Wednesday, December 26, 2018

10th Annual FitGems Awards Ballot

The poll is LIVE! You don't have to vote for each category, but it would nice to vote for as many as possible. You can vote once per day until January 14th at 11:59pm Eastern time. At that time, all polls will be closed. Have a wonderful rest of 2018, congrats once again to all the FitGems Award nominees, and best of luck to each and every one of you!





Follow the conversation about this year's FitGems Awards by using the hashtag #FitGemsAwards on Twitter and Instagram. Post your predictions on who you think will well as any questions you may have about any of the categories and nominees, or anyone you think got snubbed. We will explain how we came to our decisions for the nominees. SEE YOU IN 2019!!!

Monday, December 24, 2018

10th Annual FitGems Awards Categories and Nominees Revealed

Our sincere apologies for the delay of the FitGems Awards. This year, we had a bit of help getting this together, but with how the changes the IFBB and NPC made this year (which aren't bad ones, but could use a bit of tinkering...which we will discuss sometime in 2019), it was more challenging than ever to get this list together to make sure we accurately do this right. Without further ado, here are this year's categories and nominees for this year's FitGems Awards!


Pro Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Alina Popa
Margie Martin
Shelia Bleck
Nikki Chartrand
Helle Trevino
Jill Blondin

Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Natalia Coelho
Shanique Grant
Daniely Castilho
Jennifer Taylor
Heather Grace
Michala Aycock

Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Whitney Jones
Myriam Capes
Bethany Wagner
Ariel Khadr
Jennifer Worth
Missy Farrell

Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Cydney Gillon
Candice Lewis-Carter
Heather Dees
Ivana Ivusic
Bojana Vasjaevic
Nadia Wyatt

Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Angelica Teixeria
Ashley Kaltwasser
Janet Layug
Casey Samsel
Lauralie Chapados
Elisa Pecini

Most Improved Pro Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Tananarive Huie
Maria Mikola
Jacqueline Fuchs
Maryse Manios
Silvia Matta
Ladawn Mcday

Most Improved Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Cris Goy Arellano
Tomefafa Ameko
Penpraghai Tiangngok
Margita Zamolova
Autumn Swansen
Mayla Ash

Most Improved Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Ashley Allen
Danielle Chikeles
Emma Paveley
Veronic Comtois
Cong Mou
Giorgia Foroni

Most Improved Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Stacy Fujarski
Natalia Soltero
Louise Rogers
Melissa Bumstead
Jessica Reyes Padilla
Julie Mayer

Most Improved Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Marcia Goncalves
Raphaela Milagres
Frida Paulsen Stern
Camile Periat
Ashley Jenelle
Stacy McCloud

Rookie Pro Women's Bodybuilder of the Year
Susanna Jacobs
Jill Blondin
Donna Salib
Barbara Carita
Amanda Smith
Nicole Janveaux

Rookie Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Lauren Rutan
Lenka Ferencukova
Sarah Villegas
Sammica Cash
Jonquil Baugh
Mary Power

Rookie Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Kate Errington
Jacklyn Baker
Darrian Borello
Sara Kovach
Minna Pajulahti
Carolina Frausto

Rookie Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Alexis Sullivan
Felisia Livesey
Missy Farrell
Zulema Duran
Julia Waring
Marta Gorzynska

Rookie Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Celeste Shaffer
Jennifer Dorie
Sherry Espera
Jessie Pineault
Maxine Somov
Jasmine Adams

Most Underrated Pro Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Patty Corbett
Pauline Nelson
Jennifer Palazzo
Amy Hauck
Heather Manuel
Cristina Maffeis

Most Underrated Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Jill Blondin
Diana Schnaidt
Rose Brunner
Rita Rae
Felecia Murray
Elizabeth Bradshaw

Most Underrated Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Rebecca Sizemore
Alysha Cliff
Jobie Goodro
Nicole Neargarder
Rene Brosch
Stacy Wright

Most Underrated Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Amanda Carr
Ashley Soto
Catherine Lavoie
Sara Chio
Rebecca Schubeck
Azaria Glaim

Most Underrated Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Tawna Eubanks
Kerryne Henich
Katya Nosova
Sara Back
Elizabeth Yisrael
Eli Fernandez


Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Akemy Jones
Marla-Maria Merrithew
Pamela Hannam
Monica Hale
Lunette Johnson
Kelly Lynn Nauyokas

Amateur Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Ashley Bader
Ashlynn Richardson
Emily Schubert
Jessica Williams
Savka Brownseki
Ashley Gearhart

Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Ashley Packard
Kristy Fenster-Avery
Allison Dominquez Kramer
Katarina Vovolka
Alayne Corum
Abbie Elsner

Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Tiffany Walker
Sarah Grace
Diana Cadena
Christine Stearns
Hope Welsh
Ashley Sparks

Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Alexandria Blare
Cierra Davis
Calvsta Upperman
Jessica Telesco
Skylar Lanier
Shannon Lane

Breakout Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Kristine Spinelli
Katie Kehoe
Lacey Pruitt
Amy Sutter
Demi Robertson
Lesile Heidemann

Breakout Amateur Women’s Physique Competitor of the Year
Kelly Lynn Nauyokas
Thea Douger
Traci Rugged
Katleen Erickson
Kimberly Rieck
Cristal Juarez

Breakout Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Noelle Russow
Marlaina Shrives
Vanessa Bousquet
Anna Adams
Kristen Morby
Katie Mitchell

Breakout Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Ashley Jones
Rachel Killam
Devon Winn Hare
Alicia Bell
Lola Montez
Jennifer Lowery

Breakout Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Celeste Shaffer
Carolyn Lee
Ciara Houston
Regena Harrison
Amanda Aguzzi
Carrie Lawler

