Tuesday, November 27, 2018

10th Annual FitGems Awards Time...and THE REOPENING OF OUR HALL OF FAME!!!

I literally can't believe we have been doing this for 10 years, but my goodness, here we are: the 10th Annual FitGems Awards are upon us! 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. We will be using Polldaddy for the third straight year. Voting will begin in two weeks (Monday, December 10, to be exact), and will end at 11:59 Eastern Time on January 7th, 2019. As far as the number of categories are concerned, this is easily our biggest yet:

PRO CATEGORIES

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
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
Rookie Pro Women's Bodybuilder of the Year
Rookie Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Rookie Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Rookie Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Rookie Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
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

Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Amateur Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
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
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 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
(NEW FOR 2018) Crossfit Athlete of the Year
(NEW FOR 2018) Female Strength Athlete of the Year
(NEW FOR 2018) Female Super League Athlete of the Year
(REVAMPED FOR 2018) Fittest Female WWE Superstar of the Year (Raw/Smackdown Live)
(NEW FOR 2018) Fittest Female NXT Superstar of the Year
(REVAMPED FOR 2018) Fittest Female Wrestler of the Year
Physique Paysite of the Year
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


And of course, we have the BIG category of them all...the FitGems Nation Woman of the Year! This goes to the fitness personality that had the most impact in the industry in 2018. Whoever wins this award will AUTOMATICALLY sit out from this category in 2019 as a way of keeping this particular award’s winners as fresh as possible, even if 2019 ends up being better than 2018. Past Woman of the Year winners include Juliana Malcarne, Monica Brant, Dana Linn Bailey, and Wendy Fortino, who made history last year by becoming the first-ever 2x Woman of the Year.

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

Shanique Grant
Natalia Coelho
Cydney Gillon
Candice Lewis-Carter
Whitney Jones
Myriam Capes
Jennifer Worth
Jen Widerstrom
Ashley Kaltwasser
Charlotte Flair
Alexa Bliss
Ronda Rousey
Mandy Rose
Tessa Blanchard
Juliana Malacarne
Missy Farrell
Bojana Vasjaevic
Angelica Teixeria
Alina Popa
Stefanie Cohen


Voting for Woman of the Year will also begin on December 10 and will go on until 11:59 Eastern on January 7th.

If you want to know EXACTLY when we will begin voting, make sure to follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/fitgemsnation) on December 10 as that's when we will make the official announcement to begin voting. Also, for the first time, we will be using our Facebook and Instagram accounts so you can see all the nominees visually (I know, this should have been done a long time ago, but hey...live and learn).


Oh yeah...ONE. LAST. THING.


We're reopening the Hall!!! Yep, after a longer-than-it-should-have-been hiatus, the FitGems Hall of Fame is reopening to put in the greatest names the fitness world has ever seen.

Here is the criteria to be eligible for the FitGems Hall of Fame:

  1. This is a FEMALE COMPETITORS Hall of Fame, meaning no guys (at least not right now)
  2. The competitor(s) must either have competed for at least a decade or total of 10 years OR she has retired and it's been at least 5-10 years since their last competition
  3. They can be from any federation, even ones from the past
  4. The inductees can be living or deceased.

The FitGems Hall of Fame Class of 2019 will be voted on by select people within the fitness industry. The inductees will be revealed one by one, the week of the FitGems Awards Winners reveal and they will officially be inducted into our Hall of Fame the week before the 2019 Arnold Sports Festival. 

Those currently in the FitGems Hall of Fame are:
Adela Garcia
Rachel McLish
Iris Kyle
Kim Chizevsky
Lenda Murray
Cory Everson
Monica Brant


Who will join them? We will find out soon enough.

It's a lot of work to get all of this together, but this is one of the many things I love doing each year. I can't thank you all for your support of FitGems Nation these past ten years. What started out as a little blog has turned into so much more, and it's all because of you. And I truly feel the best is yet to come for FitGems Nation. Thank you all for joining me in building something special for you. Here's to 10 more years, and best of luck to everyone the next few weeks!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Evolution of Dana Brooke

Dana has EVOLVED...and we couldn't be more proud of her!
Photo credit: WWE.com


Evolution: the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.

This weekend's WWE pay-per-view titled WWE Evolution is exactly that. What felt like a dream for fans of the female superstars in WWE is now a reality. For the first time in WWE history, the female superstars get their own pay-per-view. No, we're not stupid, things could have been a TAD bit better in building the event, but the fact that it's even happening in the first place is a big win for the women. While a lot of people have talked about the evolution of the division and some of its top stars, we want to take a little time to focus on someone who we feel is underrated and underappreciated by the wrestling fans and wrestling world as a whole...someone we consider one of our own, Dana Brooke.

Real name Ashley Sebera, Dana will be competing in the Evolution Battle Royal, featuring former champions (Asuka, Nia Jax, Ember Moon), rising stars (such as Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, the IIconics) and former competitors (such as Ivory, Kelly Kelly, and Michelle McCool) with the opportunity at a future Women's Championship down the line. While obviously we hope Dana wins, we want to take some time to mention why as we focus on Dana's OWN Evolution.

Dana begin her journey to WWE as an aspiring gymnast (part of the Junior Olympics, last we checked) and unfortunately injuries and surguries took her out of actively pursuing that further. She went into diving and was pretty damn good at it, but in her own words, "there was nowhere to go for her" in terms of diving, and let's be real, there wasn't. From there, she discovered the bodybuilding world, more spefically the bikini division. While that was cool for her...she wanted more because of her own competitive nature. From there she decided to enter the fitness division and found her niche. She would end up competing in the National Physique Committee (NPC) for a short time before competing as a pro in the International Federaion of Bodybuilders (IFBB). While she never competed on the Olympia stage, she ended up being good enough to compete on the Arnold stage (which is invite-only) two times. While competing at the Arnold multiple times is an honor in itself, it's the fact that she is the first (and as of now only) person (male or female) to do it while under a WWE contract. She did it in 2015 while in NXT, and she did it last year on the main roster. In fact, it was during her time in the fitness division where WWE would discover her.

Dana began her WWE journey at the Performance Center in July 2013 and would make her NXT debut shortly after. We do have to be honest, her debut was definitely less an ideal, but that was to be expected with most of her class having prior wrestling experienece in the indies and Dana having none before coming to the Performance Center. She definitely posessed one of the best finishers of any woman to come out of NXT up to that point, the Samoan Driver, and it got her quite a few victories, including one over one of the Four Horsewomen, Bayley. During her short time in NXT, she aligned herself with Emma and both ladies benefitted from it for a bit. It would end up benefitting Emma moreso than Dana in a way, as unfortunately Dana would suffer an injury that would limit her time in NXT as a competitor. In fact her last televised NXT match was at NXT Takeover: Respect against the debuting Asuka, who pretty much beat Dana handily that night. Everyone focuses on Asuka while no one seemed to have given Dana any credit for hanging with a Japanese legend, but as Dana would soon find out...it would be the story of her career in WWE thus far.

