Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lauren Rutan, THE Definitive Superwoman

Quite possibly the most impressive athlete in the physique world today and in a LONG time!
Photo credit: NPCNewsOnline

Every competitor is special in their own way. Each woman that enters the physique world spends hours upon hours of dedication in the weight room and in the kitchen to obtain the most amazing physiques on the planet when it comes to LOOKING like Greek gods/goddesses. While they are definitely stronger than the average person, they are not judged by their strength in the weight room. Then you have those that put in hours of dedication to have the STRENGTH of Greek/gods and goddesses and don't actually focus on the look rather the performance. Those are powerlifters, weightlifters, and Crossfitters (even though the Crossfitters tend to usually have better aesthetically-pleasing physiques than powerlifters and weightlifters. Now...to do physique competitions, CrossFit, weightlifting AND powerlifting and be able to excel at all of it has got to take superhuman effort. Add to that being a loving and dedicated wife and mother of four children and you have credentials that would make even Wonder Woman look like a joke.

Ladies and gentleman, such a woman exists...and you won't find her in comic books (even though it would make for one heck of one!). And her name is Lauren Rutan.

Lauren is from Akron, Ohio. You might recognize that town because a certain top NBA Superstar just happens to be from there as well. But we're not focusing on him here, we're about the QUEEN of Akron.  If you look up the word superhuman in the dictionary, there's a good chance you will find a picture of Lauren in the description. She competed before at the National Level about 10 years ago when she did the 2007 Jr. Nationals, along with a few other shows. She stepped away from the physique stage for a while, but not before she decided to do anything and everything that tested her body to the limits and beyond. She has went on to become a weightlifter and powerlifter, breaking state records and becoming one of the nation's top strength athletes. She also has done her share of CrossFit competitions as well, and is among one of the best there as well! In all of that...she became a wife and mother of four along the way. She's also a nutrition and workout coach to boot. I know, that's a lot to take in!

The Ultimate Jill-of-All-Trades
Photo credit: CrossFitGirl.com

She recently returned to the physique stage, winning the overall 2017 NPC Mid-Atlantic Cup Figure title and would go on to place in the top 10 in her figure class at the NPC Jr. Nationals. Her next stop is the USPA Powerlifting Nationals in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. Yes, she prepared for a physique show and a powerlifting competition at the same time. To say that's insane would be an understatement. But Lauren is a special kind of athlete that only comes around once in a lifetime. She has big plans, and she herself will reveal more about them and her incredible athletic career in a future interview exclusively for FitGems Nation. We are looking forward to interviewing her and learning more about how she has been able to become THE definitive Superwoman.

Until then, I highly recommend following her on Instagram as she takes her fans through her journey as a super athlete: https://www.instagram.com/rutan422.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bridesmaid No More: Wendy Fortino Gets Her Win At Last

The Champ is (FINALLY!!!) here!!!!
Photo credit: NPC News Online

July 30, 2011.

This was the day she won the NPC USA Figure Class A and Overall title. This was the day she became an IFBB Pro. For six years, she would go on to compete in over 30 pro shows. She would place runner-up in seven shows, and she stepped on the Olympia stage twice (2014 and 2015) due to the Olympia Qualification Series. Yet, despite her ever-improving and jaw-dropping physique and one of the most graceful stages presences of any figure competitor, she had yet to do the one thing that can truly call her a top competitor: Win a pro show. The way things were going, we honestly thought that Wendy would go down as the one of the greatest figure competitors in IFBB history to NEVER win a pro show.

Then April 15, 2017 happened.
The St. Louis Pro happened.

Bringing what she felt was her best look yet, in one of the toughest and deepest line-ups of the year (which included past and present Olympia qualifiers in their own rights), Wendy finally reached the top of the mountain. She became the 2017 IFBB St. Louis Pro Figure Champion. Everything she sacrificed throughout her career, her sweat, her tears, and maybe even some blood, finally paid off. She can finally cross "winning a pro show" off her fitness career checklist. The Olympia Qualification Series is a dead issue for her now. She is officially Olympia-bound because she WON a show. No qualification points this time!

