Our Take on Dana Brooke's NXT Debut

Friday, April 17, 2015

(All photos are from WWE.com)

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

Welcome to Brooke City, Blue Pants!


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

BROOKE...SMASH! 

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


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

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

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

WE'RE HEADING TO THE ARNOLD!!!!

Monday, March 2, 2015

We'll do it live!!! FitGems is Arnold Bound! 



Yep, you read that correctly. After YEARS of not being able to attend for various reasons, I'm happy to announce that the founder of FitGems Nation will be LIVE in attendance at the Arnold Sports Festival this year!!! I knew this was going to happen for weeks, but didn't want to say anything to jinx it. This has been a long time coming for me and it's gonna feel so good to finally meet many of you who I've supported and who have supported FitGems Nation for years.

I can't promise how much footage I will provide, but I invite you all to follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/fitgemsnation), Twitter (https://twitter.com/fitgemsnation), and Instagram (http://instagram.com/fitgemsnation) as I will be attempting to post photos LIVE at the Arnold. Also, use the hashtag #FitGemsAtASF15 as we'll be using it for our candid coverage as well.

Long story short, the excitement for the FitGems brand is at the highest it's ever been and as I've stated over and over again, none of this could have possible without all of YOU. You are the reason FitGems has been able to stand the test of time. Looking forward to what is shaping up to be a very memorable Arnold Sports Festival!

Interview with Tina Nguyen

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Over the years there have been several competitors that make people speechless. In an industry filled with amazing physiques, to have yours be the one that people can't get enough of speaks volumes. In 2014, no one embodied that more than Tina Nguyen. Her physique has been called one of the most eye-catching figure bodies in quite some time, and everyone is beginning to notice that very quickly. She won her pro card at her Nationals debut (2014 NPC Nationals) and was voted by the fans as the 2014 FitGems Nation Breakout Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year by a landslide. If her debut year is any indication, Tina is going to be someone people are going to be talking about for years to come. And with her just turning 23 and now an IFBB pro, her future is brighter than ever. We could see her as the face of the figure division sooner rather than later.

Tina was gracious enough for us to conduct an interview with her. (All photos belong to their original owners. Please support them.)



FitGems Nation: First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Tina Nguyen: My name is Tina Nguyen. I’m a 23 years old recently turned pro in Nov 2014 in figure. I currently reside in Dallas, Texas. Besides competing I’m a fun, out going individual who is also a full time student and a real estate business professional. 

FG: How did you get involved in the fitness industry in the first place?
TN: I went to the gym the first time because I was getting ready for a pageant in Texas. However I never did the pageant but I continued to train and now an IFBB pro!:) 

FG: What do you enjoy most about competing?
TN: The process of getting ready for a show is rewarding and challenging. It’s a huge commitment and it also helps me to be disciplined. I love training and constantly reminding myself I have to give my 101% and be the best. And I love the feeling of being on stage showcase the hard work that you have put through to accomplish!

FG: Which do you feel is your greatest strength when training: cardio or weight-training?
TN: Both, I love cardio which gives me a boost before I lift. I do both equally in and off season 

FG: What is the hardest thing you have had to deal with when it comes to competing?
TN: Well both times I got ready for my nationals show and the show I won over all I was in school and worked at the same time. I can say time management was a task to do every day. You have to remember when  to eat, how much to eat, how much training you need to do in order to ALSO keep up with your home work- work at my job. It was difficult but it was well worth it. 

FG: What division do you compete in, and what’s the best thing in your opinion about competing in that division?
TN: Figure is what I compete in. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman who is feminine and also shows strength and muscular at the same time. Kind of like comic book super heroes and that’s what figure is to me. 

Editor's Note: That's EXACTLY how I feel about the figure division...Great minds think alike! :) 

FG: If it was up to you, what would be one thing you would want to add or take away from your division?
TN: I wouldn't really change a thing. I like the muscular toned bodies, not too shredded but just lean and dry enough. I’m also a fan of small waist and a sick V taper on a woman and shapely muscular legs and calves, don’t forget the shoulders also ;) 



FG: With the rise of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc,), how important do you feel it is for competitors to participate in it?
TN: Social media has changed so much for the past 5 years. It used to be the site where people/ our friends and family connect and chit chat. Now it seems like everyone wants to be popular. Sometimes people who I have never met or know send me messages and tell me how much of an impact by posting on social media pages had changed their life. And that they want to live a healthier life and have a positive outlook more so on everything. It is amazing to be inspired and to also inspire people. I encourage ALL and every single person who has started their journey to keep track of their progress! 