Most Underrated Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Leann George
Gina Cavaliero
Karen Holliday
Carrie Prather
Sherri Enos
Leeann Scelfo-Cino

Most Underrated Amateur Women’s Physique Competitor of the Year
Tamara Gourley
Debbie Deutsch
Evon Pennington
Farrah Faulkner
Rhonda Brown-Massey
April Reed

Most Underrated Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Shayla Jacobs
Brandy Norris
Christine Hotchkin
Teah Poyner
Andrea Henry
Sarah Koubek

Most Underrated Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Tawny Davis
Meagan Latour
Silvia Henry
Meghan Cassidy
Megan Latour
Nini Neives

Most Underrated Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Michaelle Allies
Maria Noboa
Samantha Mcintyre
Melissa Feijoo
Awilda Herrera
Sheila Roberts


Fitness Model of the Year
Torrie Wilson
Tina Nguyen
Mandy Rose
Erin Stern
Wendy Fortino
Ashley Soto

Fitness Ambassador of the Year
Torrie Wilson
Erin Stern
Jen Widerstrom
Nicole Wilkins
Juliana Malacarne
Trish Warren

Social Media Star of the Year (Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/Snapchat, etc.)
Torrie Wilson
Jen Widerstrom
Ashley Soto
Tina Nguyen
Wendy Fortino
Jessica Williams

Moment of the Year
Whitney Jones winning the Fitness International title with a torn ACL/MCL
Shanique Grant becoming the youngest Ms. Women's Physique Olympia in history
Jennifer Worth winning the Tampa Pro, her first pro win since 2001
Whitney Jones becoming the new Ms. Fitness Olympia
Ronda Rousey officially joining WWE at the 2018 Royal Rumble event
Ashley Kaltwasser returning to competition for the first time in over a year at the 2018 Mile High Pro

Photographer of the Year
Dan Ray
George Kontaxis
Will Wittmann
Joe Bayer
J.M. Manion
George Kontaxis

Fit Celebrity of the Year
Teresa Guidance (Real Housewives of New Jersey)
Tiffany Coyne (Let's Make a Deal)
Debbie Matenopoulos (Home and Family)
Chrysti Ane (Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel)
Charly Caruso (WWE Raw/ESPN Sportscenter)
Jenna Wolfe (First Things First)

Female Sports Athlete of the Year
Simone Biles (gymnastics)
Morgan Reid (college soccer)
Maycee Barber (MMA)
Alex Morgan (pro soccer)
Elena Delle Donne (WNBA)
Sydney McLaughlin (track and field)

(NEW FOR 2018) Crossfit Athlete of the Year
Tia-Clair Toomey
Annie Thorisdottir
Katrin Tania Thorisdottir
Cassidy Lance-McWherter
Laura Horovath
Kara Saunders

(NEW FOR 2018) Female Strength Athlete of the Year
Stefanie Cohen
Lauren Rutan
Mattie Rogers
Danielle Malcom
Lidia Valentin Perez
Jen Thompson

(NEW FOR 2018) Female Super League Athlete of the Year
Minna Pajulahti
Kristin Graham
Jamie Filer
Kat Secor
Brittany Diamond
Rene Marven

(REVAMPED FOR 2018) Fittest Female WWE Superstar of the Year (Raw/Smackdown Live)
Charlotte Flair
Mandy Rose
Mickie James
Dana Brooke
Sasha Banks

(NEW FOR 2018) Fittest Female NXT Superstar of the Year
Lacey Evans
Bianca Belair
Candice LaRae
Kairi Sane
Reha Ripley
Shayna Baizer

(REVAMPED FOR 2018) Fittest Female Wrestler of the Year
Tessa Blanchard
Tori Storm
Taya Valkyrie
Santana Garrett
Heidi Katrina

Physique Paysite of the Year
HDPhysiques/Preminum Physiques
Kriv Studios

Physique Paysite Model of the Year
Carli Teperka
Kaitie Hart
Cris Goy
Sandra Grajales
Maria Garcia

Promoter(s) of the Year
Tim Garnder
Branch and Trish Warren
Robin Chang
Gary Udit
Ron Hache
Jack and Ann Titone

Fitness Clothing Line of the Year
Booty Queen Apparel
Flag Nor Fail
NPC Active Wear
Vanquish Fitness
Nicole Wilkins Collection

Team of the Year
Team CyberbodyShop
Team Williams Fitness
Underrated Muscle
Worth It Fitness
Fitness Mafia

Male Trainer of the Year
Pete Ciccone
Matt Allen
Jack Titone
Noel Fuller
Justin Miller
Dave Palumbo

Female Trainer of the Year
Torrie Wilson
Meriza Deguzman-Ciccone
Wendy Fortino
Jennifer Worth
Natalia Coelho
Jen Widerstrom

And the highest honor of them all...the FitGems Nation Woman of the Year!
This goes to the fitness personality that had the most impact for the industry in 2018). As always, c
nce you win this award, you will AUTOMATICALLY sit out the following year as a way of keeping this particular award’s winners as fresh as possible, even if the following year is their best one in their career up to that point. This means last year’s winner, Wendy Fortino, will not be on the ballot this year. 

This year's nominees are...

