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.

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


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 and follow them on Twitter at

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 or follow me on Twitter @akhotmess .... Yes, hot mess =]. I am also working on launching a website. Stay tuned!