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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Camala Rodriquez's Next Fitness Venture


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

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

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

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

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











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

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

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



Monday, December 4, 2017

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

It's that time again!

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


PRO CATEGORIES

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

AMATEUR CATEGORIES


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

MISC. CATEGORIES


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


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

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

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


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

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

Friday, November 3, 2017

Natalia Coelho: Women's Physique At Last!

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

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

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















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

For more on Natalia, check out the following links:

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

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

Super League: Our Candid Thoughts

All photos belong to Super League's Facebook page.



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

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

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



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