Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2013 Arnold Shake-Ups Continue

Earlier this year, we mentioned that Nicole Wilkins would sit out the 2013 Arnold so she could focus on the 2013 Olympia. News has broken out over the last few days that will no doubt change the landscape of the Arnold on the female side of things. Adela Garcia announced on her Facebook page that she would be sitting out the Arnold as well, making room for a new Fitness International Champion, the first since 2010. It has also been mentioned via the popular board Siouxcountry that Iris Kyle and Sonia Gonzales might be sitting out as well. This means all but one champion will NOT be defending her title in 2013, and that's Yaxeni Qriquen, who became Fitness International Champion in 2012 after Iris sat out this year due to an injury. 

Bottom line, this news can be summed up as simple as this: Arnold 2013....Game. Changer.

Although the list hasn't been made public yet, the fact that defending champions and top names are OUT of the 2013 Arnold makes next year's event one of the most-interesting events of 2013 right off the bat. For fitness, Oksana Grishina looks to be the favorite to win her first Fitness International title, but Myriam Capes and Tina Durkin are coming off great years in 2012 as well. For figure, Erin Stern being the defending Figure Olympia champion is an automatic favorite, but Candice Keene, Ava Cowan, and quite possibly Candice Lewis and Camala Rodgriquez will make sure Erin's journey to her first Figure International title won't be an easy one. For bikini, Nathalia Melo will have the current Olympia champions advantage, but Nicole Nagrani will have the former Bikini International advantage, and India Paulino is coming off a great 2012, so expect her to be in the bikini mix. As mentioned earlier, Yaxeni will be the only one to defend her title (unless something changes on that, then the FBB field is DEFINITELY wide-open), but Debi Laszewski has been chopping at the bit waiting to get that big win that many people feel she deserved for quite some time. And Alina Popa has shown she can hang with the top girls as well. 

Which division do you think will have the biggest shake-up at the Arnold? One thing is for sure...interesting times are ahead for the women's side of the sport in 2013. Will the 2013 Arnold be the "passing of the torch"? Time will tell...

4th Annual FitGems Awards...IT'S TIME TO VOTE!

First and foremost, thank you all for the nominations for this year's awards!

The nominations are in for this year's awards, and the ballot is ready for you to vote for your favorites. A few changes have been made to the categories, from some omitted and some added in. As mentioned before, whatever did not get enough was filled in by how well competitors did and were presented in 2012. It was not easy to do, as so many of you had banner years this year. All voting will take place on MisterPoll this year. No email votes, no Twitter, no Facebook, just Mister Poll. It makes things much simple and also gives everyone equal footing when it comes to getting votes, as momentum can turn on a dime at any given moment. Vote however many times you can until January 1st. Winners will be announced early January.

In addition to the categories, there is one big new award this year, the Robert Kennedy Woman of the Year award. This goes to the fitness competitor/personality that had the most impact on the industry in 2012. This award is named in honor of Robert Kennedy, who passed away early this year after losing his battle with cancer. Every female is eligible for this award. At the bottom, you have to type in the name of the person you think deserves that honor. ONLY ONE NAME PER VOTE FOR THIS CATEGORY. MULTIPLE NAMES WILL MAKE YOUR BALLOT NULL AND VOID.

The link to vote is here: http://www.misterpoll.com/polls/572112.

Please share this link with everyone you know. The more you share the link, the better your chances are of winning. While you can't vote via social media, you can promote is via your fan pages on Facebook, Twitter, Tout, Tumblr, message boards, and even your own websites/blogs. If you are on Twitter, use the hashtag #4thAnnualFitGemsAwards to discuss the awards and to promote yourself if you are nominated.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Masters Olympia for Women (FitGems Version)

2012 marks the return of the Masters Olympia. There will also be Fitness, Figure, and Bikini as part of the Miami Pro. The masters' part is just for men's bodybuilding, though. While it's awesome to see some of the former top dogs competing in a "Who's Who" of legendary male competitors, it would be just as nice to see the Masters Olympia aim for the women of the sports.

Who would compete it it you ask? I'm sure there are various opinions out there, but our version would consist of a women's bodybuilding, fitness, and figure portion. Neither bikini or women's physique has been around long enough yet to have a Masters Olympia, so we'll hold off on that for a bit. The women that would be eligible to compete would be any lady that competed in any Olympia or Arnold up until 2010 that is in their late 30s and beyond. Hey, this IS a Masters Olympia we're talking about. Can't have any young guns (in age) for this show! In fact, we have even created a line-up of competitors that would fit the bill easily:

Ms. Masters Olympia
1. Lenda Murray
2. Vickie Gates
3. Betty Parsio
4. Denise Masino
5. Dayana Cadeau
6. Juliette Bergman
7. Desiree Ellis
8. Kim Chizevesky
9. Valentina Chepiga
10. Yaxeni Oriquen
11. Lisa Aukland
12. Bonnie Priest

Ms. Masters Fitness Olympia
1. Susie Curry
2. Jenny Worth
3. Jenny Hendershott
4. Kim Scheideler
5. Julie Childs
6. Julie Palmer
7. Tracey Greenwood
8. Mia Finnegan
9. Carol Semple
10. Mary Yockey
11. Heidi Sullivan
12. Adela Garcia

Ms. Masters Figure Olympia
1. Davana Medina
2. Jenny Lynn
3. Christine Pomponio-Pate
4. Amber Littlejohn
5. Monica Brant
6. Mari Kudla
7. Jamie Franklin
8. Mary Elizabeth Lado
9. Jennifer Gates
10. Jane Awad
11. Latisha Wilder
12. Tara Scotti

12 competitors in each division to make it an even playing field. Prize money SHOULD be higher than usual. How much is up for debate.

What do you think? Is a Masters Olympia for the women a possibly, or is it out of the question? Let us know in the comments below or post your thoughts on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FitGemsNation.

Marc Thyssen's Gold Coast Photoshoots This Weekend

FitGems favorite Marc Thyssen is doing a Gold Coast photoshoot beginning December 2nd and going on through December 5th. There are literally a couple of photo shoot spots left (if they haven't been taken already), so if you're in the area, get in contact with Marc at marc@marcthyssen.com to see about getting a photoshoot with him! Best images have a chance to be featured in Inside Fitness Magazine Australia, which is one of the top fitness magazines in Austraila. If you just want to contact him for a future shoot, I highly recommend you do that. He does nice work!

Sample collage of Marc's work
Photo credit: His Facebook page

He has photographed some of the biggest names in the sport, including Monica Brant, Adela Garcia, Felicia Romero, Nicole Wiklins, Larissa Reis, Sabrina Taylor, Christine Pomponio, Sonia Gonzales, Monica Escalante, and more! He's also the creator of the now-famous FitHeat 2010 and wildly successful Fitness Supermodel Weekend in 2011, both taking place in Las Vegas. His website is http://www.marcthyssen.com and he's on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarcThyssenPhotography. Also check out our interview we did with Marc last year.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nicole Wilkins to Sit Out 2013 Figure International

Nicole Wilkins @ 2012 Figure International. She will sit out this contest in 2013, guaranteeing a new champion crowned.
Photo credit: Muscular Development

The Arnold list isn't out yet and won't be out for a good month or so, and already there's a major shake-up for one of the Arnold contest. Nicole Wilkins, the three-time and current Figure International champion, will sit out the 2013 Figure International show, putting on hold a possible record-breaking fourth Figure International title. Here's why Nicole decided to sit out the show next year, from her Facebook page:

For the past five years, the Monday after Thanksgiving always marks the first day of my prep for the Arnold Classic. But not this year - because, since 2008, I've decided to sit out the event. For the first time since I've been a pro, I'm going to give myself a longer offseason to make the improvements I feel are necessary to get my physique where I want it to be to hopefully win back the Figure Olympia title.  
For those of you who will be in Columbus, I will be too - just at the Met-Rx booth and not on stage. I'm sure it will be hard watching all of the other girls competing that weekend, but I know this is the right decision for me at this time. And I know I'll be back on the Arnold Classic Figure International stage in 2014 going for title No. 4! 
Thank you to Fitness Management Group (FMG), my trainer Kim Oddo and MET-Rx for supporting me with this decision. Here's to a great 2013!