I dare you to watch this video and not tear up a bit. I can't even begin to understand what is going though her head here.

That is how an athlete who has given everything she has into her craft feels when her hard work is rewarded. I teared up for her, and I RARELY do that with any athlete. I've followed her journey before FitGems Nation was even a thing. I became an instant fan when I saw her on the Kriv Studios website when she was a track athlete and had an amazing physique before she even THOUGHT about competing in physique shows. While it's awesome to see someone win their first show, it's something about fighting for show after show for years to get that first win that makes it much better.

If I could personally think of one quote that fits her journey to her first pro win, it would be the one that Rocky told his son in Rocky Balboa. While the movie (to me) wasn't as good as the earlier movies, it did have one of the greatest motivational speeches I've ever heard of in my entire life, and this fits Wendy to a T:

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!

Wendy knows what she's worth and she goes after it show after show after show. She has taken more hits leading up to her win than most in their entire lifetimes. She doesn't place blame on anyone, she doesn't go and say that politics are to blame. She just keeps hustling and fighting each and every show she enters in hopes of earning respect within the industry, which I believe she has done with flying colors, even without that pro win.

I admire and respect every woman who steps on a physique stage, but Wendy is one of the few who I've personally connected to and I've yet to meet her in person. She is one of the most genuine people not only in the physique world, but on Earth period. She ALWAYS see the good in everyone and always complements anyone and everyone she possibly can, even those that end up beating her. Her kindness is felt by many people in the industry and they always talk about on social media, how humble she is and how amazing a competitor she is and admire her determination and never-say-die attitude, the stuff I love about her as a person, not just a competitor.

When Wendy became the 2011 NPC USA Overall Figure Champion
Photo credit: Muscular Development

When you're good at something, you tell everyone. When you're great at something, they tell you. The way Wendy Fortino's win was received on social media proved what we have been saying for years: Wendy Fortino is a GREAT competitor. She is one of the greatest ambassadors the physique world has ever seen not just because of fighting to improve her physique throughout the years, but the way she carries herself in a professional and humble matter. Most in her position would have quit, and truthfully we would not fault them. Not Wendy. She never quit even though we wouldn't have blamed her one bit if she did. The motto her and her husband Matt Allen use is "Success Requires Obsession". It's not just a motto for her, it's how she lives her life...and it paid off for her in the end. She is living proof that good things come to those that put in the work and never give up. Her hard work earned (not given) her the 2017 IFBB St. Louis Pro Figure Championship and a trip to the Olympia for the third time in four years.

To me and to all of FitGems Nation, Wendy has always been a champion. We'll go as far as saying to many she is "The People's Champion" in the figure division. Now, she finally has hardware to validate her right as a champion. Congrats Miss Fortino. In your own words, "The Harder the Fight, the Sweeter the Victory." And oh how sweet it is!

This photo speaks volumes. EARNED not given!
Photo credit: Jack Titone/Instagram

Feel free to follow Wendy at the following links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WendyFortinoUSA/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendyfortino
Cyberbodyshop business with her husband/trainer Matt Allen: http://cyberbodyshop.com/

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Why WWE's Dana Brooke Competing at the Arnold is Significant

DISCLAIMER: All photos belong to their original owners.

Slowly but surely changing the game (no offense, Triple H)
Photo credit: WWE

It's one thing to be in shape for wrestling.
It's another thing to be in shape for a fitness competition.
Try to do both at the same time.

Yeah, that sounds like torture and pure madness. Why on Earth would anyone put their body at risk to do both instead of choosing one? If you just happened to be named Dana Brooke, the answer for her is in the form of a question...WHY NOT?!

