Friday, February 26, 2010

2010 FitGems Sponsorship Update (As of February 27)

As of today, there are 27 competitors in 2010 FitGems Sponsorship contest. You can view all the competitors here.

The sponsorship package has been updated, thanks to Matthias ($50) and Siouxcountry ($25). Over the last 24 hours, they donated 75 dollars to the fund. So now, the sponsorship consists of the following:

*A MINIMUM of $300 USD towards the contest of your choosing (money paid via PayPal)
*A entire page dedicated to the winner on both EFBBN and FitGems Nation
*Your own website (if you don't have one already) or MySpace/Blogger layout (if you have one) created by Kirk Ashley of Imageworks Jamacia

Don't forget, just for participating, each competitor in the sponsorship contest will have their own Yahoo fan group created by Eldor of EBBFN.

Time is running down. You have until this Sunday to enter the sponsorship contest or to contribute to the sponsorship.  Click here to learn how you can contribute to the sponsorship, or you can always contact me via email. Put on the subject line "SPONSORSHIP CONTRIBUTION"

The winner be chosen by a secret panel that will be chosen over the next few days. They will be checking to make sure each competitor is meeting the requirements and will chose who they feel is the one that deserves the sponsorship. No one will know who will be voting other than myself. To make this as fair as possible, I will have no say in the matter of who will win. The winner will be announced sometime during Arnold Weekend. Besides the winner herself,  the announcement will be made first via Twitter.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at Please put on the subject line "2010 SPONSORSHIP"

EDIT: The post was updated from yesterday due to Siouxcountry's donation this morning. Thanks Sioux!! :)

Sports After Dark Needs Sponsors!!!

If you've been following me for a while, you've probably have realized that I absoultely love Siouxcountry. The site is one of a kind, the ATMOSPHERE is one of a kind, the man behind the site is one cool cat (not to mention he's supported FitGems Nation from day one)...I can't say enough good things about the site. I really can't.

I mentioned a few weeks back about the return of Sports After Dark. With its growth and success, they are now asking for all the help they can get. Eryn Strickland, one of the hosts of Sports After Dark, sent me this information to share with you.

We, the ladies of Sports After Dark, are looking for sponsors who would be willing to support us as we continue to bring you the best interviews from the female physique community week to week. We are now offering an oppurtunty to advertise on our program!
We are looking for competitors, websites, companies, trainers, gyms, etc.. who love this sport as much as we do. Let our many fans and listeners know about your product, company, or website! We will incorporate any news and information that you provide into our weekly Monday night pod-cast for all the world to hear.
If you are interested please contact us at
And PLEASE don't forget to check out our website for news about our upcoming guests or to listen to past interviews in our "Archived Shows" section: as well as our host site for the best of the best in female muscle! 
I encourage you all to please, PLEASE take advantage of this opportunity.
BTW, next week's show will have Andrea Watson, aka The Figure Hobbit, just days before her much-anticipated pro debut at the 2010 Figure International at the Arnold.

25 Hours of Awareness, The Longest Workout Ever!

This weekend, a few brave men and women will attempt to do the unthinkable for a great cause. Five top fitness athletes will attempt to break the record for the longest weight training workout ever. They will attempt to train continually for a unheard of 25 HOURS STRAIGHT!!!!! WOWZA!! But it's for a good cause, as all money raised will go toward local and global charities. Below is the press release for the historical and inspirational event:

25 Hours of Awareness, The Longest Workout Ever! Will be held from 4:00 p.m. February 26th to 5:00 p.m. February 27th

The event is a public awareness campaign and fundraiser for Red Cross-Haiti Relief Florida Blood Services, LifeLink Foundation, and Orphanage Relief

Five elite athletes (four elite NPC athletes and one IFFB Professional) will attempt to break the world record for the longest weight training workout ever by training continually for over 25 hours. The current world record is held by a group of athletes from the Netherlands who on May 6th through May 7th, 2006 weight trained for 24 hours and 55 minutes.

The five athletes are: Brandie Gardner, International Federation of Bodybuilding Professional Figure champion and model. Dominic D’Agostino, University of South Florida, College of Medicine, Assistant Professor, and Mr. Team Universe competitor, Elaine Feldman, Certified Personal Trainer, multi-title bodybuilding/figure champion and Guinness Book of World Record Holder for the longest jump rope workout ever, Andrea Irick, Certified Personal Trainer, Ms. Tampa Bay Figure Champion, and Tom Toy, National Physique Committee State Judge and former Mr. Florida.