This news is HUGE, as we will definitely be crowning one new champion at the Arnold next year. This no doubt makes the current Figure Olympia champion Erin Stern a odds-on favorite to win her first Figure International title. But then again, Candice Keene will be entering 2013 with a streak of her own after arguably the best year of her career. Ava Cowan is definitely one to consider in the Figure International title hunt, and quite possibly the fitness-turned-figure competitor Camala Rodriguez could shock the world and enter her first FIGURE International competition and emerge victorious.

It will definitely be interesting who will emerge at the new champion in 2013 whether it be those names mentioned above or someone else What will also be interesting to see is what kinds of improvements Nicole will make during her offseason. She can definitely bring it, as proved in 2011 at the Tournament of Champions when she wowed a lot of people with her lean and tight yet full and feminine physique, something most people didn't think was possible from Nicole. Imagine if she can pull that look off again.

Will we see a look similar to this from Nicole next year?
Photo credit: MuscleContest.com

We have full confidence when Nicole does return to the stage in 2013 (whether it be at the Olympia or sometime before), she will wow the audience again. We wish her best of luck in her offseason and on her road to regaining the Figure Olympia title in 2013! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Update on Wrestling's Fitness Knockouts

Last month, I made a post about how TNA Knockouts Rosita and Madison Rayne were making their fitness competition debuts this year. This past weekend, both ladies, as well as fellow former TNA Knockout Roxxi (real name Nicole Raczynski), made some serious waves in the fitness world, including one of them making a big case heading into one of the biggest events on the year this weekend.

Rosita and Roxxi competed in the WBFF New England this past weekend and BOTH ladies placed in the top ten in their divisions. Roxxi has been competing for quite a while, but this was Rosita's first fitness competition. Congrats to both ladies on their awesome performances at the WBFF New England.

Madison Rayne entered the Jenn Hendershott All Women's Weekend and Big Shott Classic and competed in bikini and placed 2nd in her class. Adding to her win a few months ago, she is riding a big wave of momentum entering the NPC Nationals this weekend. Should she place in the top two in her class, she will become an IFBB Pro, and will join a very elite class of people to be a top active wrestler AND a pro in the fitness world. 

Once again, we congrats all three ladies on a job well-done this past weekend and wish them all best of luck as they move ahead in their careers, on stage and in the ring! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nominate Your Favorites for the 4th Annual FitGems Awards!

Another year nearly over...which means it's time to chose who reigned supreme in the fitness world in 2012. The 4th Annual FitGems Awards will be another big event, but THIS TIME, all voting will take place on one site: MisterPoll. To all nominees, it will be crucial to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, etc) to get as many votes as you can.

How can you get involved? Nominate UP TO FIVE people for the following categories, with the top 6 names for each category to be put on the ballot. You don't have to nominate for each category, but it would be nice if you nominate for as many as you can. In the event there's not enough nominees for whatever reason for some of the categories, the remaining nominees will be chosen based upon their performance and popularity in regards to 2012.  With IFBB Women's Physique in the mix this year, there are a few new categories to add.


Pro Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year (NEW)
Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Amateur Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
International Female Bodybuilder of the Year (Pro or Amateur)
International Fitness Competitor of the Year (Pro or Amateur)
International Figure Competitor of the Year (Pro or Amateur)
International Bikini Competitor of the Year (Pro or Amateur)
International Women's Physique Competitor of the Year (Pro or Amateur)
Breakout Pro Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Breakout Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Breakout Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Breakout Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Breakout Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year (NEW)
Breakout Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Breakout Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Breakout Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Breakout Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Breakout Amateur Physique Competitor of the Year
Rookie Competitor of the Year (any division; must have competed starting in 2012)
Inspirational Competitor of the Year
Crossover Competitor of the Year (any competitor who competed in one division and switched to another THIS YEAR. Can be pro or amateur) (NEW)
Comeback of the Year
Favorite Fitness Routine of 2012 (must name competitor and show they did it in. Can be pro or amateur) (NEW)
Favorite Women's Bodybuilding Routine of 2012 (must name competitor and show they did it in. Can be pro or amateur) (NEW)
Favorite Women's Physique Routine of 2012 (must name competitor and show they did it in. Can be pro or amateur) (NEW)
Competitor Who You Would Love to See Return To the Stage in 2013
Fitness Personality of the Year (Model/Trainer/Spokesperson)
Moment of the Year (when certain people win a competition, return to the stage, retire, etc. This is for any federation and can be about any of the divisions)


NPC Show of the Year
IFBB Show of the Year
WBFF Show of the Year
Promoter of the Year
Organization of the Year
Female Physique Site of the Year (non-competitor) (NOTE: FitGems is NOT eligible due the fact that FitGems is running the contest)
Female Competitor Blog of the Year
Facebook Fan Page of the Year (Competitor/Fitness Personality)
Photographer of the Year
Blogger of the Year
Industry Blog of the Year (by a fan, industry member, company, etc.)
Industry Facebook Fan Page of the Year
Female Celebrity Muscle of the Year
Physique Paysite of the Year
Male Supporter of the Year (through shows, message boards, donations to competitors, etc.)
Female Supporter of the Year (through shows, message boards, donations to competitors, etc. Does not have to be a competitor) (NEW)
Female Competitor Site of the Year
Supplement Company of the Year
Team of the Year
Trainer of the Year

You can send your nominations through Twitter (http://twitter.com/fitgemsnation) using hashtag #FitGemsAwards2012, email your nominations (admin@fitgemsnation.net), or leave a comment on this post on our Facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/fitgemsnation). I'll also take your nominations through private messages (PMs) through the following message boards:

Siouxcountry (under cray17)
RxMuscle (under FitGems)
Muscular Development (under cray17)

You can nominate between now and Friday, November 30th Monday, December 10th. On Monday, December 3rd Tuesday, December 11th, check back on the blog and Facebook fan page for the official list of nominees. After that, voting will begin that same day and will last through the rest of December, with the winners announced sometime in mid-January.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Interview with IFPA Pro Amy Lescher

Amy Lescher is an IFPA competitor from Chesterfield, Missouri. She recently won her IFPA Open & 35+ Pro Cards and will be making her pro-debut sometime next year. Amy was kind enough to conduct this interview with us. BTW, IFPA stands for International Federation of Physique Athletes, and it's a natural bodybuilding organization.

Photos provided by Amy herself.

FitGems Nation: First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Amy Lescher: I am a 37 year old, wife and mother of 2 beautiful girls Sophie (9) and Stevie (2).  I am an IFPA Open and 35+ Pro.  I just earned my pro-cards and will be making my pro-debut in 2013.  I am a personal trainer and Pilates instructor and enjoy helping people achieve health and wellness in everyday of their life.

FitGems: How did you get involved in the fitness industry in the first place?
Amy: I grew up an athlete, including playing soccer on the collegiate level.  I have been a fitness instructor since I was 18 years old.  I have always loved the look of muscular, healthy looking women.

FitGems: What do you enjoy most about competing?
Amy: The desire to achieve things I never thought possible.  With the right diet, training, attitude and coaching, you can do wonders with your physique.

FitGems: Which do you feel is your greatest strength when training: cardio or weight-training?
Amy: I love lifting weights.  It gives me a sense of strength and accomplishment.

FitGems: What division do you compete in and what’s the best thing about competing in that division?
Amy: I compete in the Figure division.  The best thing about Figure is that you can have muscle, but still be feminine.

FitGems: If it was up to you, what would be one thing you would want to add in the division or take away from your division?
Amy: I would add the T-walk to be included in the scoring.  I feel that is part of the presentation and girls work so hard to perfect it, it should be counted.

FitGems: With the rise of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc,), how important do you feel it is for competitors to participate in it?
Amy: I think it is crucial to participate in social media if you want to touch as many people as possible and inspire others.

FitGems: Who (living or dead) do you look up to for inspiration, whether they are part of the fitness industry or not?
Amy: My fitness inspiration is Alex Ellis, IFPA Pro and Erin Stern, IFBB pro.  Both of these women exuded passion and health every single day.  They are both top athletes in there respective federations.  I have the honor and privilege to know and be coached by Alex personally and will be forever changed for the good, thanks to her.
My non-fitness inspiration…Gosh there are so many strong women in my life… but I would say my sister.  She is a special education teacher and gives herself daily to children with developmental and behavioral disorders.  She does it with honor and grace.  She is loving, kind and strong.

FitGems: If you weren’t part of the fitness industry, what would you be doing now?
Amy: There is no question; I will always be a part of the fitness industry!

