Sunday, December 10, 2017

Camala Rodriquez's Next Fitness Venture


The 2017 Olympia was last time we'll see Camala on stage until potentially the 2019 Arnold, as she prepare to enter a new chapter in her female muscle career!
Photo credit: NPC News Online

2017 may go down as one of the most competitive years in IFBB figure history, with long-time competitors winning their first titles and BOTH the Figure International and Figure Olympia titles changed hands this year. 2018 will have a tough act to follow but with the talent that is currently competing and the new figure competitors that earned their pro cards this year, we do expect another competitive year for the division. There will be a noticeable name absent from the shows in 2018...Camala Rodriquez.

On social media, she announced that if she didn't automatically qualify for the 2018 Figure Olympia, she would set out for a year. She placed 12th at the Figure Olympia, her worst placing in a figure competition in a LONG time. Considering what she has been through (which we don't get into here, as the personal lives of competitors are not our place to discuss unless the athletes gives us the permission outright), we're happy she even placed period. She will be taking next year off from the stage to and plans to ,in her own words, "have fun for a year". By fun, we're talking powerlifting. Yep, the former fitness-turned-figure competitor and 2015 Figure International Champion is adding powerlifting to her already-impressive resume.

Camala has never been known for being a weak woman. She's built overtime one of the most powerful-looking physiques in the IFBB through years of hard training, but now she plans on taking it to a new level as she enters powerlifting. While she hasn't committed to any powerlifting competitions as of this writing, she has already broken a few of her own PRs (personal records) by a big amount. There's a very good chance that by the time she plans to return to figure competitions in 2019 (she is hoping for a 2019 Arnold invite), she will legit be pound-for-pound, one of the strongest women in the IFBB. And just think about how much her physique will benefit from powerlifting as well! To say we're excited for Camala in 2018 AND 2019 would be an understatement.

Check out a few recent clips from her Instagram, and you'll see why we are stoked to see what Camala is gonna be one to watch OUTSIDE of competing in an IFBB stage next year:











Expect plenty more clips like this next year. She is only scratching the surface of what she is truly capable of, and we can't wait to see what she has in store! We at FitGems Nation wish Camala best of luck to her in the months ahead!

For more on Camala, follow her on social media at the following links:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/therealcamala/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Camala-Rodriguez-IFBB-Pro-153674027989808/



Monday, December 4, 2017

FitGems Awards...Back For a 9th Time!

It's that time again!

For the ninth straight year, we're doing the FitGems Awards, where we honor the best of the female muscle world from this past year. Last year, we used Polldaddy for the first time to host our voting, and we will be using them again this year. Voting will begin on next Monday, December 11, and will end at 11:59 Eastern Time on January 8, 2018. We've yet again expanded our categories by bringing in new ones and bringing back a few old ones as well. We have also brought back the female bodybuilding categories as well, as there was enough representation for them to be awarded as well. For the pro categories, we've replaced Breakout with Most Improved, as we feel it makes more sense with how this industry is. This is without a doubt the biggest awards contest we've done yet, and this was among the hardest to get nominees for, if not THE hardest. While you will have to wait until next Monday to see all the nominees, we WILL reveal all the categories for this year's awards.


PRO CATEGORIES

(RETURNING FOR 2017) Pro Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
(NEW FOR 2017) Most Improved Pro Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Most Improved Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Most Improved Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Most Improved Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Most Improved Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
(NEW FOR 2017) Rookie Pro Women's Bodybuilder of the Year
(NEW FOR 2017) Rookie Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
(NEW FOR 2017) Rookie Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
(NEW FOR 2017) Rookie Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
(NEW FOR 2017) Underrated Pro Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Underrated Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Underrated Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Underrated Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Underrated Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year

AMATEUR CATEGORIES


(RETURNING FOR 2017) Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Amateur Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
(RETURNING FOR 2017) Breakout Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Breakout Amateur Women’s Physique Competitor of the Year
Breakout Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Breakout Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Breakout Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
(NEW FOR 2017) Underrated Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Underrated Amateur Women’s Physique Competitor of the Year
Underrated Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Underrated Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Underrated Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year

MISC. CATEGORIES


Fitness Model of the Year
Fitness Ambassador of the Year
Social Media Star of the Year (Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/Snapchat, etc.)
Moment of the Year
Photographer of the Year
Fit Celebrity of the Year
Female Sports Athlete of the Year
Fit Female Wrestler of the Year
Physique Paysite of the Year
(NEW FOR 2017) Physique Paysite Model of the Year
Promoter(s) of the Year
Fitness Clothing Line of the Year
Team of the Year
Male Trainer of the Year
Female Trainer of the Year