  1. Shanique Grant
  2. Natalia Coelho
  3. Cydney Gillon
  4. Candice Lewis-Carter
  5. Whitney Jones
  6. Myriam Capes
  7. Jennifer Worth
  8. Jen Widerstrom
  9. Ashley Kaltwasser
  10. Charlotte Flair
  11. Alexa Bliss
  12. Ronda Rousey
  13. Mandy Rose
  14. Tessa Blanchard
  15. Juliana Malacarne
  16. Missy Farrell
  17. Bojana Vasjaevic
  18. Angelica Teixeria
  19. Alina Popa
  20. Stefanie Cohen
Voting begins THIS WEDNSDAY NIGHT (exact time to be determined) and voting will go on until January 14th at 11:59 Eastern time. You will be able to vote once per day, and Crowdsignal (formerly known as Polldaddy) will be our official voting format. Congrats to all the nominees, best of luck to you all, and I would like to wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas and Happy and Successful 2019!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

10th Annual FitGems Awards Time...and THE REOPENING OF OUR HALL OF FAME!!!

I literally can't believe we have been doing this for 10 years, but my goodness, here we are: the 10th Annual FitGems Awards are upon us! For the ninth straight year, we're doing the FitGems Awards, where we honor the best of the female muscle world from this past year. We will be using Polldaddy for the third straight year. Voting will begin on Wednesday, December 26 and will end at 11:59 Eastern Time on January 14th, 2019. As far as the number of categories are concerned, this is easily our biggest yet:


Pro Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Most Improved Pro Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Most Improved Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Most Improved Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Most Improved Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Most Improved Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Rookie Pro Women's Bodybuilder of the Year
Rookie Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Rookie Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Rookie Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Rookie Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year
Underrated Pro Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Underrated Pro Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Underrated Pro Fitness Competitor of the Year
Underrated Pro Figure Competitor of the Year
Underrated Pro Bikini Competitor of the Year


Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Amateur Women's Physique Competitor of the Year
Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Breakout Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Breakout Amateur Women’s Physique Competitor of the Year
Breakout Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Breakout Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Breakout Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year
Underrated Amateur Female Bodybuilder of the Year
Underrated Amateur Women’s Physique Competitor of the Year
Underrated Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Year
Underrated Amateur Figure Competitor of the Year
Underrated Amateur Bikini Competitor of the Year


Fitness Ambassador of the Year
Social Media Star of the Year (Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/Snapchat, etc.)
Moment of the Year
Photographer of the Year
Fit Celebrity of the Year
Female Sports Athlete of the Year
(NEW FOR 2018) Crossfit Athlete of the Year
(NEW FOR 2018) Female Strength Athlete of the Year
(NEW FOR 2018) Female Super League Athlete of the Year
(REVAMPED FOR 2018) Fittest Female WWE Superstar of the Year (Raw/Smackdown Live)
(NEW FOR 2018) Fittest Female NXT Superstar of the Year
(REVAMPED FOR 2018) Fittest Female Wrestler of the Year
Physique Paysite of the Year
Physique Paysite Model of the Year
Promoter(s) of the Year
Fitness Clothing Line of the Year
Team of the Year
Male Trainer of the Year
Female Trainer of the Year

And of course, we have the BIG category of them all...the FitGems Nation Woman of the Year! This goes to the fitness personality that had the most impact in the industry in 2018. Whoever wins this award will AUTOMATICALLY sit out from this category in 2019 as a way of keeping this particular award’s winners as fresh as possible, even if 2019 ends up being better than 2018. Past Woman of the Year winners include Juliana Malcarne, Monica Brant, Dana Linn Bailey, and Wendy Fortino, who made history last year by becoming the first-ever 2x Woman of the Year.

This year's Woman of the Year nominees are...

Shanique Grant
Natalia Coelho
Cydney Gillon
Candice Lewis-Carter
Whitney Jones
Myriam Capes
Jennifer Worth
Jen Widerstrom
Ashley Kaltwasser
Charlotte Flair
Alexa Bliss
Ronda Rousey
Mandy Rose
Tessa Blanchard
Juliana Malacarne
Missy Farrell
Bojana Vasjaevic
Angelica Teixeria
Alina Popa
Stefanie Cohen

Voting for Woman of the Year will also begin on December 10 and will go on until 11:59 Eastern on January 7th.

If you want to know EXACTLY when we will begin voting, make sure to follow us on Twitter ( on December 26 as that's when we will make the official announcement to begin voting. Also, for the first time, we will be using our Facebook and Instagram accounts so you can see all the nominees visually (I know, this should have been done a long time ago, but and learn).

Oh yeah...ONE. LAST. THING.

We're reopening the Hall!!! Yep, after a longer-than-it-should-have-been hiatus, the FitGems Hall of Fame is reopening to put in the greatest names the fitness world has ever seen.

Here is the criteria to be eligible for the FitGems Hall of Fame:

  1. This is a FEMALE COMPETITORS Hall of Fame, meaning no guys (at least not right now)
  2. The competitor(s) must either have competed for at least a decade or total of 10 years OR she has retired and it's been at least 5-10 years since their last competition
  3. They can be from any federation, even ones from the past
  4. The inductees can be living or deceased.

The FitGems Hall of Fame Class of 2019 will be voted on by select people within the fitness industry. The inductees will be revealed one by one, the week of the FitGems Awards Winners reveal and they will officially be inducted into our Hall of Fame the week before the 2019 Arnold Sports Festival. 

Those currently in the FitGems Hall of Fame are:
Adela Garcia
Rachel McLish
Iris Kyle
Kim Chizevsky
Lenda Murray
Cory Everson
Monica Brant

Who will join them? We will find out soon enough.

It's a lot of work to get all of this together, but this is one of the many things I love doing each year. I can't thank you all for your support of FitGems Nation these past ten years. What started out as a little blog has turned into so much more, and it's all because of you. And I truly feel the best is yet to come for FitGems Nation. Thank you all for joining me in building something special for you. Here's to 10 more years, and best of luck to everyone the next few weeks!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Evolution of Dana Brooke

Dana has EVOLVED...and we couldn't be more proud of her!
Photo credit:

Evolution: the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.