FitGems: What (if anything) would you change about the fitness industry?
Amy: I can’t think of anything at this point.

FitGems: After competition, what do you plan to do to give back to the industry?
Amy: I like to give my knowledge and passion for exercise and Pilates to people on a daily basis. I feel inspiration and giving back are full circle…you get back  what you put out. I stay in touch with the most cutting edge fitness/nutrition experts and will always refer to others when something is out of my scope of knowledge and expertise.

FitGems: Any closing words for your fans and supporters?
Amy: I want to thank all my fans for their support.  I hope I can contribute inspiration and drive to your everyday life.  Remember…”The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary”-Vince Lombardi  Work hard, every day matters!

FitGems: How can fans contact you if they want to keep up with your career? (Facebook fan page, Twitter, email, website, blog, other social media outlet, etc.)
Amy: They can find me on Facebook under : IFPA PRO Amy Lescher

Again, we thank Amy for taking the time to conduct an interview with us, and we wish her best of luck competing as an IFPA Pro!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wrestling Knockouts Entering Fitness Competitions Next Month

Wrestling and fitness go together like peas and carrots (steamed, by the way). We have seen many names in women's wrestling come from a fitness modeling/competing background: Trish Stratus, Torrie Wilson, Lisa Marie Varon (Tara in TNA/Victoria in WWE), Sarita, Miss Tessmacher (Brooke Adams) and Brittany Beede (Jamie Keyes) to name a few. Now, it looks like the tides are turning a bit with current wrestlers ENTERING the fitness competition world.

Rosita aiming to be a WBFF Pro on November 3rd.
Photo credit: Impact Wrestling
Thea Trinidad (better known as Rosita in TNA/Impact Wrestling) will be looking to add WBFF Pro to her impressive list of accomplishments as the former Knockouts Tag Team Champion will be competing in the WBFF New England Championships on November 3rd.

Madison Rayne will aim to be a IFBB Pro at the NPC Nationals on November 9-10th
Photo credit: Impact Wrestling

In addition, Ashley Cabot (aka Madison Rayne, also of TNA/Impact Wrestling) will be competing in the NPC Nationals to attempt to become an IFBB Pro in the bikini division. She will be competing a week before the Nationals as well. Earlier this year, Madison competed in her first bikini competition and ended up winning the overall title, making her an odds-on favorite for Nationals right off the bat.

Will others make the jump in the near future? There are definitely others in the wrestling world that can enter physique competitions with the right training and guidance. We at FitGems Nation want to with both ladies the best of luck as they enter the fitness competition world. Just remember...no dropkicks allowed on stage! LOL. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

2012 Olympia, From the Judges' Table

On the NPC News Online website, the IFBB Women's Head Judge for the Olympia posted critiques of the top six in each of the divisions. After reading them do you agree?

Ms. Olympia

Fitness Olympia

Figure Olympia

Bikini Olympia

As I've mentioned sometime before, I think it's nice to see the NPC/IFBB post their critiques of the top competitors after a show. It gives competitors something to look at and study to make them better competitors. Will everyone agree? No, of course not, but that's the nature of the beast. This is a SUBJECTIVE sport, and honestly, when it comes to competing, you are only competing against yourself when you think about it. You can't control how others look, but you damn sure can control how YOU look.

To judge for yourself and see photos of the top six from each division, as well as every other competitor from the Olympia, go to http://www.npcnewsonline.com.

From Save Women's Fitness Now to The Fitness Athletes Network...Why The Change?

In 2010, I created Save Women's Fitness Now, a blog that was influenced by Siouxcountry's Let's Save NPC and IFBB Fitness thread that started around that time. This blog was created to help reignite the fire and passion that the fitness division had during its birth.

On the same board, a discussion was brought up about how to help bring more competitors into the fitness division. An idea was brought up about having a place where people can view fitness routines. To the best of my knowledge, there wasn't a place specifically created for that...until now.

This year, I made the decision to revamp Save Women's Fitness Now, and turn it into the Fitness Athletes Network, expanding from just being a blog to a complete social network, including an official website,Twitter account, a newly revamped blog, and eventually a Youtube account. The goal of the Fitness Athletes Network is to help bring more competitors into the sport, as well as introduce the fitness division to aspiring competitors, and even high school and collegiate cheerleaders. The main site has clips of fitness routines from around the world from the National Physique Committee (NPC), International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB), Fitness Universe, and beyond, as well as from former organizations.

Below are the links to the Fitness Athletes Network. Bookmark them and spread the word! If you would like to donate any clips or want to help out with the Fitness Athletes Network in any way, please email me as save_fitness@yahoo.com

Main website: http://www.fitnessathletesnetwork.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/fitnessathletes
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fitnessathletesnetwork

And the blog's new address is http://fitnessathletesnetwork.blogspot.com.

Hope you enjoy the new facelift! :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bodybuilding.com to Provide Free 2012 Olympia Webcast

Not everyone can make it to Las Vegas for the Olympia, so Bodybuilding.com will once again provide the Olympia for free via webcast on their site. This has been done ever since 2006 (that year, it was a paid webcast. It became free the following year), and with the way viewing on the Internet has change since then (iPhone, iPad, Android, tablet), you can pretty much watch the Olympia from pratically any internet-enabled device you want to.

2011 Olympia Champions. Who will successfully retain their title in 2012?
Photo credit: Mr. Olympia website

Here's the press release from Bodybuilding.com:

Boise, ID – August 24, 2012 – Bodybuilding.com, the Internet’s most-visited bodybuilding and fitness site and largest online retailer of nutritional supplements, will once again offer a free worldwide webcast of Joe Weider’s 2012 Olympia Weekend, presented by MuscleTech.

With one of the best lineups of athletes in the contest’s 46-year history and more than $1 million in prize money, the 2012 Olympia is a must-see event. Thanks to the live webcast, everyone can tune in!
Bodybuilding.com will webcast live September 28-29, 2012, from the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada beginning at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time (9:30 ET) both Friday and Saturday nights.
The webcast kicks off Friday with an insightful pre-show discussion from industry expert Dr. Layne Norton and veteran bodybuilding commentator Larry Pepe. Training experts Neil Hill and Kris Gethin will also make cameo appearances to provide additional insight and commentary.
The competition begins with the beautiful ladies, featuring: Fitness Olympia, Ms. Olympia, and Bikini Olympia finals, followed by the Mr. Olympia Open Judging round.
Co-hosts Carla Sanchez (professional IFBB Fitness competitor and coach) and Dina Al-Sabah (professional IFBB Figure & Bikini Competitor and fitness model) will announce the women’s competitions.
The winners of the 2012 Bodybuilding.com Supplement Awards (24 different awards, including Brand of the Year, Supplement of the Year, etc.) will be announced during the webcasts. The Bodybuilding.com Supplement Awards have set the standard for recognition of the best products and brands in the fitness and supplement industry for the past eight years.
On Saturday, September 29th, the webcast coverage will culminate with bodybuilding’s biggest annual show: The Mr. Olympia Finals. Reigning champion Phil Heath will battle to defend his title against fierce challengers, including the formidable Kai Greene and the reigning Arnold Classic Champion, Branch Warren.
The Saturday coverage will also include the beautifully sculpted women of the Figure Olympia and the men’s 212 Showdown (men’s bodybuilding lighter weight division).
Stay tuned for details and more 2012 Olympia Weekend coverage available soon at Bodybuilding.com!
Bodybuilding.com offers more than 13,000+ health & fitness supplements and accessories to help more than 10 million people every month achieve their health, fitness and appearance goals, as well as more than 35,000 pages of FREE information, including more than 20,000 articles and videos, expert online trainers, and new content added daily!

With this being the first Olympia under the new guidelines (Olympia Qualification Series), expect history to be made in all of the divisions. This could make things very tough for Adela Garcia, Nicole Nagrani, Nicole Wilkins, and Iris Kyle in their title defenses. Who do YOU think will walk out with Olympia immortality next month? For those that can't be there live, the next best thing will be the free Bodybuilding.com webcast! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Interview with Stacy Wright

A fan favorite as well as a FitGems favorite, Stacy Wright seemed prime to become a pro fitness superstar during her days in the NPC. A few years ago, she became an IFBB Fitness Pro and has since become one of the top names in the sport with her routine and crowd-pleasing physique. She has recently been away from the stage for a bit, because she gave birth to her first child, Mason! While she is definitely enjoying motherhood, we expect to see Mrs. Wright step back on stage sooner than later. Stacy was gracious enough to do this interview for FitGems. (All photos were provided by Stacy herself.)