In addition to these categories, we have the BIG ONE...the FitGems Nation Woman of the Year! This goes to the fitness personality that had the most impact in the industry in 2017. Whoever wins this award will AUTOMATICALLY sit out in 2018 as a way of keeping this particular award’s winners as fresh as possible, even if 2018 ends up being better than 2017 for this year's Woman of the Year. Monica Brant, last year's winner, will not be on this list. Past Woman of the Year winners include Wendy Fortino,  Juliana Malcarne, and Dana Linn Bailey. No one has ever won Woman of the Year TWICE, but as the old saying goes, there's a first time for everything. It's all up to you.

This year's Woman of the Year nominees are...

Latorya Watts
Candice Lewis-Carter
Cydney Gillon
Nicole Wilkins
Heather Dees
Alexa Bliss
Dana Brooke
Wendy Fortino
Erin Stern
Tina Nguyen
Jen Jewell
Charlotte Flair
Jen Widerstrom
Nikki Bella
Oksana Grishina
Autumn Swansen
Lauren Rutan
Juliana Malcarne
Dana Linn Bailey
Amanda Kuclo


Voting for Woman of the Year will also begin next Monday (December 11) and will go on until 11:59 Eastern on January 8th. Like we've stated before, you all are the reason we do this every year and we love doing it. Without you, these awards would not be possible. Without you, FitGems Nation ITSELF would not be possible. This is just our way every year of showing appreciation to what you all do as athletes and creators.

If you want to know EXACTLY when we will begin voting, follow us on our Twitter account (https://twitter.com/fitgemsnation) by next Monday as that's when we will make the official announcement to begin voting. To all nominees, good luck!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Natalia Coelho: Women's Physique At Last!

For the last couple of years, Natalia Coelho has turned heads in the IFBB Figure division. Natalia's physique is something you would expect from someone in their mid-30s to 40s, or someone who has been there for quite some time. But Natalia is just 21. She began training to compete at the age of 15, did her first competition at the age of 17, became the youngest IFBB Figure Pro at age 19, and qualified for her first Olympia at age 20. She is already a 2x Olympian, where there are competitors who have went their entire career who have never even smelled the Olympia stage. Her shape and conditioning has made many people in the industry feel that she should give women's physique a try, as being in figure was holding back her true potential. She placed 15th and 16th at the past Olympias. Hell, Stevie Wonder can see that those placings were bogus!

This weekend, Natalia will make many fans' dreams come true as she is making her women's physique debut at the Ultimate Warriors competition. If you thought she was insane as a figure competitor, the industry is about to be blown away seeing her as a women's physique competitor. We know 2018 isn't here yet, but we can't help but get excited about the possibility of Natalia on the Olympia stage with the likes of the 4x Miss Physique Olympia Juliana Malacarne. Coelho vs Malacarne at the biggest stage in the bodybuilding world?! Umm...YES PLEASE!!

Don't take our word for it. Take a look at the following EXCLUSIVE photos from Premium Physiques and HDPhysiques and see for yourself. HUGE thanks to the owners of Premium Physiques and HDPhysiques for allowing us to use photos from their website. PLEASE DO NOT REPOST THESE PHOTOS. IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF PREMIUM PHYSIQUES/HDPHYSIQUES AND THESE PHOTOS ARE REPOSTED, LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN. To see much more of Natalia on there, we encourage you to join their websites. Links at the bottom of this post. You'll be glad you did. Trust us.















On behalf of FitGems Nation, we would like to congratulate Natalia on making the switch and embracing her true potential as an IFBB Superstar. We can't wait to see how she impacts the IFBB Women's Physique division going forward!

For more on Natalia, check out the following links:

Main website: https://www.ifbbpronataliacoelho.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FigureCompNatCoelho/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/natcoelho0
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ifbbpronataliacoelho
Snapchat: Coelhonat

We also encourage everyone to join HDPhysiques and Premium Physiques to view more photos (as well as video!!!) of Natalia. Their websites are https://www.hdphysiques.com and https://www.premiumphysiques.com.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Super League: Our Candid Thoughts

All photos belong to Super League's Facebook page.



