Thursday, August 11, 2016

Our Dreamlist for Marc Thyseen's Olympia Photoshoot

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

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

Tina Nguyen

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

Christine Pomponio-Pate

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

Larissa Reis

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

Wendy Fortino

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

Latorya Watts

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

Heather Dees

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

Ariel Khadr

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

Natalia Coelho

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

Juliana Malacarne

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

Camala Rodriquez-McClure

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

Ashley Kaltwasser

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

Meriza Deguzman-Ciccone

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

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

Monday, August 1, 2016

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

Flyer for this monumental event back in 2011.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our interview with Marc back in 2011 (pre-Fitness Supermodel weekend):

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Rock's Potential New Show...A Potential Opportunity for Fit Female Talent?!

For those that have followed bodybuilding, one of the biggest supporters of the industry is one of the biggest names in Hollywood and wrestling history, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. While he has never stepped on a bodybuilding stage as a performer, he lives the lifestyle as most people who've seen him can attest to that. Announced today on his social media accounts, which has MILLIONS (AND MILLIONS!!) of Rock fans (and followers), his productions Seven Buck Productions (along with Flynn Pictures Company) has sold a script to USA Network (home of Suits, Royal Pains, Mr. Robot, WWE Raw and WWE Smackdown Live) for a one-hour original series called Muscle Beach.

BIG NEWS: Our @sevenbucksprod along with our producing partner Beau Flynn's @flynnpictureco sell a script titled "MUSCLE BEACH" to USA Network! Written by Jeremiah Friedman and Nick Palmer. An original hour long drama series who's found the perfect home at USA - a network who's been on fire with their brilliant dramatic television. "Muscle Beach" is set in a legendary bodybuilding gym in 1980's Venice Beach where a colorful tribe of lost souls struggle to reinvent themselves by bench-pressing their way to a bigger, better American dream, no matter what the cost. As the series explores the body obsessed fitness movement that took the nation by storm during the supersized Reagan 80's, the excess of the era and the many temptations of Los Angeles will expose the dark side of chasing dreams. 
As a kid growing up in the 80's it's exciting to produce a series that stays true to our brand and dig deep into an iconic time in bodybuilding and unique Venice Beach culture - the 80's. 
The 80's was a crazy time in Venice Beach with many lost souls. A very crazy time... #SevenBucksProds #FlynnPictures #USANetwork #OriginalDramaSeries #MuscleBeach

BIG NEWS: Our @sevenbucksprod along with our producing partner Beau Flynn's @flynnpictureco sell a script titled "MUSCLE BEACH" to USA Network! Written by Jeremiah Friedman and Nick Palmer. An original hour long drama series who's found the perfect home at USA - a network who's been on fire with their brilliant dramatic television. “Muscle Beach” is set in a legendary bodybuilding gym in 1980’s Venice Beach where a colorful tribe of lost souls struggle to reinvent themselves by bench-pressing their way to a bigger, better American dream, no matter what the cost. As the series explores the body obsessed fitness movement that took the nation by storm during the supersized Reagan 80's, the excess of the era and the many temptations of Los Angeles will expose the dark side of chasing dreams. As a kid growing up in the 80's it's exciting to produce a series that stays true to our brand and dig deep into an iconic time in bodybuilding and unique Venice Beach culture - the 80's. The 80's was a crazy time in Venice Beach with many lost souls. A very crazy time... #SevenBucksProds #FlynnPictures #USANetwork #OriginalDramaSeries #MuscleBeach
A photo posted by therock (@therock) on

Assuming this does get picked up by USA Network, how cool would it be to see some women from the fitness industry not only have cameos but be a part of this show as actual cast members! Now, of course the only divisions that existed back in the 1980s were men's and women's bodybuilding, but still the thought of a show being on a network such as the USA Network would be huge for the bodybuilding industry and give some people a well-deserve platform to showcase that they are much more than people who lift. I mean think about it...Nicole Wilkins, Erin Stern, Wendy Fortino, Amanda Kuclo, Tina Nguyen, Latorya Watts, Juliana Malacarne, Dana Linn Bailey, Ashley Kaltwasser (just to name a few)...on NATIONAL TELEVISION?!?! Imagine how many new eyes will be on the bodybuilding world should this come to fruition! With the Rock being involved, it's almost guaranteed that new eyes will watch just out of curiousity, and that in turn will lead to more fans knowing who these women and men are. It worked for American Gladiators, it worked for WWE, why can't it work with one of the hardest-working men in Hollywood?  

We will definitely be keeping up with this news and keeping you all informed on what could go down. Assuming this does happen and women are involved (I would be shocked in they weren't in some capacity), who would YOU like to see be part of Muscle Beach? Email us at, send us a Facebook message, send us a tweet, or leave a comment below. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Trish Warren's Next Move?