FitGems Nation: First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Stacy Wright: Hello! Thank you for the interview! I’m Stacy Wright. I’m 28 years old from Charleston, WV. I’m an IFBB Professional Fitness Competitor. I also work full time as a registered nurse and personal trainer. I have the greatest husband ever and next month we’ll be celebrating our 8 year anniversary! We are very excited about our new addition to our family, Mason. He was born in March and we couldn’t be happier!

FitGems: How did you get involved in the fitness industry in the first place?
Stacy: It all started with cheerleading in high school. We started training in the football gym and I was hooked! I had seen the girls in the muscle magazines and had always wanted to look like them. Once I started on that path, there was no looking back.

FitGems: What do you enjoy most about competing?
Stacy: The part I like most about competing is the journey of constantly challenging myself to do better and step up my game! Each show I try to bring in a better physique and routine. It’s an ongoing journey and I enjoy every step along the way!

FitGems: Which do you feel is your greatest strength when training: cardio or weight-training?
Stacy: Weight training by far. I love pushing my body, perfecting my form, seeing the change and shape of my muscles! It’s very empowering!

FitGems: Recently you had your first child. CONGRATS! How does it feel to be a mommy?
Stacy: It is the absolute best feeling in the world! Words cannot even begin to describe it! Mason is the best baby ever and is learning and growing every day! He’s truly amazing and definitely a miracle.

FitGems: How has your training been affected from when you competed without baby to post-pregnancy? Stacy: The main thing is that I can’t just get up and go to the gym. I either have to make sure the nursery is open so I can take him with me, or I have to coordinate schedules with my husband so he can keep him while I workout. So with that it just simply means we have to be much more organized. =) It was also a challenge in getting my fitness strength moves back. As my abdominal muscles were very stretched out, I didn’t realize how much core strength I’d lost. I had to relearn things like the pike and straddle hold from scratch. Thankfully there’s muscle memory and I have worked very hard and carefully to get those moves back without injuring myself.

Stacy, Andrew Wright, and the newest addition to the Wright family: Mason!

FitGems: Who (living or dead) do you look up to for inspiration, whether they are part of the fitness industry or not?
Stacy: I will say that Adela is an awesome inspiration and mentor to us fitness girls! She’s always there and makes time in her busy schedule to help us out in any way she can. A special Thank You to her for that!

FitGems:  If you weren’t part of the fitness industry, what would you be doing now?
Stacy: If I wasn’t a part of the competitive fitness industry, I would still be working out and living the lifestyle. It’s simply a part of me.

FitGems: What (if anything) would you change about the fitness industry?
Stacy: In the perfect world, it would be much cheaper to compete. =) That’s something that can’t be changed though, as we all need to make a living.

FitGems: What advice do you have for anyone wanting to get fit, especially mothers?
Stacy: Make the time to take care of yourself and set an example to your little ones of how to live a healthy lifestyle in an unhealthy world. If you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else. Just get organized, plan ahead, and make it happen!

FitGems: After competition, what do you plan to do to give back to the industry?
Stacy: I would love to continue judging shows and possibly have my own show here in West Virginia someday. I also plan to continue helping others prep for shows and being a mentor to those in the industry, as well as those just trying to improve their health and body.

FitGems: Any closing words for your fans and supporters?
Stacy: If you can dream it, you can do it! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.

FitGems: How can fans contact you if they want to keep up with your career? (Facebook fan page, Twitter, email, website, blog, other social media outlet, etc.)
Stacy: Absolutely! I love hearing from fans and fellow competitors! Feel free to contact me through any of these outlets. I have multiple ways to follow me or contact me. You can check out my website, facebook, and twitter pages at the links below.
www.StacyWright.net https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stacy-Wright-IFBB-Fitness-Pro/139081829444854 https://twitter.com/StacyDawnWright

Once again, we thank Stacy for taking the time to interview with us. We wish her all the success in the world on returning to the stage soon and on motherhood!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sheru Classic: Bigger Than Ever for 2012!

Last year, history was made in India as the first-ever IFBB event there took place shortly after the Olympia, which saw Nicole Wilkins capture that inargual title for figure. This year's Sheru Classic will take place once again after the Olympia (one week to be exact on October 6-7th). Nicole will look to defend her title this year against some very stiff competition, and this year, bikini will be added to the women's portion of the show. Here's the list of competitors for the event, which was made public today (this list will more than likely change as the event draws closer):

Figure (as of 6/26):

• Nicole Wilkins
• Erin Stern
• Heather Dees
• Candice Keene
• Felicia Romero
• Gennifer Strobo

Bikini (as of 6/26):

• Jaime Baird
• Dianna Dahlgren
• Sonia Gonzales
• Nathalia Melo
• Nicole Nagrani
• India Paulino

Source: http://www.musclesportmag.com/2012/06/26/2012-ifbb-sheru-classic-competitors-lists-announced-heath-vs-cutler-rematch/

The lists for both might be small, but looking at the list, all of them have won at least one show in the past couple of years, including the Arnold and Olympia. In addition to adding bikini (among a few other things), the event will have a bigger (and by that, I mean MUCH bigger) feel to it, all thanks to promoter Sheru Aangrish. Last year, it took place in Bollywood with about 1,100 people. This year, the contest will take place in India’s largest indoor venue, Indhira Ghandi, which has a capacity of 20,000.

20,000 people...for a bodybuilding event. Let's put that into perspective. Should this be a sell-out (and they are expecting it to be), this will be one of the largest (if not THE largest) gathering of fans for a bodybuilding show in IFBB history. This will beat the Olympia and Arnold crowds...COMBINED. We are pretty much talking about a typical WWE pay-per-view crowd (and that's a whole lot of people. Trust me, I know).

The way things are shaping, The Sheru Classic will be looking to make their sophomore year one to remember. As more news is made public, we will be keeping you all as updated as possible. For up-to-date news on the Sheru Classic, Like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SheruClassicFanpage and follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sheruclassic.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monica Brant: A DIFFERENT Kind of Olympian

Monica Brant has made a career in competing in many fitness/figure competitions. Some of her eventual first-ballot hall-of-fame career highlights will include her competing in multiple Olympias. Her biggest Olympia experience was, of course, winning the 1998 Fitness Olympia title.

Photo credit: Satio Photography

This Saturday, she enters a different kind of Olympian event...or should I say, OLYMPIC event. Monica is heading to Oregon to compete in the 2012 Olympic Trials! She will be competing in the Master's Women's 400m invitational on Saturday, June 30th. No word on if this will air on TV or not, but it it does, it will probably be on NBC, as that's where all Olympic events are being broadcast this summer. We have no doubt in our minds that Monica will show everyone why she is one of the fitness industry's primer athletes. 

We at FitGems Nation wish Monica best of luck, and we hope you all will as well!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Interview with Zlata Sushchik

Zlata Sushchik is an international competitor from Russia, now living in Alaska. In addition to being a competitor (She competes in bikini), she is a full-time student and procurement specialist for a oil company. In other words, don't you DARE call her an airhead! Trust me, after reading this interview, you will be able to tell that she's far from being one. (All photos were provided by Zlata herself.) 

FitGems Nation: First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Zlata Sushchik: My name is Zlata Sushchik. I was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. I made my big move towards the "american dream" about 7 years ago. I currently reside in the beautiful state of Alaska where i am a full time MBA student and a Procurement Specialist for a major oil company.

FitGems: How did you get involved in the fitness industry in the first place?
Zlata: I grew up playing piano and singing in a choir for over 8 years. This took up most of my childhood time that kids usually dedicate to sports. In fact my mom always used to say... and still does "sports are bad for you". It wasn't until high school when my friend asked "Hey, there this bodybuilding thing next month, want to compete with me?", i actually got into sports. To be honest, i didn't step foot on track or let alone the weight room until i was 16 years ago.  I am not sure if it was my lack of speaking english or if it really sounded fun at the time, i decided to do it. I dedicated whole SIX weeks of my life to the high school figure show. This is going to sound silly but that very show changed my life. Looking back it was probably one of the best decisions i've ever made. Needless to say, i did not win, i placed dead last. However, i received my trophy with a great sense of pride and accomplishment. After all, it was the most exercise i have ever gotten. I came back in 2007 and took the Overall High School Figure Champion title, i won 2007 NPC Crystal Cup Junior Figure DIvision shortly after.  Competing didn't necessarily become my life but it played a huge role in it.