This Saturday, there will be an event that potentially could change the course of bodybuilding forever, if the creators have it there way. In Las Vegas (coincidently where the NPC USAs will be taking place as well over the weekend), there is a league called the Super League. This was created by Dorian Yates, a 6x Mr. Olympia, with Gal Ferreira and Stan Efferding as league officials. It's being sponsored by Nike and Bodybuilding.com, which will be broadcasting the event LIVE from their site as well as YouTube. Their focus is Men and Women with SUPERHUMAN form and SUPERHUMAN function. They don't view themselves as a pageant contest. Rather a contest where bodybuilding meets powerlifting. Your look DOES matter, but leave the baby oil and tanning at home for this. The inaugural event will feature Mike O'Hearn and Team LA against Toney Freeman and Team ATL this Saturday. Celebrity Guest Athletes include Mike and Toney, as well as Rich Piana, Kris Geithin, Iris Kyle, and maybe CT Fletcher (he recently had heart transplant surgery, so I highly doubt he will participate, but I could be wrong on that).

Rather than tell you what the Super League is about, I'll post the link to the site for you to check it out for yourself: http://superleague.live/. Looking at the Super League at face value...it has potential. I truly think it can be something special. My problem is I don't think it was publicized enough to truly prepare for the event. Yes, word of mouth is a powerful thing (trust me, I know this from experience), but no one is gonna give two craps about it if you don't PUBLICIZE it. You can have the greatest event in the world, but no one is gonna care if you don't let people know about it and let them know about it often. I say this because their Youtube channel has just 553 subscribers and a little over 17,000 total video views on YouTube (they have posted interviews with a few of the competitors). I would hope there would be more, especially to get this truly up and running. Their Facebook page has a little less than 2,000 likes. Now they did step it up a tad the last couple of weeks but I think should have been pushed to the moon WAY before now, but this is just one guy's opinion here.

With that being said, let me be clear on this...I HOPE the Super League succeeds. The idea and concept of this is awesome. It shows that bodybuilders are just as much athletes as any other athlete in sports. They are seemingly wanting to bring actual fitness back to the forefront in this age of social media where looking hot and sexy is the norm moreso than the actual destination and journey (more on that in a future post). It will be interesting to see how the inaugural show goes this weekend and how they will follow it up in Vegas during Olympia weekend. Super League 2 will take place on September 16 in the Las Vegas Arena, where the best of the United States will take on Brazil's finest. Like we said, we're rooting for the Super League to succeed. Any platform that can give bodybuilders a chance to showcase their talents get the o-kay from us. We'll be keeping a close eye on this one over the weekend. Best of luck to everyone involved where competing or putting it together. Here's hoping this truly IS the new era of bodybuilding they claim it's supposed to be.



For more on Super League, check out their website at http://superleague.live/. Also, you can view the event LIVE this Saturday on YouTube at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mg7a7Rj_F4. Follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/superleague.bodybuilding and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/superleague.live and https://www.instagram.com/superleagueathletes.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Interview with Lauren Rutan

As we've stated in our write-up about her, Lauren Rutan is in a league of her own when it comes to muscle athletes. We were fortunate to interview her during her extremely busy schedule. If you don't appreciate what kind of woman (or should we say SUPERWOMAN) Lauren is...you will after this! 

NOTE: Parts of the interview were edited for clarity purposes only. Photos used belong to their respective owners. 





FitGems Nation (FN): Thank you for wanting to be interviewed by us, Lauren! Can't tell you how excited we are to finally talk to you after hearing so much about you. But for those that don't know, please tell us a little bit about yourself (occupation/how long you've been in the fitness industry, etc.)
Lauren Rutan (LR): I grew up a competitive gymnast, then went on to do cheerleading where I cheered at Kent State University in Ohio.  I started my first prep for my first fitness show in 2003. I competed for 4 years in fitness and figure then went on to get married and have 4 children :) During Kids I found crossfit, then went on to compete nationally in weightlifting, and lastly found powerlifting at a weightlifting meet I was at. 

FG: How did you get involved in the fitness industry in the first place?
LR: While growing up, my father was a Pro bodybuilder.

FG: What do you enjoy most about competing and/or modeling?
LR: I love competing in anything really.  I'm very competitive. :) I do love watching the body change and morph into an amazing physique. 

FG: Based off your history, I probably know the answer to this question, but I'll ask anyway. Which do you feel is your greatest strength while training: cardio or weight-training?
LR: weight-training, but I do love some cardio !!

FG: What is the hardest thing you have had to deal with when it comes to the fitness industry?
LR: Just body image overall, I guess. You see yourself so shredded and want to be that all the time, but I know it's not healthy, and no one can stay like that forever. 