FG: Who (living or dead) do you look up to for inspiration, whether they are part of the fitness industry or not?
TN: The first person I would say is my mother. She is one strong minded and a business woman. She never takes no for an answer. She always finds solutions to everything and always strives to be the best. She was/is my inspiration. 

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"? 
TN: The first woman who inspired me to be better in this industry is Khanh Nguyen. I remember one day I saw a pic of her on a face book page and I instantly went “Omg, I want her abs!” I never had abs, and that was my goal was to start out. I didn’t even think about competing and just wanted to start training for myself. Now the physique I absolutely adore is Juliana Malacarne, Miss Physique Olympia. I don’t want to compete in physique and I love figure, but her work ethic and her full muscle bellies are absolutely amazing!

FG: 11. If you weren’t part of the fitness industry, what would you be doing now?
TN: Well would probably be the same thing I’m also doing: A business professional and a student. I’m currently in school to finish my BSN and hopefully get a license to work in hospitals and clinics in Dallas. 

FG: What (if anything) would you change about the fitness industry?
TN: The fitness industry has been going on for years and it’s meant to inspire people to be healthy and get fit, no matter what their personal goal is. Anything can have an improvement  

FG: After your competition days are completed, what do you plan to do to give back to the industry?
TN: I want to continue working on myself to be the best I can be and reach my full potential. I also want to help people achieve their fitness goal no matter where they are or why they are getting in shape. 

FG: Any closing words for your fans and supporters?
TN: I want to thank my supporters who have been following my journey since day one. You all inspire me in so many ways more than you know. I also want to thank my coach and also my bf Ambrose Middleton. He has been with me since day 1, supporting me and helping me to be the best I can be. Also my friends who understand the journey I’ve picked and accommodate lunch with me when I’m dieting!  And also every one I’ve had the pleasure to meet and speak with in the industry. 

FG: Again, thank you so much for doing this interview with us! For those that want to keep up on your future competitions and other plans, how can fans contact you? (Facebook fan page, Twitter, Instagram, email, website, blog, other social media outlet, etc.) Also, if there's anything you want to plug in, you are more than welcome to do so.

TN: You can follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/TinaTNguyen13
Instagram @tinang13

I want to thank Christopher Ray at FitGems Nation for giving me the opportunity to have this interview. Thank you so much for your support :) much love xo 


Actually, thank YOU Tina for allowing us to interview her. We see nothing but great things in her future. Congrats on an amazing start. The best is yet to come for this rising figure star! 



NXT Diva Competing at the 2015 Arnold

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

DISCLAIMER: All photos used belong to their original owners. 


As you all probably know by now, the lists for the 2015 Arnold on the pro side have been released, with the biggest and best names in the industry competing for top honors in one of the biggest shows of the year. One name that stood out to me was Ashley Sebera for the fitness side, known as the Fitness International. Some of you probably know her by a different name...Dana Brooke. Yes, THE Dana Brooke from NXT, WWE's developmental brand. My initial thought about this was..."Was this a mistake? The committee knows she's part of WWE, right? Do they even ALLOW this? But after seeing the retweets from Triple H (WWE's COO) and Sara Amato (NXT trainer), that's when it hit me. A WWE performer is going to represent the entire wrestling world in one of the largest fitness competitions in the world.

Former WWE Divas Aksana (real name Živilė Raudonienė) and Kaitlin (real name Celeste Braun) were former IFBB and NPC figure competitors who stopped competing to become WWE Divas. Torrie Wilson and Lisa Maria Varon were fitness competitors before entering the world of professional wrestling. So how and why is Dana (we'll be using her WWE name going forward in this article) able to compete in one of the top fitness shows in the world AND still be a WWE/NXT Diva? Better question is...why not?



Dana is one of the top prospects in NXT who has not (as of this writing) made it to the TV roster (or NXT's home, the WWE Network...$9.99 a month, no commitment needed. I know, cheap plug). Known as the Killa Barbie, she has shown a lot of promise as a tough-as-nails performer who could be one of the next top female powerhouses in WWE, based off fans who have seen her perform during NXT live events. SO...back to the point of "What's the big deal of Dana making the Arnold list?"

If memory serves me right, this will mark the first time in WWE history that a WWE performer UNDER CONTRACT will compete in a fitness event. The ladies I mentioned earlier competed in fitness competitions but stopped after entering WWE. This practically guarantees big opportunities for the WWE and IFBB to showcase their companies to new people. IFBB, while big, doesn't have nearly the mainstream media power that WWE has. Can you imagine the exposure the IFBB can get if some of the Arnold was shown on WWE programming? WWE, in turn, will have a massive amount of fit talent (male and female) they can look at and scout for the next breed of Superstars and Divas for WWE and NXT. The company will be like kids in a candy store trying to see who can one day lead their company.