After my first year of college, which i payed for myself, i decided that if i decide to continue my education i must get a scholarship. In 2008,  one of my friends, knowing my fitness background, asked me to help her get ready to compete in the upcoming Miss Alaska Pageant. Wow, i thought, how cool. Then she spoke the , oh so familiar words, "Its next month, want to compe with me?".... I know it wasn't the language barrier this time,  i said "YES". It sounded like a great opportunity to win a full ride scholarship to the university i've been attending and have fun! Obtaining the 2009 Miss Alaska Teen USA title was one of my best experiences since this is the largest pageant network in the world which is a part of the Miss Universe organization. I learned a lot!

I got back to competing in the NPC world when the Bikini Division was introduced. I had an amazing year in 2010 starting with NPC Heart of Alaska Bikini Champion Overall title, moved on to nationals and obtained 2010 NPC Collegiate Nationals Class B Champion title, place Top 3 at NPC USA, Top 5 at IFBB North Americans. Whew, what a year THAT was.... Being a full time student and working, my schedule was jam packed. Certainly learned a lot about time management and multitasking.

FitGems: What do you enjoy most about competing?
Zlata: I enjoy being fit, feeling fit and living the lifestyle. I made a major change in my life style probably about a year ago where i don't have an off season anymore. I used to live "show to show", have to "lose 10", fit my "27s"... I don't do that anymore, i wake up knowing that i am going to feel great for the rest of the day, my clothes will fit and i will be comfortable in my own skin. Being in the fitness industry a lot of women i know start having body image issues, that are associated with rapid weight loss or weight gain. In the locker room,  you will often hear "omg, im so fat", "i ate cake, have to work out now", "oh girl, i look (insert rude comment about yourself here)" and so on so forth. Yes, there is an off season, yes there are times where we don't feel our best. But it is not the reason to punish yourself with work outs and it sure isn't a reason to reward ourselves with food. Fitness is about not only looking great, but feeling great physically and mentally

FitGems: What do your friends and family think about competing?
Zlata: My family is Russia always gets really excited when i send competition photos or progress pictures. My dad was a former speed skater, he loves sports and loves what i do. I think he is the only one in the family who can see past the pretty picture. Mom, who lives here in the states, she still doesnt get it, but is EXTREMELY supportive. Present at every show, with her cute poster and a bouquet of flowers.

I try to surround myself with friends who are understanding and supportive of my lifestyle. They know about my busy schedule due to working a serious job and going to school and of course hours and hors at the gym. My friends are great! But it did take me some time to find those people and some of us who are just getting into fitness don't have the patient and understanding friends that i do... i am currently working on a article of how to overcome those issues with friends and family... we have ALL been there.

FitGems: Have others mistaken you for something of than a female physique athlete, like a softball player, volleyball player, MMA fighter, wrestler, etc.?
Zlata: Are you like a swimmer or something? Gymnast? Pageant girl (yes, pageant is a sport), distance runner?There have been lots of variation, last thing they guess is bikini division in the NPC organization =]

FitGems: If you weren’t part of the fitness industry, what would you be doing now?
Zlata: Good question, if i didn't do my first show in 2006 i probably would have never gotten into fitness or nutrition. I probably would be munching on chips or cookies at my desk at work.... Now i do that with protein cookies i make myself. I treat fitness and competing as a part of my wholesome lifestyle where i have my personal, education and career goals. Fitness is a way for me to manage busy schedule, relief stress and feel awesome!  I have always been very goal oriented. When i originally moved here i raced through my high school education.  Barely speaking english i managed to graduate a year early and get into college right away. I raced through my bachelors and jumped right into the Masters program. I've always had a very stable job and now work in a very exciting career field for a global oil company. My point here is, i would be doing the exact same thing but now it is so much more exciting because i have a hobby i am passionate about.
FitGems: Any closing words for your fans and supporters?
Zlata: Confucius - "It doesn't matter how slow you go, as long as you don't stop". This is my most favorite quote. If you don't succeed once, don't give up and keep going. If its not the greatest day at the gym, don't just leave, do something. If you didn't turn pro, try again. If you didn't place, come back looking better. You aren't competing for the judges, for the trainers, nutritionists and coaches, you are competing for yourself. Find what stimulates you most about the sport and have FUN!

FitGems: How can fans contact you if they want to keep up with your career? (Facebook fan page, Twitter, email, website, blog, other social media outlet, etc.)
Zlata: You can find me on www.facebook.com/ZlataSushchik or follow me on Twitter @akhotmess .... Yes, hot mess =]. I am also working on launching a website. Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Juliana Malacarne, IFBB Champion...FINALLY!

May 19, 2012
Tribecca Performing Arts Center
New York.

The day and place many female muscle fans claim that the IFBB "got it right".

Seven years of disappointment and despair meant nothing after one moment of triumph. On this day, the world would watch as a beautiful, muscular, feminine Brazilian competitor with a worldwide fan base that is just as big as (if not bigger than) the top-placed competitors in the world make her debut in a division that many pegged to be "tailor-made" for her. She would enter this show in the best she's looked since becoming an IFBB Pro. And unlike in the past...she was rewarded for it. Juliana Malacarne is the 2012 New York Pro Women's Physique Champion...and the fans (and many competitors) of the female muscle world rejoiced.

Photo credit: Muscular Development

While Juliana was a favorite to win by a good deal of people, let's not get it twisted that she was gonna win this thing easy. The line-up was STACKED with 28 other competitors, some of which we haven't heard from in quite some time. Some of the competitors included Dana Linn Bailey (the first women's physique pro), Debbie Barrable (formerly Leung, who has had twins prior to the New York Pro), Dayana Cadeau (former top bodybuilder), Marina Lopez (who has competed in every single pro women's physique event this year), and Jillian Reville (who, prior to this event, placed in the top three in her previous outings). There was no shortage of talent, so to beat them showed that Juliana was more than worth the hype and praise she's received from fans over the years.

While a great physique is needed to win a contest (the IFBB IS a physique federation after all), It's also about having that "it' factor. Something you can't develop in the gym, no matter how hard you try. You either have it or you don't. Juliana had "it" at the NY Pro. She is without a doubt the most muscular women's physique winner thus far, but like the other winners, she had that "it" factor that you just can't put into words. And as it's been preached over and over and over again...whoever presents the best package ON THAT DAY walks out the winner. It's hard to argue that point here when Juliana got a perfect score from EVERY JUDGE there. To do it on one of the biggest stages not named the Arnold or Olympia in the biggest women's physique line-up to date speaks volumes. Oh yeah...did I mentioned that one of those judges happened to be JIM MANION?! For those that don't know who he is, he is the chairman of the IFBB aka the head honco. Hmm...if THAT doesn't speak volumes, I don't know what does!

If this doesn't leave you speechless, do me a favor and check your pulse. (Photo credit: Muscular Development)

So...what does this mean for women's physique going forward with Juliana's win? Did we witness a game changer at the New York Pro? Every big sporting event has them: New England Patriots winning their first Super Bowl, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin joining the Los Angeles Clippers, CM Punk's infamous "pipebomb" speech on WWE. I can name more, but I think you get the point. There are still plenty more women's physique shows to go and we are not a full year into IFBB women's physique, but I have a feeling a statement was made. The standard (IMHO) will be set when the IFBB has Physique Olympia, which I hope will be in 2013. After this weekend, I have no doubt in my mind that Juliana will be part of that event. The question is now "Can Juliana have success in the IFBB?", it's now "How MUCH success will Juliana have?". At this point, the sky's the limit for her.

To Juliana Malacarne and her fans...you waited seven years for this moment. Take it in, drink it in, eat this up. If the New York Pro's any indication, there's plenty more where that came from.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

IFBB Pro's Unique Charity Game

It's always a great thing to see people think of others besides themselves. We didn't come into this world alone, so why should we have to ignore others who are struggling just to make it? Seeing people give back in the form of charities shows the world that that there are still good people left in the world. While people and celebrities give stuff away to specific charities, one of our own is doing things a bit different.