FG: You mentioned on your Instagram (rutan422) that you competed in figure in 2007. Looking back, a lot of talent from both National shows you did (Jr. Nationals and North Americans) went on to become pros and even Olympia champions. What made you decide to step away from the figure stage until recently?
LR: I competed for 4 years straight in 2003-2007 so i needed a long break and I got married in 2006 and knew we wanted to have kids right away so that was basically it!

FG: During your hiatus from the stage, you went on to do powerlifting, weightlifting, and CrossFit, and excel at all of them. What made you decided to take on all of them, not just one of them?
LR: I started in CrossFit and then I really enjoyed do the lifts (snatch and clean & jerk) and we found out I would be pretty competitive in my weight class so I gave it a try and then qualified for nationals in my 2nd meet and the rest was history  :).  I then was getting a little burned out on weightlifting. I did it for a couple years but every day for a long time. I was at a weightlifting meet that also had powerlifting and I watched and fell in love.  I love to squat and bench, deadlift is just ok:) so that next week I started training for a powerlifting meet and the rest again is history :)



FG: You decided to return to the physique stage in 2017, winning the overall NPC Mid Atlantic Cup and taking a top ten spot at the Jr. Nationals. What drove you to return to physique competitions?
LR: I have thought about it and contemplated it for the last couple years but I was scared because of the kids being so young, and there's so much kid food around here, I wanted to wait a little bit until they got older.  And with this being the 10 year anniversary since I've been on stage, I knew I had to do it this year. 

FG: Getting ready for a physique show is one thing. Getting ready for a powerlifting meet is a different monster in itself. Yet you prepped for the Mid-Atlantic and Jr. Nationals WHILE also getting ready to compete in the USPA Nationals in a few weeks (Editor's Note: She smoked the USPA Nationals and qualified for the International Powerlifting League (IPL) Worlds in November) Seriously...how did you find the balance to prep for two intensely-straining yet different forms of competition AT THE SAME TIME?!
LR: I'm not sure! LOL. I just know I put my mind to something and it gets done.  But it wasn't that hard until after Jr Nationals getting ready for USPA Nationals . The transition in that small 3 week window was pretty tough. The heavy weights really took a hit on my body.  But leading up to that it was all good. I still did powerlifting twice a week but not too much volume and then bodybuilding the rest of the days.

FG: In addition to bring a NPC Competitor, Crossfit athlete, and top powerlifter and weightlifter, you are also a wife and mother to four childern. How in the world are you able to balance all of that (home life, work life, competition life)?!
LR: HAHAHA. Yeah, I'm insane, but really it's all about schedule and having one and sticking to it! We are all on a schedule and kids like it.  When we don't have anything to do, the kids are like "what's going on?!' :) But it.s how we have always lived and it works for us.



FG: With the rise of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), how important do you feel it is for people in the fitness industry to participate in it?
LR: I think it's very important IF you have a job relating to it.  As in a personal trainer and/or online coach.  It's free advertising!! It costs nothing and people get to see you and how you work out and your clients' results. 

FG: Who (living or dead) do you look up to for inspiration, whether they are part of the fitness industry or not?
LR: I'd say Dana Linn Bailey or Jennifer McMillian. 

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"? However, let's be honest...I don't think there has EVER been a competitor quite like you, though!
LR: AHAHAH thank you but I'd say again Dana Linn Bailey.

FG: If you weren’t part of the fitness industry in any way, shape, or form, what would you be doing now?
LR: OMG I have no clue really. I've been in it so long I don't know what I'd do not doing it. 

FG: What (if anything) would you change about the fitness industry as a whole (NOT just about the division you compete in)?
LR: Politics. Knowing someone that knows someone. (Editor's Note: And let the church say AMEN!)

FG: What goal or goals do you hope to accomplish before it's all said and done?
LR: PRO CARD. End of story. And then get invited to the Arnold and/or competing at the Olympia



FG: After your competition days are completed, how do you plan on give back to the fitness industry?
LR: I love coaching people and helping them with their workout and/or nutrition needs.  After that, I'd love to judge and work for NPC. 

FG: Being the multi-sport athlete you are, what advice do you give to people who want to do all they can but are told that it's impossible, or to those that want to pursue one thing but are told they don't have what it takes to succeed?
LR: DONT LISTEN to anyone!!!! SOOOOOO many people told me I couldn't do what I do or it would be a mistake!! Try it! Who cares if you fail, or it doesn't work out, at least you tried and you know what it takes. 