This goes to show you the dedication and drive some people will go to help their fellow man. The workout begins today at 4PM Eastern Time and will go on until 5PM tomorrow. If you are near the Florida area, come by the Anytime Fitness gym and cheer them on. Let them know that you support their cause. Also, donate to the cause as well with whatever you have. 

For more info, check out

On behalf of FitGems Nation, good luck to all of you!!! :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

2010 Arnold FitChat TOMORROW!

Tomorrow afternoon (at 4PM Eastern/3PM Central), FitGems Nation will sponsor the 2010 Arnold Womens FitChat. For this FitChat, we'll be discussing the Fitness International, Figure International, Ms. International, and the Arnold Amateur (Women's Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure, Bikini). In addition to the above, we'll be discussing the following:

* Predictions for each division
* How well the current Olympia champions will fare in the Arnold
* Who will have a breakout performance and break the "glass ceiling" Which pro debuts will be the most impressive
* Thoughts on why Pro Bikini didn't make the 2010 Arnold Sports Festival and was it or was it not the right decision and the announcement of Pro Bikini joining the Arnold in 2011
* And more!

As of this writing, there are no special guests, but don't be surprised if a Arnold competitor from the present or past stops by to chat for a bit about the Arnold.

Here's the link to the FitChat:

Please join us tomorrow at 4PM Eastern/3PM Central. Looking forward to seeing many of you at the FitChat! LESS THAN ONE WEEK AWAY FROM THE ARNOLD!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Song of the Week-Common "The People"

Here's the final Song of the Week dedicated to Black History Month, and it featured one of the top spoken word artists in Common. This song is deep and has a pretty good message around it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

2010 Phoenix Pro Coverage Review Part 2 (Hardbody News Interactive Live Chat)

When Isaac Hinds announced that he was going to try this interactive chat via, I'd thought that this would be very cool. Very innovative. Turns out, I was more than right on the subject. I seriously think that this will go down as one of the top innovative moves for the female physique industry for this upcoming decade. It was that awesome.

They tested it out on their way to the hotel. It was Isaac, Ron, Bree, and Bree's good buddy, the eventual 2010 Phoenix Pro runner-up, Amy O'Neil. Isaac mentioned that it would be as PG as it could be. HA! PG my a..uhh..butt! :) There were a few "enthusiastic" words during the fun trip, not knowing where they were, missing turns, etc. If only they could see how hard I was laughing at a few of things they were doing and saying. Tears were literally coming down my face, and people were looking at me like "What is this fool laughing at?" The test drive was cool. :)

I missed the night portion, when Isaac interviewed Stryker and Oksana. But I did look as their recored footage and it went pretty good.

I wasn't sure if they had coverage before or after the event, but I was able to catch them during breakfast. The Hardbody News/ gang had protein pancakes, among other things. There's no way I could eat what they ate yesterday. No way at all. BTW, this was done via IPhone, which I thought was awesome. Wonder if that can be done via Blackberry...will have to look into that.

The last thing they did (that I was aware of) was a photoshoot with Amy. She looked AWESOME, and definitely showed why she deserved the Olympia qualification. It was neat to see an actual photoshoot take place. I think a pic or two MIGHT be on Hardbody News in a matter of days, but I'm not too sure.

It was great to interact with Issac, Ron, Bree, and Amy this weekend during the Phoenix Pro, and depending on things go this week, I will either a) join the live chat on my computer during the Arnold or b) will try and find my way to BE on the chat. It depends on how this week ends up. I won't say anything else on the matter.

I'll end this by saying, that I hope this will be something that goes down in many shows this year and beyond. This lets fans get to know the industry better. I enjoyed it when I was on there, and I believe in my heart that this could go down as one of the most innovative female physique promotional tools this industry has seen in quite some time.

If you could, please bookmark this link for the Arnold and for future contests:

2010 Phoenix Pro Coverage Review Part 1 (Boards, Twitter, and Webcast)

I gave my thoughts on the actual competition, now I'm going to give my thoughts on the coverage of the competition. Reminder, I'm talking about the FEMALE part of the sport, not the MALE part.