What's in it for Dana? To bring two words together and show both audiences why she's one of the top athletes on the planet. The thought of a good deal of the crowd chanting "NXT! NXT! NXT!" during her swimsuit round and fitness routine round brings a tear and a smile to my face knowing one of our own is returning home to represent everything she loves: fitness and pro wrestling. For more reasons than you know, Dana is already a winner.

2015 is her year...she makes history on March 6th. 

We would like to publicly wish Dana the best of luck as she prepares to represent pro wrestling in one of the biggest stages in the fitness industry and we would like to thank Paul Levesque (Triple H), Sara Del Ray (Sara Amato), and WWE/NXT for giving Dana the opportunity to make history. Good luck Dana! FYI, you can follow Dana on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DanaBrookeWWE and Instagram at http://instagram.com/ashasebera_danabrooke

The 2015 Arnold Sports Festival is March 5-8 at the Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, with the Fitness International Prejudging and Finals on March 6th. Click here for ticket information. 

2014 FitGems Nation Woman of the Year Nominees

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Last year, we decided to have a high honor for the top lady in the industry for the year of 2013. Dana Linn Bailey won the 1st-ever FitGems Nation Woman of the Year honor by a landslide. We are doing this once again, honoring the top ladies of 2014. 16 women were chosen as having the biggest impact on the industry. We have omitted DLB from the list as she won last year but she will be eligible for next year's award.

Here are this year's nominees:

  • Nicole Wilkins
  • Emily Stirling
  • Juliana Malacarne
  • Sabrina Taylor
  • Oksana Grishina
  • Tanji Johnson
  • Candice Keene
  • Ann Titone
  • Iris Kyle
  • Alina Popa
  • India Paulino
  • Amanda Latona
  • Ashley Kaltwasser
  • Latorya Watts
  • Camala Rodriquez-McClure
  • Wendy Fortino

Voting for this award (as well as the other FitGems Awards) will begin this Monday (December 1st) and will go on all month. Voting details to come in the following days. 

Congrats to all the nominees! 

FitVoice: Our Official Podcast

Monday, September 22, 2014

This has been in the makings for about a year now, but never got around to actually getting it together...until now. I'm proud to announce that we now have a podcast! It's called FitVoice.

Our banner for our podcast! Features Brittany Beede (left) and Christine Pompiono-Pate (right) 


FitVoice is where you will get a weekly podcast of me talking about the female muscle world through the eyes of a fan/supporter. It's not affiliated with any federation, so don't worry, no bias will be shown.  From the competitors to the promoters to the fans to the federations themselves, no topic is off-limits on our podcast. We already have two episodes up. The first one was Olympia predictions, and the one for this week is the Olympia fallout. There's a lot of positive on there, but it's not all positive. In fact, I address something that bugged me during one of the prejudging events. If you followed the Siouxcountry Olympia thread (I'm there under cray17), you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Next week's show will be a tribute to the careers of Adela Garcia and Iris Kyle. Both ladies announced their retirements from the competition stage this year at the Olympia. If you would like to contribute to our podcast in anyway (via suggestions, questions, and maybe even being a guest), please email us at admin@fitgemsnation.com and put FitVoice in the subject line. You can also use the hashtag #FitVoice on Twitter as well. I tend to record on Mondays and have it by the end of the night on Mondays.

Here's the link to our podcast page: http://fitgemsnation.podomatic.com/. You can listen to the podcast  right on the site or download it to listen to it on your own time.



Marc Thyssen's 2014 Olympia Photoshoots

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Our good friend Marc Thyseen (FitGems Award nominee for Best Photographer) has returned to the United States to do several Olympia photo shoots. He will be shooting at Red Rock, Vegas Desert, Ghost town and exclusively at Venetian Resort Pool.

Packages available are Bronze, Silver, Gold & Platinum. He has done some amazing work and has worked with several of our favorites, including Christine Pomponio-Pate, Monica Brant, Larissa Reis, Felicia Romero, the 1st-ever Bikini Olympia champion Sonia Gonzales, 3-Time Figure Olympia champion Nicole Wilkins, 7-time Fitness Olympia champion Adela Garcia, and many other top competitors.

For more on the bookings and pricing, email Marc at marc@marcthyssen.com or check out his website at www.marcthyssen.com for more info on his photo packages. You can also RSVP on Facebook at this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1471420889807250/. Tell them that FitGems Nation sent you!