This weekend (Friday to be exact), Dana Brooke (real name Ashley Sebera) will be stepping on stage among some of the best fitness competitors in the world at the 2017 Fitness International during the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. The brand split has let WWE Superstars be able to do more things outside WWE with schedules being a tad easier than in the past. Chris Jericho has his podcast and band outside WWE. Seth Rollins is enrolled in the Crossfit Games as an active competitor (as soon as he's healed up). And John Cena is freaking EVERYWHERE in Hollywood and still has an active role in WWE. And it looks like Dana will be able to be a fitness competitor while still under contract with WWE, which is unheard of. She did it in 2015 as part of the NXT roster, when she hadn't made it on TV yet and was only doing house shows in Florida. She competed in her first Arnold Classic that Friday and the very next day (as well as that Sunday) she wrestled against Bayley (current WWE Raw Women's Champion) and Carmella (Smackdown Live competitor) as part of the first-ever WWE Experience at the Arnold (Side note: she won both matches).

Most of you know what fitness competitors go through to get ready for one show. The diet, the training, the practicing of the routines...it's stressful weeks of prep but rewarding for that one show. Now, consider that this is the Arnold we're talking about, and you're talking about the biggest show on the schedule NOT named the Olympia. Most that compete have regular jobs and don't take bumps in a wrestling ring and get tossed around like ragdolls. That's where Dana is different from every other competitor competing at the Arnold this weekend. Taking bumps in a wrestling ring and get tossed around like a ragdoll IS her job and a job she loves dearly. She has stated on multiple occasions that she wants to be among the best in WWE history, but she also realizes what brought her to the dance in the first place...the fitness world. She wants to give back and everyone (whether you like her or not) should give her credit and respect for not forgetting her roots, which is something that sadly most people tend to forget once they make it big. While others have the indies to thank for their road to WWE, Dana has the fitness world to thank for her road to WWE, which we personally hope doesn't end anytime soon, as we feel we've yet to see the best from her. Dana at the Arnold (to us) helps close the gap between the fitness industry and WWE, hopefully bring in more male and female talent for NXT, Raw, Smackdown Live, 205 Live, and other aspects of WWE.

Potentially paving the future for others to compete in fitness shows while being part of WWE at the same time.
Photo credit: Getty Images

If some of the guys can do it all and still be active members of WWE, why can't Dana?! It's only fair. We hope what Dana is doing paves the way for others to follow ALL their dreams. In this day and age, you CAN do it all if you put your mind to it! Cena is, Seth is, Jericho is. Now...It's Dana's turn. For the IFBB AND WWE...PLAYTIME IS OVER!!!!

For more on Dana's Arnold journey (and other random stuff from WWE's resident Queen of Flex City), follow her on Snapchat at asha_DanaBrooke, on Twitter at @DanaBrookeWWE, and her Instagram at ashasebera_danabrooke . Be sure to watch the Arnold Sports Festival on their new home on Generation Iron at http://generationiron.com/ this Friday and Saturday. Good luck Dana Brooke! We're rooting for you! :)

Friday, February 3, 2017

8th Annual FitGems Awards Winners

The votes are in, and it's time to announce the winners of the 8th Annual FitGems Awards! You call came out in full force and made your voices known, and we at FitGems Nation can't thank you enough for supporting these awards. Without further ado...here is who YOU voted for as the best of 2016!


2016 Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Juliana Malacarne

2016 Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Oksana Grishina

2016 Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Nicole Wilkins

2016 Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Courtney King

2016 Breakout Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Victoria Flores

2016 Breakout Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Kristine Duba

2016 Breakout Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Sandra Grajales Romero

2016 Breakout Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Narmin Assria

2016 Underrated Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Susan Graham

2016 Underrated Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Stacy Wright

2016 Underrated Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Wendy Fortino

2016 Underrated Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Vicki Counts 


2016 Amateur Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Nicole Gutierrez

2016 Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Rebecca Sizemore

2016 Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Stephanie Trevino

2016 Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Carolina Araujo

2016 Breakout Amateur Women’s Physique Competitor of the Year
Casey Oliver

2016 Breakout Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Nicole Neargardner

2016 Breakout Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Natalie Navas

2016 Breakout Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Danielle Lipski

2016 Underrated Amateur Women’s Physique Competitor of the Year
Tia Marie Hamilton

2016 Underrated Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Alissa Carpio

2016 Underrated Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Victoria Puentes

2016 Underrated Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Celia Torres


2016 Fitness Model of the Year
Nicole Wilkins

2016 Fitness Ambassador of the Year
Nicole Wilkins

2016 Social Media Star of the Year
Wendy Fortino

2016 Moment of the Year
Monica Brant returning to competition for the first time since 2013 as part of PCA and NABBA (#ReturnOfTheFitnessIcon)