FG: Any closing words for your fans and supporters?
LR: Just a huge thank you for all the support and love!! We bringing the HEAT in November!!! (Editor's Note, Lauren is competing in the IPL Worlds and MAYBE step back on stage in the NPC Nationals as a women's physique competitor. Stay tuned!)

FG: Again, thank you so much for doing this interview with us, Lauren! 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.
LR: Instagram is where i post most of my stuff- rutan422.  Email is rutan422@gmail.com, and just started a YouTube page. First video should be up this week under Lauren Rutan!!!

Lauren has written quite the book thus far in the story of her life, and from what we've seen just the last few months along, her story is far from done. November looks to be a big month for the Super Athlete. We at FitGems Nation wish her all the success in the world and keep being an inspiration to others around the world. Once it's all said and done, Lauren can definitely say she left her mark in the fitness industry as one of the greatest muscle athletes this industry has ever seen!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Jenny Worth Is BACK!!!

DISCLAIMER: We own none of these photos. All photos belong to their respective owners.  

The Return of The Queen! 
Tampa, hope you're ready! 


If you have paid attention to us during our existence, we are HUGE fans of Jennifer (Jenny) Worth. If you don't know who she is, you need to brush up on your memory, but we'll give you a small dose on who she is:

Jenny is a former Fitness International Champion, multiple Fitness Olympia competitor (runner-up in 2001)...long story short, she is considered by many fitness fans as one of the best to ever compete in the industry. We feel she is the best to never win the Fitness Olympia title. Jenny's last show was the 2003 Fitness Olympia, where she placed 10th with a decent routine but her physique was FAR from what many expected out of her. The reason for that was she got injured which drastically changed how she had to prepare for the show. Jenny would end up retiring after that and would have her first son Dominic. While she bring a healthy child into the world, her pregnancy and thyroid issues would cause her to gain 80 pounds. With hard work, perseverance, and faith, she would take the weight off and over time brought her competition look back. She moved to California in 2010 with her son to start a new life as a trainer rather than an athlete, creating the Worth It brand and developing top competitors from all divisions in the NPC and IFBB. She has also went on to do some guest performances to the delight of fans all over the country.

Old-school photo of Jenny


In recent months, Jenny has showcased her physique via Instagram and Facebook in a way that many people (including yours truly) were wondering if a possible return to the stage was in the works. She has teased the idea a few times on social media, but nothing was set in stone...until now. Word got out that Jenny signed a athlete's contract to compete in the 2017 Tampa Pro as a fitness competitor. And on Facebook and Instagram, Jenny made it officially known...she was coming out of retirement! We can't stress how excited we are to see one of the best of all time compete in the division she holds near and dear to her heart.

The Tampa Show is one of the biggest shows of the year not named the Arnold or Olympia, but Jenny's return now makes this a must-see event. Seriously, how cool is it going to be to see this living legend competed with some of today's top fitness stars, including the returning Myriam Capes (who is one of the current top ladies in fitness and will be making a comeback of her own after an injury sidelined her for several months). And how awesome would it be to see Jenny WIN the Tampa Show and punch her ticket to to Olympia for the first time in 2003! Regardless of the outcome, Jenny is a winner for even returning to the stage in the first place. If I were competing in Tampa in two weeks as a fitness competitor, I would make sure to watch her routine like a student and take notes. While Oksana came to the industry and brought a style the likes the fitness world has never seen before, to me, Jenny is one of the first TRUE artists of the fitness division. It wasn't just routines she did. They all mean something to her, even her guest routines she's done for the past few years.

Of all people, Jenny has what it takes to pull off the comeback of a lifetime. You tell her it's impossible, she'll tell you "watch her". She has made a career out of proving people wrong, and in 2 weeks at the Tampa Pro, Jenny will do it again. She will prove that no matter what age you are or what obstacles come your way in life, you can do anything you set your mind to, but you have to put in the work to do it. Good Luck to fitness's Jenny from the Block!

She's still got it! 