Folks, you will not find another board that will provide live coverage for female physique sports better than Siouxcountry. You're just not. Up-to-the-minute coverage, photo and video links posted almost instantly, not to mention that since it's a board, you can post your opinions, thoughts, and observations about the show with ease.

Hardbody News (going by BBcomContests) did a fantactic job Twittering results instantly and keep people on the know for those that had Twitter. Between the sites, it was almost like you were there.

The webcast itself wasn't half bad at all, and to me well worth the 20 bucks. It didn't have the lag time that I was afraid was going to happen. The one thing that kinda bugged me was that it seemed a bit pixelated to me. But other than that, I'd thought it went off without a hitch. Personally, I hope more show webcasts are in the future.

There's one more part of coverage that I want to talk about, but I'll get to that in another post. And that is in regards to the Hardbody News Interactive Chat, which one word, INCREDIBLE. Wait 'til you read my review on this. :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

2010 Phoenix Pro Figure Results (Mindi Has Arrived; Amy Comes in at an All-Time Best; Rosa Finally Breaks Glass Ceiling)

When the list was released of competitors for the Phoenix Pro, Felicia Romero was the top favorite for a lot of people. Every bit of that changed the minute Mindi Smith stepped on stage. She walked on stage like she owned the joint, and judging by the perfect score from the judges, she did just that. She had everything perfect: Muscularity, poise, confidence, great suit color, nice tan, hair was in couldn't find one single flaw on her. With this win, Mindi becomes the first overall Figure Nationals winner EVER to win in their pro debut. Yes, not even the legendary Davana Medina pulled that feat off. J.M. Manion mentioned that on Siouxcountry, for those that wondered where I got that bit of info. Oh yeah, she's currently UNDEFEATED in her figure career, and yes, I'm including her NPC figure career in this. Imagine her going into her first Arnold and winning it?! Yes, she's that good, folks. Look for her to make a major impact at the Arnold and Olympia, and anywhere else she might end up competing in between now and then.

Amy O'Neil took runner-up honors in this big contest, with her best package to date. To me, everything was on point for Amy. With a little fine-tuning, she will be a big force to reckon with at the 2010 Figure Olympia.

Rosa Marie Romero finally broke the glass ceiling that's been over her head for some time, as she placed in 3rd. Maybe it's just me, but Rosa might have had the most elegant figure walk of all the figure competitors in Phoenix. Heck, she might just have THE most elegant figure walk of ANY figure competitor since Valerie Waugaman. Rosa has been improving show after show after show, and in 2010, at the Phoenix Pro, all the hard work finally paid off. Her reaction to her receiving her 3rd place award was almost the equivalent of her actually winning the Olympia.

Felicia wasn't at her best, but it was clear that she still made improvements to her physique that will benefit her heading into the Arnold. I really admired her confidence on stage, which is something you develop from several competitions under your belt. Funny thing happened during prejudging. At the one-piece prejudging, Felicia bowed a bit early, thinking the judging was over, which it wasn't. She laughed it off and took it in stride. Yes, despite goddess bodies, figure competitors are people, too. :)

Jodie Minear rounded off the top five with an impressive look as well. She seemed a bit different from when she was in the NPC, but the new look seemed to work, as she cracked the top 5 in her IFBB pro debut. Expect her to make even more noise in the near future.

Other noticeable things from figure:

Linda Fodor looked INCREDIBLE, especially considering that she is competing just a year after giving birth. That is impressive. Sabrina Gibson entered this contest under the guidance and wing of well-renowned trainer Kim Oddo, and it showed as she kicked off her year right with a top 10 finish. Ann Titone continues to make great strides in her physique and will be one to watch in 2010. Debbie Patton entered her first competition as a figure competitor after competing for some time as a bodybuilder, and it showed. She looked great, but was clearly too muscular for today's figure standards, and her placing showed it.

