  My protocols are VERY different than most competitors since I am completely natural and deal with a few hereditary health issues.  They have been big hurdles for me - but not road blocks!

(Editors's Note: What a journey this woman has been through! God has truly blessed her in so many ways.)

FG: Is an IFBB Pro card still in the plans for you in 2016?
BS: I just found out that I have to have surgery this year and will need 6-8 weeks to recover so I don't think that it will be possible this year.

FG: With the rise of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, Instagram, etc,), how important do you feel it is for people in the fitness industry to participate in it?
BS: I believe that if you need to make your living in the fitness industry, it's very important for you to maximize your presence and image with social media.  Your audience is probably Millennials so you should learn how to target that demographic.  I work in a completely different industry, and we use social media more and more every year.  I do not have the goal to be famous or get attention to validate my self-worth.  However, I have come to recognize that my journey, lifestyle, and success provide a lot of inspiration to others.  I have a lot of people contact me and ask me questions about how I stay fit and healthy while doing so much with my kids as a single mom and managing a successful career.  There is a big opportunity for me to teach and help other business professionals, and that is how I'd like to give back to others.  Given my current demanding schedule, I will only be coaching a handful of clients at any given time.

Fountain of youth, ladies and gentlemen!
Photographer: Tracy Coggin

FG: Who (living or dead) do you look up to for inspiration, whether they are part of the fitness industry or not?
BS: I am blessed to have an incredible inner passion for life and am a lifelong learner.  I read and listen to books and podcasts constantly.  Therefore, my inspiration comes from a variety of business professionals and sources.  I have not had many lifestyle role models in my life and not one individual person has "the life" that I want to live.  I am very intentional in my choices, and how I live, and have found that my greatest inspiration comes from myself and staying active.  I don't try to emulate anyone else's body or style.  Instead, I focus on being the best I can be. When I'm feeling a bit down, or discouraged by my own issues, three people come to mind that inspire me: one is this guy with an obvious severe muscular disease barely able to walk into the gym, another is a lady that has to have her service dog with her on the gym floor because she has seizures, and lastly is a veteran who lost his legs and comes in to work out in his wheel chair. Those people face adversity beyond my own, and if they can show up in spite of the challenges they live with every day, so can I.  So can everyone!!

FG: I know everyone wants to be the first "them" (as it should be), but is there any competitor (past or present) that you look at and say, "Okay...that's the look I'm aiming for"?
BS: The few famous competitors that I am familiar with have elements of their presentation that I respect and admire, but my life and body type are so different that I do not compare myself to them or aim to look like anyone else.  To be perfectly honest, I could not name more than a handful of competitors in this industry.  My time is limited, and I hone in on what I need to learn and know (posing, diet, workouts), and I hire the best coaches around to work with me to be my best.  I chose Michelle Herzog to help me with my competition prep and all that it entails (diet, workout plans, optimal brain and hormone function, stage refinement, etc.) because she is incredibly knowledgeable and shares the same fierce values about being natural and finding natural solutions to issues versus taking short cuts that could lead to long term problems.  I chose Andre Scott with Posing Perfection as my posing coach because I think he is one of the best in the Northwest.  Lastly, I chose Sekona Taufa to help me with a few sessions of training to help me work my lower body without causing inflammation and stress to my back and knees - where my arthritis is the most advanced. He is a Natural Pro Bodybuilder that is my same age and has had some similar injuries and understands how to modify exercises to minimize pain and further injury.  He is also an incredible mentor and supporter to me and many others in our area.

FG: If you weren’t part of the fitness industry, what would you be doing now?
BS: My family and career will always be my priorities, but I am working on incorporating more fitness and health awareness into my industry.  This will always be a part of my life because I passionately believe in health and wellness.  If I am not competing, you can rest assured that I am working behind the scenes on my health and helping others attain their optimal selves.

FG: What (if anything) would you change about the fitness industry as a whole (NOT just about the division you compete in)?
BS: This may not be a popular response, but I'll be honest.  I am sometimes ashamed of the fitness industry and how others promote themselves.  The first show that I ever watched was in 2014 (I had only competed but never been a spectator), and I was shocked by the bikini competition.  My girlfriend, who is also a business professional, was with me and was considering competing in this division.  Our jaws literally dropped, and we said there was no way she could do those poses and have her pictures on the internet. It looked like strip club recruiting, not a fitness competition.  I wish that it were more classy and respectful because those women work hard and are beautiful, but the "T&A" shaking and bent over posing is not something I enjoy seeing, nor does it best show off all of that hard work while maintaining the respect women crave and deserve.
Lastly, I try not judge others for the choices they make to take "supplements" that help them gain muscle or lean down, but my hope is that they think about the long term effects on their bodies and quality of life.  After all, this is "body building", not "body destruction".

(Editor's Note: I can't say AMEN enough for this response!!!!!)

FG: After your competition days are completed, how do you plan on give back to the fitness industry?
BS: I am working on a transition to being a Corporate Trainer - meaning I will teach management classes and incorporate nutrition and fitness into my teaching.  At Gallo, we have also started teaching the Corporate Athlete, and I'd like to write a book and speak to audiences about staying healthy while working in demanding careers and traveling.  We have a lot of challenges that most people never have to deal with, and I have over 20 years of experience with constant travel in my job and many tips and tricks to share with others.  I'd love to make the world a healthier, better place!

FG: Bottom line, what is YOUR ultimate goal in the fitness industry, the one thing you feel that you HAVE to do before you call it a career?
BS: I have to get my Pro Card!  I also want to be a positive, life changing educator for as many people as possible.

