Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Why WWE's Dana Brooke Competing at the Arnold is Significant

DISCLAIMER: All photos belong to their original owners.

Slowly but surely changing the game (no offense, Triple H)
Photo credit: WWE

It's one thing to be in shape for wrestling.
It's another thing to be in shape for a fitness competition.
Try to do both at the same time.

Yeah, that sounds like torture and pure madness. Why on Earth would anyone put their body at risk to do both instead of choosing one? If you just happened to be named Dana Brooke, the answer for her is in the form of a question...WHY NOT?!

This weekend (Friday to be exact), Dana Brooke (real name Ashley Sebera) will be stepping on stage among some of the best fitness competitors in the world at the 2017 Fitness International during the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. The brand split has let WWE Superstars be able to do more things outside WWE with schedules being a tad easier than in the past. Chris Jericho has his podcast and band outside WWE. Seth Rollins is enrolled in the Crossfit Games as an active competitor (as soon as he's healed up). And John Cena is freaking EVERYWHERE in Hollywood and still has an active role in WWE. And it looks like Dana will be able to be a fitness competitor while still under contract with WWE, which is unheard of. She did it in 2015 as part of the NXT roster, when she hadn't made it on TV yet and was only doing house shows in Florida. She competed in her first Arnold Classic that Friday and the very next day (as well as that Sunday) she wrestled against Bayley (current WWE Raw Women's Champion) and Carmella (Smackdown Live competitor) as part of the first-ever WWE Experience at the Arnold (Side note: she won both matches).

Most of you know what fitness competitors go through to get ready for one show. The diet, the training, the practicing of the routines...it's stressful weeks of prep but rewarding for that one show. Now, consider that this is the Arnold we're talking about, and you're talking about the biggest show on the schedule NOT named the Olympia. Most that compete have regular jobs and don't take bumps in a wrestling ring and get tossed around like ragdolls. That's where Dana is different from every other competitor competing at the Arnold this weekend. Taking bumps in a wrestling ring and get tossed around like a ragdoll IS her job and a job she loves dearly. She has stated on multiple occasions that she wants to be among the best in WWE history, but she also realizes what brought her to the dance in the first place...the fitness world. She wants to give back and everyone (whether you like her or not) should give her credit and respect for not forgetting her roots, which is something that sadly most people tend to forget once they make it big. While others have the indies to thank for their road to WWE, Dana has the fitness world to thank for her road to WWE, which we personally hope doesn't end anytime soon, as we feel we've yet to see the best from her. Dana at the Arnold (to us) helps close the gap between the fitness industry and WWE, hopefully bring in more male and female talent for NXT, Raw, Smackdown Live, 205 Live, and other aspects of WWE.

Potentially paving the future for others to compete in fitness shows while being part of WWE at the same time.
Photo credit: Getty Images

If some of the guys can do it all and still be active members of WWE, why can't Dana?! It's only fair. We hope what Dana is doing paves the way for others to follow ALL their dreams. In this day and age, you CAN do it all if you put your mind to it! Cena is, Seth is, Jericho is. Now...It's Dana's turn. For the IFBB AND WWE...PLAYTIME IS OVER!!!!

For more on Dana's Arnold journey (and other random stuff from WWE's resident Queen of Flex City), follow her on Snapchat at asha_DanaBrooke, on Twitter at @DanaBrookeWWE, and her Instagram at ashasebera_danabrooke . Be sure to watch the Arnold Sports Festival on their new home on Generation Iron at http://generationiron.com/ this Friday and Saturday. Good luck Dana Brooke! We're rooting for you! :)

Friday, February 3, 2017

8th Annual FitGems Awards Winners

The votes are in, and it's time to announce the winners of the 8th Annual FitGems Awards! You call came out in full force and made your voices known, and we at FitGems Nation can't thank you enough for supporting these awards. Without further ado...here is who YOU voted for as the best of 2016!


PRO CATEGORIES

2016 Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Juliana Malacarne

2016 Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Oksana Grishina

2016 Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Nicole Wilkins

2016 Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Courtney King

2016 Breakout Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Victoria Flores

2016 Breakout Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Kristine Duba

2016 Breakout Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Sandra Grajales Romero

2016 Breakout Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Narmin Assria

2016 Underrated Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Susan Graham

2016 Underrated Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Stacy Wright

2016 Underrated Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Wendy Fortino

2016 Underrated Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Vicki Counts 

AMATEUR CATEGORIES

2016 Amateur Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Nicole Gutierrez

2016 Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Rebecca Sizemore

2016 Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Stephanie Trevino

2016 Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Carolina Araujo

2016 Breakout Amateur Women’s Physique Competitor of the Year
Casey Oliver

2016 Breakout Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Nicole Neargardner

2016 Breakout Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Natalie Navas

2016 Breakout Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Danielle Lipski

2016 Underrated Amateur Women’s Physique Competitor of the Year
Tia Marie Hamilton

2016 Underrated Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Alissa Carpio

2016 Underrated Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Victoria Puentes

2016 Underrated Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Celia Torres

MISC. CATEGORIES

2016 Fitness Model of the Year
Nicole Wilkins

2016 Fitness Ambassador of the Year
Nicole Wilkins

2016 Social Media Star of the Year
Wendy Fortino

2016 Moment of the Year
Monica Brant returning to competition for the first time since 2013 as part of PCA and NABBA (#ReturnOfTheFitnessIcon)