One person that many people were hoping would be in the top five mix but didn't even crack the top ten was Monica Mark-Escalante. I LOVE this woman to death, and despite her showing this weekend, I still say she is among the future of this sport. But she didn't bring it in Phoenix. She's been better..much better. During the Hardbody News Interactive Chat this morning (which I will talk more about later this week), I asked who didn't bring it, and Monica was the clear answer. He mentioned that she was a bit sick, but didn't drop out, which was (to me) very brave of her. Expect her to make her "Mark" at the Arnold, as she will rest up and aim to turn away any possible critics and proved to them why she's among the newest figure stars. For those wondering, I think Monica is gonna wow people at the Arnold. Got a gut feeling about it. :)

Questions, concerns, complains on this report or the placings? Leave a comment below.


1. Mindi Smith*
2. Amy O'Neil*
3. Rosa Maria Romero*
4. Felicia Romero
5. Jodie Minear
6. Angela Terlesky
7. Listy Allen
8. Linda Fodor
9. Crystal Chiles
10. Sabrina Gibson
11. Taylor Waldrop
12. Mendi Sakamoto
13. Ann Titone
14. Jaime Meade
15. Kathleen Tesori
16. Karen Mullarkey
17. Monica Mark
18. Lynn Cimmino
18. Lydia Haskell
18. Jennifer Herdandez
18. Debbie Patton
18. Chaundra Tanji
18. Tina White

*-Qualified for the 2010 Figure Olympia

2010 Phoenix Pro Fitness Results (Julie Pulls Off Minor Upset; Tanji Makes MJ Proud; Camala Is Olympia Bound In Pro Debut)

Before the Pheonix Pro, fitness got the most attention, and for all the wrong yet needed reasons. There was (at one point) ONE official name on the list. But after some spoken (and very heated) words from a few of the top industry movers and shakers, the official number went up to eight. These eight competitors made for one heck of a night for the fitness division.

When the list was finalized, the favorite to win was the 2009 Fitness Olympia runner-up, Tanji Johnson. But when the smoked cleared, it was Julie Palmer that stood the tallest. Julie clearly won the physique round (to me, at least), so as long as she nailed a good routine, she was just about locked in as a winner. The judges thought she nailed it enough to get the win. Expect Julie to try and up her game in Columbus, as she will have home-field advantage.

Tanji Johnson's physique might not have been at its best, but her routine was arguably the most entertaining of the bunch, and no, I'm not saying that because it was based on the late, great King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Many were surprised that she was the runner-up.

Camala Rodriquez ,in her pro debut, made her pro career case well known by taking 3rd place honors, with a nicely-structured physique and decent routine. She became a pro last year during the Jr. Nationals, where she won her class and the overall title in fitness. Now she prepares for the Arnold where she will no doubt make another case again.

The person that many people thought would get a Olympia qualification was Oksana Grishina. She had a great routine, which was the second best routine of the night, according the judges. But her physique (according to the judges) was maybe a tad too hard compared to Camela, who was a full 10 points better than Oksana. I'm no judge, and can only judged by what I saw by pictures and on the webcast. For the record, I thought Oksana was great.

Brigdette Murray rounded out the top five with her best showing to date. She was softer than previous years, but it worked to her advantage, and she had a pretty nice routine as well. If she keeps this up, she will be going places in fitness.

Nita Marquez placed sixth with a nice physique (probably a tad too hard for judges liking) and incredible strength for someone her size in the routine round. Yenny Polanco (7th) and Stefanie Bambrough (8th) rounded off the competition, tying for last place in the physique rounds with Yenny over Stefanie in the routine round by quite a margin. To me, the fitness women came to play and hopefully more will represent in the year ahead.

Questions, concerns, complains on this report or the placings? Leave a comment below.


1. Julie Palmer*
2. Tanji Johnson*
3. Camala Rodriguez*
4. Oksana Grishina
5. Bridgette Murray-Ward
6. Nita Marquez
7. Yenny Polanco
8. Stefanie Bambrough

*-Qualified for the 2010 Fitness Olympia

2010 Phoenix Pro Female Bodybuilding Results (Yaxeni is Queen; Betty is Ageless; Zoa Makes a Statement)

Yaxeni Oriquen kicks off the 2010 female bodybuilding season on a high note with a win at the first-ever Phoenix Pro show and a major statement heading into the 2010 Arnold. She had it all: muscularity, detail, and charisma. As Yaxeni is a multiple Ms. International champion, expect her to take this win and build some momentum heading into Columbus in less than two weeks.