FG: Any closing words for your fans and supporters?
BS: We all have unique journeys that will be full of trials, tribulations, injuries, and issues.  Know your values and the reasons why it's important to stay fit and healthy.  Stay strong to those values. Motivation comes from working hard every day.  The harder you work and the more consistent you are, the stronger your motivation becomes.  I love to hear success stories and help others, so feel free to contact me!

Her return at the 2016 NPC Vancouver National Championships. The best is yet to come!
Photo credit: NPC News Online

FG: Again, thank you so much for doing this interview with us! For those that want to keep up on your future competitions and other plans, how can fans contact you? (Facebook fan page, Twitter, Instagram, email, website, blog, other social media outlets, etc.) Also, if there's anything you want to plug in, you are more than welcome to do so.
BS: Thank you so much for this opportunity to share my journey!  You can find me in any of these places:
Instagram:  Brittani.Simpson
Facebook:  Brittani Simpson (Athlete): 

We wish Brittani all the happiness and success in the world as she continues on her journey to becoming an IFBB Pro and making a difference in the lives of others! FYI, she plans on making some big updates to her website and Facebook in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to our social media links as we will keep you all informed. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

OPINION: Is Hollywood Afraid of Fit Women?

All photos belong to their respective owners.

Hey ladies, if you ever want to have a successful career in Hollywood, here’s a small tip I can give you…don’t ever pick up a weight, but if you do, make sure it’s those colorful weights that weigh 3-5 pounds each.

You think I’m joking, don’t you? You honestly think I’m making a joke here. Sad thing is…I wish I was.

It has been made abundantly clear that Hollywood and the mainstream media seem to have some form of intimidation issue with fit woman and don’t want to showcase them in any positive manner when it comes to the entertainment world. However, the sports world is a different story, especially more now than ever before.

On August 1st, 2015, Ronda Rousey defeated previously unbeaten Bethe Correia to remain undefeated in UFC, retaining the World Bantamweight Championship in the main event of UFC 190. Yes…the MAIN EVENT. As in THE fight that people pay to see the most. Since then, things in the division began to get very interesting when Holly Holm shocked the world at UFC 193 and defeated Rousey for the title (main-event, as well) and then at UFC 197, Mishea Tate defeated Holm to finally capture the title (part of a massive double main-event). For several UFC events, fit, tough women have been in the spotlight and have shown that fit women can draw a crowd if done right.

While it hasn’t always been that way, the sports world is beginning to see that women just aren’t the same “cute, cookie-cutter stereotype” they used to be. They are starting to realize that strong is the new sexy. The NFL has recently hired their first coach in Dr. Jen Welter, a football player herself who has no problem showing the men how it’s done on the gridiron. The NBA hired their first coach in Becky Hammon, who ended up making even more history by becoming the first women to win a championship in the NBA (yes, it was the Summer League, but a championship is a championship, nethertheless). CrossFit has become super-popular in a short amount of time, and many would argue that the reason for that is Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet, who won last year’s CrossFit Games but has been viewed as arguably THE Face of CrossFit (not just the female side) for quite some time. Even WWE’s got in on the “Strong is the New Sexy” movement with their #DivaRevolution with NXT favorites Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch making waves on the main roster (and will be heading to Wrestlemania to compete for the Divas Championship in a much-anticipated Triple Threat match), with ladies such as Bayley, Alexa Bliss, Carmella, Askua, Emma, and Dana Brooke (who DOUBLES as a fitness competitor in addition to being a wrestler, BTW) leading the NXT women’s division to new frontiers. Pretty sad that Hollywood is too stuck on their ways that they can’t see something awesome that’s right in front of them.

WWE Divas Champion Charlotte leading the #DivasRevoltion in WWE, with fit, gorgeous women changing WWE's Divas division a day at a time, with names such as Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Asuka, Emma, Dana Brooke, Natalya, Alexa Bliss, and Nikki Bella, among others. WWE will be launching a Tapout fitness line in April, shortly after Wrestlemania 32 in Dallas, Texas.

I mean, seriously, what is it going to take for Hollywood to see that fit girls CAN move a company and/or sport to new heights? Are they THAT scared of women with a little bit of muscle? There’s all this talk about “diversity”, but it seems to only be involved with color, sexual orientation/preference, and SOME body types. Apparently, it’s fine in Hollywood to be practically anyone (and I mean ANYONE) in Hollywood except a fit woman it seems. I mean there are tons of women in the bikini division (the least muscular of the female divisions) that would be great in Hollywood, and Hollywood is too afraid to give them a proper look. I swear I wish I was exaggerating, but here’s something big I want you to ponder on for a bit:

Unless you have been living under a rock the last few years, you have probably heard of a certain movie that is out, quite possibly THE biggest superhero movie of all time when it's all said and done…Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As of this post being published, I’ve yet to have seen this movie, so I’ll hold off judgment on the movie as a whole until I’ve seen it. But one of the roles in the movie was for Wonder Woman, arguably the most famous female superhero of all time, and part of the Trinity (along with Batman and Superman). The disappointment I personally had when Warner Brothers/DC Comics choose Gal Gadot for the role was beyond words, but not because of WHO Gal was (I have no personal issue with Gal whatsoever, so please don't label me as a hater), but WHAT she represented: typical Hollywood outer beauty that would attract the masses. I will give credit where credit is due, she did take this role serious and according to an article on, she did put on 17 pounds to give her a bit more of an intimidating look, but that depends on your definition of “intimidating”. (Oh yeah...this exact quote from the article gave me bad vibes;  “I don’t want to be big and bulky… I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder.”) You would think that Hollywood would have tried to get someone that would have fit the bill better, but ultimately they didn’t. I doubt the movie will suffer because of that reason (I hope it doesn’t), but imagine how better it would have been if they would have given a fitness-based woman an opportunity like that. Can you imagine what that could have done for women to see someone like that ON THE BIG SCREEN and go “Wow…she looks amazing! I would love to know her secret”. It’s revealed in some articles in magazines and BOOM. Gym memberships increase, fitness awareness in increased. Hollywood looks good in the progress sending a hell of a statement to a lot of people. It's a win-win for everyone. But clearly, they don’t want to go with that and choose sexiness over substance.