2015 Fitness International. The last time Trish competed on stage. Things could be a-changing very soon.
Photo credit: Flex Online

To make a presence in the industry, one might have to change directions to achieve their ultimate goals. Camala Rodquriez-McClure switched from fitness to figure and would go on to win several titles, including the 2015 Figure International Championship. Juliana Malacarne went from figure to women’s physique and has dominated the division ever since, including winning 2 Olympia Women’s Physique showdowns and winning the first-ever Women’s Physique International back in 2015. Shanique Grant went from figure to women’s physique and in her first women’s physique show won it and is not qualified for the Olympia at 20 years old, one of the youngest to ever qualify for the event. 

Which brings me to this…is one of the biggest names in the fitness division finally making the leap to a different division that fits her body type and training more? I’m referring to one of FitGems Nation’s favorite competitors, Trish Warren. For anyone that has followed the industry for at least the past decade, Trish has been one of the top fitness competitors on the planet, competing on multiple Arnolds and Olympias. The last time she stepped on stage was in 2015 during the Arnold Sports Festival. On social media, she has all but confirmed that she’s taking her fitness journey to the next level. Looking at her social media, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what that next level is. I’ll give you a hint…Juliana Malacarne just happens to be the current queen of that division.

For the last few weeks, we have noticed some things about Trish that she’s not done before as much as she’s doing now. For one, she’s flexing quite a bit, and by quite a bit, I mean A LOT. At first I thought it was one of those “She’s embracing her physique a bit more. AWESOME!” kind of things…and there’s nothing wrong with that. Heck, in fact, I have no issue with that whatsoever. You put in the hard work in the gym and in your eating, it’s only right that you embrace your physique in any way you can. 
But then May 13th happened.

This might have been posted on a Friday the 13th, but there was nothing "bad luck" about this at all. This just seems...right to us!
Photo credit: Trish's Facebook

What's so special about May 13th, you ask? She posted the above photo on her social media accounts…and I made a comment about that she would be great for the women’s physique division despite being a fitness woman through and through, but it was just one guy’s opinion. She replied with the following: “I like your opinion!!! Stay tuned…” Right there, my heart skipped a beat and my mind kept say one word over and over again…”Game…changer”. Should Trish be switching divisions, this could be a big thing for not only Trish, but for the division itself. Don’t believe me?! Let me introduce to you Exhibit A: Trish Warren from 2009.

I’ve seen videos from the Arnold and Olympia from that year. I’ve seen photos from those shows. That look might not have been awarded so well (which made me sad), but I dare for you to show me how can you NOT be taken aback by that. Based off that look and the women’s physique rules today, she would be winning shows left and right.

Maybe Trish's best look (muscle-wise) to date. From the 2009 Fitness Olympia
Photo credit: Dan Ray (for RxMuscle)
Something else that has caught my attention: She is changed her training up a good bit. Her training (according to Trish herself) used to be light weights and high reps for conditioning in the fitness division. She is now doing heavier weight training (and I’m assuming lower reps, but I’m not entirely sure) which is something she hasn’t done. She has shown time and time again that Trish can develop quite the muscular physique and now with this change of training, except not just a (slightly) bigger Trish Warren than we’re used to, but a better Trish Warren as well. 

Let me make is abundantly clear…WE’RE not saying Trish is heading to women’s physique. We’re just saying that all signs seem to be leaning toward that based off her own words and photos. It's all but confirmed, but we will wait until she makes the official announcement herself. This post is just speculation based off her social media posting over the last few months. Whatever is next for this IFBB superstar, it looks like she could potentially be in the best shape in her entire career. We wish Trish best of luck in this upcoming chapter, as well as the entire Warren family (Branch and Faith Lea) in their endeavors!

Trish competing WITHOUT the heels? Stay tuned, ladies and gentlemen! :)
Photo credit: Flex Online

To follow Trish on social media, check out the following links:

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Interview with Christy Resendes

Every once in a while, you have that one individual that seems to be good at everything he/she does. Christy Resendes just happens to be in that category. From bodybuilding to power lifting to arm-wrestling, Christy is second-to-none in terms of athleticism, and she happens to do it all while staying a natural athlete! Christy was gracious enough to do this interview with us with her hectic schedule. (All photos provided by Christy herself)

FitGems Nation: Thank you for wanting to be interviewed by us, Christy! Let's start off with telling us a little bit about yourself (name/occupation/how long you've been in the fitness industry, etc.)
Christy Resendes: Thank you so much for taking the time to acknowledge the hard work and dedication that all of these women have put into their physiques. Hi, I am Christy Resendes, I am a personal trainer/coach with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. I am a proud mother of three beautiful children. I started back when I did my first body building competition at the age of 15. You do the math for that! haha

FGN: How did you get involved in the fitness industry in the first place?
CR: My mother was a huge influence and great inspiration that lead me into the fitness industry. The year before I had competed in my 1st show my mother had competed and won so I decided that I would win that same show the following year, and I did.

FGN: What do you enjoy most about the fitness industry (competing, modeling, etc.)?
CR: I love it all! I am so grateful to have met so many amazing people and to have had as many opportunities and experiences as I have and I hope that it only gets better!

FGN: Which do you feel is your greatest strength while training: cardio or weight-training?
CR: In my opinion, they're both extremely important for two completely different reasons. However, my greatest strength is probably cardio considering how much of it I do and the results it gives me in the last couple weeks before getting on stage. On the other hand, I enjoy weightlifting so much more.