In May 2016, after healing from her injuries, Dana would make her main roster debut rejoining her buddy Emma, but this time with the name EnD (Emma and Dana). It lookes like they were going to attept to recreate or even surpass their NXT run, but injuries plaged it again, but THIS time, it was Emma would be sidelined, leading to Dana being directionness, until Extreme Rules 2016 where Dana showed up dressed as Ric Flair to distract Natalya and help Charlotte retain the Raw Women's Championship. Dana and Charlotte would end up being a pretty cool duo with Charlotte as the champion (and would begin her Queen transformation during that time) and Dana as the protege/lackey). Their relationship strained to the point where we THOUGHT there would be a breakup at some point but it weirdly disappeared. Then it came back for a bit and then broke up shortly before Wrestlemania 33, where they had one match against each other, Charlotte won, and it didn't go any further than that for whatever reason. Emma would return from injury and thought she would have Dana back as her buddy, but Dana was fed up with alliances so she declined the team-up. It looked like it was going to be a feud between Emma and Dana but once again...nothing came out of it. For some odd reason, at some point, it looked like a partnership was brewing between Dana and Mickie James, but again...nothing came out of it. In 2017, she was used sparringly in matches but showed improvements in her matches. After arguably the most embarrasing match (if you want to call it a match) of her career with a blink-of-an-eye defeat by the hands of Asuka, she joined Titus and Apollo (Titus Worldwide) as their statician. In all honestly, THAT went nowhere for her as she spent most of her time accompnaying them to the ring in secretary outfits holding a clipboard. Not even getting physically involved, just...well...holding a damn clipboard.

For someone with her skills, it was bothersome to see someone like Dana being wasted like this. Hell, up until recent, she was used LESS this year in matches than in 2017 despite, again, making serious improvements since her NXT days. We don't understand the logic of WWE of not using Dana in the best way possible, especially as someone who has not been shy of wanting to be in the ring more and wanting to work with children. But one thing no one, not even her haters and detractors, can deny is that Dana does her best to make due with what she has. She never makes excuses for what the cards bring in her life. That was never more clear than when she lost her boyfriend Dallas McCarver last year and she took minimum time off of WWE to mourn and came back and dedicated her matches for the remainer of 2017 and her matches this year, especially the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania Battle Royal, to Dallas (Click here to check out her touching tribute to Dallas during the Royal Rumble this year) Thankfully she has finally found love again in big-time WWE fan and current center for the New York Knicks, Enes Kanter, who is on his own path to making a name for himself in the sports world.

A thankless individual in the wrestling world
Photo credit: WWE.com

Throughout it all, good and bad, thick and thin, we have seen Dana evolve from to the NPC/IFBB to NXT and Breaking Ground to the main roster in WWE. She has suffered more loss than wins, but it has not lessen her as a person or a performer. In fact, it has made her stronger than ever before. To us, she is the most underrated WWE performer no one is talking about, and that's fine. It will make her eventual rise to the top that much sweeter. We've rooted for you for years, Dana, and we're not about to stop now. In fact, we're more in your corner now than ever before. Which is why a win at Evolution will truly be the defining win of not only her career but her life.

In her own words...PLAYTIME...IS OVER!!!!

Follow Dana at the following links:
Twitter: @DanaBrookeWWE
Instagram: ashasebera_danabrooke

Make sure to buy her merchandise at WWE Custom Tees: https://customtees.wwe.com/collections/raw/dana-brooke?sort_by=

Also, check out videos from UpUpDownDown to get to know the woman behind the character:
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCcwZncNVLE
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR98S2RtN-Q

Check out our other articles about Dana here:
Our thoughts on her NXT debut: http://fitgems.blogspot.com/2015/04/our-take-on-dana-brookes-debut-on-nxt.html

Why Dana competing at the Arnold is significant: http://fitgems.blogspot.com/2017/02/why-wwes-dana-brooke-competing-at.html


Thursday, September 13, 2018

2018 Olympia Predictions


It's here. The Olympia has arrived!
Credit to the original owner



Super Bowl.
NBA Finals.
Stanley Cup Finals.
World Series.
Wrestlemania.

You haven't "made it" until you have competed in the biggest event of your profession. This weekend, the best physique athletes in the world compete in the Super Bowl of bodybuilding, The Olympia. Usually people have a good idea of who exactly will take home the titles but this year, there is a lot of mystery, especially with Oksana Grishina retiring from competing in fitness and Juliana Malacarne not defending her title this year. While this hasn't been brought up more than it has, but Nicole Wilkins for the first time in years will NOT be stepping on stage as well. Regaine Da Silva, a top fitness competitor, is also not competing at the Olympia this year.

Women's Physique Olympia
The world was shocked when Juliana Malacarne, arguably the greatest women's physique competitor of all time, decided a few weeks ago that she would not be defending her title at the Olympia, meaning we are guaranteed a new champion. Her reasons for not competing are very respectable, and as we mentioned, the direction of this division will be decided by who will walk away with the title this weekend. As of now, it seems to look like two women are the front-runners for becoming the next Ms. Physique Olympia: Shanique Grant and Natalia Coelho. Shanique will be entering her first Olympia, but this is her third time qualifying for the event. She was set to compete in 2016 but thugs not only cost her to be on the shelf for a while, but were close to ending her life. She also qualified to compete last year but she had to step out due to eye issues, thus delaying her Olympia debut. Now after winning this year's Physique International and no other obstacles in her way, she is set to make her much-anticipated Olympia debut and a huge favorite to win the biggest title in the industry. Many say it's already won...and it would be true, if Natalia wasn't competing. Natalia, like Shanique, is a competitor that has no equal. This will be her third Olympia but her first as a women's physique competitor. Mere weeks after competing at the Olympia in figure, she decided to do women's physique (with no training specifically for the division) and SMOKED the competition on the word go, qualifying her for this year's Physique Olympia event. In fact, the only contest she lost as a women's physique competitor thus far has been when she faced Shanique at the Physique International earlier this year (she placed 2nd in a close race). I'll be honest with you all, there are two showdowns here: Shanique vs Natalia for who will be the next champ and who will be runner-up, and everyone else fighting for the rest of the spots. The rest of the field is definitely not bad, it's just that Shanique and Natalia are just too damn good right now, and they have yet to reach their peak as competitors. PONDER ON THAT.