Betty Parsio, the ageless competitor, took the runner-up spot and also make a strong case for the Arnold. It seems like the older she gets, the better she gets. Fun fact by Jason Lan (Siouxcountry), both Yaxeni and Betty have combined to compete in over 70 pro shows!! That is absoultely insane!

While Yaxeni and Betty were very impressive, it was the person that took 3rd place that is getting a lot of praise, and it considered by many to becoming the next big thing in women's bodybuilding: Zoa Linsay. She won the 2009 North American Overall Women's Bodybuilding title and has been a favorite in Siouxcountry for quite some time. Many predicted big things from her after she won her pro card, due to not only being a talented competitor, but she's someone who deeply cares about the SPORT of women's bodybuilding. When she was not called for 5th or 4th place, Zoa was beaming, as she knew one thing without question: She was 2010 Olympia bound. As someone's who's a big fan of hers, she definitely deserved the honor of competing among the best in the world.

Jeannie Paparone and Dena Westerfield rounded out the top five, respectively at 4th and 5th place. Both ladies were great, but maybe needed a bit more mass to keep up the the top three. Colette Nelson placed 6th, Antoinette Thompson and Diana Stanback both tied for 7th, Gayle Moher was 9th, Akila Pervis was 10th, Myriam Bustamente was 11th, and Maria del Carmen Segura was dead last. From what I've heard and saw, Aklia was a tad too soft for her pro debut, and Maria carries a LOT of muscle on her, but unlike those such as Zoa, Heather Armbrust, and Iris Kyle (who carry a lot of muscle), her muscle doesn't flow, thus hurting her in the placings. If she can adjust it, then she could cause some serious damage in the pro circuit.

Questions, concerns, complains on this report or the placings? Leave a comment below.


1. Yaxeni Oriquen*
2. Betty Pariso*
3. Zoa Linsey*
4. Jeannie Paparone
5. Dena Westerfield
6. Colette Nelson
7. Antoinette Thompson - Tie
7. Diana Stanback - Tie
9. Gayle Moher
10. Akila Pervis
11. Myriam Bustamente
12. Maria del Carmen Segura

*-Qualified for 2010 Ms. Olympia

Monday, February 15, 2010

2010 Phoenix Pro Coverage

As you all know, the 2010 IFBB season officially kicks off this weekend with the Phoenix Pro Show. Many sites will be providing live coverage of the show.

Hardbody News
RX Muscle
Muscular Development

In addition to all this, Isaac Hinds of Hardbody News will be interviewing several competitors this weekend during the Phoenix Pro.What should you expect? Interactive interview and quite possibly photo shoots. An innovative way to kick off the 2010 IFBB season. Yes, I'll be on to participate in this under FitGemsNation. You can join in on the fun by clicking here.

If you want to view the show via webcast, you can...for a price of $20. With the new breed of competitors in figure, a VERY competitive fitness line-up, and 12 top female bodybuilders, not to mention the men's part of the show, I think it will be worth the money. Yes, I'm aware that you can watch the Arnold AND Olympia for FREE, but when you think about it $20 isn't all that bad to watch the prejudging AND finals. People are paying a WHOLE lot more just to be there. You can view and purchase the webcast here.

To everyone that's competing at the Phoenix Pro, best of luck to everyone! :)

Song of the Week-Usher "More"

Continuing with the Black History Month theme, here's Usher with his new hit "More". This was used for the NBA All-Star Weekend, which was viewed as one of the biggest All-Star Weekends in NBA history (Over 108,000 in attendance!) BTW, this is the DJ Michael Studios version.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

To ALL Fitness Competitors...TIME TO SPEAK UP!!!

The first pro show of the year (Phoenix Pro) is merely a few days away, as as of right now, there are only FOUR fitness competitors for the pro fitness part of the show. What the deuce, people?! I don't get it. If this keeps up, fitness might just be a thing of the past, and there are some who won't take NO for an answer.

J.M. Manion has thrown down the challenge. He made it on Siouxcountry, Issac posted it on Hardbody News and now I'm posting this message:

I also want to throw this out to any & all IFBB Pro Fitness competitors – anybody that wants to contribute an article(s) to the NPC News about NPC and/or IFBB Fitness, please let me know. The door is open. And remember to keep it positive. This is to help promote the sport & bring it back to its former glory.
J.M. Manion
Chief Photographer/Journalist NPC News

As a supporter of this industry, I highly encourage for all IFBB Fitness Pros to take what J.M. had to say and do something about it. It's clear that many within the industry doesn't want fitness to die. I sure as hell don't. The fitness division is what made me a fan of the entire female physique sport in the first place. As a matter of fact, don't be surprised if the FitGems Nation gets involved somehow in how to help keep fitness from becoming nothing more than a footnote in IFBB and NPC history.