Credit to original poster

IFBB Pro Christine Pomponio-Pate loves to give back to others, but rather than choose a specific charity, she gives her fans the opportunity the choose the charity they want her to help. She dubs it a game called "Choose Your Charity". How does it work? You buy an item (any item) off of Christine's website (http://www.christinepomponio.com). That automatically puts you in the running for "Choose Your Chairty". Each month, a winner is chosen out of those who purchase from her website. Christine donates a portion of her earnings from her website to the charity of your choice! Those that have benefitted from this cool game include The Scleroderma Foundation, The Breast Cancer Foundation,Liguori Publications, The American Stroke Association, Prevent Child Abuse of America, DAV, Hearts United for Animals, and Childhood Disease Research Foundation. This is a win-win for everyone because you are helping others out in need, and all you have to do it buy an item from an IFBB legend (BTW, I heard she has a hot calendar out that I would recommend you take a look at. Just saying...).

For more on Christine and to visit her online shop, visit her website at http://www.christinepomponio.com and "like" her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChristinePomponio.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tribute to Robert Kennedy

Rest in peace, Bob. You will be missed...

I never got to meet the man in person, but I LOVED his work. In fact, it was his work that got me to loving the industry more and more. I've mentioned how the Fitness America Pageant made me a fan in the first place. HOWEVER, it was because of his work with Musclemag and Oxygen that I noticed on the newsstands before everyone else. While my family would be shopping for groceries, I would be looking at his magazines. Still do to this day. :)

As a WWE fan, I credit him for discovering quite possibly the most influential WWE Diva of this generation (and possibly of all time when it's all said and done), Trish Stratus. All fans of Trish should thank him for discovering the seven-time Divas Champion. I think without his insight to see something special in her, I honestly think the world would have never had the Golden Era of the WWE Divas Division. I really believe that.

But Trish isn't the only one that benefitted from Bob's visionary outlook. Countless others such as Cory Everson, Torrie Wilson, Victoria Pratt, and his wife Tosca Reno (among others) have seen their careers take to new heights thanks to Mr. Kennedy.

There's too much to name and mention right now, but I can tell you that a huge void has been made by his passing and it will be one that can never be replaced. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Robert Kennedy, as well as everyone who has been impacted by him. If you want to share your favorite memories of Robert, please leave them at http://www.rkpubs.com/bob/.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jenny Worth and Fitspacelive.com Present All-Collegiate Physique Event in October 2012

Hey there, college folks! You think you have the best body on campus? Who IS the best in the world...college world, that is? Jenny Worth and the Fitspacelive.com team want to find out. On October 19th and 20th, they will be putting on an all-collegiate physique event in Florida! Here's the official press release letter explaining more about it and how you can be a sponsor for it (and the benefits of being a sponsor).

Dear potential sponsor, 
We are proud to announce on October 19th and 20th 2012 we will be holding the 1st Annual NPC Fitspacelive.com/Jenny Worth All Collegiate Championships & Tallahassee Championships Bodybuilding-Fitness-Figure-Bikini and Men’s and Women’s Physique Show and Sports Expo! This event is sanctioned by the NPC Sanction # 11952 and will be a Level 4a open to the entire country for the collegiate divisions and only to Leon County and surrounding counties for the open division. 
This event will also be a qualifier for the 2013 Collegiate Nationals only , the top 3 from each class will qualify. It is through your sponsorship contributions that this show will grow in the coming years and successfully introduce the younger generation to the sport so that it can continue to grow. All Sponsorship contributions will go towards the hard costs incurred when putting on a show as well as directly into the scholarship fund. 
A scholarship donation will be presented to the school that the overall winners from each class attends. It will be noted on the website for the show that all scholarship donations were made possible through the generosity of our sponsors. Below you will find the different levels of sponsorships. 
Sponsorship Packages: 
The Red Shirt- $400 Includes Booth at Expo and HTML Banner on Show Website until the 2013 show 
Junior Varsity-$600 Includes Booth at Expo, Logo on Stage Banner, HTML Banner on Show Website until the 2013 show, Logo on T-shirt 
Varsity-$1000 Includes Booth at Expo, Logo on Stage Banner, HTML Banner on Show Website until the 2013 show, 4 months Ad space on Ftispacelive.com, product placement( supplement companies) Logo on T-shirt, Trophy Presenter 
Full Ride-$1500 Includes Booth at Expo, HTML Banner on Show Website until the 2013 show, 6 months Ad space on Ftispacelive.com, product placement in the store( supplement companies) Logo on T-shirt, Overall Trophy Presenter and Scholarship Check Presenter. 
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you ahead of time for your interest and generosity for this event. Without the younger generations in any sport there can be no sport. This event will assure the continued growth of the sport , by introducing younger competitors as well as first time competitors to a positive experience that will carry over in the years to come. 
Jason Giardino: Founder Fitspacelive.com
IFBB Fitness Pro Jenny Worth: Co-Founder Fitspacelive.com
As more information is released, I will pass this along to you all. Until then, follow Jenny Worth on Facebook, as well as Fitspacelive on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Olympia Qualification Series Announced

Just announced today, the IFBB is launching an Olympia Qualification Series! What the heck is that, you ask? Take a look at this:

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, March 13, 2012 - The IFBB Pro League, in conjunction with Joe Weider’s Olympia Weekend, announced the creation of the IFBB Pro Olympia Qualification Series, a points-based system that will help determine qualifiers for all six IFBB Pro Olympia divisions.

The IFBB Pro Olympia Qualification Series will award points to competitors placing in the top 2 to 5 of all Pro League events. At the end of the Olympia qualifying season, the five (5) competitors with the highest points totals in the IFBB Pro Olympia Qualification Series will qualify to compete at Olympia Weekend.

Since the winner of each competition automatically qualifies, no points will be awarded for first place. Additionally, competitors placing in the top 5 at the Olympia automatically qualify for the following year.

The IFBB Pro Olympia Qualification Series will be effective immediately, and point totals for all 2012 contests will be included.

“We think this is a great way to expand the number of Olympia qualifiers beyond those who win contests and to build excitement for all IFBB Pro League events throughout the course of the year,” IFBB Pro League Chairman Jim Manion said. “It ensures that the best of the best will be competing on the Olympia stage.”

Points and qualifications in the IFBB Pro Olympia Qualification Series will be awarded as follows:

2nd – 8 Points
3rd – 7 Points
4th – 6 Points
5th – 5 Points

2nd – 6 Points
3rd – 5 Points
4th – 4 Points
5th – 3 Points

2nd – 5 Points
3rd – 4 Points
4th – 3 Points
5th – 2 Points

2nd – 4 Points
3rd – 3 Points
4th – 2 Points
5th – 1 Point

To view the IFBB Pro Olympia Qualification Series standings, as well as the current qualifiers for Olympia weekend, click on the links below.

Men’s Bodybuilding 
212 Showdown
Women’s Bodybuilding
Any questions regarding IFBB Pro Olympia Qualification Series should be directed to the Olympia office via email at rchang@weiderpub.com.

Seriously...how freaking awesome is this!! This is effective immediately, so the importance of doing well in the St. Louis Pro and Australian Pro this weekend (as well as the remaining contest of 2012) just went up a BIG notch just like that. I have a feeling there's gonna be a few more competitors entering contests now with this new qualification series. Kudos to the IFBB on getting this together.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Why Competitors Need to Invest in Social Media and Social Media Advisors

Let's face it, people. We are in the age of social media, and this is going beyond the internet and making your own website. More and more people are using smartphones to keep up with news and posting their own news. Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Google Plus, Youtube...it's crazy how far social media has become over a short span of time. Crazy...but at the same time, not too surprising. It's quick, easy, and in many cases, FREE to use.

As you might have heard over and over and over (if you're a competitor reading this), just competing isn't good enough for you to get yourself notice. You need to get yourself out there and show off your brand. Bottom line, that's what it's come down to in order to make people see you as someone other than "that girl". There are too many of those in the industry as is.  You wonder why Monica Brant, Ava Cowan, Dana Linn Bailey, Erin Stern, and Nicole Wilkins (among others) as well are as big of names as they are? They do more than just compete, they put their "brand" out there for the world to see. They make others CARE about them. Jennifer Nicole Lee, Jamie Eason, and Brittany Beede don't compete, but they use social media to further advance their brand and are among the biggest names in fitness today, and a lot of it has to do with the power of social media.

