Friday, July 22, 2011

Interview with Photographer Marc Thyssen

Photographers are a major part of this industry. Being a part of magazines and paysites are some of the ways of creating your own brand. Just training and competing isn't enough to be a top name in this industry. The photographers can make a major difference in how your career pans out.

Marc Thyssen is quickly becoming one of the top photographers in the business today. His huge FitHeat project during last year's Olympia was unbelievable in nay aspects. Next weekend, during the NPC USAs, he plans to take it up a notch with Fitness Supermodel Weekend at the Moorea Beach Pool at Mandalay Bay. It's a two-day event (Saturday July 30th and Saturday July 31th) with some of the biggest names in the business, including Adela Garcia, Nicole Wilkins, Felicia Romero, and Christine Pomponio-Pate, among others (Talent subject to change, of course). Marc was gracious enough to take time out of his busy prep for this event to conduct an interview with FitGems.

Marc Thyssen himself
Photo credit: Steve Beyer Productions

FitGems Nation: May you begin by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Marc Thyssen: I love travel and have been to 37 countries, visited the majority on my own too. Exotic places, people, food and culture inspire me. As does embracing diversity in every form, which comes from my parents as my mother was born in Madras, India & my father in the South of Holland. Music has been very important to me as my work as a DJ has enabled me to live & travel around the world. Photography also is now playing an important role for me especially in the USA.

FitGems: You’re from Austraila. How did you you find your way to the United States?
Marc: Had visited a few times for holidays but only in 2007 did I take on the challenge to move over to Vegas and try my hand at making a business and life here. With no work organized, no family here or friends it wasn’t easy. But I’m not someone who gives up easily & I think the USA is the place to make your mark in this world in many fields especially mine. America is such an inspiring place.

FitGems: How did you get into photography in the first place?
Marc: My love for travel first inspired me to take photos since my first trip to Europe at 19. My Dutch born father’s love for travel inspired me wanting to travel from a early age. With time I had the confidence and courage to change focus from landscape to focus on people as subjects.

FitGems: How did you get interested in FITNESS photography?
Marc: I had my first Fitness photo shoots with a couple of models, Christina Lindley & Elaine Seth in Miami back in 2003. From my work and the models compliments on it, I knew that it was an area I had a talent for. I remember shooting film back then and using a totally manual camera too.

FitGems: How long have you been in photography?
Marc: Professionally I’ve been shooting since those first shoots in Miami in 2003, so 8 years. But shooting in total for over 15 years. I’ve only been living in the USA since 2007, so 4 years in the USA.

FitGems: In your honest opinion, what’s the most satisfying thing about being a photographer?
Marc: Making people smile. Creating a work of art with a bare minimum of computer manipulation. Too many photographers go to far these days and their subjects look little like the models they shot. That’s not my style, I look to Master Photographers for inspiration and even a guy like David LaChapelle who used to heavily edit his images & has used much less Photoshop in recent years. Australian Photographer Russell James is an inspiring guy, for his work, style and more.

FitGems: Last year during the 2010 Olympia weekend, you hosted a Superstar event of epic proportions with some of the biggest names in the industry (Monica Brant, Christine Pomponio-Pate, Heather Mae French, Myriam Capes, Mindi O’Brien, Krissy Chin, only to name a few) called FitHeat. How in the world were you able to pull off such a major event, and what inspired you to create FitHeat?
Marc: It wasn’t easy. But I know that Vegas is the place to provide a crossover market for the Fitness arena. Here in Vegas people, regular people live in the gym to look great at a pool. So why not capitalize on that and show them athletes at a pool, who are at the top of the sport in the World! Athletes that can inspire all of us.

FitGems: With the success of FitHeat 2010, will we see a repeat of FitHeat during this year’s Olympia?
Marc: Yes, Planet Muscle will again be partner on it too.

Christine Pomponio-Pate (left) and Monica Brant (right) at 2010 FitHeat event. Christine is scheduled to be part of next weekend's Fitness Supermodel Weekend (Photo credit: GUIDENG)

FitGems: Next weekend (during the NPC USAs in Las Vegas), you are hosting a Fitness Supermodel WEEKEND, with a major line-up that includes NINE competitors from past/present Olympias! For those attending, what can people expect from this event?
Marc: It will be again be at Moorea beach, like last years FitHeat, however the pace will be more relaxed with shooting over two days. Expect more interaction between the athletes and the crowd, giveaways and autograph signings. This event will also be filmed for DVD and it will be a surprise where the photos will be featured. Cant reveal that yet! Last years FitHeat was too hectic for me, I was too busy to really enjoy it!