For those interested, here's what I wrote on the state of fitness around 2008:

Let me stress this very carefully. I'm no fitness competitor, I have no clue what the fitness competitors go through to prepare for a show, so I'm speaking as a person who LOVES the fitness division and doesn't want to see it fall. To all IFBB and NPC Fitness competitors, take a stand and don't let yourselves be the end of the fitness division as we know it!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2010 FitGems Sponsorship Update

As of this writing, there are 23 competitors who are vying for the 2010 FitGems Sponsorship.You can view everyone that is competing by clicking here.

What does the winner of the 2010 FitGems Sponsorship get? As of February 10, the sponsorship package consists of the following:

*A MINIMUM of $225 USD towards the contest of your choosing (updated on February 4, 2010), paid via PayPal (yes, I upped the prize money by $25 from the last update)
*A entire page dedicated to the winner on both EFBBN and FitGems Nation
*Your own website (if you don't have one already) or MySpace/Blogger layout (if you have one) created by Kirk Ashley of Imageworks Jamacia

Also, just for participating, each competitor in the sponsorship contest will have their own Yahoo fan group created by Eldor of EBBFN.

Not bad for a first time, huh? Well, it's not too late to contribute nor its it too late to enter.You have until the end of February to enter, and for those that want to contribute to the sponsorship, you also have until the end of February. Click here to learn how you can contribute to the sponsorship, or you can always contact me via email. Put on the subject line "SPONSORSHIP CONTRIBUTION"

How will the winner be chosen? By a secret panel that will be chosen over the next few days. They will be checking to make sure each competitor is meeting the requirements and will chose who they feel is the one that deserves the sponsorship. No one will know who will be voting other than myself. I will have no say in the matter of who will win. The winner will be announced sometime during Arnold Weekend. Besides the winner herself, I'll make the announcment first via Twitter.

I think I covered everything. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at Please put on the subject line "2010 SPONSORSHIP".

Good luck to everyone!!!

2010 Arnold Competitor Interview: Monica-Mark Escalante

The Arnold is just around the corner, and one of the rookies that plans on making a statement, or should I say a "Mark", on the Figure International front is Monica Mark-Escalante. Monica won the 2007 Ironman Figure competition and was deemed by many to be a future IFBB Pro. Now entering her first year competing as a pro, she will now get her opportunity to compete amongst the best in the world. Despite getting ready for two shows in the span of only a couple of weeks, Monica was gracious enough to grant FitGems an interview prior to her Arnold debut and her pro debut in less than two weeks at the Phoenix Pro.

FitGems Nation: You are making your pro debut at the Figure International in a few weeks! How does it feel to make your pro debut in one of the biggest shows of the year?
Monica Mark-Escalante: I will be making my pro debut at the Phoenix Pro on Feb 20. The irony is that the first show I ever did was in Phoenix. That means my first show as an amateur and a pro will both have been in Phoenix.

(Yeah, should have checked on the whole pro debut thing, my bad.)

(Monica winning 2007 Ironman Figure-Picture from Muscular Development)

FitGems: In 2007, you won the Ironman Pro Figure and was dubbed a future IFBB Figure Pro. Two years later, the dream became a reality when you won the Team Universe. Can you describe how it felt to finally call yourself a pro?
Monica: Turning pro in 2009 was a dream come true. Since I was 18 years old, I wanted to be a pro figure competitor. To finally accomplish that feat after all that time is an awesome feeling.

FitGems: In 2007 and 2008, you competed with a somewhat hard look, yet last year, you came in softer and apparently it did the trick.  What changes did you make in your training between 2007 and now, and what changes (if any) do you plan to make as you enter the IFBB?
Monica: In 2007 and 2008, I came in harder than I did in 2009. During the 2009 prep period, I scaled back my cardio (relative to the previous 2 years), slightly increased my healthy fat consumption, and decreased the intensity/volume of my weight training. I also did not carb deplete/carb load in the days prior to the show; this helped me stay relatively softer come the pre-judging. These changes helped me to produce the physique that eventually helped me to capture the pro card.