Think I’m still crazy?! Allow me to go even further.

Amazons?! Ehh...well it's Hollywood's version, at least. 

Next year, Wonder Woman gets her OWN movie, and earlier this week, the first photo from the movie was released. Yes, that's the photo about this paragraph. In addition to Wonder Woman (Gal) on the photo, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), General Antiope (Robin Wright), and Antiope’s lieutenant Menalippe (Lisa Loven Kongsli). Great photo, but someone (not me) summed it up better than I ever could: It looks like an ad for a Victoria’s Secret Amazon Skinny Line. I mean, COME ON!! Can you REALLY say that the Amazons pose a legit threat when they look like they do in the photo? If you can say it to my face without hesitation, more power to you.

In comparison to men and muscles as it related to Hollywood, Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck went through hell to put on muscle for their respective roles as Superman and Batman. Ezra Miller was trending due to his apparent muscle gain for his role as The Flash in the DC Cinematic Universe. Will Smith packed on the mass to play famed boxer Muhammad Ali. Zac Efron is looking like a men’s physique competitor (borderline classic physique, to me) for the upcoming Baywatch movie. Apparently Mike O’Hearn is up for the main role in a potential He-Man reboot. Do I need to go on?

Yep...Zac is DEFINITELY out of High School (Musical) now. He's playing in Baywatch next year, but he actually looks...intimidating and believable as a badass (I can't believe I called a HSM alum a badass. Yikes!) 

I know what you're probably thinking…but Gina Carano and Ronda Rousey have had Hollywood roles, so your rant is kinda unjustified, don't ya think? Both ladies were able to get Hollywood roles based on their MMA careers, not based off their fitness backgrounds. Oh, and before you go and think I'm a DC hater bring up Wonder Woman in a "not-so-positive" light, (far from it), I doubt Marvel Studios will get it right either. They can POTENTIALLY make a bold move when it comes to casting Captain Marvel (the only top female superhero for Marvel that I can think of coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe right now) and even that's pushing it. And if She-Hulk is ever part of the MCU or on a Marvel Netflix show, I shutter to think of who they will pick to cast her.

I hope one day that Hollywood will see the light and realize that fit women can truly play a great part in their world just like everyone else, but I fear that this something they will never understand or want to understand. But then again, it shouldn't be much of a surprise when a business like Planet Fitness exist and flat out discourages ANYONE with even a hint of muscle on them (male or female). I would love for myself to be wrong and eat crow and humble pie for the rest of my life if Hollywood were to ever embrace fit women into their world. Some will argue to their grave that this would never work. How can it never work when it's never even been given the opportunity TO work, or fail for that matter? What is Hollywood and the mainstream media so afraid of when it comes to giving fit women an opportunity to show that they are more than just ladies who happen to workout in the gym? Since we're so into hashtags these days, here's my hashtag to Hollywood about fit women...#WhatAreYouAfraidOf?

Someone as beautiful as Amanda Kuclo (Latona) is considered "manly" by Hollywood/society standards...and that's sad. :( 

Now that I've spilled my guts out involving a subject that has been eating away at me for quite some time, I want to hear from you all: fans and critics alike. Can fitness-oriented women be a part of Hollywood and the mainstream world outside sports in a positive manner? Why or why not? Leave a comment below or send us your thoughts at, or on Twitter or Facebook.

Monday, March 21, 2016

IFBB Bikini Pro Potentially Heading to WWE?

Editor's note: All photos belong to their respective owners

IFBB Bikini Pro...future WWE Diva?

In early March, all eyes were on Columbus, Ohio during the Arnold Sports Festival, which could explain why what I'm about to say might have fell under the radar. We noticed that IFBB Bikini Pro Eboney Chipman made an interesting post on March 6th:

As you know from our previous posts, we do our best to highlight any fitness personality that enters the rankings of sports and entertainment. Of course, we have been checking to see if anymore has come out of it, and less than a week later, she revealed on Twitter that she sent in her application. Now the waiting game begins for her. Most women from the fitness industry have gone on to have great success such as Torrie Wilson, Lisa Marie Varon (Victoria), Lexi Kaufman (Alexa Bliss), Ashley Sebera (Dana Brooke), and Celeste Braun (Kaitlyn). And do we even need to mention a certain fitness model who became a 7x WWE Women's Champion and currently youngest female WWE Hall-of-Famer of all time? Should she get this opportunity, we think she could do very well. She has the height, beauty, and athleticism to have a good career in WWE. We will keep you all posted on how things go with Eboney and if WWE will be part of her future going forward. From all of us at FitGems Nation, we want to wish you best of luck, Eboney!

Potentially coming to a WWE arena near you...

For more on Eboney, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Alison Victoria: America's Fittest Interior Designer

All photos belong to the original owners. 

Every once in a while, you will flip channels on your television and you discover someone or something that draws your attention to where you can't look away. That is exactly what Alison Victoria did to me a few years ago. I discovered Kitchen Crashers by accident, and I can honestly say that I'm so glad it happened, as it has introduced me to one of the fittest women on television, bar none.

For those that are unfamiliar with Alison Victoria, she is an interior designer out of Chicago, Illinois with kitchens being a specialty for her, hence her own show on HGTV and DIY Network called Kitchen Crashers, where she is the first (and so far only) Crashers host. Her love for interior designing goes back to her childhood, and thus far, it has brought her a lot of success beyond just hosting her own TV show. Her success has won her many award nominations (including being a 2x nominee for Fit Female Celebrity at our FitGems Awards) and she has received the Rising Stars of Business award by the Las Vegas Business Press back in 2011.