This weekend's WWE pay-per-view titled WWE Evolution is exactly that. What felt like a dream for fans of the female superstars in WWE is now a reality. For the first time in WWE history, the female superstars get their own pay-per-view. No, we're not stupid, things could have been a TAD bit better in building the event, but the fact that it's even happening in the first place is a big win for the women. While a lot of people have talked about the evolution of the division and some of its top stars, we want to take a little time to focus on someone who we feel is underrated and underappreciated by the wrestling fans and wrestling world as a whole...someone we consider one of our own, Dana Brooke.

Real name Ashley Sebera, Dana will be competing in the Evolution Battle Royal, featuring former champions (Asuka, Nia Jax, Ember Moon), rising stars (such as Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, the IIconics) and former competitors (such as Ivory, Kelly Kelly, and Michelle McCool) with the opportunity at a future Women's Championship down the line. While obviously we hope Dana wins, we want to take some time to mention why as we focus on Dana's OWN Evolution.

Dana begin her journey to WWE as an aspiring gymnast (part of the Junior Olympics, last we checked) and unfortunately injuries and surguries took her out of actively pursuing that further. She went into diving and was pretty damn good at it, but in her own words, "there was nowhere to go for her" in terms of diving, and let's be real, there wasn't. From there, she discovered the bodybuilding world, more spefically the bikini division. While that was cool for her...she wanted more because of her own competitive nature. From there she decided to enter the fitness division and found her niche. She would end up competing in the National Physique Committee (NPC) for a short time before competing as a pro in the International Federaion of Bodybuilders (IFBB). While she never competed on the Olympia stage, she ended up being good enough to compete on the Arnold stage (which is invite-only) two times. While competing at the Arnold multiple times is an honor in itself, it's the fact that she is the first (and as of now only) person (male or female) to do it while under a WWE contract. She did it in 2015 while in NXT, and she did it last year on the main roster. In fact, it was during her time in the fitness division where WWE would discover her.

Dana began her WWE journey at the Performance Center in July 2013 and would make her NXT debut shortly after. We do have to be honest, her debut was definitely less an ideal, but that was to be expected with most of her class having prior wrestling experienece in the indies and Dana having none before coming to the Performance Center. She definitely posessed one of the best finishers of any woman to come out of NXT up to that point, the Samoan Driver, and it got her quite a few victories, including one over one of the Four Horsewomen, Bayley. During her short time in NXT, she aligned herself with Emma and both ladies benefitted from it for a bit. It would end up benefitting Emma moreso than Dana in a way, as unfortunately Dana would suffer an injury that would limit her time in NXT as a competitor. In fact her last televised NXT match was at NXT Takeover: Respect against the debuting Asuka, who pretty much beat Dana handily that night. Everyone focuses on Asuka while no one seemed to have given Dana any credit for hanging with a Japanese legend, but as Dana would soon find would be the story of her career in WWE thus far.

In May 2016, after healing from her injuries, Dana would make her main roster debut rejoining her buddy Emma, but this time with the name EnD (Emma and Dana). It lookes like they were going to attept to recreate or even surpass their NXT run, but injuries plaged it again, but THIS time, it was Emma would be sidelined, leading to Dana being directionness, until Extreme Rules 2016 where Dana showed up dressed as Ric Flair to distract Natalya and help Charlotte retain the Raw Women's Championship. Dana and Charlotte would end up being a pretty cool duo with Charlotte as the champion (and would begin her Queen transformation during that time) and Dana as the protege/lackey). Their relationship strained to the point where we THOUGHT there would be a breakup at some point but it weirdly disappeared. Then it came back for a bit and then broke up shortly before Wrestlemania 33, where they had one match against each other, Charlotte won, and it didn't go any further than that for whatever reason. Emma would return from injury and thought she would have Dana back as her buddy, but Dana was fed up with alliances so she declined the team-up. It looked like it was going to be a feud between Emma and Dana but once again...nothing came out of it. For some odd reason, at some point, it looked like a partnership was brewing between Dana and Mickie James, but again...nothing came out of it. In 2017, she was used sparringly in matches but showed improvements in her matches. After arguably the most embarrasing match (if you want to call it a match) of her career with a blink-of-an-eye defeat by the hands of Asuka, she joined Titus and Apollo (Titus Worldwide) as their statician. In all honestly, THAT went nowhere for her as she spent most of her time accompnaying them to the ring in secretary outfits holding a clipboard. Not even getting physically involved, just...well...holding a damn clipboard.

For someone with her skills, it was bothersome to see someone like Dana being wasted like this. Hell, up until recent, she was used LESS this year in matches than in 2017 despite, again, making serious improvements since her NXT days. We don't understand the logic of WWE of not using Dana in the best way possible, especially as someone who has not been shy of wanting to be in the ring more and wanting to work with children. But one thing no one, not even her haters and detractors, can deny is that Dana does her best to make due with what she has. She never makes excuses for what the cards bring in her life. That was never more clear than when she lost her boyfriend Dallas McCarver last year and she took minimum time off of WWE to mourn and came back and dedicated her matches for the remainer of 2017 and her matches this year, especially the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania Battle Royal, to Dallas (Click here to check out her touching tribute to Dallas during the Royal Rumble this year) Thankfully she has finally found love again in big-time WWE fan and current center for the New York Knicks, Enes Kanter, who is on his own path to making a name for himself in the sports world.