2016 Photographer of the Year
Dan Ray

2016 Fit Celebrity of the Year
Kelly Ripa

2016 Female Sports Athlete of the Year
Serena Williams

2016 Olympic Athlete of the Year
Simone Biles

2016 Fit Female Wrestler of the Year
Charlotte Flair

2016 Physique Paysite of the Year
HDPhysiques

2016 Promoter of the Year
Tim Gardner

2016 Fitness Clothing Line of the Year
Better Bodies

2016 Team of the Year
Team CyberbodyShop

2016 Male Trainer of the Year
Matt Allen

2016 Female Trainer of the Year
Wendy Fortino


While a lot happened in 2016, nothing (to us) was more shocking and awe-inspiring than seeing the on-stage return of one of the greatest competitors of all time...and doing it by posing/flexing no less! Seeing her return (and showing that she's STILL the queen) was enough to crown the legendary MONICA BRANT as the 2016 FitGems Nation Woman of the Year! Congrats Monica!!! 

You can go to our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/fitgemsnation) over the weekend to view the photos of this year's winners and a special photo album dedicated to 2016 FitGems Nation Woman of the Year Monica Brant! Again, thank you all for being part of this. We HOPE to do better in the future as far as getting this out quicker! 



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

8th Annual FitGems Awards...VOTE HERE!

For years, we have used Mister Poll as our official FitGems Awards voting platform. However, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are going to be using Polldaddy for our voting platform going forward. We apologize for how late this poll has taken to get up and we hope to do better in the future.

You can vote once a day until February 1st at midnight eastern time. After that, votes will be tallied and winners will be announced on Friday, February 3rd. Best of luck to everyone and congrats to all the nominees!



PRO CATEGORIES













AMATEUR CATEGORIES














MISC. CATEGORIES
















Remember, you can vote once a day for each category until February 1st as midnight Eastern time, with winners to be announced on February 3rd. Good luck!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Megan Olson Fire Relief-Our Thoughts and Plea

Let's help a fellow IFBB Pro in need.
Photo source: GoFundMe


I consider Megan Olson to be one of the best IFBB competitors that has yet to get her due in the industry. We love her shape, conditioning, attitude, and overall beauty. We hope that 2017 will be a great breakout year for her on stage, should she decide to compete this year. But in all honestly, after what happened earlier this year, we don’t blame her one bit for holding off on competing for a while, as there are things far more important.

On January 3rd, Megan lost everything she owned in a house fire. It wasn’t until I found out how it happened that made it even more sad. The fire was started by her husband Matt. He has a bad case of mental illness and apparently burned the house down. Why he did it, I don’t know and it’s none of my business as far as personal stuff goes, but we all should thank God that it wasn’t worse. People can always get a new house, you can’t get a new life.

I’m in no position to judge him, nor is anyone else, but I’m publicly asking (damn near begging) for Matt to seek help. It might be in the best interest for Matt and Megan to stay away from each other until Matt is well. Mental illness has a way of being fatal to those that have it and the people around them. I’m praying that Matt and/or Megan do not become another statistic in that.

If you want to help Megan out financially, go to her GoFundMe page that was set up by Ron Mowen, on her behalf: https://www.gofundme.com/wx-megan-olson. If you want to offer her support by sending her messages, go to her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/megan.olson222/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/megan_olson_ifbb/) For more on NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) check out the following link: http://www.nami.org/Find-Support/NAMI-HelpLine or call them at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org. The NAMI Hotline can be reached The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, Eastern Time. 

Please continue to join FitGems Nation in prayer for both Megan and Matt during this time and hope that Matt gets the help he needs.

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 marc@marcthyssen.com. 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 us...it 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): http://fitgems.blogspot.com/2011/07/interview-with-photographer-marc.html


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 fitgemsnation@gmail.com, 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!!
Email: christysch@hotmail.com
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ChristyResendes/posts
https://www.instagram.com/christyresendes/?hl=en
https://www.facebook.com/christyresendes/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEAcD-nUQi2-eadHBP2TRAA
https://www.flickr.com/photos/christyresendes/
https://www.pinterest.com/christyresendes/
https://www.tumblr.com/search/christy%20resendes

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: http://fitgems.blogspot.com/2009/05/fitting-observations-is-brittani.html). 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): www.facebook.com/fitexecutive 
Website: www.brittfit.com
Email:  Britt@brittfit.com

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.