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? Just a huge thank you for all the support and love!!
LR: 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! 



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

8th Annual FitGems Awards...VOTE HERE!

For years, we have used Mister Poll as our official FitGems Awards voting platform. However, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are going to be using Polldaddy for our voting platform going forward. We apologize for how late this poll has taken to get up and we hope to do better in the future.

You can vote once a day until February 1st at midnight eastern time. After that, votes will be tallied and winners will be announced on Friday, February 3rd. Best of luck to everyone and congrats to all the nominees!



PRO CATEGORIES













AMATEUR CATEGORIES














MISC. CATEGORIES
















Remember, you can vote once a day for each category until February 1st as midnight Eastern time, with winners to be announced on February 3rd. Good luck!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Megan Olson Fire Relief-Our Thoughts and Plea

Let's help a fellow IFBB Pro in need.
Photo source: GoFundMe


I consider Megan Olson to be one of the best IFBB competitors that has yet to get her due in the industry. We love her shape, conditioning, attitude, and overall beauty. We hope that 2017 will be a great breakout year for her on stage, should she decide to compete this year. But in all honestly, after what happened earlier this year, we don’t blame her one bit for holding off on competing for a while, as there are things far more important.

On January 3rd, Megan lost everything she owned in a house fire. It wasn’t until I found out how it happened that made it even more sad. The fire was started by her husband Matt. He has a bad case of mental illness and apparently burned the house down. Why he did it, I don’t know and it’s none of my business as far as personal stuff goes, but we all should thank God that it wasn’t worse. People can always get a new house, you can’t get a new life.

I’m in no position to judge him, nor is anyone else, but I’m publicly asking (damn near begging) for Matt to seek help. It might be in the best interest for Matt and Megan to stay away from each other until Matt is well. Mental illness has a way of being fatal to those that have it and the people around them. I’m praying that Matt and/or Megan do not become another statistic in that.

If you want to help Megan out financially, go to her GoFundMe page that was set up by Ron Mowen, on her behalf: https://www.gofundme.com/wx-megan-olson. If you want to offer her support by sending her messages, go to her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/megan.olson222/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/megan_olson_ifbb/) For more on NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) check out the following link: http://www.nami.org/Find-Support/NAMI-HelpLine or call them at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org. The NAMI Hotline can be reached The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, Eastern Time. 

Please continue to join FitGems Nation in prayer for both Megan and Matt during this time and hope that Matt gets the help he needs.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Our Dreamlist for Marc Thyseen's Olympia Photoshoot

As we've mentioned before, top fitness photographer Marc Thyseen will be hosting an, in his words, "Exclusive Photo Shoot event" at REHAB pool at the HARD ROCK in Las Vegas on Sunday, September 18th, during the 2016 Olympia Weekend. We hope those in the Las Vegas area during the Olympia weekend will look into this and participate. From the infomation we've gathered this far, images will be published in Planet Muscle magazine, and the event will be professionally filmed, so we're guessing potential DVD, Youtube video, and/or digital video of the event will be made. If you would like to participate in it marc@marcthyssen.com. If you would like to be a corporate sponsor for the event (which will cost your company a fraction of an Olympia booth, which for those who have done it knows those are NOT cheap). use the same email as well.

While we have no clue who will be part of the event (yet), FitGems Nation did compile a list of 12 ladies around the industry that we feel would be great for this event. They are in no particular order, and trust us...it was not easy to narrow this list to 12 ladies. (Photos belong to their respective owners).

Tina Nguyen


Tina is quickly becoming one of the most popular fitness personalities on Instagram, currently past over half a million followers. It’s not hard to see why with her beautiful looks and comic book-like proportions. With the physique and following she has, being a part of this shoot would be an even bigger boost for her career.

Christine Pomponio-Pate


This woman DOES NOT AGE! She was part of both FitHeat and the Fitness Supermodel Weekend, and both times she looked like she could have stepped on stage and did damage. A lot has changed between now and back then, including adding twin boys to the family. Even in her early 40s and a mother-of-three, she is still kicking butt and taking names in the looks department. It would be only fitting that Christine would return being one of Marc’s first big models he worked with (not to mention being one of his all-time favorites)

Larissa Reis


Another woman who is no stranger to working with Marc, Larissa has been part of Marc’s shoots before, including the 2011 Fitness Supermodel Weekend. While she hasn’t stepped on stage in quite some time, she still have one of the most impressive bodies in the fitness world today. She would be a great fit (no pun intended) for the simple fact that she lives in Las Vegas.


Wendy Fortino


Arguably the most deserving person on this list on a personal level, Wendy is not only one of the most underrated figure competitors in the world, but she is also one of the most underrated fitness models in the world. She has been part of a few shoots here and there, but not to the point where they are known as much as they should be. Being part of this event would not only give Wendy massive credibility in the fitness modeling world, but this could potentially pave the way for her to get more opportunities down the line by others.

Latorya Watts


She will already be in Vegas defending her Figure Olympia title. Latorya would be an obvious choice to have her as part of this shoot. One of the most genetically superior competitors the figure division has ever seen, she is also quite the model herself, doing some work with many photographers over the last couple of years. Marc is no stranger to photographing Olympia champions, and Latorya would be an ideal person to have as part of his photoshoot.