A thankless individual in the wrestling world
Photo credit:

Throughout it all, good and bad, thick and thin, we have seen Dana evolve from to the NPC/IFBB to NXT and Breaking Ground to the main roster in WWE. She has suffered more loss than wins, but it has not lessen her as a person or a performer. In fact, it has made her stronger than ever before. To us, she is the most underrated WWE performer no one is talking about, and that's fine. It will make her eventual rise to the top that much sweeter. We've rooted for you for years, Dana, and we're not about to stop now. In fact, we're more in your corner now than ever before. Which is why a win at Evolution will truly be the defining win of not only her career but her life.

In her own words...PLAYTIME...IS OVER!!!!

Follow Dana at the following links:
Twitter: @DanaBrookeWWE
Instagram: ashasebera_danabrooke

Make sure to buy her merchandise at WWE Custom Tees:

Also, check out videos from UpUpDownDown to get to know the woman behind the character:
Part 1:
Part 2:

Check out our other articles about Dana here:
Our thoughts on her NXT debut:

Why Dana competing at the Arnold is significant:

Thursday, September 13, 2018

2018 Olympia Predictions

It's here. The Olympia has arrived!
Credit to the original owner

Super Bowl.
NBA Finals.
Stanley Cup Finals.
World Series.

You haven't "made it" until you have competed in the biggest event of your profession. This weekend, the best physique athletes in the world compete in the Super Bowl of bodybuilding, The Olympia. Usually people have a good idea of who exactly will take home the titles but this year, there is a lot of mystery, especially with Oksana Grishina retiring from competing in fitness and Juliana Malacarne not defending her title this year. While this hasn't been brought up more than it has, but Nicole Wilkins for the first time in years will NOT be stepping on stage as well. Regaine Da Silva, a top fitness competitor, is also not competing at the Olympia this year.

Women's Physique Olympia
The world was shocked when Juliana Malacarne, arguably the greatest women's physique competitor of all time, decided a few weeks ago that she would not be defending her title at the Olympia, meaning we are guaranteed a new champion. Her reasons for not competing are very respectable, and as we mentioned, the direction of this division will be decided by who will walk away with the title this weekend. As of now, it seems to look like two women are the front-runners for becoming the next Ms. Physique Olympia: Shanique Grant and Natalia Coelho. Shanique will be entering her first Olympia, but this is her third time qualifying for the event. She was set to compete in 2016 but thugs not only cost her to be on the shelf for a while, but were close to ending her life. She also qualified to compete last year but she had to step out due to eye issues, thus delaying her Olympia debut. Now after winning this year's Physique International and no other obstacles in her way, she is set to make her much-anticipated Olympia debut and a huge favorite to win the biggest title in the industry. Many say it's already won...and it would be true, if Natalia wasn't competing. Natalia, like Shanique, is a competitor that has no equal. This will be her third Olympia but her first as a women's physique competitor. Mere weeks after competing at the Olympia in figure, she decided to do women's physique (with no training specifically for the division) and SMOKED the competition on the word go, qualifying her for this year's Physique Olympia event. In fact, the only contest she lost as a women's physique competitor thus far has been when she faced Shanique at the Physique International earlier this year (she placed 2nd in a close race). I'll be honest with you all, there are two showdowns here: Shanique vs Natalia for who will be the next champ and who will be runner-up, and everyone else fighting for the rest of the spots. The rest of the field is definitely not bad, it's just that Shanique and Natalia are just too damn good right now, and they have yet to reach their peak as competitors. PONDER ON THAT.

1. Shanique Grant
2. Natalia Coelho
(You can easily flip these two. That's how close it will be)
3. Jennifer Taylor
4. Michalea Aycock
5. Melissa Pearo
6. Autumn Swansen
DARK HORSE: Penpraghai Tiangngok

Fitness Olympia
This is one division where, to me, there is no ONE clear-cut favorite at all, as Oksana has retired from competing. First, you got Myriam Capes, who will be entering her 10th Olympia (yes her TENTH appearance at the big one!) and will be looking to secure her spot at the best fitness competitor on the planet. She has already secured her spot at the best Canadian fitness competitor of all time with over 40 shows (which includes multiple Arnolds and Olympias) but I think she would want the Best in the World title just a bit more. Then you have Bethany Wagner, who has one of the best physiques in the fitness division as well some very entertaining routines. Ariel Khadr is considered a prodigy who has honed her physique to match (and at times surpass) her more-experienced competitors and her routines have been the highlight of many shows, and she plans on unveiling a new one this year that I'm pretty sure will steal the show, if her past routines are any indication. Jenny Worth will be returning to the Olympia stage for the first time since 2003, and she is looking better than ever before. Over the last couple of years, she has shown that she's still got it, and how big will this be to see her return to the biggest stage in the industry in nearly FIFTEEN YEARS and win it?! Kate Errington shocked the world earlier this year by coming out of nowhere and placing 2nd at the Fitness International and following that up with winning the Arnold Australia Fitness title. And speaking of the Fitness International...what about Whitney Freaking Jones, ladies and gentleman?! She won the Fitness International title practically on one leg (torn ACL/MCL) after coming back from neck fusion surgery. If you don't have her as a threat, you're crazy. The fact that someone is about to win their first Fitness Olympia title this year is gonna make the fitness division must-see this weekend. Hold on to your hats, folks, and get ready to see why competitive fitness is more alive than ever before.