FitGems: What is the ideal figure look to you? There are a lot of opinions out there.
Monica: In my opinion, my ideal figure is similar to the look I brought to the 2007 USA’s in Las Vegas. I came in well conditioned, tight, and fairly hard but still did not have any freaky striations on my body. I was also slightly more muscular as compared to the 2009 look. In my opinion, however, nice curves with good symmetry and proportion are the keys to winning physique.

FitGems: You look like a Hollywood starlet? Is Hollywood in your future (or at least a TV gig?) LOL.
Monica: I am flattered that you think I look like a Hollywood starlet, but I have never really thought much about becoming a TV star. I guess if Jillian (the trainer from the Biggest Loser) ever moves on, I might want to try out for her spot…hahaha.

(Monica's ideal figure look from 2007 USAs-Picture from Muscular Development)

FitGems: What changes (if any) do you expect with figure now that the bikini division has survived its first full year?
Monica: I don’t believe that many changes will take place in figure despite the new bikini division. Bikini and figure already have their own unique looks that differentiate the two classes. I just hope that figure does not eventually start to fade out like the “Fitness” division has over the years.

FitGems: What changes (if any) would you like to see in figure, or any of the female divisions for that matter?
Monica: Now that the bikini division is here, I would like to see figure winners to be able to come in well conditioned, tight, and fairly hard with a decent amount of muscle mass. Other than that, I don’t really see any changes I would personally make in the female divisions.

FitGems: I know you’re stoked to be on stage with Monica Brant, who’ve you mentioned is your idol. What does that mean to you, to have her as a competitor in your Arnold debut?
Monica: Being on stage next to Monica Brant will be one of the highlights of my career. I have admired her physique and her career over the years, so competing with her is a true honor.

FitGems: Where do you see yourself ranked at the Arnold? Top 10? Top 6? Dare I say…winner!? (I mean, we ARE guaranteed a new champion with the reigning champ Zivile Raudoniene in WWE)
Monica: I don’t like to make any predictions about my placing in shows. I do, however, set goals for myself. My ultimate goal is to win the Arnold, but I realize that I will be on stage with some of the best Figure competitors of the world. Cracking the top 5 at the Arnold would be a great place to start.

FitGems: Where do you rank the Arnold competition with the rest of the figure contests of the year, including the Olympia?
Monica: I rank the Arnold and the Olympia as the two most prestigious competitions a competitor can ever compete in. The women that compete at these events are all true champions and they have earned their right to be on that stage.

(A newly refined Monica @ 2009 USAs-Picture from Muscular Development)

FitGems: I heard through the grapevine (more specifically, Juan Carlos Lopez) that you are pretty strong in the gym. Is that true?
Monica: I think I know the story you heard about me being strong in the gym. I can’t really deny that I am fairly strong. I like to train hard, so through the years I would say that I have acquired a good amount of strength.

FitGems: What is one thing that most fans may not know about you?
Monica: The things most fans may not know about me is that I’m pretty shy. Sure I like to stand on stage and be behind the camera, but put me in a room full of strangers and I feel somewhat uncomfortable.

FitGems: Do you have any special talents (Oh yeah, as Mr. Brown of Meet the Browns would say, “NOTHING NASTY!!” Keep it clean as crystal. LOL.  )
Monica: My special talents lie in the kitchen. I’m a creative cook and love to make healthy meals that don’t taste like “diet” food.

FitGems: After the Arnold, what plans do you have for 2010, as well as plans for your pro figure career?
Monica: After the Phoenix pro and the Arnold, I hope I get a qualification for the Olympia so I can focus on preparing for that and perhaps some shows around the Olympia. If I don’t qualify in Phoenix or at the Arnold, then I will probably try to qualify for the Olympia at the California Pro in May. As far as my figure career, I hope I can inspire others to be the best they can be on and off the stage. I would like to do more fitness modeling and eventually maybe co-author a book on fitness with my husband.

FitGems: Do you have any closing words for your fellow competitors and fans that will be seeing you at the Arnold in March?
Monica: My closing words for my fellow competitors at the Arnold are “keep training hard so we can bring an awesome lineup for the show.” As for my fans, I want to say thank you for your support.