Yeah...she's strong, folks! 

She might not look like it at first glance, but Alison is ONE STRONG WOMAN! She's got to be with the work she does on Kitchen Crashers. No, she's not one that just talks the talk, she walks the walk and then some. Rebuilding a kitchen in three days with a crew takes some muscle, and she has plenty of it, trust me. She gets her workouts in, which include weights, CrossFit, barre, whatever she can get in with her busy schedule. Her workouts are clearly paying off in the interior designing part of her life, as well as her overall body transformation. Her progression has went from a tough beauty who can swing a hammer around to borderline fitness-model level muscle that would not be out of place whatsoever on Muscle and Fitness Hers and Oxygen Magazine (Hint-hint, magazines...that's your cue to contact her for an interview with your publications!). All over her social media, when she posts outfits revealing her figure, people are blown away by her physique and have nothing but great comments about it. Funny how those seem to be her most popular pictures on social media...

If you haven't seen Kitchen Crashers, I'd highly suggest you give it a shot. It's hosted by a woman who looks amazing and does an awesome job at it. Who knows, maybe one day she will pop up at your local Home Depot in the Kitchen isle and ask you if you want a new (and free) kitchen in three days. If I were you, I would take her up on your offer. 

For more on Alison, check out her website at, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. Also don't forget to follow Kitchen Crashers on HGTV and DIY Network. Check your local listings.

Fitness-model material...easily.

My thoughts on the 2016 Arnold Women's Physique International

Last year, I attended my first Arnold Sports Festival, which was one of the greatest experiences of my life. One of the biggest highlights for me was to witness history taking place with the first-ever Women's Physique International, which featured Dana Linn Bailey, Tycie Coppett, Sabrina Taylor, and Juliana Malcarne, who would end up winning the inaugural title. It was treated like the other International events as invite-only competitions but the only difference was that the prejudging AND finals was part of the expo itself, which meant that those who went to the expo got their money's worth and then some. I thought that was a great way to introduce the pro women's physique division to the Arnold and enjoyed every minute of it.

This year, the invite part for the Women's Physique International is no longer there, as this year's competition is in the form of send in a contract and if it got in by the deadline, you were in. So instead of a select few from last year, there will be a total of 54 competitors for the women's physique portion of the show.

Yes, 54 women's physique competitors will step on stage at the 2nd-ever Arnold Pro Women's Physique International. That's more than the Fitness, Figure, and Bikini International competitors...COMBINED.

I know I'm going to receive some heat for what I'm about to say, but it needs to be said...this takes away any prestige that the Arnold event had for the women's physique division to allow THAT MANY competitors in a competition that is supposed to be reserved for the top competitors in the sport, sans the Olympia. As much as I respect every competitor, not everyone can or should make it to the big stage. It's called a COMPETITION for a reason, and the Arnold and Olympia are competitions that is reserved for those who have earned that right to compete. It's like inviting every single football player to play the Super Bowl, every basketball player to the NBA Finals, every pro wrestler to compete in Wrestlemania...that's not how it should work. Maybe I'm old school and appreciate tradition more, I don't know. Maybe there's an interior motive regarding this change that I don't know about.

With that being said...I don't blame anyone for entering the contest this way. If my dream was to compete in the Arnold and all I had to do was turn in a contract by a certain deadline rather than turning in a request and hoping I get selected, I would be on it in a heartbeat. I'm not stupid. For the 54 competitors, this will be seen as an opportunity to get recognized on a big stage and that's how you make a name for yourself in an industry filled with amazing physiques, you have to get yourself noticed. What better way to do that than at the biggest fitness show in the world that's not the Olympia! With Juliana Malacarne NOT defending her title this year, a new champion will be crowned. I will say it will be interesting to see with that many women on stage how in the world the judges will pick who will go on to the finals, let alone a winner. Congrats to everyone that will be competing at this year's contest and best of luck to all of you! Have fun and make this an experience you will never forget!

To view the names of everyone competing, go here: Feel free to comment below on your personal thoughts on the matter.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

FitGems Nation's Crystal Ball for 2016

I thought I would have some fun and post my predictions for 2016 when it comes to the female side of the sport. Remember, I don’t have the inside-scoop (unless it’s told to me personally, which is a rarity), and this is merely just me stating what I THINK might happen in the coming year. Under no circumstances do I see all (or any) of the following predictions happening in 2016, if they do…it’s by pure coincidence. If they all happen to come true…I might end up buying a lottery ticket next year during the holiday season. HAHA!

With that said…on to my top 15 predictions for 2016 (in no particular order)

1. Latorya Watts will win every competition she competes in for 2016, INCLUDING the 2016 Figure Olympia

According to many people, Latorya embodies what figure should represent and many people were downright ecstatic to see her win the biggest title in figure (Figure Olympia) in 2015. It’s going to be downright hard (not impossible, but hard) to see anyone dethrone the champ, and that includes Nicole Wilkins, who I believe will bring her best package to date come the 2016 Figure Olympia. I’m going to say this right now: If Latorya is on the list to compete in any show in 2016, everyone else better get ready for fight for second place.

2. Juliana Malacarne will NOT win the 2016 Olympia Women’s Physique Showdown

Make no mistake, Juliana IS women’s physique. She is the measuring stick of the division. She has two Olympia titles and is the first-ever Physique International Champion. But while she has gotten better, so has her competition. In fact, Kira Newman, the 2015 Olympia Women’s Physique runner-up, might be Juliana’s biggest challenger to date, even bigger than Dana Linn Bailey. If Kira makes some slight improvements for 2016, I truly feel Juliana will not be a 3x Olympia champion in 2016.