MY TOP SIX PREDICTIONS AND DARK HORSE:
1. Shanique Grant
2. Natalia Coelho
(You can easily flip these two. That's how close it will be)
3. Jennifer Taylor
4. Michalea Aycock
5. Melissa Pearo
6. Autumn Swansen
DARK HORSE: Penpraghai Tiangngok

Fitness Olympia
This is one division where, to me, there is no ONE clear-cut favorite at all, as Oksana has retired from competing. First, you got Myriam Capes, who will be entering her 10th Olympia (yes her TENTH appearance at the big one!) and will be looking to secure her spot at the best fitness competitor on the planet. She has already secured her spot at the best Canadian fitness competitor of all time with over 40 shows (which includes multiple Arnolds and Olympias) but I think she would want the Best in the World title just a bit more. Then you have Bethany Wagner, who has one of the best physiques in the fitness division as well some very entertaining routines. Ariel Khadr is considered a prodigy who has honed her physique to match (and at times surpass) her more-experienced competitors and her routines have been the highlight of many shows, and she plans on unveiling a new one this year that I'm pretty sure will steal the show, if her past routines are any indication. Jenny Worth will be returning to the Olympia stage for the first time since 2003, and she is looking better than ever before. Over the last couple of years, she has shown that she's still got it, and how big will this be to see her return to the biggest stage in the industry in nearly FIFTEEN YEARS and win it?! Kate Errington shocked the world earlier this year by coming out of nowhere and placing 2nd at the Fitness International and following that up with winning the Arnold Australia Fitness title. And speaking of the Fitness International...what about Whitney Freaking Jones, ladies and gentleman?! She won the Fitness International title practically on one leg (torn ACL/MCL) after coming back from neck fusion surgery. If you don't have her as a threat, you're crazy. The fact that someone is about to win their first Fitness Olympia title this year is gonna make the fitness division must-see this weekend. Hold on to your hats, folks, and get ready to see why competitive fitness is more alive than ever before.

MY TOP SIX PREDICTIONS AND DARK HORSE:
1. Myriam Capes
2. Whitney Jones
3. Kate Errington
4. Bethany Wagner
5. Ariel Khadr
6. Jennifer Worth
DARK HORSE: Missy Farrell

Figure Olympia
For the last couple of years, this division has been run by three women: Candice Lewis-Carter, Latorya Watts, and the current champion Cydney Gillon. This year, things are gonna be significantly different as Latorya will be at the Olympia but she will not be competing due to medical issues. She is hoping to return to the stage at some point next year. Also not competing is 4x Figure Olympia Champion Nicole Wilkins, who decided to take the entire year off of competing on stage to focus on competing in triathlons. One would assume that it will be a two-person battle between current champion Cydney and Candice, who many consider to the best to not (as of yet) win the biggest championship in pro figure. But Heather Dees MIGHT have something to say about that. Heather has come into her own over the last couple of years and has been the only woman to currently give the three ladies a run for their money. From what I have seen, I definitely see a top three finish for Heather. Ivana Ivusic is another one who is coming into her own as a competitor and could be a force to be reckoned with this weekend. Bojana (your choice for Figure Competitor of the Year) has impeccable shape and will fighting for a top 5 spot. Two newcomers I'm definitely think will turn some heads at the Olympia will be Alexia Sullivan and Felisha Livezey. Those two women have legs for days with some of the best conditioning, shape, and size I've seen on figure competitor in quite some time barring Tina Nguyen(Another one being Stacy Fujarski, who I predict will step on the Olympia stage sometime next year). And it we truly want to focus on shape, I feel Wendy Fortino SHOULD be in the top ten, but I'm not too sure how her lack of size (in comparison of most competitors) will pan out on the sport's biggest stage.

MY TOP SIX PREDICTIONS AND DARK HORSE:
1. Cydney Gillon
2. Candice Lewis-Carter
3. Heather Dees
4. Bojana Vasiljevic
5. Ivana Ivusic
6. Maria Baeza Diaz
DARK HORSE: Alexia Sullivan


Bikini Olympia
Angelica Teixeria is one of the best young athletes in the bikini division and will look to repeat as champion this weekend. Everyone that placed in the top 5 last yeat will be back to do better than they did with Angelica being the exception, as she wants to leave Vegas as a two-time champion. But two returning competitors are going to give all five of these ladies a run for their money. First up, India Paulino. After missing the Olympia stage last year due to motherhood, she has returned right where she left off, being a top star in the bikini scene and looking to win her first-ever Bikini Olympia title. Also returning is arguably THE greatest bikini competitor of all time, Ashley Kaltwasser. A 3x Bikini Olympia, she returned to the stage after taking some time off last year and is more dominant than ever before, winning all her shows that she entered in this year. While Angelica is an amazing competitor, with how India and Ashley have been able to return better than they were before, Angelica has got to be at her all-time best if she is to retain her title this weekend...and even then, I'm not sure it will be enough to stop them.

MY TOP SIX PREDICTIONS AND DARK HORSE:
1. Ashley Kaltwasser
2. Angelica Teixeria
3. India Paulino
4. Jennifer Ronzitti
5. Romina Basualdo
6. Narmin Assria
DARK HORSE: Stacy McCloud

So there you have it, my predictions for what I think will go down this weekend at the biggest show of the year for this industry. The way things have went down this year, there's a good chance that my predictions will look like garbage compared to the actual results, but honestly, I wouldn't mind that one bit. Unpredictability in life, especially in this industry, is a good and necessary thing. Competition is a great thing. And with at the very least two new champions being crowned, new stars making their debuts, and returning stars aiming to return to top form, we might be in for one of the most exciting and thrilling Olympia weekends in recent memory, at least on the female side of things. We at FitGems Nation wish every single competitor the best of luck and hope all of them bring their A-game!

This year iHerb will be sponsoring the Olympia webcast, and like it's been for the last several years, it's FREE to watch! Go to https://iherb.com/olympia for the webcast and times to watch the events. To see the list of everyone competing, go to http://www.ifbbpro.com/events/2018-joe-weiders-fitness-performance-weekend/.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cydney Gillon Creates Student-Athlete Scholarship

When an athlete uses their platform to provide opportunities to others to succeed beyond just the realm of sports, it's a beautiful thing. As the world already knows, LeBron James recently opened his I Promise School and in the near future, WWE Superstar Titus O'Neil has plans to open up a tuition-free pubic school of his own, which for anyone who has followed the career of the former Tag Team champion and founder of Titus Worldwide, that should come as no surprise. Others from football to basketball to soccer to baseball to hockey have done this, but (to my knowledge) I have yet to hear any bodybuilder do this...unil now. This week, the current number one figure competitor in the world has stepped up to the plate to prove that she is #MoreThanAnAthlete.