1. Myriam Capes
2. Whitney Jones
3. Kate Errington
4. Bethany Wagner
5. Ariel Khadr
6. Jennifer Worth
DARK HORSE: Missy Farrell

Figure Olympia
For the last couple of years, this division has been run by three women: Candice Lewis-Carter, Latorya Watts, and the current champion Cydney Gillon. This year, things are gonna be significantly different as Latorya will be at the Olympia but she will not be competing due to medical issues. She is hoping to return to the stage at some point next year. Also not competing is 4x Figure Olympia Champion Nicole Wilkins, who decided to take the entire year off of competing on stage to focus on competing in triathlons. One would assume that it will be a two-person battle between current champion Cydney and Candice, who many consider to the best to not (as of yet) win the biggest championship in pro figure. But Heather Dees MIGHT have something to say about that. Heather has come into her own over the last couple of years and has been the only woman to currently give the three ladies a run for their money. From what I have seen, I definitely see a top three finish for Heather. Ivana Ivusic is another one who is coming into her own as a competitor and could be a force to be reckoned with this weekend. Bojana (your choice for Figure Competitor of the Year) has impeccable shape and will fighting for a top 5 spot. Two newcomers I'm definitely think will turn some heads at the Olympia will be Alexia Sullivan and Felisha Livezey. Those two women have legs for days with some of the best conditioning, shape, and size I've seen on figure competitor in quite some time barring Tina Nguyen(Another one being Stacy Fujarski, who I predict will step on the Olympia stage sometime next year). And it we truly want to focus on shape, I feel Wendy Fortino SHOULD be in the top ten, but I'm not too sure how her lack of size (in comparison of most competitors) will pan out on the sport's biggest stage.

1. Cydney Gillon
2. Candice Lewis-Carter
3. Heather Dees
4. Bojana Vasiljevic
5. Ivana Ivusic
6. Maria Baeza Diaz
DARK HORSE: Alexia Sullivan

Bikini Olympia
Angelica Teixeria is one of the best young athletes in the bikini division and will look to repeat as champion this weekend. Everyone that placed in the top 5 last yeat will be back to do better than they did with Angelica being the exception, as she wants to leave Vegas as a two-time champion. But two returning competitors are going to give all five of these ladies a run for their money. First up, India Paulino. After missing the Olympia stage last year due to motherhood, she has returned right where she left off, being a top star in the bikini scene and looking to win her first-ever Bikini Olympia title. Also returning is arguably THE greatest bikini competitor of all time, Ashley Kaltwasser. A 3x Bikini Olympia, she returned to the stage after taking some time off last year and is more dominant than ever before, winning all her shows that she entered in this year. While Angelica is an amazing competitor, with how India and Ashley have been able to return better than they were before, Angelica has got to be at her all-time best if she is to retain her title this weekend...and even then, I'm not sure it will be enough to stop them.

1. Ashley Kaltwasser
2. Angelica Teixeria
3. India Paulino
4. Jennifer Ronzitti
5. Romina Basualdo
6. Narmin Assria
DARK HORSE: Stacy McCloud

So there you have it, my predictions for what I think will go down this weekend at the biggest show of the year for this industry. The way things have went down this year, there's a good chance that my predictions will look like garbage compared to the actual results, but honestly, I wouldn't mind that one bit. Unpredictability in life, especially in this industry, is a good and necessary thing. Competition is a great thing. And with at the very least two new champions being crowned, new stars making their debuts, and returning stars aiming to return to top form, we might be in for one of the most exciting and thrilling Olympia weekends in recent memory, at least on the female side of things. We at FitGems Nation wish every single competitor the best of luck and hope all of them bring their A-game!

This year iHerb will be sponsoring the Olympia webcast, and like it's been for the last several years, it's FREE to watch! Go to for the webcast and times to watch the events. To see the list of everyone competing, go to

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cydney Gillon Creates Student-Athlete Scholarship

When an athlete uses their platform to provide opportunities to others to succeed beyond just the realm of sports, it's a beautiful thing. As the world already knows, LeBron James recently opened his I Promise School and in the near future, WWE Superstar Titus O'Neil has plans to open up a tuition-free pubic school of his own, which for anyone who has followed the career of the former Tag Team champion and founder of Titus Worldwide, that should come as no surprise. Others from football to basketball to soccer to baseball to hockey have done this, but (to my knowledge) I have yet to hear any bodybuilder do this...unil now. This week, the current number one figure competitor in the world has stepped up to the plate to prove that she is #MoreThanAnAthlete.

Hats off to Cydney on this amazing opportunity!
Photo credit: Her Instagram

Current Figure Olympia Champion Cydney Gillon announced on Monday via her social media accounts that she has launched her own student-athlete scholarship, which began taking applications on Tuesday. Here is what she said about the scholarship from her Instagram:

I am a firm believer in always giving back to the community. I’ve been a Student-Athlete my entire life; therefore, I understand juggling both endeavors can be very taxing. While attending the University of Pennsylvania for my undergraduate education, I worked 2+ jobs, ran Varsity track, joined a sorority and participated in numerous clubs while simultaneously preparing for NPC Nationals (where I received my IFBB Professional Card). I believe having financial assistance, in general, will decrease the amount of stress students have to endure.

Therefore, I am excited to announce the Cydney Gillon Student-Athlete Scholarship.  I will be rewarding 1 high school student-athlete and 1 college student-athlete $1,000. For those who are interested in participating, email me at The necessary information will be emailed to you directly. Upon receiving the information, review the requirements and submit all materials no later than September 14, 2018. At that time our board will review & the process will commence.

Winners will be announced by December 31, 2018. If you meet the qualifications or you know a student-athlete who is also qualified, #tag them so they can be aware of this opportunity. Also, feel free to #share and spread the word!

To say this is amazing would be an understatement. It's one think to SAY you want to be a role model to people. It's another thing to ACTUALLY back it up, which is exactly what Cydney is doing. And it has not gone unnoticed by the competitors, as not only did several of them congrats her on this, but Pro Physiques (which is run by current Fitness International Champion Whitney Jones) will match Cydney's scholarship amounts, meaning the high school and college athlete will get a $2,000 scholarship instead of a $1,000 scholarship. Personally, I would love to see this from more competitors. Who knows...maybe once FitGems Nation is financially able to...we just might do something like this somewhere down the line!