FitGems: From everyone you’ve photographed, who has been your absolute favorite competitor/model to shoot with thus far in your career?
Marc: Hard for me to pick an absolute favorite but shooting Christine Pomponio, at FitHeat last year then again later in the evening one on one was a lot of fun & something I had been looking forward to for a long time. And that Christine drove all the way down just for it & didn’t compete in 2010 but looked like she should’ve been on the Olympia stage when we shot is a credit to her.

FitGems: How important do you feel is social media in the fitness industry, from a photographer’s standpoint?
Marc: Very important, unless you are already a Master Photographer like Annie Leibovitz and have a job shooting for Vanity fair, Nat Geo, SI and the like. For us mere mortals it’s a great way to get out there and get our work seen by many people. I always dreamed of shooting for Nat Geo but then again I am my own boss and I shoot the most beautiful women in the World. Not so bad hey?

FitGems: In addition to photography, you also have a knack for being a DJ. How did that come up?
Marc: Was my first part time job in High school and something I stuck with through completing college and studying abroad in London when I was 24. Not many 24 year olds are blessed enough to study in London whilst DJing to support themselves after already DJing Spain for 2 months the same year. Little wonder I kept to DJing for years afterwards and then onto running nightclubs in Melbourne, Australia after completing my Business degree. But when I hit 30 I knew I wanted something else to be my primary focus, and voila, Photography. And now, event planning also :)

FitGems: What advice would you give to others that would like to do photography one day?
Marc: Practice, shoot nature & still life until you are confident with your camera in manual mode, Then find your niche, network and strive for what you dream and believe will make you most happy in Photography.

FitGems: How can people contact you for more about your work (Twitter, email, website, Facebook, etc.)?
Marc: (Official Website) (Twitter) (Facebook)

For more about Marc's Fitness Supermodel Weekend, you can check out this link on Facebook. Again, thank you Marc for taking the time to do an interview with us!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

EXCLUSIVE Interview with Brittany Beede

Last year, fans of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) were introduced to a Diva who described herself as three simple words: Sexy, Strong, and Unstoppable. Her name is Brittany Beede, although most WWE fans will know her as Jamie Keyes. Whether she was ring announcing on Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) and WWE NXT Season 2 or kicking butt in the ring and competitions during NXT Season 3, Jamie seemed to find a way to get the attention of many of the WWE Universe. She's been gone from the WWE since October 2010 and has since begun to help people reach their fitness goals and begin her own journey into becoming one the next top fitness celebrities. Although her schedule is as busy as ever without WWE, Brittany was kind and gracious enough to conduct this interview with us.

All pictures used in this interview were provided by Brittany herself and are property of the original companies.

Original source: Body by Brazil

FitGems Nation: May you start off by telling a little bit about yourself?
Brittany Beede: I'm Brittany Beede, 26 years old, and blessed to be born and raised in the beautiful city of Sarasota, Florida!:) I found my passion for the fitness lifestyle at a very young age. I was extremely active growing up, taking part in every sport I was able and was very serious about my 11 years as a cheerleader! I have always liked challenges and when I saw there was a wrestling school in Tampa (FCW) I enrolled with the goal to make it in the WWE. Lucky for me I achieved that goal and after a short time training in the WWE developmental program I was on TV as Jamie Keyes.

FitGems: We’re gonna get the wrestling questions out of the way. First up…what made you become a fan of pro wrestling in the first place?
Brittany: My dad was always a fan of wrestling! I grew up watching it on t.v. with him and attended a few local shows. He was very supportive and proud when I expressed my interest in becoming a diva myself.

FitGems: How did you begin your wrestling career, and how did you end up in WWE?
Brittany: As I stated earlier, I attended FCW's wrestling school before being hired with the company. I was actually attending nursing school at the time. I began training to be a wrestler (sports entertainer!) under the leadership of Steve Kiern and Norman Smiley. I actually drove over an hour, the day of the first class, and was greeted by the Celtic warrior himself, Sheamus! I wasn't hired immediately after completing the school, but with persistence and drive I was given my opportunity! I made the move to Tampa, Florida and ended up on the road after only a month!