Hats off to Cydney on this amazing opportunity!
Photo credit: Her Instagram


Current Figure Olympia Champion Cydney Gillon announced on Monday via her social media accounts that she has launched her own student-athlete scholarship, which began taking applications on Tuesday. Here is what she said about the scholarship from her Instagram:

I am a firm believer in always giving back to the community. I’ve been a Student-Athlete my entire life; therefore, I understand juggling both endeavors can be very taxing. While attending the University of Pennsylvania for my undergraduate education, I worked 2+ jobs, ran Varsity track, joined a sorority and participated in numerous clubs while simultaneously preparing for NPC Nationals (where I received my IFBB Professional Card). I believe having financial assistance, in general, will decrease the amount of stress students have to endure.

Therefore, I am excited to announce the Cydney Gillon Student-Athlete Scholarship.  I will be rewarding 1 high school student-athlete and 1 college student-athlete $1,000. For those who are interested in participating, email me at cydney@cakefactoryfitness.com. The necessary information will be emailed to you directly. Upon receiving the information, review the requirements and submit all materials no later than September 14, 2018. At that time our board will review & the process will commence.

Winners will be announced by December 31, 2018. If you meet the qualifications or you know a student-athlete who is also qualified, #tag them so they can be aware of this opportunity. Also, feel free to #share and spread the word!

To say this is amazing would be an understatement. It's one think to SAY you want to be a role model to people. It's another thing to ACTUALLY back it up, which is exactly what Cydney is doing. And it has not gone unnoticed by the competitors, as not only did several of them congrats her on this, but Pro Physiques (which is run by current Fitness International Champion Whitney Jones) will match Cydney's scholarship amounts, meaning the high school and college athlete will get a $2,000 scholarship instead of a $1,000 scholarship. Personally, I would love to see this from more competitors. Who knows...maybe once FitGems Nation is financially able to...we just might do something like this somewhere down the line!

Check out all the links to view everything about Cydney and Whitney, as well as their respective fitness companies (Cake Factory Fitness and Pro Physiques). We can thank Cydney enough for getting this up and running and for Whitney to join her fellow sister-in-iron and supporting her by action. Good luck to all scholarship participants!

Cydney Gillon
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cyd.hunay
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vytamin_c

Cake Factory Fitness
Website: https://cakefactoryfitness.com/
Email: cydney@cakefactoryfitness.com

Whitney Jones
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WhitneyJonesFitnessPro/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WhitneyJonesAZ
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whitneyjones_ifbbpro/

Pro Physiques
Website: https://www.theprophysiques.com
Email: AZProPhysiques@yahoo.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheProPhysiques/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheProPhysiques
Main Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theprophysiques/
Prep Team Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thepros_ifbb_npc/


Monday, July 16, 2018

Juliana Malacarne to SIT OUT 2018 Olympia. End of an Era?!

Sunday morning, the bodybuilding world woke up to some massive news: 4x Miss Physique Olympia and inaugural Ms. Physique International Juliana Malacane would not be competing at the 2018 Olympia, meaning we are guaranteed a new champion this year. In our honest opinion, the IFBB might want to be very careful with who they select as the new queen of women's physique as this could go a long way toward how women's physique is looked at for the foreseeable future. In fact, it was this very mindset that actually played a part in why Juliana has decided not to go for a 5th straight title. In fact, in all honesty, we should have seen this coming a few weeks ago if we paid attention to her Instagram nearly a month ago:



That post spoke volumes right there. It's one thing for fans/spectators to say that the look is too much, but when arguably the greatest women's physique competitor of all time says that, that should be a wake-up call for the IFBB. I said SHOULD but as history has shown, it won't be, not even for a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer like Juliana. We mentioned to Juliana on that post that we felt her best look was the Olympia she DIDN'T win: 2013. Her conditioning was pretty good, better than most of the field (including those that placed above her as well) but what made her so awe-inspiring that year was her shape, structure, and overall combination of muscles and curves. Fans were in disbelief of her look as it was crazy yet HEALTHY-LOOKING at the same time. It seemed achievable and attainable. Fans were also in disbelief when she placed 7th, which was bullcrap then and bullcrap now. No disrespect to the competitors, but not all six women that placed about Juliana were better than her that weekend. No way in hell, and we'll take that to the grave. She finally got that win in 2014 and would go on become a 4x Ms. Physique Olympia and would win the inaugural Ms. Physique International title in 2015. I was there for that and it was unreal to see how graceful Juliana's physique was compared to everyone else. There was no question as to why she's not just the Queen of Women's Physique, she IS women's physique, which is why the news of her not competing this year hurts and the reason behind it is disheartening.

Many call this her best Olympia look ever...and she didn't even win this show!
Photo credit: FLEX Online