3. Wendy Fortino will FINALLY win her first pro show in 2016

I’m going to be straight with you all…Wendy Fortino is LONG OVERDUE for her first pro win. When you have a Hollywood-esque look and curvy yet athletic physique to match like Wendy does, it’s pretty sad how she has yet to win even one pro show thus far in her career. Some of the shows she competed in 2015 (heck, even 2014) I truly feel she should have won. I could go on and on about my own theories on the matter, but I won’t…yet. But if there’s any justice, Wendy won’t have to use the Olympia Qualification Series to compete in her third straight Olympia come 2016. She will be able to qualify outright thanks to a long overdue first pro win.

4. Tina Nguyen will win a pro show and place in the top 3 at the 2016 Figure Olympia

In 2014, we got to see what Tina Nguyen could do on the National stage. She won her pro card in her first attempt. She entered her first pro show this year and was only one spot off from qualifying for the Olympia in her first show. This woman has been turning heads quicker than most who have been in the game for YEARS. She is very knowledgeable about her body and knows what she has to do compete with the pros. Many believe Tina is a Figure Olympia champion in the making, and I don’t see why we would argue that point. The ONLY reason Tina will not be part of the Figure Olympia line-up this year is Tina won’t allow it. Simple as that.

5. Ashley Kaltwasser will become a 4x Bikini Olympia champion

I originally had Ashley winning both the Bikini International and Bikini Olympia titles again in 2016, but she decided not to send in an invite for the Bikini International this time around. To me Ashley embodies what bikini SHOULD be in the IFBB, and I’m glad her look is getting rewarded these days. Despite the changes for the IFBB (more on that later), I don’t see why she should not win the big one again this year. When it comes to the bikini division, she’s the face that runs the place!

6. Jenny Worth will return to the fitness stage

For those who have paid attention to Jenny Worth via social media, she has put in work to build one of the most impressive post-competition bodies in the world today. In fact, she has been blowing people away with her physique so much that there are many who feel Jenny should make a return to the stage. Looking at her this year, one would even ask why she HASN’T stepped on stage yet. She looks that good. Jenny has said “never say never” when it comes to a return to competition. 2016 to us seems like the best opportunity to make it happen.

7. Nicole Wilkins MIGHT give women’s physique a look (emphasis on MIGHT)

I’ll be honest with you, the biggest reason I made this prediction is because of how downright AMAZING Nicole has looked since the 2015 Figure Olympia and the fact that she CLEARLY loves to flex. If you don’t believe us, take a look at her Instagram and Facebook and tell us we’re lying. We highly doubt she will make the switch permanently, but I don’t see it out of the horizon for Nicole to do at least one show in women’s physique just to say she did it. And…let’s be honest, it would be pretty bad-ass to see Nicole on a women’s physique stage. Just once is all we’re asking for, Nicole.

8. Another female fitness personality will join WWE/NXT

Trish Stratus. Victoria. Torrie Wilson. Jamie Keyes. Aksana. Kaitlyn. Alexa Bliss. Dana Brooke. All of the names I’ve mentioned have left their mark in the fitness world and in WWE. In fact the current WWE Divas Champion Charlotte, who was a personal trainer prior to WWE, is on the first cover of Muscle and Fitness Hers for 2016. I honestly feel the fitness trend will continue and we will see someone else from the fitness world make her way to WWE/NXT. Who?! I don’t know. I will say this…with the personality and fanbase she has, I could easily see someone like Dana Linn Bailey join WWE and have a successful run there.

9. Dana Brooke (IFBB Fitness Pro Ashley Sebera) will take NXT and eventually WWE by storm in 2016

Speaking of fitness personalities, I think that Dana Brooke will have a breakout year in NXT come 2016. 2015 was an introduction to who she was and since her debut, she has progressively gotten better in the ring and her overall character is among the most enjoyable heels (bad guys/gals) I’ve personally seen in WWE in quite some time. While there are wrestling critics who fail to give her props, the fans (you know, the voices that actually count) tell a different story. Her social media numbers have went up tremendously with no end in sight. We wouldn’t be surprised if she gets a main roster call-up by the end of 2016.

10. A fitness personality will make her way into a Hollywood movie

It needs to happen, in some form or fashion. There’s too many beautiful women in the fitness industry for Hollywood to flat-out ignore them. Cory Everson made a name for herself in the early 90s and 2000s being on movies such as Double Impact and television shows such as Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Home Improvement. Rachel McLish was in a few movies herself such as Pumping Iron 2: The Women and Iron Eagle III. Kiana Tom was part of Universal Soldiers: The Return. All three women have made quite the mark in fitness and Hollywood. Isn’t it about time for the modern world to have a fitness woman be part of Hollywood?!

11. More fitness personalities will leave the competition world and enter CrossFit competitions

CrossFit has become more popular than many could have ever imagined. In fact, this has given some people a new platform to showcase their fitness. Physique competitions can only do so much, and for some, it’s too subjective and can get political. It’s hard to bring politics into competitions that require you to use your body in unimaginable ways. Former IFBB competitors such as Tina Durkin and Jennifer Gates have converted into CrossFit and are arguably in the best shape of their lives. They won’t be the last to make the switch, trust me.

12. The new NPC/IFBB guidelines will see a significant shift in who wins for figure, women’s physique, and bikini. 

EVENTUALLY, I will talk about the new IFBB guidelines (I was supposed to have talked about them earlier, but hey…things happen). Muscle mass will be significantly reduced for figure, women’s physique, and bikini beginning in 2016 in favor of shape. My own personal thoughts about this aside (for now), it’s pretty obvious that they will try to reward competitors who fit more in line with the new guidelines. If this holds up, expect some potentially unexpected winners in 2016.