For more on Jenny, check her out on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/WorthItFitness/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/WorthItFitness/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/WorthItFitness/).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lauren Rutan, THE Definitive Superwoman

One of the most amazing muscle athletes this industry has ever seen!
Photo credit: NPC News Online

Every competitor is special in their own way. Each woman that enters the physique world spends hours upon hours of dedication in the weight room and in the kitchen to obtain the most amazing physiques on the planet when it comes to LOOKING like Greek gods/goddesses. While they are definitely stronger than the average person, they are not judged by their strength in the weight room. Then you have those that put in hours of dedication to have the STRENGTH of Greek/gods and goddesses and don't actually focus on the look rather the performance. Those are powerlifters, weightlifters, and Crossfitters (even though the Crossfitters tend to usually have better aesthetically-pleasing physiques than powerlifters and weightlifters. Now...to do physique competitions, CrossFit, weightlifting AND powerlifting and be able to excel at all of it has got to take superhuman effort. Add to that being a loving and dedicated wife and mother of four children and you have credentials that would make even Wonder Woman look like a joke.

Ladies and gentleman, such a woman exists...and you won't find her in comic books (even though it would make for one heck of one!). And her name is Lauren Rutan.

Lauren is from Akron, Ohio. You might recognize that town because a certain top NBA Superstar just happens to be from there as well. But we're not focusing on him here, we're about the QUEEN of Akron.  If you look up the word superhuman in the dictionary, there's a good chance you will find a picture of Lauren in the description. She competed before at the National Level about 10 years ago when she did the 2007 Jr. Nationals, along with a few other shows. She stepped away from the physique stage for a while, but not before she decided to do anything and everything that tested her body to the limits and beyond. She has went on to become a weightlifter and powerlifter, breaking state records and becoming one of the nation's top strength athletes. She also has done her share of CrossFit competitions as well, and is among one of the best there as well! In all of that...she became a wife and mother of four along the way. She's also a nutrition and workout coach to boot. I know, that's a lot to take in!

The Ultimate Jill-of-All-Trades
Photo credit: CrossFitGirl.com

She recently returned to the physique stage, winning the overall 2017 NPC Mid-Atlantic Cup Figure title and would go on to place in the top 10 in her figure class at the NPC Jr. Nationals. Her next stop is the USPA Powerlifting Nationals in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. Yes, she prepared for a physique show and a powerlifting competition at the same time. To say that's insane would be an understatement. But Lauren is a special kind of athlete that only comes around once in a lifetime. She has big plans, and she herself will reveal more about them and her incredible athletic career in a future interview exclusively for FitGems Nation. We are looking forward to interviewing her and learning more about how she has been able to become THE definitive Superwoman.

Until then, I highly recommend following her on Instagram as she takes her fans through her journey as a super athlete: https://www.instagram.com/rutan422.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bridesmaid No More: Wendy Fortino Gets Her Win At Last

The Champ is (FINALLY!!!) here!!!!
Photo credit: NPC News Online

July 30, 2011.

This was the day she won the NPC USA Figure Class A and Overall title. This was the day she became an IFBB Pro. For six years, she would go on to compete in over 30 pro shows. She would place runner-up in seven shows, and she stepped on the Olympia stage twice (2014 and 2015) due to the Olympia Qualification Series. Yet, despite her ever-improving and jaw-dropping physique and one of the most graceful stages presences of any figure competitor, she had yet to do the one thing that can truly call her a top competitor: Win a pro show. The way things were going, we honestly thought that Wendy would go down as the one of the greatest figure competitors in IFBB history to NEVER win a pro show.

Then April 15, 2017 happened.
The St. Louis Pro happened.

Bringing what she felt was her best look yet, in one of the toughest and deepest line-ups of the year (which included past and present Olympia qualifiers in their own rights), Wendy finally reached the top of the mountain. She became the 2017 IFBB St. Louis Pro Figure Champion. Everything she sacrificed throughout her career, her sweat, her tears, and maybe even some blood, finally paid off. She can finally cross "winning a pro show" off her fitness career checklist. The Olympia Qualification Series is a dead issue for her now. She is officially Olympia-bound because she WON a show. No qualification points this time!

I dare you to watch this video and not tear up a bit. I can't even begin to understand what is going though her head here.


That is how an athlete who has given everything she has into her craft feels when her hard work is rewarded. I teared up for her, and I RARELY do that with any athlete. I've followed her journey before FitGems Nation was even a thing. I became an instant fan when I saw her on the Kriv Studios website when she was a track athlete and had an amazing physique before she even THOUGHT about competing in physique shows. While it's awesome to see someone win their first show, it's something about fighting for show after show for years to get that first win that makes it much better.

If I could personally think of one quote that fits her journey to her first pro win, it would be the one that Rocky told his son in Rocky Balboa. While the movie (to me) wasn't as good as the earlier movies, it did have one of the greatest motivational speeches I've ever heard of in my entire life, and this fits Wendy to a T:

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!