Rather than explain it, we will post the two Instagram posts that broke the news: Juliana's good friends Justin Miller (@astrongspirit) and Michael D. Bryson (who runs This Is Bodybuilding on Instagram)
Well I'm seeing that chatter online and Juliana @julesfit10 has now given me the go ahead to make the announcement on something I have known for a little while now.....4x Ms Olympia Juliana Malacarne will not be competing in this years Ms Olympia! She has given me many reasons that I find interesting. Juliana is in good health and perfectly capable of competing but is simply choosing not to. I first met Juliana in 2007 when she moved to NY from Brasil and barely spoke any English. I needed a good female trainer at my gym I used to own and despite the obvious language barrier I knew Juliana was an amazing trainer. We became friends and she moved into my house and rented an extra room I had until she got on her feet and got busier at the gym. She eventually built up her clientelle & rented an apartment down the street from my gym where she lived for the next 7 years while working there. Juliana actually introduced me to my wife Rita @ritashantidmt back in 2009. I have many memories of Juliana's career. Starting with her telling me in broken English the first time we met in person "I know one thing, one day I will be Ms. Olympia". I then watched her take LAST callout in 13 straight shows over the next 5 years. I remember Juliana was going to retire in 2012 before WPD came out. She decided to hang on for one more show (2012 NY Pro) to see what would happen. Her mom had a stroke 4 weeks out and was left unable to walk in the hospital. Juliana jumped on a plane for Brasil. Surely I thought the show (and likely her career) was over then...but she hung on. She stayed on her diet and got back here to NY 10 days out and told me "I just want to be successful one time in life and I will win this show for my mom". Well the history book will reflect she did it!! 14 shows into her pro career she finally had a win! Now she is stepping down as the reigning 4x Ms Olympia. The greatest Champion the division has ever seen. A future IFBB Hall Of Fame member. Will she compete again next year? 🤔 Its possible. But for now she is stepping away....as a Champion. Juliana wishing you all the best. Congrats on an amazing career to the most resilient IFBB Pro who ever lived.
A post shared by Justin Miller 🇺🇸 (@astrongspirit) on
The first live IFBB show I ever went to was the 2012 @bevsgym New York Pro. From that moment on FLEX Magazine and Mr. Olympia on Bodybuilding.com just would never be enough. I’ve been blessed to have seen true legends in their primes! Folks like @philheath, @flex_lewis, @oksanagrishina, @jeremy_buendia, and of course the woman who won that 2012 NY Pro WPD Championship...the beautiful @julesfit10. I saw her LIVE as she won 3 consecutive NY Pros, the inaugural Arnold Classic WPD Ms. International and, of course, her 4 consecutive Women’s Physique Olympia Championships. And today, she gave me the honor of being the first large Bodybuilding Media site to announce that she will NOT be competing in the 2018 Olympia. This is NOT a retirement. This is a break. I think she deserves it. In 2014 she beat the inaugural WPD Ms. Olympia, Dana Lin Bailey, in a very decisive manner. She maintained that dominance at the 2015 Arnold Classic. She’s maintained consistent greatness with a different 1st runner up each year. I rank her with the likes of Cory Everson and Lenda Murray as the ultimate in feminine muscle. Some folks have been commenting that they hate to see her go because they fear femininity will leave WPD. THAT ultimately will be in the judges hands. So...WHY???? Well, she is NOT injured. She is healthy and she is happy. She’s grown disinterested in the look of WP. She wanted to soften the look to a healthier one...sort of how the IFBB initially stated the look would be...”conditioned but not striated”...but it was made clear to her that last year’s conditioning would be required this year. It was a look she didn’t like for herself. With little financial rewards(FACT: this 4X Reigning Olympia Champion has no major sponsors, has never had a spread in a major magazine much less a cover...and did I mention NO SPONSORS?!) the fire & passion for competing and representing WP has left her heart at this time. Her passion is placed now in a new happy relationship. She is enjoying life and staying healthy. Some day, somewhere and in some form she MAY compete again. Just not in 2018. Tomorrow will be #juliannamalacarne Day here at #thisisbodybuilding, so STAY TUNED for more!
A post shared by MichaelD.Bryson (@this_is_bodybuilding) on


After reading and seeing both posts (and wiping a few tears...I sure as hell did), how can you blame her. We only have one body and once it's gone, it's gone. We can never get it back. I'm not bringing up their names to prove a point but just these last couple of weeks, we lost IFBB Physique Pro Tracy Hess and IFBB Figure Pro Chelsey Morgenstern due to (as of now) unknown reasons. We have had competitors who lost their lives because they went too far in the industry for the sole purpose of winning a show or hell even winning a pro card! Some competitors are thankfully still with us but have had their lives changed dramatically because of their pursuit of getting that pro win or getting that pro card. VERY FEW PEOPLE make money in this business, and I'm talking pros here. You spend way more than you get back in return. There's an old saying that you get what you put in. Well...in bodybuilding, nine times out of ten, that's not the case! Competitors are making GoFundMe accounts for fans to donate so they can actually compete, for Christ's sake. Seriously, folks, that's crazy! And for what?! A plastic trophy? An opportunity at MAYBE some cash that you WON'T be able to keep because you have to pay for suits, supplements, travel, training, food...yeah, I'm not even talking about the actual living essentials such as rent, bills, gas, etc. It's not like Miss America where you are a legit ambassador and show up at events throughout your reign. You don't see the Olympia champions going out getting paid by the IFBB to being fitness ambassadors to children and adults, do you?

I know I went on a rant there, but you all know damn well Juliana Malacarne is more than that. Yes, she is an athlete, one of the best this industry has ever seen, but first and foremost...she's a woman...and as a woman, she wants to continue to live her life AS a woman. That's one big reason why she never wanted to compete as a bodybuilder, as she felt her femininity would be lost in that division. She feels her femininity is gonna get lost in the division that was seemingly made for someone like her as the IFBB is seemingly going away with the original guidelines of women's physique in the first place. In fact, each female division (minus fitness we believe) is having some identity issues, which we will DEFINITELY be discussing sooner than later. So rather than pushing her body to the brink of no-return, Juliana is taking a stand her way and saying, “NOPE” and going out on HER term. Now will she return to the stage next year? We don't know. Is this an official retirement from Juliana? NOT YET. So anyone who says she has retired is flatout LYING. She is merely taking a well-deserved break from it all and training like she wants to and living HOW she wants to.

With Juliana out, the IFBB has a decision to make. To those that are entering the 2018 Olympia Physique Showdown, they will be coming in at what they feel is their best. My hope is that they will come in like what the actual guidelines call for in women's physique, which we will post directly from the NPC News Online website:

WOMEN’S PHYSIQUE JUDGING CRITERIA

  • Symmetry, shape, proportion, muscle tone, poise and beauty flow
  • Physique assessment and comparison will take place during prejudging
Women’s Physique Division has been created to give a platform for women who enjoy weight training, competing, contest preparation. Competitors should display a toned, athletic physique showcasing femininity, muscle tone, beauty/flow of physique.
The following are examples of common terms used in the bodybuilding industry. These words can be helpful to assess what should not be descriptive to the physiques being judged in women’s physique:
Ripped, shredded, peeled, striated, dry, diced, hard, vascular, grainy, massive, thick, dense, etc.
While all types of physiques will be considered when it comes to height, weight, structure, etc. Excessive muscularity should be scored down accordingly.
Women’s physique competitors should have the overall aesthetics and look that is found in figure with a little more overall muscularity.

