Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fitness star Nikki Bongiovanni will once again bring her seasoned athletic prowess to the Superbody Championships this Saturday. The 32 year old former Penn State and US Gymnastics Team Member always captures the audience and judges with e
xtreme skills and choreography. At 5'2", 110 lbs., Nikki is a former Fitness Atlantic Champion and Fitness Universe and Fitness America Top 5 Finalist and brings to the stage unparelled WOW factor!

FU star Jessica Halbert heads into home stretch for Fitness Superbody this Saturday. She will compete against many of the sports top fitness women and hopes that the show will be hers. Here is Jessica's final blog as she head for Atlantic City.

"So we made it everyone - we are here. WEEK OF SHOW (duh duh duuuuuh). The way I see it, there are two options for this week. I can freak out over the fact that I will take the stage in just a few days OR I can focus on the excitement and celebration of the journey I have participated in over these last few months. I choose the latter - because really, what is the point of all this work if you don't enjoy the process leading up to the "big day." Truth of the matter is - the work is really done at this point. Yes we have those final days where the diet and training are particularly challenging - but this week is just revealing the body you've been working on over you entire prep - the body that's been lurking below the surface as you've sweat and lifted and sweat some more."

"Over the next few days, I will really try to make a little time to reflect on the process of competition prep. I'll take 5 extra minutes to walk around some local shops or to sip a coffee and just digest the experience. This seems impossible with our massive to-do lists, errands, and food prep. But so often we as competitors forget that what we accomplish before even stepping on stage is a feat that many people never even get close to. Prepping for a natural show can get athletes to their strongest and most beautiful physiques and that is something to drink in for a moment don't you think? Doing this also helps me keep me head about me on the day of the show. I don't care how many shows I do, I'm always going to get nervous - PERIOD. Those few minutes before I actually perform my fitness routine I go back in forth between giddy joy, momentary panick, and outright nausea. But that's where my mental prep kicks in and the little voice in my head pipes up to remind me that this is meant to be FUN. Time on stage is a CELEBRATION, a chance to share with all those people in the audience a little piece of yourself and your energy.:"

"And don't forget to look around you - I've met some of my closest friends while just sitting around on my bum waiting for this or that backstage. Competing has a lot of hurry up and wait - so make the best of it! Help each other out, laugh, tell stories, and take something away from the show that is more valuable than any trophy that you may take home. I can't wait to meet so many of you that I've met "electronically" over the last few months. We are in for an awesome day, a great time on stage, and quite a post show celebration. Break a leg everyone - see you on Saturday!"
Hungarian fitness phenom Bianka Rigo is training for Fitness Europe in Paris. The 17 year old athlete has already amassed a plethora of titles including 4x Fitness Hungary Champion, Rhytmic Gimnastics Champion, Hungary Show Dance Champion, Hungary Trampoline Champion and many more.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

'11 Model Universe Champion Johanna Sabucini will be a guest judge at the Superbody Championships in Atlantic City. The New York fashion and commercial model has appeared in numerous magazines, advertisements, television shows, runway events, and much more. Johanna is also the reigning Miss New York USA and competed in Donald Trumps Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas in June.
'04 Fitness America Champion Else Lautala is the consummate fitness athlete. The Finnish acrobat, dancer and circus trapeze performer has been exciting Fitness Universe Tour audiences worldwide for nearly a decade. Else took 3rd Place at the recent Fitness Universe Championships in Miami with an incredible routine mixed with gymnastic, dance and acrobatic. No doubt she will continue to dominate the fitness scene.
Congratulations to '12 Figure Universe Classic Champion Megan Belcher & MM Pro Joe Patton on their marriage today. The Philadelphia couple and over 30 kin traveled to theTurks and Caicos Islands for the ceremony and honeymoon. Both Megan and Joe will be at the Superbody Championships cheering their team of competitors.
Suzanne Brown has been an active sports enthusiast for many years. But, the Northern California married mother of two boys has never competed. That will all change when she makes her debut stage at Ms. Bikini Arizona Class Division next month. At 5'7", 120 lbs. and 44 years of age, Suzanne says she's been married to her high school sweetheart for 22 years and together for 28 years. She says, "My kids and husband are my everything. I could not do this without them. I'm very nervous and excited all at the same time!"
'11 Model Universe Champion Johanna Sambucini went on to win the Miss New York USA and, then, competed at Donald Trump's Miss Universe. Now the stunning fashion and commercial model says she will return to Las Vegas in November to compete a
t Model America.

Johanna is a 5'7", 117 lbs. self described fitness fanatic and enjoys yoga, Pilates, running, swimming, biking and jet skiing. She has appeared in the Ab Sculptor catalog and commercials for Met-Rx, NFL, FX Network, Lights Out Series Premier and many more. Johanna has also been featured in the New York Times and New York Post and magazines including Latina, Runners World, Cosmopolitan, Shape, Elle and more.

Johanna will be a guest at the upcoming Superbody Championships in Atlantic City.

With just a couple of weeks left, Jessica Halbert continues her Fitness Superbody blog.