Heather Dees


Heather was part of the 2011 Fitness Supermodel Weekend and displayed an amazing physique during that time. It has only gotten better and better since then. Whatever motivated her to take her physique to the next level worked, while still keeping it within today’s figure standards. With the photoshoots she did last year showing off her improved physique, maybe it’s time for Heather to do another shoot with Marc and see what magic they can provide this time around.


Ariel Khadr


It’s been a dream for Ariel to make it to the Olympia stage and seven years after becoming the youngest fitness competitor at the time to win an IFBB pro card, she has now emerged as a top fitness competitor and will be stepping on the Olympia stage for the first time in her career. Her exotic looks are made for photoshoots such as the one Marc will be doing next month. Being part of this photoshoot AND competing in her first Olympia? Taki about one heck of an first-ever Olympia experience!

Natalia Coelho


She will be one of the youngest competitors on the Olympia stage, but has one of the craziest physiques in the entire figure division, or any division for that matter. Very photogenic and knows how to pose for someone her age. Natalia’s stock is only going to grow as her competition career goes forward, and being part of this shoot would be an instant boost for her.


Juliana Malacarne


The women’s physique division was created for a woman such as Juliana Malacarne. In fact, calling Juliana a woman is almost an insult, as she’s more of a living, breathing goddess, which practically anyone who has ever seen her can back up this claim. The 2x Physique Olympia and first-ever Physique International champion will look to win the Olympia Physique Showdown for a third-straight year against some of the most competitive talent to date. With her aiming to be at her best yet, it’s only fitting that she is part of this shoot, showing why the women’s physique division is the perfect combination of muscularity and femininity.


Camala Rodriquez-McClure



Camala is a bonafide star in every sense of the word. She has competed in multiple Olympias and Arnolds, including winning the Figure International title back in 2015. She has also shown that she can kill it on photoshoots, displaying great muscularity for the figure division with her trademark curves and Latina charm. She will be in Vegas competing in hopes of winning her 1st Figure Olympia title, and being part of this photoshoot would be a great thing to add to her already-impressive resume.


Ashley Kaltwasser



The definitive bikini competitor, Ashley is arguably THE most successful competitors in the short but deep history of the IFBB bikini division. 3 Bikini Olympia titles and 2 Bikini International titles, there’s arguably no one in the division as dominating as her. This beauty from Ohio would be a great fit to Marc’s photoshoot, as she will already be in Vegas anyways defending her title and aiming for an unthinkable FOURTH-STRAIGHT (!!!!) Bikini Olympia championship.


Meriza Deguzman-Ciccone



Meriza hasn’t stepped on stage in years, but the way she looks (much like Christine), you wouldn’t know it. She has kept herself in incredible shape since the last time she competed, for the simple fact that she LIVES the fitness lifestyle rather than the competition lifestyle. But make no mistake, she can get photoshoot-ready whenever she damn well pleases, which she has proven over the years.

So there you have it...our list for the twelve women we would like to see be part of Marc Thyssen's Olympia photoshoot next month. So what about you. Who would YOU want to see be part of this historic event? Let us know in the comments or send us a Facebook message. We will forward all of your suggestions to Marc. As mentioned earlier, any additional news we get regarding the event, we will make sure to let you all know. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Marc Thyssen's Fitness Supermodel Weekend...Five Years Later

Flyer for this monumental event back in 2011.


This year marks the fifth anniversary of (to us) one of the best fitness modeling events to ever take place. We’re talking about the Fitness Supermodel Weekend, which was hosted by Marc Thyssen. This event was a follow-up to FitHeat, which took place about a year earlier. Some of the biggest names got together and did a massive photoshoot with Marc and his crew. The ladies that participated were as followed:

Nicole Wilkins
Christine Pomponio-Pate
Heather Dees
Felicia Romero
Sonia Gonzales (now Sonia Querido)
Larissa Reis
Adela Garcia
Natalie Pennington
Khanh Nguyen
Kristy Chin
Dayna Maleton

This weekend-long event took place at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino at Las Vegas during the 2011 NPC USAs. Fans were able to get a look at the stars in person, and see one of the best fitness photographers in the world in action. To hold such an event took some guts, determination, and some luck, but Marc was able to pull it off in a way that has helped paved the way for others to establish their own super modeling events. While Marc is far from the first to discover how to bring beautiful, fit women together, he has become somewhat of a master at it.

Once in a lifetime event...or is it?!
With Marc in this photo is (From left to right, front) Christine Pompoiono-Pate, Adela Garcia
(from left to right, back) Sonia Querido , Larissa Reis, Felicia Romero, and Heather Dees


Coming off the heels of this event, Marc announced on his social media accounts that there will be a similar event to take place at this year's Olympia, September 16th to be exact. If the 2011 event was any indication, expect this year’s event to be one for the ages. As we get more info, we will pass it along to you. 

For those that want to relive the historic event from 2011 (and who doesn't), check out the link below to some photos as well as a video of the event:




For more on Marc Thyssen, check out the following links:

Our interview with Marc back in 2011 (pre-Fitness Supermodel weekend): http://fitgems.blogspot.com/2011/07/interview-with-photographer-marc.html