A post shared by FitGems Nation (@fitgemsnation) on


Based off the critieria from their own website, who should be rewarded? The 2013 Juliana or the 2017 Juliana? We would go with the 2013 Juliana. If the judges choose the 2018 Ms. Physique Olympia based off THEIR OWN ACTUAL JUDGING CRITERIA ON THEIR WEBSITE, in my opinion it will go a long way towards Juliana possibly coming back to compete at least one more time in 2019, as well as others who feel women's physique has went the opposite way of what they were hoping for. The IFBB needs to do a better job in enforcing their own rules and guidelines or the IFBB will be in danger of losing its status at the best. Just because you're the biggest doesn't guarantee you're the best in your field (WWE, looking at you) and just because you're the biggest in your field doesn't mean you can't be threatened or weakened (NFL, NBA...looking at BOTH of you, for different reasons). IFBB, you're in danger of losing one of the greatest athletes you've ever had for good if things don't change. Other top competitors who CAN STILL GO TODAY no longer compete in the IFBB (Monica Brant, Jenny Lynn, Erin Stern, Jennifer Gates, Gina Aliotti, to name a few) for many of the reasons that were brought up here. This trend doesn't have to continue. Things can change for the better, but the IFBB has the be the one to make their move....and it starts at the 2018 Olympia. 

For more on Juliana, follow her on the following links:





Saturday, May 26, 2018

Our Take on WWE's Newest Swole Queen, Mandy Rose

There are some people that come around once in a lifetime. Those people that no matter what, you take one look at them and go..."WOW...This person is going places". That is pretty much the vibe many are getting at when they look at WWE Superstar Mandy Rose. Her wrestling career hasn't been the longest by any means, but thus far there has been no indication of why she should NOT be one of WWE's biggest Superstars going forward.




Photo credit: WWE on Instagram

Real name Amanda Saccomanno, Mandy was born and raised in an Italian-American family in Westchester County, New York, and is the youngest of four children. She is of Italian and Irish heritage. For her education, she attended Yorktown High School, where she participated in dance. She felt that dancing was what she would end up doing professionally down the line. She ended up joining the Yorktown High School Dance Team and pretty much killed it as one of their top dancers. But over time, she felt dancing wasn't her true calling after all and decided into looking into fitness modeling instead. She later earned her bachelor's degree at Iona College, where she major in speech pathology, as well as beginning to take her fitness and physique much more seriously now. It got to the point where modeling agencies were beginning to notice her.

Once she was done with college, she decided to focus on fitness competitions, as she felt that (rather than dancing) would be the key to a successful career. To say fitness was definitely the right call for her would be an understatement. In 2013, she would enter the World Bodybuilding Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) Boston show and won it, to the surprise of many. After that, she took some time off to make up her mind on whether she was truly going to continue her fitness competition path. She ended up doing that and would go on to compete in the 2014 WBFF World Championships in the Pro Diva Bikini division and took top honors. That win would draw the attention of more people.





Mandy winning the 2014 WBFF Pro Bikini World Championship
Photo credit: WBFF


Even after being a World Bikini Champion, Mandy felt like she could do more with her career and discovered wrestling and decided to give that a try. She would enter the revived WWE Tough Enough competition (under her real name, of course and came in at a billed 120 pounds...this will become important later on in this blog piece) and gained a good deal of publicity on the matter. Not all of it was good, though. While she would meet her current bestie Daria (now known as Sonya Deville) on the show, she rubbed a good deal of people the wrong way, intentionally and unintentionally. Her progression was threatened by a near-quick exit from the show until the Miz pulled out her save card and she was spared from an early elimination (Thanks Miz!) from the show. She ended up making it all the way to the finals where she lost to Sara Lee, who won the contract and the money, yet never appeared on WWE TV after Tough Enough, which ended up being another case of losing making you a bigger winner down the line...which is exactly what happened to Mandy once Tough Enough was done.

WWE liked her look a lot and decided to bring her on for one season of Total Divas. After that, she joined the Performance Center and made a couple of NXT TV appearances, most noticeably a mini-feud (if you want to call it that) with Ember Moon. That match made quite a bit of people open their eyes and go "Okay, she might be more than looks after all!" She would show that through various NXT live events, gaining somewhat of a cult following, do to being a photographer's dream and the shock of fans when they realize just how strong Mandy really is, hence the formation of "The Golden Goddess"

People were beginning to wonder whether she would make a full-on NXT run or move right up to the main roster. After what seemed like forever, we finally got our answer the night after Survivor Series 2017. Raw had a Fatal 4-Way match to determine who would be next in line to face Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women's Championship and during the match, Paige made her shocking return to WWE, and she didn't come alone. Mandy (and her bestie Sonya) arrived and (with Paige) unleashed hell on practically every woman in WWE for weeks. Named Absoultion, they took down nearly everyone who stood in their way, until an unfortunate accident at a Raw live event injured Paige to the point that she will never be able to compete in the ring again. This put Absoultion in disarray, and there was uncertainy for both ladies, even though they got to make history during their time in Absoultion, entering the 1st-ever Women's Royal Rumble, Women's Elimination Chamber, and Wrestlemania Women's Battle Royal. Mandy and Sonya were both drafted to Smackdown Live, where Paige now runs things as General Manager. She made it clear the first night Mandy and Sonya appeared on Smackdown Live that Absoultion was dead and neither woman would get special treatment from her. And while we are unaware of how WWE views Sonya for the long run, it seems WWE has seemingly made it clear that they see something special in Mandy Rose, as on the May 8th edition of Smackdown Live, she entered her Smackdown debut match against Becky Lynch (1st-ever Smackdown Women's Champion) with a new entrance (complete with blurry effect) and new music and won a quick yet decent match against the Lass Kicker. She has been dubbed "God's Greatest Creation" since Ember Moon (War Goddess) and Alexa Bliss (The Goddess of WWE) have already claimed the Goddess titles.


(The following photos are from mator1267 on Instagram)



During her time in WWE, from NXT to now, she has put on an good amount of muscle on her, to the tune of 20 POUNDS. For someone that's only 5 foot 4, that's a lot. To put this in perceptive, if Mandy were to compete in the National Physique Committee (NPC) as a female bodybuilder, she would BARELY be able to compete in the light-heavyweight division. She revealed her weight in her Instagram story. But then again, when you can leg press over 500 pounds and deadlift over 400 pounds, you can't be a small chick. In the first-ever WWE PC Combine, she placed 3rd among the women, with only Bianca Belair and Ember Moon besting her. Her muscle size, strength, and overall beauty to us makes her the best COMBINATION of muscle and beauty since Trish Stratus in her prime, and even in her prime Trish didn't even have nearly the power nor the size Mandy currently has (Trish was 120 at her heaviest), and we can only see Mandy getting stronger going forward. We say combination because there are those that are definitely stronger than Mandy but maybe not as beautiful, those more beautiful than Mandy but not as strong, and those that are definitely more jacked/toned than Mandy but might lack the beauty and/or strength.