13. The NSL could turn some heads in the fitness industry

Competition is a good thing. The Monday Night War between WWE, WCW, and ECW provided wrestling fans with the best wrestling era of all time, regardless of which promotion you were loyal to. As of now, the NPC/IFBB are at the top of the physique world. But things happened with Lee Thompson and now he has created this new federation called the Nspire Sports League, which he claimed to have created to give competitors a fair opportunity. If you have been paying attention, the NPC/IFBB has made some significant changes to some things as of late. SURELY, it has nothing to do with this NSL thing, right?! They might play it cool, but you know the NPC/IFBB will have a close eye on the NSL in the coming year…whether they want to admit it or not.

14. Women’s bodybuilding will officially be put to rest as a division

Let’s be real. The Ms. Olympia for the first time in years didn’t happen this year. The Ms. International competition got discontinued a while ago. The numbers for women’s bodybuilding in local shows are little to non-existent. The numbers for women’s bodybuilding in National shows are getting smaller and smaller. As much as I hate to say it, but I think it’s time to end women’s bodybuilding as a division. If the federation won’t support the division by having it being represented in the Arnold and Olympia, then what good is it to keep it around on life support? Women’s physique is gaining a ton of traction, fitness is holding steady, figure is going pretty well, and bikini is downright INSANE in numbers and they are only going to get bigger. I personally don’t think it should go as it’s the reason the other divisions exist in the first place, but there’s too much going against it that it’s best for the division to completely disappear altogether.

15. Fitness workout shows will find a way back on TV (or Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.)

People want to get healthier but there’s very few things on TV that shows people the right direction. Most commercials related to fitness (and I’m using that term loosely) is about losing weight and keeping it off. How about we have fitness workout shows like back in the late 80s-early 2000s. Shows like Bodyshaping, Kiana’s Flex Appeal, Cory Everson’s Gotta Sweat, and Denise Austin's Daily Workout gave people a reason to get up and get their workout on. Let’s be honest, they were viewed as sex symbols at that time as well. Kiana even got to be on Playboy! With the array of talent that exist now, why can’t it be done now? And if television isn’t an option, there’s streaming video sites such as Nexflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. I truly feel somehow, someway, there WILL be a fitness workout show in some shape or form come 2016.

So there you have it, our top 15 PREDICTIONS (not rumors) for 2016. Again, I can’t see the future (no one can), but don’t be surprised if you see any of them come true. Do YOU have any predictions for 2016 in the fitness industry? Leave a comment below or send us your predictions to our new email at You can also use the hashtag #FGCrystalBall2016 on Twitter to tell us your fitness industry predictions for 2016. We hope to have enough responses to use them in a future post.

Thank you for all of your support in 2015, especially those I was able to meet at the 2015 Arnold. I will never forget that experience as long as I live. Let’s strive to make 2016 a year to remember!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Meriza DeGuzman-Ciccone: The Definition of Sexy Strong

You have competitors, you have superstars, and then...there's Meriza DeGuzman-Ciccone. You would be hard-pressed to find a woman as unreal (in a good way) as Meriza. In fact, the word "unreal" actually doesn't even begin to describe the IFBB athlete and trainer. She has a slogan that sums up who Mrs. DeGuzman-Ciccone is and what she represents: Sexy Strong.

Photo credit: Meriza's official website
According to Meriza (and her husband, fellow IFBB competitor Pete Ciccone) Sexy Strong is "a mindset, an attitude...a way of life. Inspiring others by living with purpose-drive, discipline, conviction. Being Strong is Beautifully Sexy." We at FitGems Nation have to agree with the Ciccones on that, Every time they hits the gym, they seem to have a superhero mentality, something that you need to have in the fitness industry these days. Don't believe us? Check out these two Instagram clips of Meriza moving some heavy weight like it's nothing:

The first clip is Meriza doing a shoulder workout of 145lbs for 15 reps...and she was on her 5th set of this. She's lifting more than what she weights with near ease. The second clip is her doing 450lbs for 15reps for a high stance leg press as part of leg day. While 450lbs is downright impressive...this was actually her going light due to posing clinics. Yes...450 POUNDS IS APPARENTLY A LIGHT DAY COMPARED TO HER!!! We have stated a few times that should the IFBB ever consider a strongwoman division (which is a different topic that will be discussed later), Meriza would be a great person to build the division around. Pound-for-pound, there might not be another woman in the fitness world stronger than Meriza right now. She might not step on stage anymore, but that has not stopped her from practicing what she preaches and living the fitness life, as well as mold the next generation of competitors under the Sexy-Strong brand.

One of the strongest women in the IFBB, bar-none!

For more on Meriza, like her on Instagram. For more on Sexy-Strong, follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Also, don't forget to check out their website at!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ann Titone Retires from Competition

(Photos belong to NPC News Online)

Ann's signature figure last time.

The Olympia had plenty of moments like they do every year, but one that will have a significant change in the figure division is the retirement of top competitor Ann Titone. Click here to read her full retirement announcement.

If you watched the Olympia webcast or was there live during the finals, Ann's retirement is no new news to you, but today on Facebook, she goes into deep discussion of WHY she's calling it a career. Sometimes, you have to listen to your body more than your heart. It will let you know when it's time to say goodbye, and for Ann, the 2015 Figure Olympia is her swan song. But with a career that spans over 40 shows, over 20 Top IFBB 5 placements, 6 wins, and being on the Arnold and Olympia multiple times, Ann can leave the competition world with her head held high. I got to witness first hand how amazing she is at the 2015 Arnold, and in my personal opinion, the figure division is losing a heck of a competitor, but will be gaining a person who has been there and has went from the bottom to the top of the division and willing to share her advice and know-how of the industry to the next generation of competitors.