Wendy knows what she's worth and she goes after it show after show after show. She has taken more hits leading up to her win than most in their entire lifetimes. She doesn't place blame on anyone, she doesn't go and say that politics are to blame. She just keeps hustling and fighting each and every show she enters in hopes of earning respect within the industry, which I believe she has done with flying colors, even without that pro win.

I admire and respect every woman who steps on a physique stage, but Wendy is one of the few who I've personally connected to and I've yet to meet her in person. She is one of the most genuine people not only in the physique world, but on Earth period. She ALWAYS see the good in everyone and always complements anyone and everyone she possibly can, even those that end up beating her. Her kindness is felt by many people in the industry and they always talk about on social media, how humble she is and how amazing a competitor she is and admire her determination and never-say-die attitude, the stuff I love about her as a person, not just a competitor.

When Wendy became the 2011 NPC USA Overall Figure Champion
Photo credit: Muscular Development


When you're good at something, you tell everyone. When you're great at something, they tell you. The way Wendy Fortino's win was received on social media proved what we have been saying for years: Wendy Fortino is a GREAT competitor. She is one of the greatest ambassadors the physique world has ever seen not just because of fighting to improve her physique throughout the years, but the way she carries herself in a professional and humble matter. Most in her position would have quit, and truthfully we would not fault them. Not Wendy. She never quit even though we wouldn't have blamed her one bit if she did. The motto her and her husband Matt Allen use is "Success Requires Obsession". It's not just a motto for her, it's how she lives her life...and it paid off for her in the end. She is living proof that good things come to those that put in the work and never give up. Her hard work earned (not given) her the 2017 IFBB St. Louis Pro Figure Championship and a trip to the Olympia for the third time in four years.

To me and to all of FitGems Nation, Wendy has always been a champion. We'll go as far as saying to many she is "The People's Champion" in the figure division. Now, she finally has hardware to validate her right as a champion. Congrats Miss Fortino. In your own words, "The Harder the Fight, the Sweeter the Victory." And oh how sweet it is!

This photo speaks volumes. EARNED not given!
Photo credit: Jack Titone/Instagram


Feel free to follow Wendy at the following links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WendyFortinoUSA/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendyfortino
Cyberbodyshop business with her husband/trainer Matt Allen: http://cyberbodyshop.com/

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Why WWE's Dana Brooke Competing at the Arnold is Significant

DISCLAIMER: All photos belong to their original owners.

Slowly but surely changing the game (no offense, Triple H)
Photo credit: WWE

It's one thing to be in shape for wrestling.
It's another thing to be in shape for a fitness competition.
Try to do both at the same time.

Yeah, that sounds like torture and pure madness. Why on Earth would anyone put their body at risk to do both instead of choosing one? If you just happened to be named Dana Brooke, the answer for her is in the form of a question...WHY NOT?!

This weekend (Friday to be exact), Dana Brooke (real name Ashley Sebera) will be stepping on stage among some of the best fitness competitors in the world at the 2017 Fitness International during the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. The brand split has let WWE Superstars be able to do more things outside WWE with schedules being a tad easier than in the past. Chris Jericho has his podcast and band outside WWE. Seth Rollins is enrolled in the Crossfit Games as an active competitor (as soon as he's healed up). And John Cena is freaking EVERYWHERE in Hollywood and still has an active role in WWE. And it looks like Dana will be able to be a fitness competitor while still under contract with WWE, which is unheard of. She did it in 2015 as part of the NXT roster, when she hadn't made it on TV yet and was only doing house shows in Florida. She competed in her first Arnold Classic that Friday and the very next day (as well as that Sunday) she wrestled against Bayley (current WWE Raw Women's Champion) and Carmella (Smackdown Live competitor) as part of the first-ever WWE Experience at the Arnold (Side note: she won both matches).

Most of you know what fitness competitors go through to get ready for one show. The diet, the training, the practicing of the routines...it's stressful weeks of prep but rewarding for that one show. Now, consider that this is the Arnold we're talking about, and you're talking about the biggest show on the schedule NOT named the Olympia. Most that compete have regular jobs and don't take bumps in a wrestling ring and get tossed around like ragdolls. That's where Dana is different from every other competitor competing at the Arnold this weekend. Taking bumps in a wrestling ring and get tossed around like a ragdoll IS her job and a job she loves dearly. She has stated on multiple occasions that she wants to be among the best in WWE history, but she also realizes what brought her to the dance in the first place...the fitness world. She wants to give back and everyone (whether you like her or not) should give her credit and respect for not forgetting her roots, which is something that sadly most people tend to forget once they make it big. While others have the indies to thank for their road to WWE, Dana has the fitness world to thank for her road to WWE, which we personally hope doesn't end anytime soon, as we feel we've yet to see the best from her. Dana at the Arnold (to us) helps close the gap between the fitness industry and WWE, hopefully bring in more male and female talent for NXT, Raw, Smackdown Live, 205 Live, and other aspects of WWE.