140 Pounds of Muscle...and looking great doing it!
Photo credit: Mandy's Instagram Story

When you look at her past in high school, college, the WBFF, and wrestling, Mandy really is unlike any blonde that has come in WWE in a while. A college degree, a background in dancing, a former world fitness bikini champion, lifting PRs that would put even some of the strongest MEN to shame, and constantly learning in the ring with each match...Mandy has everything it takes to succeed in WWE and be one of the company's top stars for quite some time. When it's all said and done, we don't think she will be known as the second coming of anyone. She will be the first (and ONLY) Mandy Rose.

Credit to Greatest Physiques (https://www.greatestphysiques.com/amanda-saccommano/) for some of the content used in this blog piece. 

For more on Mandy Rose, follow her on Twitter (@WWE_MandyRose), Instagram (mandysacs), and her WWE-ran Facebook page. You can also follow her on Snapchat under mandysacs.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Our 2018 Arnold Predictions (UPDATED)

This weekend is the 30th Arnold Sports Festival event. It has evolved over the last 30 years and has reached several continents, but the main show is always the one in Columbus, Ohio, which this year's event will be this weekend (March 1-4). We haven't done this in a while, but we thought we would give our predictions for the pro female events. Just to be clear...THESE ARE MERELY PREDICTIONS so PLEASE don't get into your feelings, people. On that note, read and enjoy. (NOTE: Due to some new information we received over the past 24 hours, we made some changes to the article)


Fitness International

This show begins the new era of the fitness divsion, because one of the greatest of all time Oksana Grishina retired at the 2017 Olympia, leaving room for a new queen of fitness to emerge. In addition to no Oksana, Myriam Capes (who many consider to be a frontrunner for the Fitness Olympia title later on this year) is also not competing, so it's safe to say that this year is the first time in a long time the Fitness International title is wide open. Based off this year's list and their previous performances, we could see either Bethany Wagner, Regaine Da Silva, or Ariel Khadr taking home the fitness title this year. Kristine Duba has been bringing it year after year and could easily be champ as well. We're happy to see Whitney Jones return to the stage after an injury sidelined her last year. One of the most powerful-looking physiques in the division, we expect her to return to top form and make a run for a top spot. Ryall Graber is also a consistant competitor who is no stranger to placing high in shows, so we think she could be a top-6 placer. Many will be bringing in new routines, so it will be interesting to see how the judges will place everyone this year with Oksana and Myriam not in the line-up.

Our predictions:

1. Regaine Da Silva
2. Bethany Wagner
3. Ariel Khadr
4. Kristine Duba
5. Whitney Jones
6. Ryall Graber

Figure International

For the first time in a while, the top three will NOT be Cydney Gillon, Candice Lewis-Carter, and Latorya Watts. The main reason?! Latorya Watts will not be competing this year. Cydney and Candice are though, as Candice will be defending her Figure International title, and Cydney will try and join Latorya, Jenny Lynn, and Nicole Wilkins as only the fourth woman to win BOTH the Figure International and Figure Olympia titles in their careers. Heather Dees is coming off one hell of a breakout year and could challenge Cydney and Candice for the title easily. Bojana Vasiljevic, the 2017 FitGems Nation Pro Figure Competitor of the Year, has been looking insane during her Arnold prep and could easily be top 6. Ivana Ivusic and Sandra Grajales had amazing shapes last year and are threats in any competition they enter, and this will be no different.

Our predictions:

1. Cydney Gillon
2. Candice Lewis-Carter
3. Heather Dees
4. Bojana Vasilijevic
5. Ivana Ivusic
6. Sandra Grajales

Bikini International

Coming out of her first-ever Bikini Olympia win, we see Angelica Teixeria, our 2017 Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year winner), continuing her winning ways and adding the 2018 Bikini International title. The remining top 4 from the Olympia (Jennifer Ronzitti, Romina Basulaso, and Casey Samsel) will also be competing and there's a good chance they will occupy the top 6 and maybe even challenge Angelica for the title. Frida Paulsen Stern has a very strong presence that we love a lot and could also be a top placer as well this weekend. Justine Munro has one of the most consistantly best physiques in the bikini division and is a top placer in nearly each contest she competes in, and this year's Arnold should be no different.

Our predictions:

1. Angelica Teixeria
2. Jennifer Ronzitti
3. Romina Basualdo
4. Casey Samsel
5. Frida Paulsen Stern
6. Justine Munro

Women's Physique International

There are a lot of great competitors in the women's physique division, with Juliana Malcarne as the reigning 4x Women's Physique Olympia champion. And honestly, anyone has a shot at the Women's Physique International title, as we have seen some surprise placings since this event began in 2015. However, we gotta be honest, it's gonna be downright impossible to beat Natalia Coelho and Shanique Grant this weekend, assuming they are on. If they are, the best everyone else can fight for is third place. Natalia and Shanique are two of the most gifted women in not only the IFBB Women's Physique Division, but in the entire IFBB as a whole. What's scary about the both of them is they are not even at their peak. Let's take Natalia. She competed in a women's physique show WEEKS after competing at the Olympia as a figure competitor. She had been training for figure and not women's physique and DESTROYED the competition. No one was at her level. She's had time to add size and refine her shape for women's physique now. PONDER ON THAT FOR A BIT. After you do that, let's talk about Shanique for a bit. Shanique competed in figure a couple of years ago and was great there. Weeks after that, she did women's physique (again, was training for FIGURE at the time) and dominated HER competition as well. Many called Shanique the biggest threat to Juliana in 2016 AND 2017, but due to unfortate circumnstances (cowards nearly ending her life in 2016 and a injury in 2017) we didn't get the Shanique/Juliana showdown. Now 2018, we could see Juliana vs Shanique AND Natalia in one of the craziest Women's Physique Olympia battle in history. This weekend could be witness to the most insane Women's Physique International showdown to date (and to us, quite possibly the future of an entire division) in Natalia and Shanique. Kira Neuman has been doing her own share of putting in work and could be a top 3 finisher, especially after her previous performances as of late. Rounding out our list is Diana (who has made crazy gains ever since jumping from figure to women's physique), Priscila, and Brooke.