But, some of you are probably wondering, "Uhh...I don't have the time to mess with that stuff". And quite frankly, most of you don't. You are too busy getting ready for competition and taking care of your own lives, which is very understanable. That why I suggest you find someone you can trust and enlist in getting a social media advisor, someone who can overlook your social media outlets while you go and do your thing. FitGems is currently working with IFBB Pro Christine Pomponio-Pate in furthering her brand by working on her Facebook fan page, Twitter account, and Youtube page.

Don't get this post twisted about social media awareness meaning the same thing as competition success, because it DOESN'T. You can have the most followers on Twitter, the most "likes" on Facebook, the most views on Youtube, etc, that doesn't mean squat when it comes to competition. All that matters then is what you bring to the stage ON THAT DAY (or that weekend). Social media just helps get your name around and will help you in your career, not guarantee you a title or in the top 5 of a contest. That's not happening. Keep that in mind.

If you are thinking about doing SOME form of social media (setting up a Facebook fan page, Twitter account, Youtube channel, blog, Tumblr, etc.), but need some assistance, email me at admin@fitgemsnation.net and I will help you out however I can.

Monday, March 5, 2012

2012 Bikini International Review: Tight Bikini Battle Sees New Champ in Sonia

10, 11, 12. That's how close the top three were in the 2012 Bikini International contest. With the scores that close, any of the top three could have made a strong case of being the winner. But in the end, the title went to Sonia Gonzales, the first-ever IFBB Bikini champion AND first-ever IFBB Ms. Bikini Olympia. India Paulino was right behind Sonia, and Nicole Nagrani, who entered the Arnold weekend as champion, placed 3rd. Not counting the Ms. International contest, Nicole was the only pro champion that entered the weekend and lost her title. This will only make her better in the long run, so expect a fierce Nicole Nagrani in the next contest she enters. The remainer of the top six were far behind the top three, but by no means did they look bad. Jamie Baird placed 4th, followed by fan favorite Nathalia Melo in 5th (many considered her placement a shocker), and Juliana Daniell in 6th.

Full results:

1. Sonia Gonzales
2. India Paulino
3. Nicole Nagrani
4. Jaime Baird
5. Nathalia Melo
6. Juliana Daniell
7. Diana Graham
8. Jessica Paxson
9. Candyce Graham
10. Monique Ricardo
11. Natalie Pennington
12. Jennifer Andrews
12. Lexi Kaufman
14. Christina Vargas
15. Tianna Ta
16. Jessica Jessie
16. Abigail Burrows
Justine Munro dropped out.

2012 Figure International Review: Nicole, 3X the Champ

For figure, 2012 began the way 2011 ended, who would be the better woman: Nicole Wilkins or Erin Stern? Well, much like how 2011 and 2010 began, 2012 began the same way...with Nicole Wilkins on top of the figure mountain. Nicole received a perfect score and won her 3rd straight Figure International title, tying with Jenny Lynn for most Figure International titles won. Should Nicole be in the Figure International next year, Nicole has the chance to cement her legacy as the winning-ist Figure International Champion of all time. If anyone can break the record, it's Nicole. Erin Stern has failed to best Nicole since the 2010 Figure Olympia, and that hasn't changed, as she came close, but no cigar. Candice Keene and Ava Cowan were neck and neck for 3rd and 4th place, but Candice beat Ava by one point to earn an Olympia qualification, along with Nicole and Erin. Heather Dees brought a great physique, placing her in 5th in her Arnold debut, and Teresa Anthony rounded out the top six in figure.

Full results:
1. Nicole Wilkins
2. Erin Stern
3. Candice Keene
4. Ava Cowan
5. Heather Dees
6. Teresa Anthony
7. Larissa Reis
 8. Cheryl Brown
 9. Gennifer Strobo
 10. Krissy Chin
 11. Jelena Abbou
 12. Latisha Wilder
 13. Sue Knott
 14. Raquel Hernandez
 15. Gloria Tarpley
 16. Alicia Harris

2012 Fitness International Review: Adela Makes History

Not to diss anyone, but it was pretty much a done deal as to who was going to win the 2012 Fitness International title, especially after prejudging. To the surprise of no one, Adela Garcia nabbed another win and in the process made history. Her 2012 Arnold win marked her thrid Arnold win in a row and her 5th overall Arnold fitness title, surpassing Susie Curry's record of 4 Arnold championships. The judges gave her a perfect score, but it was who placed 2nd that shocked a lot of people. Camala Rodriquez came out of nowhere and placed 2nd in both physique AND routine to nabbed runner-up honors. While there are many who thought Camala placing 2nd in physique was right, they stratched their heads when it came to placing 2nd in the routine round...ahead of Oksana and Myriam, who many thought had THE routines of the weekend. But that's not saying Camala's routine was bad by any means. In fact, with some fine-tuning, she could very well give Adela a run for her money at the Olympia later on this year. Oksana is seeming beginning to get the love she deserves from the IFBB judges, as she took 3rd place and an Olympia qualification. Bethany Cistemino placed 4th and is well on her way to becoming a MAJOR name in the fitness division. After being neck-and-neck with Adela for so long, Tanji placed 5th in another big shocker of the Arnold weekend. One has to wonder how Tanji will rebound from this setback. Myriam Capes rounded out the top 6, although many felt she could have placed higher, especially with her routine being one of the favorites coming out of the weekend.

Full results:

1. Adela Garcia
2. Camala Rodriguez
3. Oksana Grishina
4. Bethany Cisternino
5. Tanji Johnson
6. Myriam Capes
7. Kizzy Vaines
8. Tina Durkin
9. Danielle Ruban
10. Jodi Boam
11. Julie Palmer
12. Regiane Da Silva
13. Kayde Puckett
14. Allison Ethier
15. Sheri Vucick
16. Diana Paula-Monteiro

2012 Ms. International Review: Injury Creates Opportunity for Yaxeni

One of the biggest storylines heading into the 2012 Arnold Sports Festival was regarding who would be crowned the new Ms. International champion after hearing about Iris Kyle unable to compete due to a leg injury. There was no true clear-cut winner from what information I gathered over the weekend, but it seemed like the judges could have set a different tone, depending on the winner. Yaxeni Oriquen's size and conditioning (she nabbed a perfect score) was enough to capture the Ms. International title, making her the first woman not named Iris Kyle to win the title since 2008. Debi Laszewski put up a good fight, unaniously placing behind Yaxeni for 2nd place. Alina Popa was a big favorite amongst the boards, and one many people would have liked to see win. She placed 3rd. Only three points separated Alina and Cathy LeFrancois (who ended up placing 4th, yet actually tied with Alina in the Finals round). Kim Buck (5th) and Brigita Brezovac (6th) rounded out the top 6. With the new Olympia qualification rules in play, only Yaxeni, Debi, and Alina received 2012 Olympia qualificaions.

Full results:

1. Yaxeni Oriquen
2. Debi Laszewski
3. Alina Popa
4. Cathy LeFrancois
5. Kim Buck
6. Brigita Brezovac
7. Alevtina Goroshinskaya
8. Maria Rita Bello
9. Kim Perez
10. Monique Jones
11. Zoa Linsey
12. Maria Segura
13. Tina Chandler
14. Geraldine Morgan

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Interview with IFBB Bikini Pro Angela Leong

Angela Leong is an IFBB Bikini Pro who is part of the Bombshell Fitness team. One of the most promising bikini pros in the industry today, Angela was gracious enough to conduct an interview with us.

All images were provided by Angela herself and belong to their respective owners.

FitGems Nation: State your name and profession to the FitGems audience.
Angela Leong: My name is Angela Leong and I am an IFBB Bikini Pro Athlete.