From left to right, top to bottom: Larissa Reis, Felicia Romero, Heather Dees, Sonia Gonzales, Adela Garcia, Christine Pompoino-Pate

Monica Brant

Christine Pomponio-Pate

Never Too Late: Tara Chandler Makes IFBB Debut Seven Years After Earning Pro Card

Sunday, May 18, 2014

When one competes in the National Physique Committee (NPC) in hopes to one day becoming a pro in the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB), what usually happens is when one gets an IFBB Pro card, they usually Compete within a year after earning their pro cards, maybe even just a few weeks after. However, it does not mean you HAVE to be in a rush to compete in the pro rankings. Sometimes, it's best to wait it out and see when is the best time to test yourself among the best in the industry.

Left: Tara at the 2007 Nationals. Right: Tara at the 2014 Emerald Cup. Welcome to the IFBB, Tara!
Photo credit: Muscular Development (put together on Picmonkey)

Tara Chandler won her pro card at the 2007 NPC Nationals in the figure division. During that time, Gina Alotti, Jennifer Gates, and Jenny Lynn were at the top of the pro rankings. The one-piece swimsuit round was also part of the figure division as well. Fast forward seven years later, Nicole Wilkins, Erin Stern, Candice Keene, and Camala Rodriquez-McClure are the top names in pro figure and the one-piece swimsuit round is a thing of the past. Tara made ​​her pro debut at the 2014 Emerald Cup, a competition she competed in as an amateur figure competitor. Placing despite lower than many hoped, it was clear to all that saw her that day that Tara could be a major part of the figure division. Her Physique was complete, great shape, size, and conditioning that fits right in (in my honest opinion) with today's top pros. Whatever her flaws and her team saw were worked out at her next show, the New York Pro, where she came in with Physique an even more refined than what she had at the Emerald Cup. 

To us, it's only a matter of time before Tara is up there with the top stars in the division, especially if she keeps bring a similar package to what she's brought in her first two shows as a pro. A wise man once said, " Good things comes to those who wait. " We at FitGems Nation think Tara Chandler is a perfect example of that. We look forward to seeing more of her in competition in the near future. Good luck in the IFBB, Tara!

Tara @ 2014 New York Pro. What's next? We'll soon find out!
Photo credit: Muscular Development

2014 Arnold Classic Brazil Fitness Competitors Announced

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Today, the list of those competing in the 2014 Arnold Sports Brazil was announced. Ryall Graber will be defending her title against some strong competition. Michelle Blank, Whitney Jones, and Amanda Hatfield will look to build off of successful runs from last season. Myriam Capes is also on the list, but we're unsure if she will be compete as she's nursing an injury that's keeping her out of the 2014 Fitness International in a couple of weeks. Our congrats to everyone that made the 2014 Arnold Classic Brazil field!

The 2014 Arnold Sports Brazil will take place April 25-27 in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

List of competitors:

Marta Aguiar

Michelle Blank

Myriam Capes

Bethany Cisternino

Regiane DaSilva

Ryall Graber

Fiona Harris

Amanda Hatfield

Whitney Jones

Babette Mulford

Danielle Ruban

Diana Monteiro

Kaitlyn Gone from WWE

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

She will always be known as "The Hybrid Diva"!


Former NPC figure competitor Celeste Bonin aka Kaitlyn is (as of today) no longer under contract to WWE. If you think about it, this shouldn't come as a surprise to a lot of people based off the news of her being engaged to PJ Braun. No, we are in no ways saying that her engagement has anything to do with her departure. But this isn't the first time a Diva has left the company shortly after getting engaged. Eve Torres did this one year ago around the same time, and in 2006, Trish Stratus left the company. Both ladies were able to leave on their own terms: Trish retired with the title and Eve put over Kaitlyn in her home state of Texas.

Kaitlyn's departure will be no different, as she will be taking on her best friend in real life, AJ Lee on ION Television tonight. Usually when one does right in the eyes of WWE, you are able to have your own moment as sort of a "thank you" gesture and not be embarrassed, and it looks like Kaitlyn will get that "thank you" gesture tonight.  Besides her engagement, apparently she is working on something big according to PJ. We can't wait to see what the former Divas Champion and NXT Season 3winner has in store for everyone now that she's not a part of WWE. We hope to have something posted about it once we get word on it.

On behalf of FitGems Nation, we would like to say "Thank You" for everything you did during NXT Season Three and during your time as a WWE Diva. We look forward to seeing what's next in your life!