FGN: What is the hardest thing you have had to deal with when it comes to the fitness industry?
CR: Not eating whatever I want! Lol
I guess it would be trying to give the judges what they want, because sometimes this can vary.

FGN:  Many people call you a muscle control expert, with the way you able to control your biceps, pecs/chest, and especially your quads. What made you discover that you had talent like that with your physique?
CR: I didn’t know this 
Well, when I train I really concentrate on flexing and contracting the muscles that I am using, which has helped me to be able to control them.

FGN: Besides your muscle control, many consider you pound-for-pound one of the strongest women in the fitness world? What are some of your strongest feats?
CR: Really?! I didn't know that either, I am very flattered. The most I have curled for one arm would be 60 pounds, bench is 195 pounds for 2 reps, dead lifted was 405 for 2 reps no straps raw, and I’ve squatted 405 pounds for reps raw. I think that I am strong natural athlete, but probably not the strongest.

FGN: Over the last few years, you have competed in many arm wrestling events. What made you decide to go into professional arm wrestling, and what has been your greatest achievement thus far?
CR: I didn’t really decide to, it kind of just happened; I was doing really well and just kept competing in different competitions. WAL (World Armwrestling League) last year was probably one of my best experiences; I was able to win the lefty middle weight national title.

FGN: When you are not competing in arm wrestling events, do you still do physique shows? If so, what division and federation do you compete in?
CR: I did an NPC show in Vermont about 6wks ago and placed 2nd in physique open and over 35. I am hoping to compete at the national level this year.

FGN: With the rise of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, Instagram, etc,), how important do you feel it is for people in the fitness industry to participate in it?
CR: Personally, I think it's very important for athletes to participate and share our work on multiple social media platforms, to inspirer and be inspired. It's refreshing to hear someone's story of how they've transformed because of you and your story, and it makes you want to keep pursuing dreams and goals.

FGN: Who (living or dead) do you look up to for inspiration, whether they are part of the fitness industry or not?
CR: My children, they always keep me pushing. They are my world!

FGN: 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 the look I'm aiming for"?
CR: I admired Linda Murray, but my body structure is much different symmetrically.

FGN: If you weren’t part of the fitness industry, what would you be doing now?
CR: In the past had a great interest in cultural anthropology, child psychology, and I have also contemplated teaching.

FGN: What (if anything) would you change about the fitness industry as a whole (NOT just about the division you compete in)?
CR: To be honest I feel that change in some areas would be nice, but that’s just from a competitors view.  From a business standpoint the same “change” could ruin the organization. Everything changes with time; it’s our ability to adapt that keeps us in the game.

FGN: After your competition days are completed, how do you plan on give back to the fitness industry?
CR: Personally I don’t think I will ever truly stop, it’s a part of me.  But I try to give back every day with coaching competitors, personal training, nutrition advice, posing pointers, keeping people motivated and in turn they give me inspiration and passion.

FGN: Bottom line, what is YOUR ultimate goal in the fitness industry, the one thing you feel that you HAVE to do before you call it a career?
CR: It’s been my dream for a very long time to obtain my IFBB pro card as a natural athlete.  I want to inspire people and show them that it is possible to be natural and get to the top.

FGN: Any closing words for your fans and supporters?
CR: I am sooooo flipping Blessed!!!! You all humble me and keep me going. Thank you all for believing in me and pushing me to the next level on the journey. I am very grateful.

FGN: 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 outlets, etc.) Also, if there's anything you want to plug in, you are more than welcome to do so.
CR: Thank you soo much for this opportunity!!

Like we said before, this woman is a Jack-of-All-Trades. Best of luck to Christy in future events! 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Interview with Brittani Simpson

In our earlier days, we saw this woman named Brittani Simpson, who was tearing it up in the figure and bodybuilding rankings in the local level and had high hopes for her when it came to competing in the National level and eventually the IFBB. Unfortunately, fate dealt a cruel hand and unfortunately, she was unable to pursue her pro card, which we honestly thought was inevitable at that point in time. Earlier this year, she made her return to the stage after a long absence, and it's almost like she picked backed up right where she left off. We asked Brittani if we could do an interview with her and she was very gracious in taking the time to do one with us. 

Also, photos used in the interview belong to Brittani herself (unless otherwise noted below the photo(s))

An elegant photo one day after her return to the stage this year.
Photographer: Tracy Coggin

FitGems Nation (FN): Thank you for wanting to be interviewed by us, Brittani!  Let's start off with telling us a little bit about yourself (name/occupation/how long you've been in the fitness industry, etc.)
Brittani Simpson (BS): My name is Brittani Simpson, and I work for E. & J. Gallo Winery as the Shopper Marketing Manager for the Northwest.  I've worked for Gallo for over 20 years in Sales and Marketing and a couple of years in our International Division.  However, my first occupation is Mom. This role always has priority in my life, and I've been blessed to have a challenging and rewarding career with Gallo, while being present and involved with my kids' lives.
I have always been active in many sports and started lifting weights in college in 1990.  As a challenge to myself to get "in the best shape of my life" after having kids, and to push myself way out of my comfort zone, I decided to compete at the NPC Vancouver Natural in 2008.  I was already in great shape at 11% body fat (always using hydrostatic testing), and in 9 weeks I leaned down to 6% and won the Masters Overall in my first competition.  Although I had never been to a show, nor did I know anything about them or the fitness industry, I had an incredible experience and decided to continue with improving my physique and compete again in the fall of 2008.  I won Overall Figure at the NPC Seven Feathers and NPC NW Championships shows and became even more excited to pursue a Pro Card.