Our predicitions:

1. Natalia Coelho
2. Shanique Grant
3. Kira Neuman
4. Diana Schnaidt
5. Priscila Cavilha
6. Brooke Walker

Those are our predictions for the female pro events at the 30th Arnold Sports Festival. We expect top-tier performances that will be the best you'll see all year sans the Olympia. We are looking forward to seeing how each division kicks off 2018! If you want to watch the event but won't be in Columbus for it, Generation Iron will be broadcasting most of the prejudging and finals from the event here: https://generationiron.com/generation-irons-arnold-classic-2018-live-stream-schedule/, as well as ASF TV, which is sponorsed by REDCON1, who will be providing more than 50 hours of live streaming content throughout the weekend: http://www.arnoldsportsfestival.com/asftv/. If you have any predictions, leave a comment below this post. Best of luck to all that will be competing!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Christine Pomponio-Pate: A Figure "First Lady"

Each division has something for everyone (women's bodybuilding, fitness, fitness, figure, bikini). We have said over and over that the figure divsion is the comic-book division, where the women look like they are ripped straight out of a comic book or modeled just like an action figure. When the figure division began in 2003, it gae women who had "fitness-division like" muscle yet not the fitness/gymnastic background a platform to showcase their physiques and not having to do a routine. While something thought it wouldn't last due to the lack of posing involved, it has continued to be a top division for the IFBB and NPC with big numbers turning in, with bikini being the only division with higher numbers. While most successful competitors range from 5"6 to about 5"10, there have been those who repsthe "shorties" and let their physique stand tall about others who had the height advantage. One such competitor was Christine Pomponio-Pate.



Standing at 5 foot one and one of the founding ladies of the figure division, Christine had quite the journey of coming to the IFBB. She competed in soccer for 10 years and began working out with weights during her days in high school. in 1994, and worked in a gym, when an near-tragic accident could have ended everything for her. Here are details of the incident from the Denver Post (https://www.denverpost.com/2006/09/16/willpower-can-get-you-big-results/):

The former soccer player passed out due to low blood sugar. Her car crossed the median and hit a truck head-on. Mechanical failure kept her seatbelt from being fastened, leaving nothing to prevent her from exiting through the windshield. She hit the steering wheel with her face, causing severe oral damage on the way out. She was semi-conscious the next two days. Six years of difficult recovery followed. 

Within those six years, she had 11 surguries to fix everything. Looking at her during her competitions days and now, you wouldn't think she has been through hell, but believe me, she has. And the fact that she has been able to accomplish so much since then has made her so grateful for everything she has in her life and why we are grateful, honored, and humbled to celebrate #CPPWEEK this past week.

Christine began back weight training as part of rehab. One thing let to another and she ended up competing at the Colorado State Fitness Championships, winning the overall fitness title right off the bat. The next step was competing at the National stage, competing at the NPC USAs in 1999 and NPC Nationals in 2000 before winning her IFBB Pro card in 2001 by winning her class at the NPC Team Universe. Christine saw herself as a backyard gymnast, meaning having strong mandatories but that's about it. She has entertaining routines yet they were basic at best. The IFBB Pro Figure division came in 2003 and Christine knew that was more for her. While she has struggles in the inargual year, faith came a-calling in 2004 where she placed 6th at the Califronia Pro with a completely revamped and jaw-dropping physique. It ended up not being a case of sheer luck as was runner-up to Davana Medina at the New York Pro and placed 6th in her first Figure Olympia. She would only get better going foward, including placing in the top six at her Figure International competitions (4th in 2005 and 6th in 2006) and winning the 2005 Tournament of Champions and 2006 Califonia Pro. Christine's career would end at the 2006 Figure Olympia with an amazing 4th place finish, even betting out then-Figure International Champion Mary Lado. During her time as a competitor, she graced several magazines, including FLEX, Muscle and Fitness, and IRONMAN, in addition to a few local publications. In addiiton to competiting, she did commercials for local businesses such as American Warehouse and Granite Depot. She still does local commercials for the Denver area.

2004 Figure Olympia...when the one-piece suit was still a thing, LOL.
While she did qualify for the 2007 Figure Olympia...life came a-calling again...a life inside of her. She gave birth to her first child Riley in December 27, 2007 and then to twins Brax Disel and Colt Sterling on October 27, 2014. After giving birth to Riley, withing MONTHS she looked like she didn't even had a child. She shot with Marc Thyssen for a couple of awesome photo gatherings: FitHeat 2010 and Fitness Supermodel Weekend 2011. Both times, if she were to have entered the Olympia, she would have easily been a top-three contender. That's how good she looked. She did a shoot with PictureGroove seven months after the birth of the twins, and wowed people again.

Don't take out word for how amazing of a woman Christine is, here are what some have said about Christine:

dallas3, FitGems Contributer: "Christine is the ultimate professional and would define class. Whether on stage with her grace and poise or doing commercials, Christine has always been a positive representative of the fitness industry"

Michael Buso, fan: "I’ve never met her (in person). But when she competed, she had a beautiful physique."

Alissa Carpio, IFBB Fitness Pro : "Always loved her!"

2006 Figure Olympia. Her last show...for now, anyways.

Despite not stepping on a competiion stage since 2006, she has entertained the idea of maybe doing another show once the time is right. And the way she looks these days, it wouldn't surprise us if one day she decides to one day step back on stage to show this generation of figure competitors how it's done. But no matter what, we feel she is one of the best figure competitors in IFBB history and a champion for the "short girls" who feel they can't hang with the taller competitors. Christine is proof-positive that whether on the stage, modeling, commercial acting, motherhood, and life in general, size DOES matter...on the inside.

For more on Christine, check out her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/christinepomponio

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

9th Annual FitGems Awards Voting is OPEN

In the words of UFC's Bruce Buffer....IIIIIITTTT'S TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMMMME! 

Here's the official ballot for the 9th Annual FitGems Awards! Like we've done every year for the past nine years, we give you, the fans and athletes, the power to vote on who YOU feel was the best of 2017. A few people have wondered why we don't select a small group of people to do the voting on this considering the size of the awards. Simple answer: We trust you all. You follow these athletes on a daily basis. Many who vote DO represent the industry whether as a competitor, coach, personal trainer, spectator, or other. We don't vote or have any say in the matter of who wins. We just make the ballot and leave it to you all to decide who was the best of the past year, and I think these awards have done a good job of that. We wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for your support, and we can't thank you enough for that.

You can vote once per day on all the categories. You don't have to vote for them all, but it would be cool if you voted for as many as possible. Voting will go on until January 15th at Midnight Eastern Time. At that time, polls will be closed and winners will be announced beginning January 17th and ending on January 19th, with our announcements taking place on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/fitgemsnation). Here's how the announcements will break down this time around:

January 17th: Misc. Awards
January 18th: Amateur Awards
January 19th: Pro Awards, as well as the annoucement of the 2017 FitGems Nation Woman of the Year

Best of luck to everyone!


The big one...who gets our highest honor of 2017?! PRO CATEGORIES AMATEUR CATEGORIES MISC. CATEGORIES