Gabrielle was gracious enough to do an interview with us. Hope you enjoy it! (All photos belong to their original owners. Please support them.)
FitGems Nation: Thank you for wanting to be interviewed by us! Let's start off with telling us a little bit about yourself (name/occupation/how long you've been in the fitness industry, etc.)
Gabrielle Tongol: My name is Gabrielle Tongol, I am a 19 year old CBBF Nationally Qualified Figure Competitor. I started my fitness journey when I was 17 years old and have now competed in 3 shows since.
Aside from competing I am a full time student currently working towards getting my Business Administration Diploma, Majoring in Human Resources, Part-Time Private Nurse Assistant as well as a Part-Time Private Personal Trainer. Despite a busy work and school schedule fitness has become a huge part of my life. I am able to incorporate it into my hectic schedule and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Health and fitness is something that I take full pride and joy in and pour my heart and soul into and continuously promote and do what I can to help, motivate and support others while maintaining a positive, joyful and exciting mindset along the way.
Editor's Note: WOW!!! So much accomplished at an early age! And your excuses are?!?!
FG: How did you get involved in the fitness industry in the first place?
GT: I started off by following workout plans and diets off of bodybuilding.com then as my goal for my 18th birthday that year I decided to try and do my first fitness competition which was on October 12th, 2013 just 2 weeks after I turned 18. Despite the lack of focus, drive, determination and complications I encountered with my previous coach and health issues I faced (binge eating disorder), at that show, I placed 8th out 16 girls. Unsatisfied with my placing, however proud of simply making it onto that stage at only 18 years old, I was determined to take time off and work on my weak points (overall conditioning and muscle depth) and promised myself that I would not step on stage again until I was 110% ready mentally and physically. I trained hard and smart for a year and a bit and decided that I was ready to take things to the next level. Late January 2015 I reached out to my current coach, Darren Mehling with Freak Fitness and we worked together for 19 weeks to bring the best package possible for ABBA Southern Alberta Bodybuilding Championships on June 13, 2015. I was able to lose 20 pounds of fat and far surpassed my Muscle Beach 2013 package. At that show I won first place in Figure A Short class along with taking the Figure Overall title and which then qualified to compete at the Donna & Brian Logue Provincial Bodybuilding Championships two weeks later. At Provincials I was able to come in slightly better than my Southerns package and again, win first place in my Figure A class which has now qualified me for life to compete against all of Canada which now makes me a CBBF Nationally Qualified Figure Competitor. I plan on competing next July 2016 in hopes of winning my IFBB Pro Card, which would make me the youngest IFBB PRO in Canada.
FG: What do you enjoy most about competing and/or modeling?
GT: What I enjoy the most about competing is the challenges I am able to overcome and the endless possibilities there are out there that one can achieve with the right mindset. It’s truly a beautiful thing to see what we are able to do with our bodies when we take full control over our mind.
FG: Which do you feel is your greatest strength while training: cardio or weight-training?
GT: Weight-training for sure! I’ve always enjoyed training hard, heavy and SMART over cardio. I’ve never been much of a cardio person, however I do enjoy a great sweat session nonetheless!!
FG:What is the hardest thing you have had to deal with when it comes to the fitness industry?
GT: The hardest thing I’ve had to deal with when it comes to the fitness industry would be body image.
It’s definitely mentally challenging to see yourself go from the best shape in your life to a “normal” shape. By all means, it is NOT healthy to maintain a stage ready physique however there is body fat % that is maintainable, healthy and enough to add lean muscle mass but still feel confident in your own skin. I feel that the first few weeks/months into off-season can be way harder than the 16+ weeks of prepping for a show. Reason for this is because we no longer have that “x” amount of weeks until show day and don’t have that worry in the back of our mind that “if I eat this donut it may or may not affect my physique for my show” therefore, it’s harder to say no to the temptations around us. For someone like me who is very goal-oriented, I’ve learnt to set mini goals for me weekly and monthly. By doing so, this has helped me stay on track with my fitness goals and still enjoy my off-season.
FG: What division do you compete in, and what ís the best thing in your opinion about competing in that division?
GT: I compete in the figure division. The one thing that I admire the most about my division is the symmetry and balanced proportions that figure entails.
FG: If it was up to you, what would be one thing you would want to add or take away from your division, if anything?
GT: The one thing I would want to add to my division, specifically in Canadian competitions, is more time for our personal presentations. We work so hard for months and it would be nice to have more than 30 seconds being solo on that stage.
FG: With the rise of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, Instagram, etc,), how important do you feel it is for people in the fitness industry to participate in it?
GT: I feel that it is incredibly important for us who are in the fitness industry to participate in social media to help inspire, motivate and educate everyone as much as we possibly can. It’s a great way people to share different outlooks, methods and personal experiences.
FG: Who (living or dead) do you look up to for inspiration, whether they are part of the fitness industry or not?
GT: There are numerous individuals who I look up to for inspiration – there is not one specific person but rather everyone who has supported me and encouraged my since day 1 and who I’ve met along the way that inspire me to keep doing what I’m doing.
FG: I know everyone wants to be the first "them" (as it should be), but is there any competitor (past or present) that you look at and say, "Okay...that's what I'm aiming for"?
GT: Nicole Wilkins. Her overall package is breathtaking. Her physique, her beauty and her stage presence is incredible.
FG: If you weren't part of the fitness industry, what would you be doing now?
GT: If I weren’t apart of the fitness industry right now I’d probably be either doing nothing but sleeping, eating, shopping, working and being lazy at home. Before getting into the fitness industry I was never into ANY sort of sport or hobby – very thankful that I found the fitness industry and fell in love with it.
FG: What (if anything) would you change about the fitness industry as a whole (NOT just about the division you compete in)?
GT: Absolutely nothing. I love everything about it and it only continues to get better in my opinion.
FG: After your competition days are completed, how do you plan on give back to the fitness industry?
GT: Although that time is very far away for me, I plan on giving back by continuing my personal training services, volunteering at as many shows as I can, giving advice based on personal experience and continue to inspire, motive and educate as many people as possible through social media, in person and possibly seminars? It’s a long way until I reach that point however from what I can think of right now that would be my plan on giving back!
FG: Bottom line, what is YOUR ultimate goal in the fitness industry, the one thing you HAVE to do before you call it a career?
GT: I have no ultimate goal in the fitness industry that will indicate that it is time for me to call it a career. Once I lose that excitement and stop enjoying everything that competing and prepping for shows offer that is when I’ll hang up the clear heels and bedazzled suits.
FG: Any closing words for your fans and supporters?
GT: I’d like to thank FitGems Nation for the opportunity to do this interview, my boyfriend, family, friends, Freak Fitness (Darren, Christina and FreakFam), fans and supporters on social media for the endless amount of support, love, care, encouragement and motivation to get to where I am today.
FG: Again, thank you so much for doing this interview with us! For those that want to keep up on your future competitions and other plans, how can fans contact you? (Facebook fan page, Twitter, Instagram, email, website, blog, other social media outlet, etc.) Also, if there's anything you want to plug in, you are more than welcome to do so.
GT: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gabriellatfitness
If you aren't on the Gabrielle Tongol fanwagon, now's the time to do it. 2016 could be the year she makes history, and with what's she's done so far, it's almost a safe bet that she will do just that. We're rooting for ya, Gabrielle!!