FG: How did you get involved in the fitness industry in the first place?
BS: When I would train at the gym, people would sometimes ask me if I competed.  I was only 122 lbs and a size 2-4 (not what I envisioned as a bodybuilder!) so I had no idea what they were talking about, but then I found out about the Figure division and could see that it might be a fit for my body type.  I am a modest person and have struggled with body dysmorphia, and my "size", my whole life so I thought it might be a good opportunity for me to work through those issues and enter into a sport that actually celebrated my physique type.  As a child and teenager my mom would always say that I should be a bodybuilder, but I always wanted to be a ballet dancer.  Apparently, mothers often do know best!

FG: What do you enjoy most about competing and/or modeling?
BS: I love learning something new about myself and my capabilities every time I prep for a show.  It always takes me to a new level!

FG: Which do you feel is your greatest strength while training: cardio or weight-training?
BS: Weight training is my biggest strength and has added the most value to my life.  I am an avid outdoor enthusiast and also participate in many other sports, so weight training is essential to keeping me active and involved in what I love to do.

FG: What is the hardest thing you have had to deal with when it comes to the fitness industry?
BS: There was a lot of confusing and contradictory nutrition and workout information coming at me when I started, and it took me some time to figure out that there are many ways to accomplish a similar result, but I needed to find out what was best for my body and my long term well-being, while also fitting it all into my demanding schedule.

FG: What division do you compete in, and what’s the best thing in your opinion about competing in that division?
BS: While I can put on muscle easier than most, I prefer to stay smaller and stay in the Figure division.  I have fairly advanced osteoarthritis and find that I have less pain when I am lighter on my joints. I will not be moving to the Physique division as some would like me to do.  I also like that I can be totally natural and be in a sport that is suited to my muscular body type while staying very feminine.

An early photo of Brittani from 2009
Photographer: Duane Harper

FG: You were a top rising star back in 2009, when you took the Emerald Cup by storm, doing very well in both bodybuilding and figure (as pointed out years ago on our own site: While to many, a pro card seemed like a foregone conclusion, you disappeared altogether. Do you mind sharing with us what made you decide to step away from the stage for a while, and what made you decide to come back now?
BS: Well, first of all, I really appreciate your support and encouragement. Thank you so much for such a wonderful article!  I actually started training immediately after the Emerald Cup for the USA Nationals and believed I could get my Pro Card with a few changes and a bit leaner physique.  I hired a coach from Dr. Berardi's team at Precision Nutrition, Krista Schaus, to take me to the next level with a deep dive into my body type, hormones, etc.  It was an intense 6 months of training and dieting with body fat tests every two weeks (12 pt caliper and hydrostatic) to see how I reacted to different diets and work outs.  However, during this time, I was in the middle of a difficult divorce and custody battle.  Additionally, in the fall of 2009, we found out my dad had Stage 3 Prostrate cancer with very few treatment options available that could save his life.  My parents were at my house almost every weekend to get tests in Portland, and between taking care of myself, my two young kids, and them, I was pretty overwhelmed.  Then, just 2 weeks before Nationals, one of my nieces had a psychotic break induced by a traumatic incident that year.  My parents needed my sister and I at the hospital to help understand all the medical jargon, but my niece needed us also.  Subsequently, my sister went to be with my parents, and I went to be with my niece.  I decided that my family needed me more than getting a Pro Card, and I stopped my prep less than 2 weeks from the show.  I knew I was making the right choice and have no regrets.  I still had a lot to deal with in my divorce, and eventually I won the custody battle, settled everything and moved to Camas, Washington, in 2011.  I never stopped training, but I also needed to focus on adapting to being a single mom, managing my career, and the travel that comes with it.  My company and my kids are very supportive of me competing again, and I have a great routine and wonderful support system established now.  Everything fell into place last year for me to be able to start prepping for a show.  My protocols are VERY different than most competitors since I am completely natural and deal with a few hereditary health issues.  They have been big hurdles for me - but not road blocks!

(Editors's Note: What a journey this woman has been through! God has truly blessed her in so many ways.)

FG: Is an IFBB Pro card still in the plans for you in 2016?
BS: I just found out that I have to have surgery this year and will need 6-8 weeks to recover so I don't think that it will be possible this year.