On behalf of FitGems Nation, congrats Ann on an amazing career on the stage and best of luck to you in your next chapter!


To keep up with Ann, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Interview with Gabrielle Tongol

What are most people doing at 19 years of age? Looking into college? Deciding what to do with their lives after high school? about developing one of the most eye-catching physiques in all of figure? That's exactly what Gabrielle Tongol in Canada is doing right now. Competing in the CBFF (where you can become IFBB pro eligible in Canada), Gabrielle has made quite the name for herself in the CBFF figure division at a very early age. It's downright scary to think about what she can do in the fitness industry when it's all said and done. 

Gabrielle was gracious enough to do an interview with us. Hope you enjoy it! (All photos belong to their original owners. Please support them.)

FitGems Nation: Thank you for wanting to be interviewed by us! Let's start off with telling us a little bit about yourself (name/occupation/how long you've been in the fitness industry, etc.)
Gabrielle Tongol: My name is Gabrielle Tongol, I am a 19 year old CBBF Nationally Qualified Figure Competitor. I started my fitness journey when I was 17 years old and have now competed in 3 shows since.
Aside from competing I am a full time student currently working towards getting my Business Administration Diploma, Majoring in Human Resources, Part-Time Private Nurse Assistant as well as a Part-Time Private Personal Trainer. Despite a busy work and school schedule fitness has become a huge part of my life. I am able to incorporate it into my hectic schedule and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Health and fitness is something that I take full pride and joy in and pour my heart and soul into and continuously promote and do what I can to help, motivate and support others while maintaining a positive, joyful and exciting mindset along the way.

Editor's Note: WOW!!!  So much accomplished at an early age! And your excuses are?!?! 
FG: How did you get involved in the fitness industry in the first place?
GT: I started off by following workout plans and diets off of then as my goal for my 18th birthday that year I decided to try and do my first fitness competition which was on October 12th, 2013 just 2 weeks after I turned 18. Despite the lack of focus, drive, determination and complications I encountered with my previous coach and health issues I faced (binge eating disorder), at that show, I placed 8th out 16 girls. Unsatisfied with my placing, however proud of simply making it onto that stage at only 18 years old, I was determined to take time off and work on my weak points (overall conditioning and muscle depth) and promised myself that I would not step on stage again until I was 110% ready mentally and physically. I trained hard and smart for a year and a bit and decided that I was ready to take things to the next level. Late January 2015 I reached out to my current coach, Darren Mehling with Freak Fitness and we worked together for 19 weeks to bring the best package possible for ABBA Southern Alberta Bodybuilding Championships on June 13, 2015. I was able to lose 20 pounds of fat and far surpassed my Muscle Beach 2013 package. At that show I won first place in Figure A Short class along with taking the Figure Overall title and which then qualified to compete at the Donna & Brian Logue Provincial Bodybuilding Championships two weeks later. At Provincials I was able to come in slightly better than my Southerns package and again, win first place in my Figure A class which has now qualified me for life to compete against all of Canada which now makes me a CBBF Nationally Qualified Figure Competitor. I plan on competing next July 2016 in hopes of winning my IFBB Pro Card, which would make me the youngest IFBB PRO in Canada.
FG: What do you enjoy most about competing and/or modeling?
GT: What I enjoy the most about competing is the challenges I am able to overcome and the endless possibilities there are out there that one can achieve with the right mindset. It’s truly a beautiful thing to see what we are able to do with our bodies when we take full control over our mind.
FG: Which do you feel is your greatest strength while training: cardio or weight-training?
GT: Weight-training for sure! I’ve always enjoyed training hard, heavy and SMART over cardio. I’ve never been much of a cardio person, however I do enjoy a great sweat session nonetheless!!
FG:What is the hardest thing you have had to deal with when it comes to the fitness industry?
GT: The hardest thing I’ve had to deal with when it comes to the fitness industry would be body image.
It’s definitely mentally challenging to see yourself go from the best shape in your life to a “normal” shape. By all means, it is NOT healthy to maintain a stage ready physique however there is body fat % that is maintainable, healthy and enough to add lean muscle mass but still feel confident in your own skin. I feel that the first few weeks/months into off-season can be way harder than the 16+ weeks of prepping for a show. Reason for this is because we no longer have that “x” amount of weeks until show day and don’t have that worry in the back of our mind that “if I eat this donut it may or may not affect my physique for my show” therefore, it’s harder to say no to the temptations around us. For someone like me who is very goal-oriented, I’ve learnt to set mini goals for me weekly and monthly. By doing so, this has helped me stay on track with my fitness goals and still enjoy my off-season.
FG: What division do you compete in, and what ís the best thing in your opinion about competing in that division?
GT: I compete in the figure division. The one thing that I admire the most about my division is the symmetry and balanced proportions that figure entails.
FG: If it was up to you, what would be one thing you would want to add or take away from your division, if anything?
GT: The one thing I would want to add to my division, specifically in Canadian competitions, is more time for our personal presentations. We work so hard for months and it would be nice to have more than 30 seconds being solo on that stage.