FitGems: Where can fans reach you? Do you have a MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.?
Monica: My fans can reach me via my website at My face page is up for now along with my contact info as the site is still under construction. It should be finished soon. I am also on Myspace and Facebook.

(Welcome to the IFBB, Monica!!)
picture from RxMuscle

Thank you Monica for taking the time to do this interview, and on behalf of the FitGems Nation, we wish you the very best of luck in your pro debut in Pheonix and your Arnold debut in Columbus!

Song of the Week-Busta Rhymes feat. Linkin Park "We Made It"

This song is somewhat of a combination of Black History Month and a celebration of the New Orleans Saints's first ever Super Bowl title. I just listened to this song and like the beat and the overall message of it, which is simply..."We Made It". Good song and great collaboration by Busta Rhymes and Linkin Park.

Monday, February 8, 2010

New Blog Layout!

Noticed anything different about the blog?! :)

Yes, the FitGems blog has been given a completely new makeover. It's got a different futuristic feel to it, don't you think?!

A BIG, BIG thanks to Kirk Ashley of Sexy FBB Wallpapers for the new design and layout.

Do you like it? Hate it? Feel indifferent about it? Let us know in the comments below. As always, I appreciate any and all feedback, positive and negative.

Friday, February 5, 2010

FitGems Award Winners and Award Show Replay

Congrats to everyone that won in the 1st-Ever FitGems Awards!

Pro Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Betty Parsio

Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Heather Mae French

Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Adela Garcia

Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Suzanne Germano

Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Debra Lavette

Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Victoria Larvie

Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Rebecca Staggs

Breakout Pro Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Debi Laszewski

Breakout Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Ava Cowan

Breakout Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Nicole Duncan

Breakout Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Suzanne Germano

Breakout Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Ava Cowan

Breakout Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Stacy Wright

Breakout Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Ali Sonoma

The One to Watch in 2010 in...

Pro Female Bodybuilders
Isabelle Turell

Pro Figure Competitors
Ava Cowan

Pro Fitness Competitors
Victoria Larvie

Pro Bikini Competitors
Stacey Oster

Amateur Female Bodybuilders
Suzanne Germano

Amateur Figure Competitors
Skye Fisher

Amateur Fitness Competitors
Stacy Wright

Amateur Bikini Competitors
Sherrie Carnicle

Female Physique Misc.

Competitor Who You Would Love to See Return To the Stage in 2010
Lisa Reed (fitness)

Female Competitor Site of the Year
Monica Brant (

NPC Show of the Year
Jr. Nationals

IFBB Show of the Year

Female Physique Site of the Year

Photographer of the Year
Issac Hinds

Blogger of the Year
Issac Hinds (Hardbody News)

Supporter of the Year
Sioux (Jason Lan)

Supplement Company of the Year
Optimum Nutrition

In addition to these awards, 3X Figure International and 2X Figure Olympia Jenny Lynn received the Legendary FitGem Award for her major contributions to the IFBB and NPC and the emergence of IFBB and NPC figure.

Check out the historical awards show FitChat below:

Thanks once again to everyone that participated in one of the most influental events in FitGems Nation history!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Song of the Week-Nelly "Heart of a Champion"

In honor of Black History Month, each Song of the Week will be from a black artist. I hope everyone from ALL races will enjoy the selections for this month.

I'm kicking this off with Nelly, one of my favorite rappers, with one of his coolest tunes, "Heart of a Champion" It's a banger, yet inspirational as well, if you listen to the lyrics. You've probably have heard this song in a few basketball games.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Poll Results for January 2010 and New Polls for February 2010

Thanks once again for the great response to the Poll of the Month. Last month, I asked: Which division will stand out the best in the NPC and IFBB in 2010? Figure won with 35% of your votes, followed VERY closely by women's bodybuilding with 31%, then bikini with 22%, and fitness with 11%. It will be interesting to see if this will be true for the year 2010.

This month, I have three polls, and all three have to do with the Arnold. I'm basically asking who will win what division. The polls usually close at the very end of the month, but this time, I'm going to make an exception. They will actually close on March 4th, on the day the Arnold begins. Choose carefully! Results will be revealed on March 4th. The time that they will be revealed will depend on whether yours truly will be in Columbus or not.