FitGems: You were brought into WWE as the announcer for Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) and WWE NXT Season 2 and eventually became a Rookie Diva on NXT Season 3, going by the name Jamie Keyes. What did you enjoy about each of your roles while being a part of the company?
Brittany: I think wrestling fans are incredible! Being able to perform live and impact audiences in sold-out arenas as both an announcer and a wrestler was a tremendous opportunity and blessing!

FitGems: During your time in the company, did you learn any new workout tips that helped you out when it came to training?
Brittany: We were given the privilege of being trained by WWE's incredible strength coach, Rob MacIntyre. Through his knowledge and expertise I learned the importance and benefits of the power lifts and Olympic lifts. I still look to his mastery when planning my own Booty camp group classes.:)

FitGems: I gotta be real with you…I thought WWE didn’t do enough to push your character during your time, and from what I gathered from others, they feel the same way. Were you the least bit surprised that you were the first person eliminated on NXT Season 3?
Brittany: Not at all! What I think people don’t realize is how quickly I was put on the road. I was only in developmental for a few months. I didn’t have as much time to train once I was hosting. Then all of a sudden I was on NXT. I was honored but overwhelmed. The other girls were much more experienced than I was. I was lucky to even be there. I am honored to have fans that feel differently but the truth is I felt my inexperience was apparent.

FitGems: And now the million dollar question, in your own words…What (at the time) was the reason (or reasons) you decided that WWE’s just not for you right now? In other words, what’s the REAL story behind your release?
Brittany: Ha ha. I wish I had a scandalous story for you! There is no story really. As I said in the previous answer I hadn’t been there long before I had been put on the road. It is hard to imagine how tough the WWE schedule is until you do it. I joined the WWE because I was a fan, and wanted to promote the fitness lifestyle. However, after being with the company for a while I learned I loved fitness more than wrestling. Everyone treated me great. I loved the people. I loved the opportunities. I didn’t have any fights backstage or anything interesting to talk about. I just felt I could pursue a career helping others with health and fitness that would be more fulfilling to me.

FitGems: Since your time in WWE, you have shifted gears towards fitness, which has been your main focus from the beginning. How did you get involved in fitness in the first place?
Brittany: Like I stated previously, my adoration for the fitness lifestyle was apparent at a very young age. I participated in countless extra curricular activities and began teaching group fitness classes while attending nursing school and continued through wrestling school. Even with the tedious schedule on the road with WWE I always made my workouts a top priority. It's something that I take very seriously and will carry with me for the remainder of my life!

FitGems: Let’s be honest…from your recent pics, you look like you can step on stage and hold your own in a physique competition. Do you actually see yourself competing one day?
Brittany: I have no interest in competing. I stay in shape for me and because I truly love working out.

FitGems: What is your favorite kind of workout to do?
Brittany: My workouts constantly change, but there is nothing like lifting heavy weights at fast speeds over your head or the feeling after completing a long run! I like to do it all! I want to be known as the girl who knew her limitations only because she consistently challenged them. I want to look back at my life and have no regrets! If I am capable, I will attempt it!

Original source: Lift Studios/Hardbody

FitGems: When your website ( was launched, many WWE personalities went to Twitter and put you over, including Natalya, Chris Jericho, and Joey Styles. Did you expect some of the WWE people to do that, and how did it make you feel?
Brittany: I felt very honored! WWE is successful because of every single person involved! Everyone from the cooks to Mr. McMahon himself were welcoming, supportive and encouraging during my entire career with the company.
It's an incredible feeling to have been given the opportunity to work side by side with such talent and prestige!

FitGems: How important do you think fitness modeling is for the fitness industry? Some competitors just work out and compete and that’s all we ever see them is in competitions.
Brittany: I am certainly not an expert on the industry but I think in the world of women’s fitness, there is more of a differential between competing and modeling. Competitive male bodybuilders sell men's magazines. Fitness models sell women’s magazines. They don’t necessarily have to compete. The people who buy these things don’t really know who won the fitness Olympia. They just want to see a hot, fit girl. So I see no problem if someone just wants to compete. There is not a shortage of fitness models.

FitGems: What magazine would you like to be on the cover of someday?
Brittany: I'd love to be on the cover of Oxygen! I love what they stand for and have had a subscription for years!