FG: With the rise of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, Instagram, etc,), how important do you feel it is for people in the fitness industry to participate in it?
GT: I feel that it is incredibly important for us who are in the fitness industry to participate in social media to help inspire, motivate and educate everyone as much as we possibly can. It’s a great way people to share different outlooks, methods and personal experiences.
FG: Who (living or dead) do you look up to for inspiration, whether they are part of the fitness industry or not?
GT: There are numerous individuals who I look up to for inspiration – there is not one specific person but rather everyone who has supported me and encouraged my since day 1 and who I’ve met along the way that inspire me to keep doing what I’m doing.
FG: I know everyone wants to be the first "them" (as it should be), but is there any competitor (past or present) that you look at and say, "Okay...that's what I'm aiming for"?
GT: Nicole Wilkins. Her overall package is breathtaking. Her physique, her beauty and her stage presence is incredible.
FG: If you weren't part of the fitness industry, what would you be doing now?
GT: If I weren’t apart of the fitness industry right now I’d probably be either doing nothing but sleeping, eating, shopping, working and being lazy at home. Before getting into the fitness industry I was never into ANY sort of sport or hobby – very thankful that I found the fitness industry and fell in love with it.
FG: What (if anything) would you change about the fitness industry as a whole (NOT just about the division you compete in)?
GT: Absolutely nothing. I love everything about it and it only continues to get better in my opinion.
FG: After your competition days are completed, how do you plan on give back to the fitness industry?
GT: Although that time is very far away for me, I plan on giving back by continuing my personal training services, volunteering at as many shows as I can, giving advice based on personal experience and continue to inspire, motive and educate as many people as possible through social media, in person and possibly seminars? It’s a long way until I reach that point however from what I can think of right now that would be my plan on giving back!
FG: Bottom line, what is YOUR ultimate goal in the fitness industry, the one thing you HAVE to do before you call it a career?
GT: I have no ultimate goal in the fitness industry that will indicate that it is time for me to call it a career. Once I lose that excitement and stop enjoying everything that competing and prepping for shows offer that is when I’ll hang up the clear heels and bedazzled suits.
FG: Any closing words for your fans and supporters?
GT: I’d like to thank FitGems Nation for the opportunity to do this interview, my boyfriend, family, friends, Freak Fitness (Darren, Christina and FreakFam), fans and supporters on social media for the endless amount of support, love, care, encouragement and motivation to get to where I am today.
FG: Again, thank you so much for doing this interview with us! For those that want to keep up on your future competitions and other plans, how can fans contact you? (Facebook fan page, Twitter, Instagram, email, website, blog, other social media outlet, etc.) Also, if there's anything you want to plug in, you are more than welcome to do so.
Instagram: @gabrielletfitness

If you aren't on the Gabrielle Tongol fanwagon, now's the time to do it. 2016 could be the year she makes history, and with what's she's done so far, it's almost a safe bet that she will do just that. We're rooting for ya, Gabrielle!! 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Our Take on Dana Brooke's NXT Debut

(All photos are from

This week on NXT, the NXT and WWE Universe was formally introduced to the newest Diva, Dana Brooke. Fitness fans have known her for quite some time in the fitness industry as Ashley Sebera. She has been a fan of WWE for quite some time and at one point she was actually rumored to have already signed with NXT (that was the time when current NXT Diva Alexa Bliss (Lexi Kaufman) and former prospect Christina Vargas were signed). That turned out to be false at the time, but she would later on be offered a developmental contact several months later and has been doing her thing on NXT live events.

Welcome to Brooke City, Blue Pants!

As mentioned earlier, Dana would make her official debut on the April 15th edition of WWE NXT on the WWE Network. Right away, she came out doing a flip here and there and showing off what she worked on building for years. Arrogance, cockiness…if you got enough of that, I don’t care how beautiful you are, you’re gonna get booed. So mission accomplished on getting her character down pat. Now on to the match itself…not everything is gonna be perfect on your first match. I’m sorry, it’s not gonna happen. It was obviously she was a bit “green” (that’s the term used for those that aren't as experienced in the ring), but she showcase her strength quite a bit, which helped make up for her greenness, which WILL improve with patience and dedication. Speaking of power, her finisher is NASTY!! That’s something you would expect a guy to do, so major kudos to Dana for having a unique finisher. It’s definitely not S-A-W-F-T…SAWFT! (You’re welcome, Enzo and Big Cass).


Here’s where I get mean…not to Dana, but to her detractors. Most internet dirtsheets want the wrestlers to be perfect from the word go and will lash out on anyone who isn't, and that does double for the ladies…especially those who don’t come from an independent wrestling background. Dana is from the fitness world, so you know they picked her apart piece by piece, as well as those in the IWC (internet wrestling community). Take a look at sites such as Bleacher Report and others to see what I’m talking about. Is it fair? HELL NO. Do they care?! HELL to the NO. Is it fun to make them eat crow. OH…HELL…YEAH!! And I truly feel Dana will make every single one of those haters eats it by the plateful sooner than later. Last I checked, Trish wasn't the best when she started, and looked how she turned out. I will say this, most people see that Dana has SOMETHING special that you just can’t teach, no matter what type of tools you have at your disposal (looking at you WWE Developmental Center…even though I would love to go there on a weekend just to try it out.). Once all the stars aligned, I think most haters and critics will see that WWE/NXT has something special with Dana.

With AJ’s retirement, now’s the time for the Divas division to step up and for someone to take over as the new face of the Divas division. Dana Brooke isn't there yet, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit if one year from now, we see Dana on top of the NXT women’s division as their champion or maybe even on the main roster in the Divas Championship title hunt or as Divas Champion. We have Dana’s back. We support Dana and wish her the best of success. So to those that want to see her fall, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news…you don’t get to win this round. Dana Brooke is on her way to do major things in NXT and WWE. WHEN (not if) she does succeed, we’ll make sure to send you some crow and humble pie to eat on…and in honor of Dana, we’ll make sure it’s low in fat and high in protein. ;) 

Keep hating, haters. Her fun has only just begun!

For more on Dana, follow her on Twitter at @DanaBrookeWWE as well as on Instagram, and make sure to see her and all the NXT talent on the WWE Network ($9.99 a month, no commitment) Wednesday nights at 8pm Eastern/7pm Central.