FG: With the rise of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, Instagram, etc,), how important do you feel it is for people in the fitness industry to participate in it?
BS: I believe that if you need to make your living in the fitness industry, it's very important for you to maximize your presence and image with social media.  Your audience is probably Millennials so you should learn how to target that demographic.  I work in a completely different industry, and we use social media more and more every year.  I do not have the goal to be famous or get attention to validate my self-worth.  However, I have come to recognize that my journey, lifestyle, and success provide a lot of inspiration to others.  I have a lot of people contact me and ask me questions about how I stay fit and healthy while doing so much with my kids as a single mom and managing a successful career.  There is a big opportunity for me to teach and help other business professionals, and that is how I'd like to give back to others.  Given my current demanding schedule, I will only be coaching a handful of clients at any given time.

Fountain of youth, ladies and gentlemen!
Photographer: Tracy Coggin

FG: Who (living or dead) do you look up to for inspiration, whether they are part of the fitness industry or not?
BS: I am blessed to have an incredible inner passion for life and am a lifelong learner.  I read and listen to books and podcasts constantly.  Therefore, my inspiration comes from a variety of business professionals and sources.  I have not had many lifestyle role models in my life and not one individual person has "the life" that I want to live.  I am very intentional in my choices, and how I live, and have found that my greatest inspiration comes from myself and staying active.  I don't try to emulate anyone else's body or style.  Instead, I focus on being the best I can be. When I'm feeling a bit down, or discouraged by my own issues, three people come to mind that inspire me: one is this guy with an obvious severe muscular disease barely able to walk into the gym, another is a lady that has to have her service dog with her on the gym floor because she has seizures, and lastly is a veteran who lost his legs and comes in to work out in his wheel chair. Those people face adversity beyond my own, and if they can show up in spite of the challenges they live with every day, so can I.  So can everyone!!

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 the look I'm aiming for"?
BS: The few famous competitors that I am familiar with have elements of their presentation that I respect and admire, but my life and body type are so different that I do not compare myself to them or aim to look like anyone else.  To be perfectly honest, I could not name more than a handful of competitors in this industry.  My time is limited, and I hone in on what I need to learn and know (posing, diet, workouts), and I hire the best coaches around to work with me to be my best.  I chose Michelle Herzog to help me with my competition prep and all that it entails (diet, workout plans, optimal brain and hormone function, stage refinement, etc.) because she is incredibly knowledgeable and shares the same fierce values about being natural and finding natural solutions to issues versus taking short cuts that could lead to long term problems.  I chose Andre Scott with Posing Perfection as my posing coach because I think he is one of the best in the Northwest.  Lastly, I chose Sekona Taufa to help me with a few sessions of training to help me work my lower body without causing inflammation and stress to my back and knees - where my arthritis is the most advanced. He is a Natural Pro Bodybuilder that is my same age and has had some similar injuries and understands how to modify exercises to minimize pain and further injury.  He is also an incredible mentor and supporter to me and many others in our area.

FG: If you weren’t part of the fitness industry, what would you be doing now?
BS: My family and career will always be my priorities, but I am working on incorporating more fitness and health awareness into my industry.  This will always be a part of my life because I passionately believe in health and wellness.  If I am not competing, you can rest assured that I am working behind the scenes on my health and helping others attain their optimal selves.

FG: What (if anything) would you change about the fitness industry as a whole (NOT just about the division you compete in)?
BS: This may not be a popular response, but I'll be honest.  I am sometimes ashamed of the fitness industry and how others promote themselves.  The first show that I ever watched was in 2014 (I had only competed but never been a spectator), and I was shocked by the bikini competition.  My girlfriend, who is also a business professional, was with me and was considering competing in this division.  Our jaws literally dropped, and we said there was no way she could do those poses and have her pictures on the internet. It looked like strip club recruiting, not a fitness competition.  I wish that it were more classy and respectful because those women work hard and are beautiful, but the "T&A" shaking and bent over posing is not something I enjoy seeing, nor does it best show off all of that hard work while maintaining the respect women crave and deserve.
Lastly, I try not judge others for the choices they make to take "supplements" that help them gain muscle or lean down, but my hope is that they think about the long term effects on their bodies and quality of life.  After all, this is "body building", not "body destruction".

(Editor's Note: I can't say AMEN enough for this response!!!!!)

FG: After your competition days are completed, how do you plan on give back to the fitness industry?
BS: I am working on a transition to being a Corporate Trainer - meaning I will teach management classes and incorporate nutrition and fitness into my teaching.  At Gallo, we have also started teaching the Corporate Athlete, and I'd like to write a book and speak to audiences about staying healthy while working in demanding careers and traveling.  We have a lot of challenges that most people never have to deal with, and I have over 20 years of experience with constant travel in my job and many tips and tricks to share with others.  I'd love to make the world a healthier, better place!

FG: Bottom line, what is YOUR ultimate goal in the fitness industry, the one thing you feel that you HAVE to do before you call it a career?
BS: I have to get my Pro Card!  I also want to be a positive, life changing educator for as many people as possible.

FG: Any closing words for your fans and supporters?
BS: We all have unique journeys that will be full of trials, tribulations, injuries, and issues.  Know your values and the reasons why it's important to stay fit and healthy.  Stay strong to those values. Motivation comes from working hard every day.  The harder you work and the more consistent you are, the stronger your motivation becomes.  I love to hear success stories and help others, so feel free to contact me!

Her return at the 2016 NPC Vancouver National Championships. The best is yet to come!
Photo credit: NPC News Online

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 outlets, etc.) Also, if there's anything you want to plug in, you are more than welcome to do so.
BS: Thank you so much for this opportunity to share my journey!  You can find me in any of these places:
Instagram:  Brittani.Simpson
Facebook:  Brittani Simpson (Athlete): 

We wish Brittani all the happiness and success in the world as she continues on her journey to becoming an IFBB Pro and making a difference in the lives of others! FYI, she plans on making some big updates to her website and Facebook in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to our social media links as we will keep you all informed. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

OPINION: Is Hollywood Afraid of Fit Women?

All photos belong to their respective owners.

Hey ladies, if you ever want to have a successful career in Hollywood, here’s a small tip I can give you…don’t ever pick up a weight, but if you do, make sure it’s those colorful weights that weigh 3-5 pounds each.

You think I’m joking, don’t you? You honestly think I’m making a joke here. Sad thing is…I wish I was.

It has been made abundantly clear that Hollywood and the mainstream media seem to have some form of intimidation issue with fit woman and don’t want to showcase them in any positive manner when it comes to the entertainment world. However, the sports world is a different story, especially more now than ever before.

On August 1st, 2015, Ronda Rousey defeated previously unbeaten Bethe Correia to remain undefeated in UFC, retaining the World Bantamweight Championship in the main event of UFC 190. Yes…the MAIN EVENT. As in THE fight that people pay to see the most. Since then, things in the division began to get very interesting when Holly Holm shocked the world at UFC 193 and defeated Rousey for the title (main-event, as well) and then at UFC 197, Mishea Tate defeated Holm to finally capture the title (part of a massive double main-event). For several UFC events, fit, tough women have been in the spotlight and have shown that fit women can draw a crowd if done right.

While it hasn’t always been that way, the sports world is beginning to see that women just aren’t the same “cute, cookie-cutter stereotype” they used to be. They are starting to realize that strong is the new sexy. The NFL has recently hired their first coach in Dr. Jen Welter, a football player herself who has no problem showing the men how it’s done on the gridiron. The NBA hired their first coach in Becky Hammon, who ended up making even more history by becoming the first women to win a championship in the NBA (yes, it was the Summer League, but a championship is a championship, nethertheless). CrossFit has become super-popular in a short amount of time, and many would argue that the reason for that is Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet, who won last year’s CrossFit Games but has been viewed as arguably THE Face of CrossFit (not just the female side) for quite some time. Even WWE’s got in on the “Strong is the New Sexy” movement with their #DivaRevolution with NXT favorites Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch making waves on the main roster (and will be heading to Wrestlemania to compete for the Divas Championship in a much-anticipated Triple Threat match), with ladies such as Bayley, Alexa Bliss, Carmella, Askua, Emma, and Dana Brooke (who DOUBLES as a fitness competitor in addition to being a wrestler, BTW) leading the NXT women’s division to new frontiers. Pretty sad that Hollywood is too stuck on their ways that they can’t see something awesome that’s right in front of them.

WWE Divas Champion Charlotte leading the #DivasRevoltion in WWE, with fit, gorgeous women changing WWE's Divas division a day at a time, with names such as Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Asuka, Emma, Dana Brooke, Natalya, Alexa Bliss, and Nikki Bella, among others. WWE will be launching a Tapout fitness line in April, shortly after Wrestlemania 32 in Dallas, Texas.

I mean, seriously, what is it going to take for Hollywood to see that fit girls CAN move a company and/or sport to new heights? Are they THAT scared of women with a little bit of muscle? There’s all this talk about “diversity”, but it seems to only be involved with color, sexual orientation/preference, and SOME body types. Apparently, it’s fine in Hollywood to be practically anyone (and I mean ANYONE) in Hollywood except a fit woman it seems. I mean there are tons of women in the bikini division (the least muscular of the female divisions) that would be great in Hollywood, and Hollywood is too afraid to give them a proper look. I swear I wish I was exaggerating, but here’s something big I want you to ponder on for a bit:

Unless you have been living under a rock the last few years, you have probably heard of a certain movie that is out, quite possibly THE biggest superhero movie of all time when it's all said and done…Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As of this post being published, I’ve yet to have seen this movie, so I’ll hold off judgment on the movie as a whole until I’ve seen it. But one of the roles in the movie was for Wonder Woman, arguably the most famous female superhero of all time, and part of the Trinity (along with Batman and Superman). The disappointment I personally had when Warner Brothers/DC Comics choose Gal Gadot for the role was beyond words, but not because of WHO Gal was (I have no personal issue with Gal whatsoever, so please don't label me as a hater), but WHAT she represented: typical Hollywood outer beauty that would attract the masses. I will give credit where credit is due, she did take this role serious and according to an article on, she did put on 17 pounds to give her a bit more of an intimidating look, but that depends on your definition of “intimidating”. (Oh yeah...this exact quote from the article gave me bad vibes;  “I don’t want to be big and bulky… I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder.”) You would think that Hollywood would have tried to get someone that would have fit the bill better, but ultimately they didn’t. I doubt the movie will suffer because of that reason (I hope it doesn’t), but imagine how better it would have been if they would have given a fitness-based woman an opportunity like that. Can you imagine what that could have done for women to see someone like that ON THE BIG SCREEN and go “Wow…she looks amazing! I would love to know her secret”. It’s revealed in some articles in magazines and BOOM. Gym memberships increase, fitness awareness in increased. Hollywood looks good in the progress sending a hell of a statement to a lot of people. It's a win-win for everyone. But clearly, they don’t want to go with that and choose sexiness over substance.

Think I’m still crazy?! Allow me to go even further.

Amazons?! Ehh...well it's Hollywood's version, at least. 

Next year, Wonder Woman gets her OWN movie, and earlier this week, the first photo from the movie was released. Yes, that's the photo about this paragraph. In addition to Wonder Woman (Gal) on the photo, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), General Antiope (Robin Wright), and Antiope’s lieutenant Menalippe (Lisa Loven Kongsli). Great photo, but someone (not me) summed it up better than I ever could: It looks like an ad for a Victoria’s Secret Amazon Skinny Line. I mean, COME ON!! Can you REALLY say that the Amazons pose a legit threat when they look like they do in the photo? If you can say it to my face without hesitation, more power to you.

In comparison to men and muscles as it related to Hollywood, Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck went through hell to put on muscle for their respective roles as Superman and Batman. Ezra Miller was trending due to his apparent muscle gain for his role as The Flash in the DC Cinematic Universe. Will Smith packed on the mass to play famed boxer Muhammad Ali. Zac Efron is looking like a men’s physique competitor (borderline classic physique, to me) for the upcoming Baywatch movie. Apparently Mike O’Hearn is up for the main role in a potential He-Man reboot. Do I need to go on?

Yep...Zac is DEFINITELY out of High School (Musical) now. He's playing in Baywatch next year, but he actually looks...intimidating and believable as a badass (I can't believe I called a HSM alum a badass. Yikes!) 

I know what you're probably thinking…but Gina Carano and Ronda Rousey have had Hollywood roles, so your rant is kinda unjustified, don't ya think? Both ladies were able to get Hollywood roles based on their MMA careers, not based off their fitness backgrounds. Oh, and before you go and think I'm a DC hater bring up Wonder Woman in a "not-so-positive" light, (far from it), I doubt Marvel Studios will get it right either. They can POTENTIALLY make a bold move when it comes to casting Captain Marvel (the only top female superhero for Marvel that I can think of coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe right now) and even that's pushing it. And if She-Hulk is ever part of the MCU or on a Marvel Netflix show, I shutter to think of who they will pick to cast her.

I hope one day that Hollywood will see the light and realize that fit women can truly play a great part in their world just like everyone else, but I fear that this something they will never understand or want to understand. But then again, it shouldn't be much of a surprise when a business like Planet Fitness exist and flat out discourages ANYONE with even a hint of muscle on them (male or female). I would love for myself to be wrong and eat crow and humble pie for the rest of my life if Hollywood were to ever embrace fit women into their world. Some will argue to their grave that this would never work. How can it never work when it's never even been given the opportunity TO work, or fail for that matter? What is Hollywood and the mainstream media so afraid of when it comes to giving fit women an opportunity to show that they are more than just ladies who happen to workout in the gym? Since we're so into hashtags these days, here's my hashtag to Hollywood about fit women...#WhatAreYouAfraidOf?

Someone as beautiful as Amanda Kulco (Latona) is considered "manly" by Hollywood/mainstream standards because she works out with weights...and that''s sad. :( 

Now that I've spilled my guts out involving a subject that has been eating away at me for quite some time, I want to hear from you all: fans and critics alike. Can fitness-oriented women be a part of Hollywood and the mainstream world outside sports in a positive manner? Why or why not? Leave a comment below or send us your thoughts at, or on Twitter or Facebook.

Monday, March 21, 2016

IFBB Bikini Pro Potentially Heading to WWE?

Editor's note: All photos belong to their respective owners

IFBB Bikini Pro...future WWE Diva?

In early March, all eyes were on Columbus, Ohio during the Arnold Sports Festival, which could explain why what I'm about to say might have fell under the radar. We noticed that IFBB Bikini Pro Eboney Chipman made an interesting post on March 6th:

As you know from our previous posts, we do our best to highlight any fitness personality that enters the rankings of sports and entertainment. Of course, we have been checking to see if anymore has come out of it, and less than a week later, she revealed on Twitter that she sent in her application. Now the waiting game begins for her. Most women from the fitness industry have gone on to have great success such as Torrie Wilson, Lisa Marie Varon (Victoria), Lexi Kaufman (Alexa Bliss), Ashley Sebera (Dana Brooke), and Celeste Braun (Kaitlyn). And do we even need to mention a certain fitness model who became a 7x WWE Women's Champion and currently youngest female WWE Hall-of-Famer of all time? Should she get this opportunity, we think she could do very well. She has the height, beauty, and athleticism to have a good career in WWE. We will keep you all posted on how things go with Eboney and if WWE will be part of her future going forward. From all of us at FitGems Nation, we want to wish you best of luck, Eboney!