2016 Photographer of the Year
Dan Ray

2016 Fit Celebrity of the Year
Kelly Ripa

2016 Female Sports Athlete of the Year
Serena Williams

2016 Olympic Athlete of the Year
Simone Biles

2016 Fit Female Wrestler of the Year
Charlotte Flair

2016 Physique Paysite of the Year

2016 Promoter of the Year
Tim Gardner

2016 Fitness Clothing Line of the Year
Better Bodies

2016 Team of the Year
Team CyberbodyShop

2016 Male Trainer of the Year
Matt Allen

2016 Female Trainer of the Year
Wendy Fortino

While a lot happened in 2016, nothing (to us) was more shocking and awe-inspiring than seeing the on-stage return of one of the greatest competitors of all time...and doing it by posing/flexing no less! Seeing her return (and showing that she's STILL the queen) was enough to crown the legendary MONICA BRANT as the 2016 FitGems Nation Woman of the Year! Congrats Monica!!! 

You can go to our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/fitgemsnation) over the weekend to view the photos of this year's winners and a special photo album dedicated to 2016 FitGems Nation Woman of the Year Monica Brant! Again, thank you all for being part of this. We HOPE to do better in the future as far as getting this out quicker! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

8th Annual FitGems Awards...VOTE HERE!

For years, we have used Mister Poll as our official FitGems Awards voting platform. However, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are going to be using Polldaddy for our voting platform going forward. We apologize for how late this poll has taken to get up and we hope to do better in the future.

You can vote once a day until February 1st at midnight eastern time. After that, votes will be tallied and winners will be announced on Friday, February 3rd. Best of luck to everyone and congrats to all the nominees!




Remember, you can vote once a day for each category until February 1st as midnight Eastern time, with winners to be announced on February 3rd. Good luck!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Megan Olson Fire Relief-Our Thoughts and Plea

Let's help a fellow IFBB Pro in need.
Photo source: GoFundMe

I consider Megan Olson to be one of the best IFBB competitors that has yet to get her due in the industry. We love her shape, conditioning, attitude, and overall beauty. We hope that 2017 will be a great breakout year for her on stage, should she decide to compete this year. But in all honestly, after what happened earlier this year, we don’t blame her one bit for holding off on competing for a while, as there are things far more important.

On January 3rd, Megan lost everything she owned in a house fire. It wasn’t until I found out how it happened that made it even more sad. The fire was started by her husband Matt. He has a bad case of mental illness and apparently burned the house down. Why he did it, I don’t know and it’s none of my business as far as personal stuff goes, but we all should thank God that it wasn’t worse. People can always get a new house, you can’t get a new life.

I’m in no position to judge him, nor is anyone else, but I’m publicly asking (damn near begging) for Matt to seek help. It might be in the best interest for Matt and Megan to stay away from each other until Matt is well. Mental illness has a way of being fatal to those that have it and the people around them. I’m praying that Matt and/or Megan do not become another statistic in that.

If you want to help Megan out financially, go to her GoFundMe page that was set up by Ron Mowen, on her behalf: https://www.gofundme.com/wx-megan-olson. If you want to offer her support by sending her messages, go to her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/megan.olson222/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/megan_olson_ifbb/) For more on NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) check out the following link: http://www.nami.org/Find-Support/NAMI-HelpLine or call them at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org. The NAMI Hotline can be reached The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, Eastern Time. 

Please continue to join FitGems Nation in prayer for both Megan and Matt during this time and hope that Matt gets the help he needs.