Check out all the links to view everything about Cydney and Whitney, as well as their respective fitness companies (Cake Factory Fitness and Pro Physiques). We can thank Cydney enough for getting this up and running and for Whitney to join her fellow sister-in-iron and supporting her by action. Good luck to all scholarship participants!

Cydney Gillon

Cake Factory Fitness

Whitney Jones

Pro Physiques
Main Instagram:
Prep Team Instagram:

Monday, July 16, 2018

Juliana Malacarne to SIT OUT 2018 Olympia. End of an Era?!

Sunday morning, the bodybuilding world woke up to some massive news: 4x Miss Physique Olympia and inaugural Ms. Physique International Juliana Malacane would not be competing at the 2018 Olympia, meaning we are guaranteed a new champion this year. In our honest opinion, the IFBB might want to be very careful with who they select as the new queen of women's physique as this could go a long way toward how women's physique is looked at for the foreseeable future. In fact, it was this very mindset that actually played a part in why Juliana has decided not to go for a 5th straight title. In fact, in all honesty, we should have seen this coming a few weeks ago if we paid attention to her Instagram nearly a month ago:

That post spoke volumes right there. It's one thing for fans/spectators to say that the look is too much, but when arguably the greatest women's physique competitor of all time says that, that should be a wake-up call for the IFBB. I said SHOULD but as history has shown, it won't be, not even for a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer like Juliana. We mentioned to Juliana on that post that we felt her best look was the Olympia she DIDN'T win: 2013. Her conditioning was pretty good, better than most of the field (including those that placed above her as well) but what made her so awe-inspiring that year was her shape, structure, and overall combination of muscles and curves. Fans were in disbelief of her look as it was crazy yet HEALTHY-LOOKING at the same time. It seemed achievable and attainable. Fans were also in disbelief when she placed 7th, which was bullcrap then and bullcrap now. No disrespect to the competitors, but not all six women that placed about Juliana were better than her that weekend. No way in hell, and we'll take that to the grave. She finally got that win in 2014 and would go on become a 4x Ms. Physique Olympia and would win the inaugural Ms. Physique International title in 2015. I was there for that and it was unreal to see how graceful Juliana's physique was compared to everyone else. There was no question as to why she's not just the Queen of Women's Physique, she IS women's physique, which is why the news of her not competing this year hurts and the reason behind it is disheartening.

Many call this her best Olympia look ever...and she didn't even win this show!
Photo credit: FLEX Online

Rather than explain it, we will post the two Instagram posts that broke the news: Juliana's good friends Justin Miller (@astrongspirit) and Michael D. Bryson (who runs This Is Bodybuilding on Instagram)
Well I'm seeing that chatter online and Juliana @julesfit10 has now given me the go ahead to make the announcement on something I have known for a little while now.....4x Ms Olympia Juliana Malacarne will not be competing in this years Ms Olympia! She has given me many reasons that I find interesting. Juliana is in good health and perfectly capable of competing but is simply choosing not to. I first met Juliana in 2007 when she moved to NY from Brasil and barely spoke any English. I needed a good female trainer at my gym I used to own and despite the obvious language barrier I knew Juliana was an amazing trainer. We became friends and she moved into my house and rented an extra room I had until she got on her feet and got busier at the gym. She eventually built up her clientelle & rented an apartment down the street from my gym where she lived for the next 7 years while working there. Juliana actually introduced me to my wife Rita @ritashantidmt back in 2009. I have many memories of Juliana's career. Starting with her telling me in broken English the first time we met in person "I know one thing, one day I will be Ms. Olympia". I then watched her take LAST callout in 13 straight shows over the next 5 years. I remember Juliana was going to retire in 2012 before WPD came out. She decided to hang on for one more show (2012 NY Pro) to see what would happen. Her mom had a stroke 4 weeks out and was left unable to walk in the hospital. Juliana jumped on a plane for Brasil. Surely I thought the show (and likely her career) was over then...but she hung on. She stayed on her diet and got back here to NY 10 days out and told me "I just want to be successful one time in life and I will win this show for my mom". Well the history book will reflect she did it!! 14 shows into her pro career she finally had a win! Now she is stepping down as the reigning 4x Ms Olympia. The greatest Champion the division has ever seen. A future IFBB Hall Of Fame member. Will she compete again next year? 🤔 Its possible. But for now she is stepping a Champion. Juliana wishing you all the best. Congrats on an amazing career to the most resilient IFBB Pro who ever lived.
A post shared by Justin Miller 🇺🇸 (@astrongspirit) on
The first live IFBB show I ever went to was the 2012 @bevsgym New York Pro. From that moment on FLEX Magazine and Mr. Olympia on just would never be enough. I’ve been blessed to have seen true legends in their primes! Folks like @philheath, @flex_lewis, @oksanagrishina, @jeremy_buendia, and of course the woman who won that 2012 NY Pro WPD Championship...the beautiful @julesfit10. I saw her LIVE as she won 3 consecutive NY Pros, the inaugural Arnold Classic WPD Ms. International and, of course, her 4 consecutive Women’s Physique Olympia Championships. And today, she gave me the honor of being the first large Bodybuilding Media site to announce that she will NOT be competing in the 2018 Olympia. This is NOT a retirement. This is a break. I think she deserves it. In 2014 she beat the inaugural WPD Ms. Olympia, Dana Lin Bailey, in a very decisive manner. She maintained that dominance at the 2015 Arnold Classic. She’s maintained consistent greatness with a different 1st runner up each year. I rank her with the likes of Cory Everson and Lenda Murray as the ultimate in feminine muscle. Some folks have been commenting that they hate to see her go because they fear femininity will leave WPD. THAT ultimately will be in the judges hands. So...WHY???? Well, she is NOT injured. She is healthy and she is happy. She’s grown disinterested in the look of WP. She wanted to soften the look to a healthier one...sort of how the IFBB initially stated the look would be...”conditioned but not striated”...but it was made clear to her that last year’s conditioning would be required this year. It was a look she didn’t like for herself. With little financial rewards(FACT: this 4X Reigning Olympia Champion has no major sponsors, has never had a spread in a major magazine much less a cover...and did I mention NO SPONSORS?!) the fire & passion for competing and representing WP has left her heart at this time. Her passion is placed now in a new happy relationship. She is enjoying life and staying healthy. Some day, somewhere and in some form she MAY compete again. Just not in 2018. Tomorrow will be #juliannamalacarne Day here at #thisisbodybuilding, so STAY TUNED for more!
A post shared by MichaelD.Bryson (@this_is_bodybuilding) on