FitGems: If you were not in fitness, what would you be doing right now?
Brittany: Wishing I was!

FitGems: What advice would you give to people who want to start living healthy lifestyles?
Brittany: I would tell them that it's a process, yet something that will be the most positive, life-altering decision they will ever make. Fitness and making smart decisions with nutrition is not easy! If it were, every person would be healthy and fit. I don't believe that anything worth it is ever comes without a tremendous amount of passion, dedication and hard work! Set your mind to be ready for the change and be consistent!

Oh…here’s the OTHER one million dollar question all former wrestlers are asked…is there a chance that one day you might be back in WWE?
Brittany: Never say never.

FitGems: What are your future plans in the fitness industry, and where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Brittany: My goal is to continue to be a personal trainer, life coach, and source of inspiration to each and every person that I am able. Fitness has changed my life in so many incredible ways, and I plan to share my revelation with as many people as possible by empowering them to live positive, healthy, happy lifestyles, through proper diet and exercise.
Of course I will always continue the challenge of refining my own physique and lifestyle to be the best I can be!

FitGems: How can your fans connect with you and contact you if they want to know your upcoming plans or want to book you for future endorsements, commercials, print work, etc. (website, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?
Brittany: Other than, please contact me through Facebook and twitter! Here are the links!:)
Official Facebook fan page:

Original source: Body by Brazil

Again, huge thanks to Brittany for doing this interview with us! In addition to the links she provided, she writes for this very blog periodically, so be on the lookout for more articles from Brittany in the very near future. Hope you all enjoyed this special interview, and to all wrestling news sites, if you plan on reposting the interview by parts or in full, please credit FitGems Nation. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

More on Jenny Worth's Fitness Return This Weekend

This weekend, IFBB Fitness Legend Jenny Worth will be making her return to the stage as a guest poser during the 2011 Southern States Championships! We posted a blog post about her return here a few weeks ago, and now we have more details to reveal about her return to the fitness stage.

The show will start at 7PM Eastern time, with her appearance taking place around 9pm July 8th. Below is the location of the show and where and who to contact for tickets and more information about the Southern States:
800 NE 8th Street
phone: 954.763.2718 - email:

From FitGems Nation, we send our best wishes to Jenny in her return to the stage and hopes this could lead to bigger things in the future! We'll do our best to get an interview with her after her guest performance. No guarantees, though.

For more on Jenny, visit her website at and visit her Yahoo fan club at, and "like" Jenny Worth Fitness on Facebook.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

FitGems to have Hall of Fame

For those that might or might not know, I proposed an idea on the Facebook fan page about possibly doing a Hall of Fame to honor competitors of the past. The response was a definite YES, so thanks to you, we ARE going to do a Hall of Fame. The way it's going to be done is a select panel of competitors and industry members will send in the top 10 competitors they would like to be seen in the Hall of Fame in order, and write down ONE fitness celebrity that has contribute to women's fitness (that's NEVER BEEN a competitor). Here's how the scoring will be:

Whoever they list first will get 10 points, 2nd will get 9 points, 3rd 8 points, 4th 7 points, 5th 6 points, 6th five points, 7th 4 points, 8th 3 points, 9th 2 points, 10th 1 point. The 7 ladies with the highest point total will be put into the Hall of Fame. For the fitness celebrity, it will be the person whose mentioned the most by the panel. In the event of a tie, there will be a run-off vote.

Who is eligible to be in the FitGems Hall of Fame?
  1. This is a FEMALE COMPETIORS Hall of Fame, meaning no guys (at least not right now)
  2. The competitor(s) must either have competed for at least a decade or total of 10 years OR she has retired and its been at least 5-10 years since their last competition.
  3. They can be from any federation, even ones from the past
  4. We ask that if the person is still competing, that they have to competed at least 10 years. 
  5. The inductees can be living or deceased. 

The FitGems Hall of Fame Class of 2011 will be revealed the weekend BEFORE the 2011 Olympia. This is not being created as a joke, this is something that I wanted to do to celebrate and honor the past competitors. Who would you like to see be inducted this year? If you follow us on Twitter, use the hashtag #fitgemshalloffame when you send us your suggestions. If you are on our Facebook page, leave a comment in the discussion panel. 

Good luck to all competitors! :)