Potentially paving the future for others to compete in fitness shows while being part of WWE at the same time.
Photo credit: Getty Images

If some of the guys can do it all and still be active members of WWE, why can't Dana?! It's only fair. We hope what Dana is doing paves the way for others to follow ALL their dreams. In this day and age, you CAN do it all if you put your mind to it! Cena is, Seth is, Jericho is. Now...It's Dana's turn. For the IFBB AND WWE...PLAYTIME IS OVER!!!!

For more on Dana's Arnold journey (and other random stuff from WWE's resident Queen of Flex City), follow her on Snapchat at asha_DanaBrooke, on Twitter at @DanaBrookeWWE, and her Instagram at ashasebera_danabrooke . Be sure to watch the Arnold Sports Festival on their new home on Generation Iron at http://generationiron.com/ this Friday and Saturday. Good luck Dana Brooke! We're rooting for you! :)

Friday, February 3, 2017

8th Annual FitGems Awards Winners

The votes are in, and it's time to announce the winners of the 8th Annual FitGems Awards! You call came out in full force and made your voices known, and we at FitGems Nation can't thank you enough for supporting these awards. Without further ado...here is who YOU voted for as the best of 2016!


PRO CATEGORIES

2016 Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Juliana Malacarne

2016 Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Oksana Grishina

2016 Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Nicole Wilkins

2016 Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Courtney King

2016 Breakout Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Victoria Flores

2016 Breakout Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Kristine Duba

2016 Breakout Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Sandra Grajales Romero

2016 Breakout Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Narmin Assria

2016 Underrated Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Susan Graham

2016 Underrated Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Stacy Wright

2016 Underrated Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Wendy Fortino

2016 Underrated Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Vicki Counts 

AMATEUR CATEGORIES

2016 Amateur Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Nicole Gutierrez

2016 Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Rebecca Sizemore

2016 Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Stephanie Trevino

2016 Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Carolina Araujo

2016 Breakout Amateur Women’s Physique Competitor of the Year
Casey Oliver

2016 Breakout Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Nicole Neargardner

2016 Breakout Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Natalie Navas

2016 Breakout Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Danielle Lipski

2016 Underrated Amateur Women’s Physique Competitor of the Year
Tia Marie Hamilton

2016 Underrated Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Alissa Carpio

2016 Underrated Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Victoria Puentes

2016 Underrated Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Celia Torres

MISC. CATEGORIES

2016 Fitness Model of the Year
Nicole Wilkins

2016 Fitness Ambassador of the Year
Nicole Wilkins

2016 Social Media Star of the Year
Wendy Fortino

2016 Moment of the Year
Monica Brant returning to competition for the first time since 2013 as part of PCA and NABBA (#ReturnOfTheFitnessIcon)

2016 Photographer of the Year
Dan Ray

2016 Fit Celebrity of the Year
Kelly Ripa

2016 Female Sports Athlete of the Year
Serena Williams

2016 Olympic Athlete of the Year
Simone Biles

2016 Fit Female Wrestler of the Year
Charlotte Flair

2016 Physique Paysite of the Year
HDPhysiques

2016 Promoter of the Year
Tim Gardner

2016 Fitness Clothing Line of the Year
Better Bodies

2016 Team of the Year
Team CyberbodyShop

2016 Male Trainer of the Year
Matt Allen

2016 Female Trainer of the Year
Wendy Fortino


While a lot happened in 2016, nothing (to us) was more shocking and awe-inspiring than seeing the on-stage return of one of the greatest competitors of all time...and doing it by posing/flexing no less! Seeing her return (and showing that she's STILL the queen) was enough to crown the legendary MONICA BRANT as the 2016 FitGems Nation Woman of the Year! Congrats Monica!!! 

You can go to our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/fitgemsnation) over the weekend to view the photos of this year's winners and a special photo album dedicated to 2016 FitGems Nation Woman of the Year Monica Brant! Again, thank you all for being part of this. We HOPE to do better in the future as far as getting this out quicker!