FitGems: How did you get into the fitness industry in the first place?
Angela: Before I got into bodybuilding, I was a former tennis professional. Growing up, I trained in the gym all the time as a part of my training for tennis. I always loved training in the gym… sometimes more so than being on the tennis court. That was the part of training I enjoyed the most throughout my tennis career. After having to retire competing in tennis, I started coaching and training young juniors and to this day, I still do that. However, three years ago, I was at my lowest with regard to my health and fitness level. Starting up my tennis academy consumed all of my time and efforts and I neglected myself to a point where I was literally 30+lbs overweight. Yikes!!! I was the biggest I have been in my life. I was not at my best and I needed to make a change and start getting back to taking care of myself. For most of my life, I was always active and being inactive for 2 years straight took its toll on me mentally and physically. Thankfully, I chose to hire a trainer to force myself to be accountable to showing up at least 4 days a week to train. In April of 2009, I competed in my first show at the Emerald Cup in the new Bikini Division. I was introduced to the sport when my trainer suggested I train for one. Before officially deciding, I went to the Emerald Cup in 2008 and was in awe of the amazing physiques. Seeing the competitor’s fearlessness and confidence portrayed on stage was refreshing to me. From a spectator’s view, I found it fascinating to see them practically naked, being thoroughly examined from head to toe and rather than be intimidated, they were fearless. Seeing how the audience was so supportive, I made the decision then and there to commit to doing a competition. I knew the training and diet was going to be hard however, the biggest challenge for me was overcoming the fear of being on that stage.

FitGems: How’s a typical day in the life of Angela, and what (if anything) changes come time to prepare for a contest?
Angela: I wake up at 4am to get ready for work, have breakfast, head to Domination Fitness to train my 5:30am client. After all my appointments, I eat again and then head to ClubSport, Oregon to train myself. I will lift and do my first session of cardio afterward. I then head home, shower and eat again and work in the office for LTA, my tennis academy… I usually spend two to three hours in the office, eat again, then head to work to coach at the academy. I am on court from 3:00 to 9pm and in between I am eating and coaching. When work is over, depending on how close I am to contest, I will head by to ClubSport and do my second round of cardio. I will get home, shower, eat and go to bed. Pretty typical right? LOL!!!

FitGems: The bikini division has been around for a decent bit now. Do you think people are finally accepting it being part of a physique sport, or are the naysayers still outweighing the supporters (in your honest opinion)?
Angela: Oh yes, I feel people are definitely accepting the Bikini Division as being a real sport. Each year, the quality of competitors improves. It’s so obvious and you can see it plain as day. I just hope that it doesn’t get to a point where we are required to be way too conditioned and overly lean. This past year, I feel it was getting to that point and there were a few shows that rewarded it and a few that kept it as is should be. For example, at the Europa Supershow Dallas, the majority of the girls were way too conditioned and overly lean and the judges rewarded the curvier softer look that Bikini needs to be.

FitGems: With women’s physique now part of the NPC and IFBB, do you think there’s a division for every woman who wants to be part of the sport?
Angela: Yes absolutely. There is a division for all physique types now and it’s great!!!

FitGems: Who are your favorite people in the fitness industry, as far as who do you look up to the most?
Angela: I have to say that my coach Shannon Dey is my one of my favorite people that I look up to the most in this industry. From the very first time I met her, she impressed me with her class and her selflessness. Her passion to help women be the best they can be is intoxicating. She genuinely cares about every bombshell she works with and always encourages us to celebrate the accomplishments of one another and use each others victories to make a positive difference in the world. Shannon is the INSPIRATION to Team Bombshell’s success and I believe she has become an important ambassador to all women in the fitness community.

FitGems: The rules for Olympia qualifications have changed to make the event more prestigious to the industry. Already qualified, how do you feel about the changes?
Angela: Of course, it makes it even harder now to qualify, but how rewarding would it be to make it? You have to win a show to qualify. To win a show would be a dream and then to also get the Olympia invite. That would be an awesome accomplishment. That’s how I see it. It would literally be an epic accomplishment if that happened to me.

FitGems: Has anyone mistaken you for something OTHER than a bikini competitor?
Angela: To be honest, most people who are not in the industry don’t know what I am… they stare a lot and look me up and down… don’t know what they are thinking but some come to me and tell me I have an amazing body and what is it I do to get such a small waist. Or some just ask if I workout? Its funny but I am getting used to it.

FitGems: What advice do you give to those who want to pursue the fitness industry, especially women who are under the assumption that having muscles is manly (when there’s PLENTY of proof that it isn’t the case these days)?
Angela: I would tell any woman that lifting weights helps create a wonderful feminine body. Its such a misconception to think that weights make u manly. Having manly genetics make you manly haha. I often ask women what celebrity body do you admire? Most times they answer with women who have personal trainers and they lift weights regularly.

FitGems: What are your future plans in the industry? Going to the 2012 Bikini Olympia is obviously on the list!
Angela: Yes, I set goals all the time. A few of them include:
1)Working on getting more exposure in the fitness community.
2)Continually improving my physique and having it show each time I step out on stage.
3) Earn 2012 competition sponsorship
4)Win a pro show and qualify for the Olympia.
5)Get published features in my favorite fitness magazines (IronMan Magazine, M&F Hers, Oxygen, FitnessRX,)

FitGems: Any final words you want to share to the FitGems audience?
Angela: I just want to thank FitGems for the opportunity to interview. I love what you do for the promotion of our sport. I also wanted to thank all my friends, family, and all my fans that have followed my journey to becoming an IFBB pro. I truly do appreciate all your love, support, and kind words.

Once again, we want to thank Angela for taking the time to do this interview with us. For more on Angela, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter at ANGELAHLEONG.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Marc Thyssen @ Arnold 2012

One of the top rising stars in fitness photography, Marc Thyssen will be shooting at the 2012 Arnold! Within the last two years, he put together FitHeat and Fitness Supermodel Weekend, which were unprecedented in this industry. The list of names who have shot with him are no joke: Monica Brant, Christine Pomponio-Pate, Felicia Romero, Myriam Capes, Larissa Reis, Adela Garcia, Nicole Wilkins, Heather Dees, Sonia Gonzales, Rose-Marie Romero, Sabrina Taylor...just to name a few. He plans to take 2012 by storm, and you can be part of the action.

To book Marc, visit his website at http://www.marcthyssen.com/, or email him at marc@marcthyssen.com. You can also "like" him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marcthyssenphotography. Oh, by the way, you MIGHT want to make a decision this month if you want to save you a little money. If you put down a deposit before the end of the month, you will be booked at 2011 prices. Next month, the prices of shoots go up, so act early to save some cash! Tell Marc that FitGems sent you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Nicole Wilkins: Why 2011 Was Her Defining Year in IFBB Figure

In 2009, Nicole Wilkins climbed to the top of the IFBB Figure division by winning the Figure Olympia title, the biggest championship in figure. Obviously, this was a major win for her and a big win for the new faces of the division, but WOW...she got some serious flack on some message boards, even the most polite ones. Obviously, she had her supporters but her detractors. I think the problem was for some was that her look was seemingly (at the time) too small and not hard enough for figure. Some feel there were physiques out there better than hers. That, and the previous champions (Davana Medina, Jenny Lynn, and Jennifer Gates) came in pretty conditioned (size varied between the three, though) From what I saw online, fans weren't exactly too thrilled with the outcome of the 2009 Figure Olympia competition.

Nicole @ 2009 Figure Olympia
Photo credit: Muscular Development
She made a bit of improvements since then trying to show others that she deserves to be at the top of the figure world. While the changes were there ever-so-slightly, and there were some willing to embrace it, the detractors still outweighed the supporters. But everyone has their defining moment, that one moment where everyone (those for and against you) stands up and takes notice. That moment came at the 2011 Tournament of Champions when Nicole stepped on stage. Most people though she would be the favorite to win, but no one, not even yours truly, expected her to come in the way she did that day. I had to take a double take to make sure the woman was indeed Nicole Wilkins.

The Nicole Wilkins that shut the detractors up. 2011 Tournament of Champions
Photo credit: MuscleContest

She clearly added significant size, definittion, and cutness to her physique. I honestly don't know how many pounds of muscle she added since her 2009 Figure Olympia win, but it was clear as day that it was a nice amount. Add to her posing, beauty, and structure, and you got the ultimate figure machine. Nicole might have not been the woman people wanted to be the face of IFBB Figure back in 2009, but that has changed big time now. I'm not saying everyone has suddenly become a fan of hers, but others are starting to see Nicole as a rightful champion. If she keeps this up in 2012 and beyond, Nicole might want to start making room for more medals and trophies. Just saying.

An improved Nicole @ 2011 Figure Olympia
Photo credit: FitnessRx

What are YOUR thoughts on Nicole Wilkins? Did you think 2011 was the year she proved herself? Do you like THIS Nicole better than the old one? Sound off in the comments below.