After reading and seeing both posts (and wiping a few tears...I sure as hell did), how can you blame her. We only have one body and once it's gone, it's gone. We can never get it back. I'm not bringing up their names to prove a point but just these last couple of weeks, we lost IFBB Physique Pro Tracy Hess and IFBB Figure Pro Chelsey Morgenstern due to (as of now) unknown reasons. We have had competitors who lost their lives because they went too far in the industry for the sole purpose of winning a show or hell even winning a pro card! Some competitors are thankfully still with us but have had their lives changed dramatically because of their pursuit of getting that pro win or getting that pro card. VERY FEW PEOPLE make money in this business, and I'm talking pros here. You spend way more than you get back in return. There's an old saying that you get what you put in. bodybuilding, nine times out of ten, that's not the case! Competitors are making GoFundMe accounts for fans to donate so they can actually compete, for Christ's sake. Seriously, folks, that's crazy! And for what?! A plastic trophy? An opportunity at MAYBE some cash that you WON'T be able to keep because you have to pay for suits, supplements, travel, training, food...yeah, I'm not even talking about the actual living essentials such as rent, bills, gas, etc. It's not like Miss America where you are a legit ambassador and show up at events throughout your reign. You don't see the Olympia champions going out getting paid by the IFBB to being fitness ambassadors to children and adults, do you?

I know I went on a rant there, but you all know damn well Juliana Malacarne is more than that. Yes, she is an athlete, one of the best this industry has ever seen, but first and foremost...she's a woman...and as a woman, she wants to continue to live her life AS a woman. That's one big reason why she never wanted to compete as a bodybuilder, as she felt her femininity would be lost in that division. She feels her femininity is gonna get lost in the division that was seemingly made for someone like her as the IFBB is seemingly going away with the original guidelines of women's physique in the first place. In fact, each female division (minus fitness we believe) is having some identity issues, which we will DEFINITELY be discussing sooner than later. So rather than pushing her body to the brink of no-return, Juliana is taking a stand her way and saying, “NOPE” and going out on HER term. Now will she return to the stage next year? We don't know. Is this an official retirement from Juliana? NOT YET. So anyone who says she has retired is flatout LYING. She is merely taking a well-deserved break from it all and training like she wants to and living HOW she wants to.

With Juliana out, the IFBB has a decision to make. To those that are entering the 2018 Olympia Physique Showdown, they will be coming in at what they feel is their best. My hope is that they will come in like what the actual guidelines call for in women's physique, which we will post directly from the NPC News Online website:


  • Symmetry, shape, proportion, muscle tone, poise and beauty flow
  • Physique assessment and comparison will take place during prejudging
Women’s Physique Division has been created to give a platform for women who enjoy weight training, competing, contest preparation. Competitors should display a toned, athletic physique showcasing femininity, muscle tone, beauty/flow of physique.
The following are examples of common terms used in the bodybuilding industry. These words can be helpful to assess what should not be descriptive to the physiques being judged in women’s physique:
Ripped, shredded, peeled, striated, dry, diced, hard, vascular, grainy, massive, thick, dense, etc.
While all types of physiques will be considered when it comes to height, weight, structure, etc. Excessive muscularity should be scored down accordingly.
Women’s physique competitors should have the overall aesthetics and look that is found in figure with a little more overall muscularity.

A post shared by FitGems Nation (@fitgemsnation) on

Based off the critieria from their own website, who should be rewarded? The 2013 Juliana or the 2017 Juliana? We would go with the 2013 Juliana. If the judges choose the 2018 Ms. Physique Olympia based off THEIR OWN ACTUAL JUDGING CRITERIA ON THEIR WEBSITE, in my opinion it will go a long way towards Juliana possibly coming back to compete at least one more time in 2019, as well as others who feel women's physique has went the opposite way of what they were hoping for. The IFBB needs to do a better job in enforcing their own rules and guidelines or the IFBB will be in danger of losing its status at the best. Just because you're the biggest doesn't guarantee you're the best in your field (WWE, looking at you) and just because you're the biggest in your field doesn't mean you can't be threatened or weakened (NFL, NBA...looking at BOTH of you, for different reasons). IFBB, you're in danger of losing one of the greatest athletes you've ever had for good if things don't change. Other top competitors who CAN STILL GO TODAY no longer compete in the IFBB (Monica Brant, Jenny Lynn, Erin Stern, Jennifer Gates, Gina Aliotti, to name a few) for many of the reasons that were brought up here. This trend doesn't have to continue. Things can change for the better, but the IFBB has the be the one to make their move....and it starts at the 2018 Olympia. 

For more on Juliana, follow her on the following links: