Sunday, December 27, 2015

FitGems Nation's Crystal Ball for 2016

I thought I would have some fun and post my predictions for 2016 when it comes to the female side of the sport. Remember, I don’t have the inside-scoop (unless it’s told to me personally, which is a rarity), and this is merely just me stating what I THINK might happen in the coming year. Under no circumstances do I see all (or any) of the following predictions happening in 2016, if they do…it’s by pure coincidence. If they all happen to come true…I might end up buying a lottery ticket next year during the holiday season. HAHA!

With that said…on to my top 15 predictions for 2016 (in no particular order)

1. Latorya Watts will win every competition she competes in for 2016, INCLUDING the 2016 Figure Olympia

According to many people, Latorya embodies what figure should represent and many people were downright ecstatic to see her win the biggest title in figure (Figure Olympia) in 2015. It’s going to be downright hard (not impossible, but hard) to see anyone dethrone the champ, and that includes Nicole Wilkins, who I believe will bring her best package to date come the 2016 Figure Olympia. I’m going to say this right now: If Latorya is on the list to compete in any show in 2016, everyone else better get ready for fight for second place.

2. Juliana Malacarne will NOT win the 2016 Olympia Women’s Physique Showdown

Make no mistake, Juliana IS women’s physique. She is the measuring stick of the division. She has two Olympia titles and is the first-ever Physique International Champion. But while she has gotten better, so has her competition. In fact, Kira Newman, the 2015 Olympia Women’s Physique runner-up, might be Juliana’s biggest challenger to date, even bigger than Dana Linn Bailey. If Kira makes some slight improvements for 2016, I truly feel Juliana will not be a 3x Olympia champion in 2016.

3. Wendy Fortino will FINALLY win her first pro show in 2016

I’m going to be straight with you all…Wendy Fortino is LONG OVERDUE for her first pro win. When you have a Hollywood-esque look and curvy yet athletic physique to match like Wendy does, it’s pretty sad how she has yet to win even one pro show thus far in her career. Some of the shows she competed in 2015 (heck, even 2014) I truly feel she should have won. I could go on and on about my own theories on the matter, but I won’t…yet. But if there’s any justice, Wendy won’t have to use the Olympia Qualification Series to compete in her third straight Olympia come 2016. She will be able to qualify outright thanks to a long overdue first pro win.

4. Tina Nguyen will win a pro show and place in the top 3 at the 2016 Figure Olympia

In 2014, we got to see what Tina Nguyen could do on the National stage. She won her pro card in her first attempt. She entered her first pro show this year and was only one spot off from qualifying for the Olympia in her first show. This woman has been turning heads quicker than most who have been in the game for YEARS. She is very knowledgeable about her body and knows what she has to do compete with the pros. Many believe Tina is a Figure Olympia champion in the making, and I don’t see why we would argue that point. The ONLY reason Tina will not be part of the Figure Olympia line-up this year is Tina won’t allow it. Simple as that.

5. Ashley Kaltwasser will become a 4x Bikini Olympia champion

I originally had Ashley winning both the Bikini International and Bikini Olympia titles again in 2016, but she decided not to send in an invite for the Bikini International this time around. To me Ashley embodies what bikini SHOULD be in the IFBB, and I’m glad her look is getting rewarded these days. Despite the changes for the IFBB (more on that later), I don’t see why she should not win the big one again this year. When it comes to the bikini division, she’s the face that runs the place!

6. Jenny Worth will return to the fitness stage

For those who have paid attention to Jenny Worth via social media, she has put in work to build one of the most impressive post-competition bodies in the world today. In fact, she has been blowing people away with her physique so much that there are many who feel Jenny should make a return to the stage. Looking at her this year, one would even ask why she HASN’T stepped on stage yet. She looks that good. Jenny has said “never say never” when it comes to a return to competition. 2016 to us seems like the best opportunity to make it happen.

7. Nicole Wilkins MIGHT give women’s physique a look (emphasis on MIGHT)

I’ll be honest with you, the biggest reason I made this prediction is because of how downright AMAZING Nicole has looked since the 2015 Figure Olympia and the fact that she CLEARLY loves to flex. If you don’t believe us, take a look at her Instagram and Facebook and tell us we’re lying. We highly doubt she will make the switch permanently, but I don’t see it out of the horizon for Nicole to do at least one show in women’s physique just to say she did it. And…let’s be honest, it would be pretty bad-ass to see Nicole on a women’s physique stage. Just once is all we’re asking for, Nicole.

8. Another female fitness personality will join WWE/NXT

Trish Stratus. Victoria. Torrie Wilson. Jamie Keyes. Aksana. Kaitlyn. Alexa Bliss. Dana Brooke. All of the names I’ve mentioned have left their mark in the fitness world and in WWE. In fact the current WWE Divas Champion Charlotte, who was a personal trainer prior to WWE, is on the first cover of Muscle and Fitness Hers for 2016. I honestly feel the fitness trend will continue and we will see someone else from the fitness world make her way to WWE/NXT. Who?! I don’t know. I will say this…with the personality and fanbase she has, I could easily see someone like Dana Linn Bailey join WWE and have a successful run there.

9. Dana Brooke (IFBB Fitness Pro Ashley Sebera) will take NXT and eventually WWE by storm in 2016

Speaking of fitness personalities, I think that Dana Brooke will have a breakout year in NXT come 2016. 2015 was an introduction to who she was and since her debut, she has progressively gotten better in the ring and her overall character is among the most enjoyable heels (bad guys/gals) I’ve personally seen in WWE in quite some time. While there are wrestling critics who fail to give her props, the fans (you know, the voices that actually count) tell a different story. Her social media numbers have went up tremendously with no end in sight. We wouldn’t be surprised if she gets a main roster call-up by the end of 2016.

10. A fitness personality will make her way into a Hollywood movie

It needs to happen, in some form or fashion. There’s too many beautiful women in the fitness industry for Hollywood to flat-out ignore them. Cory Everson made a name for herself in the early 90s and 2000s being on movies such as Double Impact and television shows such as Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Home Improvement. Rachel McLish was in a few movies herself such as Pumping Iron 2: The Women and Iron Eagle III. Kiana Tom was part of Universal Soldiers: The Return. All three women have made quite the mark in fitness and Hollywood. Isn’t it about time for the modern world to have a fitness woman be part of Hollywood?!

11. More fitness personalities will leave the competition world and enter CrossFit competitions

CrossFit has become more popular than many could have ever imagined. In fact, this has given some people a new platform to showcase their fitness. Physique competitions can only do so much, and for some, it’s too subjective and can get political. It’s hard to bring politics into competitions that require you to use your body in unimaginable ways. Former IFBB competitors such as Tina Durkin and Jennifer Gates have converted into CrossFit and are arguably in the best shape of their lives. They won’t be the last to make the switch, trust me.

12. The new NPC/IFBB guidelines will see a significant shift in who wins for figure, women’s physique, and bikini. 

EVENTUALLY, I will talk about the new IFBB guidelines (I was supposed to have talked about them earlier, but hey…things happen). Muscle mass will be significantly reduced for figure, women’s physique, and bikini beginning in 2016 in favor of shape. My own personal thoughts about this aside (for now), it’s pretty obvious that they will try to reward competitors who fit more in line with the new guidelines. If this holds up, expect some potentially unexpected winners in 2016.

13. The NSL could turn some heads in the fitness industry

Competition is a good thing. The Monday Night War between WWE, WCW, and ECW provided wrestling fans with the best wrestling era of all time, regardless of which promotion you were loyal to. As of now, the NPC/IFBB are at the top of the physique world. But things happened with Lee Thompson and now he has created this new federation called the Nspire Sports League, which he claimed to have created to give competitors a fair opportunity. If you have been paying attention, the NPC/IFBB has made some significant changes to some things as of late. SURELY, it has nothing to do with this NSL thing, right?! They might play it cool, but you know the NPC/IFBB will have a close eye on the NSL in the coming year…whether they want to admit it or not.

14. Women’s bodybuilding will officially be put to rest as a division

Let’s be real. The Ms. Olympia for the first time in years didn’t happen this year. The Ms. International competition got discontinued a while ago. The numbers for women’s bodybuilding in local shows are little to non-existent. The numbers for women’s bodybuilding in National shows are getting smaller and smaller. As much as I hate to say it, but I think it’s time to end women’s bodybuilding as a division. If the federation won’t support the division by having it being represented in the Arnold and Olympia, then what good is it to keep it around on life support? Women’s physique is gaining a ton of traction, fitness is holding steady, figure is going pretty well, and bikini is downright INSANE in numbers and they are only going to get bigger. I personally don’t think it should go as it’s the reason the other divisions exist in the first place, but there’s too much going against it that it’s best for the division to completely disappear altogether.

15. Fitness workout shows will find a way back on TV (or Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.)

People want to get healthier but there’s very few things on TV that shows people the right direction. Most commercials related to fitness (and I’m using that term loosely) is about losing weight and keeping it off. How about we have fitness workout shows like back in the late 80s-early 2000s. Shows like Bodyshaping, Kiana’s Flex Appeal, Cory Everson’s Gotta Sweat, and Denise Austin's Daily Workout gave people a reason to get up and get their workout on. Let’s be honest, they were viewed as sex symbols at that time as well. Kiana even got to be on Playboy! With the array of talent that exist now, why can’t it be done now? And if television isn’t an option, there’s streaming video sites such as Nexflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. I truly feel somehow, someway, there WILL be a fitness workout show in some shape or form come 2016.

So there you have it, our top 15 PREDICTIONS (not rumors) for 2016. Again, I can’t see the future (no one can), but don’t be surprised if you see any of them come true. Do YOU have any predictions for 2016 in the fitness industry? Leave a comment below or send us your predictions to our new email at fitgemsnation@gmail.com. You can also use the hashtag #FGCrystalBall2016 on Twitter to tell us your fitness industry predictions for 2016. We hope to have enough responses to use them in a future post.

Thank you for all of your support in 2015, especially those I was able to meet at the 2015 Arnold. I will never forget that experience as long as I live. Let’s strive to make 2016 a year to remember!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Meriza DeGuzman-Ciccone: The Definition of Sexy Strong

You have competitors, you have superstars, and then...there's Meriza DeGuzman-Ciccone. You would be hard-pressed to find a woman as unreal (in a good way) as Meriza. In fact, the word "unreal" actually doesn't even begin to describe the IFBB athlete and trainer. She has a slogan that sums up who Mrs. DeGuzman-Ciccone is and what she represents: Sexy Strong.

Photo credit: Meriza's official website
According to Meriza (and her husband, fellow IFBB competitor Pete Ciccone) Sexy Strong is "a mindset, an attitude...a way of life. Inspiring others by living with purpose-drive, discipline, conviction. Being Strong is Beautifully Sexy." We at FitGems Nation have to agree with the Ciccones on that, Every time they hits the gym, they seem to have a superhero mentality, something that you need to have in the fitness industry these days. Don't believe us? Check out these two Instagram clips of Meriza moving some heavy weight like it's nothing:



The first clip is Meriza doing a shoulder workout of 145lbs for 15 reps...and she was on her 5th set of this. She's lifting more than what she weights with near ease. The second clip is her doing 450lbs for 15reps for a high stance leg press as part of leg day. While 450lbs is downright impressive...this was actually her going light due to posing clinics. Yes...450 POUNDS IS APPARENTLY A LIGHT DAY COMPARED TO HER!!! We have stated a few times that should the IFBB ever consider a strongwoman division (which is a different topic that will be discussed later), Meriza would be a great person to build the division around. Pound-for-pound, there might not be another woman in the fitness world stronger than Meriza right now. She might not step on stage anymore, but that has not stopped her from practicing what she preaches and living the fitness life, as well as mold the next generation of competitors under the Sexy-Strong brand.

One of the strongest women in the IFBB, bar-none!


For more on Meriza, like her on Instagram. For more on Sexy-Strong, follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Also, don't forget to check out their website at http://www.sexy-strong.com/!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ann Titone Retires from Competition

(Photos belong to NPC News Online)

Ann's signature figure pose...one last time.



The Olympia had plenty of moments like they do every year, but one that will have a significant change in the figure division is the retirement of top competitor Ann Titone. Click here to read her full retirement announcement.

If you watched the Olympia webcast or was there live during the finals, Ann's retirement is no new news to you, but today on Facebook, she goes into deep discussion of WHY she's calling it a career. Sometimes, you have to listen to your body more than your heart. It will let you know when it's time to say goodbye, and for Ann, the 2015 Figure Olympia is her swan song. But with a career that spans over 40 shows, over 20 Top IFBB 5 placements, 6 wins, and being on the Arnold and Olympia multiple times, Ann can leave the competition world with her head held high. I got to witness first hand how amazing she is at the 2015 Arnold, and in my personal opinion, the figure division is losing a heck of a competitor, but will be gaining a person who has been there and has went from the bottom to the top of the division and willing to share her advice and know-how of the industry to the next generation of competitors.

On behalf of FitGems Nation, congrats Ann on an amazing career on the stage and best of luck to you in your next chapter!

#ThankYouAnn! 


To keep up with Ann, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Interview with Gabrielle Tongol

What are most people doing at 19 years of age? Looking into college? Deciding what to do with their lives after high school? Well...how about developing one of the most eye-catching physiques in all of figure? That's exactly what Gabrielle Tongol in Canada is doing right now. Competing in the CBFF (where you can become IFBB pro eligible in Canada), Gabrielle has made quite the name for herself in the CBFF figure division at a very early age. It's downright scary to think about what she can do in the fitness industry when it's all said and done. 

Gabrielle was gracious enough to do an interview with us. Hope you enjoy it! (All photos belong to their original owners. Please support them.)



FitGems Nation: Thank you for wanting to be interviewed by us! Let's start off with telling us a little bit about yourself (name/occupation/how long you've been in the fitness industry, etc.)
Gabrielle Tongol: My name is Gabrielle Tongol, I am a 19 year old CBBF Nationally Qualified Figure Competitor. I started my fitness journey when I was 17 years old and have now competed in 3 shows since.
Aside from competing I am a full time student currently working towards getting my Business Administration Diploma, Majoring in Human Resources, Part-Time Private Nurse Assistant as well as a Part-Time Private Personal Trainer. Despite a busy work and school schedule fitness has become a huge part of my life. I am able to incorporate it into my hectic schedule and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Health and fitness is something that I take full pride and joy in and pour my heart and soul into and continuously promote and do what I can to help, motivate and support others while maintaining a positive, joyful and exciting mindset along the way.

Editor's Note: WOW!!!  So much accomplished at an early age! And your excuses are?!?! 
 
FG: How did you get involved in the fitness industry in the first place?
GT: I started off by following workout plans and diets off of bodybuilding.com then as my goal for my 18th birthday that year I decided to try and do my first fitness competition which was on October 12th, 2013 just 2 weeks after I turned 18. Despite the lack of focus, drive, determination and complications I encountered with my previous coach and health issues I faced (binge eating disorder), at that show, I placed 8th out 16 girls. Unsatisfied with my placing, however proud of simply making it onto that stage at only 18 years old, I was determined to take time off and work on my weak points (overall conditioning and muscle depth) and promised myself that I would not step on stage again until I was 110% ready mentally and physically. I trained hard and smart for a year and a bit and decided that I was ready to take things to the next level. Late January 2015 I reached out to my current coach, Darren Mehling with Freak Fitness and we worked together for 19 weeks to bring the best package possible for ABBA Southern Alberta Bodybuilding Championships on June 13, 2015. I was able to lose 20 pounds of fat and far surpassed my Muscle Beach 2013 package. At that show I won first place in Figure A Short class along with taking the Figure Overall title and which then qualified to compete at the Donna & Brian Logue Provincial Bodybuilding Championships two weeks later. At Provincials I was able to come in slightly better than my Southerns package and again, win first place in my Figure A class which has now qualified me for life to compete against all of Canada which now makes me a CBBF Nationally Qualified Figure Competitor. I plan on competing next July 2016 in hopes of winning my IFBB Pro Card, which would make me the youngest IFBB PRO in Canada.
 
FG: What do you enjoy most about competing and/or modeling?
GT: What I enjoy the most about competing is the challenges I am able to overcome and the endless possibilities there are out there that one can achieve with the right mindset. It’s truly a beautiful thing to see what we are able to do with our bodies when we take full control over our mind.
 
FG: Which do you feel is your greatest strength while training: cardio or weight-training?
GT: Weight-training for sure! I’ve always enjoyed training hard, heavy and SMART over cardio. I’ve never been much of a cardio person, however I do enjoy a great sweat session nonetheless!!
 
FG:What is the hardest thing you have had to deal with when it comes to the fitness industry?
GT: The hardest thing I’ve had to deal with when it comes to the fitness industry would be body image.
 
It’s definitely mentally challenging to see yourself go from the best shape in your life to a “normal” shape. By all means, it is NOT healthy to maintain a stage ready physique however there is body fat % that is maintainable, healthy and enough to add lean muscle mass but still feel confident in your own skin. I feel that the first few weeks/months into off-season can be way harder than the 16+ weeks of prepping for a show. Reason for this is because we no longer have that “x” amount of weeks until show day and don’t have that worry in the back of our mind that “if I eat this donut it may or may not affect my physique for my show” therefore, it’s harder to say no to the temptations around us. For someone like me who is very goal-oriented, I’ve learnt to set mini goals for me weekly and monthly. By doing so, this has helped me stay on track with my fitness goals and still enjoy my off-season.
 
FG: What division do you compete in, and what ís the best thing in your opinion about competing in that division?
GT: I compete in the figure division. The one thing that I admire the most about my division is the symmetry and balanced proportions that figure entails.
 
FG: If it was up to you, what would be one thing you would want to add or take away from your division, if anything?
GT: The one thing I would want to add to my division, specifically in Canadian competitions, is more time for our personal presentations. We work so hard for months and it would be nice to have more than 30 seconds being solo on that stage.


 
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?
GT: I feel that it is incredibly important for us who are in the fitness industry to participate in social media to help inspire, motivate and educate everyone as much as we possibly can. It’s a great way people to share different outlooks, methods and personal experiences.
 
FG: Who (living or dead) do you look up to for inspiration, whether they are part of the fitness industry or not?
GT: There are numerous individuals who I look up to for inspiration – there is not one specific person but rather everyone who has supported me and encouraged my since day 1 and who I’ve met along the way that inspire me to keep doing what I’m doing.
 
FG: I know everyone wants to be the first "them" (as it should be), but is there any competitor (past or present) that you look at and say, "Okay...that's what I'm aiming for"?
GT: Nicole Wilkins. Her overall package is breathtaking. Her physique, her beauty and her stage presence is incredible.
 
FG: If you weren't part of the fitness industry, what would you be doing now?
GT: If I weren’t apart of the fitness industry right now I’d probably be either doing nothing but sleeping, eating, shopping, working and being lazy at home. Before getting into the fitness industry I was never into ANY sort of sport or hobby – very thankful that I found the fitness industry and fell in love with it.
 
FG: What (if anything) would you change about the fitness industry as a whole (NOT just about the division you compete in)?
GT: Absolutely nothing. I love everything about it and it only continues to get better in my opinion.
 
FG: After your competition days are completed, how do you plan on give back to the fitness industry?
GT: Although that time is very far away for me, I plan on giving back by continuing my personal training services, volunteering at as many shows as I can, giving advice based on personal experience and continue to inspire, motive and educate as many people as possible through social media, in person and possibly seminars? It’s a long way until I reach that point however from what I can think of right now that would be my plan on giving back!
 
FG: Bottom line, what is YOUR ultimate goal in the fitness industry, the one thing you HAVE to do before you call it a career?
GT: I have no ultimate goal in the fitness industry that will indicate that it is time for me to call it a career. Once I lose that excitement and stop enjoying everything that competing and prepping for shows offer that is when I’ll hang up the clear heels and bedazzled suits.
 
FG: Any closing words for your fans and supporters?
GT: I’d like to thank FitGems Nation for the opportunity to do this interview, my boyfriend, family, friends, Freak Fitness (Darren, Christina and FreakFam), fans and supporters on social media for the endless amount of support, love, care, encouragement and motivation to get to where I am today.
 
FG: Again, thank you so much for doing this interview with us! For those that want to keep up on your future competitions and other plans, how can fans contact you? (Facebook fan page, Twitter, Instagram, email, website, blog, other social media outlet, etc.) Also, if there's anything you want to plug in, you are more than welcome to do so.
Instagram: @gabrielletfitness

If you aren't on the Gabrielle Tongol fanwagon, now's the time to do it. 2016 could be the year she makes history, and with what's she's done so far, it's almost a safe bet that she will do just that. We're rooting for ya, Gabrielle!! 


Friday, April 17, 2015

Our Take on Dana Brooke's NXT Debut

(All photos are from WWE.com)

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

Welcome to Brooke City, Blue Pants!


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

BROOKE...SMASH! 

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


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

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

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

Monday, March 2, 2015

WE'RE HEADING TO THE ARNOLD!!!!

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



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

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

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

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Interview with Tina Nguyen

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

FG: I know everyone wants to be the first "them" (as it should be), but is there any competitor (past or present) that you look at and say, "Okay...that's what I'm aiming for"? 
TN: The first woman who inspired me to be better in this industry is Khanh Nguyen. I remember one day I saw a pic of her on a face book page and I instantly went “Omg, I want her abs!” I never had abs, and that was my goal was to start out. I didn’t even think about competing and just wanted to start training for myself. Now the physique I absolutely adore is Juliana Malacarne, Miss Physique Olympia. I don’t want to compete in physique and I love figure, but her work ethic and her full muscle bellies are absolutely amazing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NXT Diva Competing at the 2015 Arnold

DISCLAIMER: All photos used belong to their original owners. 


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

2014 FitGems Nation Woman of the Year Nominees

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

Here are this year's nominees:

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

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

Congrats to all the nominees! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

FitVoice: Our Official Podcast

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

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


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

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

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