Potentially coming to a WWE arena near you...

For more on Eboney, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Alison Victoria: America's Fittest Interior Designer

All photos belong to the original owners. 

Every once in a while, you will flip channels on your television and you discover someone or something that draws your attention to where you can't look away. That is exactly what Alison Victoria did to me a few years ago. I discovered Kitchen Crashers by accident, and I can honestly say that I'm so glad it happened, as it has introduced me to one of the fittest women on television, bar none.

For those that are unfamiliar with Alison Victoria, she is an interior designer out of Chicago, Illinois with kitchens being a specialty for her, hence her own show on HGTV and DIY Network called Kitchen Crashers, where she is the first (and so far only) Crashers host. Her love for interior designing goes back to her childhood, and thus far, it has brought her a lot of success beyond just hosting her own TV show. Her success has won her many award nominations (including being a 2x nominee for Fit Female Celebrity at our FitGems Awards) and she has received the Rising Stars of Business award by the Las Vegas Business Press back in 2011.

Yeah...she's strong, folks! 

She might not look like it at first glance, but Alison is ONE STRONG WOMAN! She's got to be with the work she does on Kitchen Crashers. No, she's not one that just talks the talk, she walks the walk and then some. Rebuilding a kitchen in three days with a crew takes some muscle, and she has plenty of it, trust me. She gets her workouts in, which include weights, CrossFit, barre, whatever she can get in with her busy schedule. Her workouts are clearly paying off in the interior designing part of her life, as well as her overall body transformation. Her progression has went from a tough beauty who can swing a hammer around to borderline fitness-model level muscle that would not be out of place whatsoever on Muscle and Fitness Hers and Oxygen Magazine (Hint-hint, magazines...that's your cue to contact her for an interview with your publications!). All over her social media, when she posts outfits revealing her figure, people are blown away by her physique and have nothing but great comments about it. Funny how those seem to be her most popular pictures on social media...

If you haven't seen Kitchen Crashers, I'd highly suggest you give it a shot. It's hosted by a woman who looks amazing and does an awesome job at it. Who knows, maybe one day she will pop up at your local Home Depot in the Kitchen isle and ask you if you want a new (and free) kitchen in three days. If I were you, I would take her up on your offer. 

For more on Alison, check out her website at, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. Also don't forget to follow Kitchen Crashers on HGTV and DIY Network. Check your local listings.

Fitness-model material...easily.

My thoughts on the 2016 Arnold Women's Physique International

Last year, I attended my first Arnold Sports Festival, which was one of the greatest experiences of my life. One of the biggest highlights for me was to witness history taking place with the first-ever Women's Physique International, which featured Dana Linn Bailey, Tycie Coppett, Sabrina Taylor, and Juliana Malcarne, who would end up winning the inaugural title. It was treated like the other International events as invite-only competitions but the only difference was that the prejudging AND finals was part of the expo itself, which meant that those who went to the expo got their money's worth and then some. I thought that was a great way to introduce the pro women's physique division to the Arnold and enjoyed every minute of it.

This year, the invite part for the Women's Physique International is no longer there, as this year's competition is in the form of send in a contract and if it got in by the deadline, you were in. So instead of a select few from last year, there will be a total of 54 competitors for the women's physique portion of the show.

Yes, 54 women's physique competitors will step on stage at the 2nd-ever Arnold Pro Women's Physique International. That's more than the Fitness, Figure, and Bikini International competitors...COMBINED.

I know I'm going to receive some heat for what I'm about to say, but it needs to be said...this takes away any prestige that the Arnold event had for the women's physique division to allow THAT MANY competitors in a competition that is supposed to be reserved for the top competitors in the sport, sans the Olympia. As much as I respect every competitor, not everyone can or should make it to the big stage. It's called a COMPETITION for a reason, and the Arnold and Olympia are competitions that is reserved for those who have earned that right to compete. It's like inviting every single football player to play the Super Bowl, every basketball player to the NBA Finals, every pro wrestler to compete in Wrestlemania...that's not how it should work. Maybe I'm old school and appreciate tradition more, I don't know. Maybe there's an interior motive regarding this change that I don't know about.

With that being said...I don't blame anyone for entering the contest this way. If my dream was to compete in the Arnold and all I had to do was turn in a contract by a certain deadline rather than turning in a request and hoping I get selected, I would be on it in a heartbeat. I'm not stupid. For the 54 competitors, this will be seen as an opportunity to get recognized on a big stage and that's how you make a name for yourself in an industry filled with amazing physiques, you have to get yourself noticed. What better way to do that than at the biggest fitness show in the world that's not the Olympia! With Juliana Malacarne NOT defending her title this year, a new champion will be crowned. I will say it will be interesting to see with that many women on stage how in the world the judges will pick who will go on to the finals, let alone a winner. Congrats to everyone that will be competing at this year's contest and best of luck to all of you! Have fun and make this an experience you will never forget!

To view the names of everyone competing, go here: Feel free to comment below on your personal thoughts on the matter.