"Another week down and another week closer to the Superbody - time is flying! So, two weeks for me is official "laser focus" time. If the month mark 
was the time for doubt, now is the time for pushing forward and running to the finish line."

This is the time when those little things that are loose in my diet or training disappear. Every workout counts, every rep pushed, and no more "taste tests" off my hubby's plate. Three weeks feels like such a short window of time, but it is amazing how many changes we see in physiques in this final homestretch!

And, at two weeks - I start scheduling all the FUN things you do pre-show. Hair cut, mani pedis, and all those other "girly" appointments. I swear I never am so well primped and polished as the final weeks before a show! It's also time to pick out clothes for shoots I have scheduled and to get lots of extra practice in those clear heels! (This activity is often combined with meal prep - adding a little show glam to my kitchen chores always "spices" things up!)

And if I'm feeling a little tired or doubtful right now I turn to the wonderful extra motivation provided courtesy of our amazing U.S. Olympic athletes that I'm watching on TV. To watch their stories of sacrifice and dedication really gets me pumped up and excited for the commitment required of me in the next three weeks. Their zeal and dedication is contagious and I'm soaking it all in!"

So for everyone following along that is meeting me in Atlantic City - let's do this - time to lock down, get exctied, and go for the gold!

Until next week,

Personal trainer Jana KovacovicOVACOVIC competed at '11 Ms. Bikini America, but the Under Armour Switzerland sponsored athlete says it will be something special to compete close to home. At 35 years of age, 5'3", 117 lbs., Jana will be competing at Ms. Bikini Europe. She says, "It's going to be party time in Paris!"
Minnesota fitness fanatic Jessi Vizenor has been competing for two years and says she enjoys every minute of it. The 26 year old, 5'3", 110 lbs. billing manager will be competing at Ms. Bikini Midwest in Chicago next month. Jessi says, "I'm currently working on building my own personal training company, along with opening up a custom off-road shop with my husband who builds custom off-road buggies."
Last Saturday's Fitness Carolina show in Charlotte was incredibly fun with all new competitors from through the region. Some of the beginner competitors called it a "Camp Show"! But despite being a newbie contest, many of them were amazing and ready for Superbody and Fitness America Weekend.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

After loosing 30 lbs., Dawn Bonfonti (R) decided she wanted to compete for the first time. After competing in this year's Ms. Bikini New England Classic Division, the 51 year old mother of two says its time for more. "I want to be an inspiration to other women. If I can get into shape, anyone can!" At 5'5", 125 lbs., Dawn is trained by FU star Janelle Nicolo (L) and will be on stage at Ms. Bikini Superbody in Atlantic City two weeks.
New Yorker Kristin Russo is a New York School of Interior Design graduate but also works as a group fitness instructor and yoga teacher. The 28 year old, 4'11", 102 lbs. will take the stage for the first time at Superbody Figure Championships in Atlantic City in 3 weeks. But with all of her skilled fitness training, Kristin says, "Thanks to Mom for instilling good habits by always substituting with whole wheat and stocking low fat everything!" Besides her avid fitness lifestyle, Kristin works as a volunteer adult literacy tutor in Manhattan.
As a professional basketball player in Germany & Finland, Jana Rediger says hard work and determination was necessary to be successful. The 6'3", 163 lbs. professional trainer will take her etiquette to something a little more fun but just as competitive when she steps on the Ms. Bikini Superbody stage in Atlantic City. Jana graduated from Villanova University and is sports fitness center director.
At 40 years young, Lexine Kolb decided it was time to take the stage. Now, five years later, the 5', 125 lbs., stay at home mom has since competed in NABBA, Tri-Fitness and NPC shows and will take the Ms. Bikini and Figure Superbody Championships in 3 weeks. Lexine is married with two teenage sons who will be in Atlantic City to cheer on Mom.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Figure New Mexico competitor and sports model Genieve Sanchez is a sports fanatic like very few others. Besides competitive fitness, the 31 year old landscape architect has been an NCAA Division I collegiate basketball player and professional rodeo rider. But recently she surprised everyone taking on yet another athletic challenge.

"On Friday night I won my first amateur boxing match here in Albuquerque," Genieve says. "It was an awesome challenge and I was thrilled to put my conditioning from Fitness Universe to good use in pursuing a combat sport. To my surprise I was actually the main fight on the card which I think had a lil something to with me being a fitness model and sportswriter (at least it got some pull). Or, maybe everyone just wanted to see the ladies get at it! I held my own out there and definitely gave them the "main event" fight everyone came to see! To my surprise, the fight was highly promoted and covered by the media in New Mexico and even recognized regionally."

"It was amazing and I felt so athletic and powerful in the ring. It was a great moment for me! I had not been in a live action sport since I played basketball in college and something felt ridiculously right about it.

"I feel on top of my game and couldn't be happier with all the opportunity ahead of me with combat sports, fitness, and modeling. Don't just knock on new doors of opportunity; why not go ahead and BANG them down eh!"

"Not sure what’s next, I may do another fight, but I still wanna aim for my Figure Pro Card with the Fitness Universe Tour! All so exciting!"
Another newcomer taking the stage at the Superbody Championships in Atlantic City will be Ms. Bikini competitor Anngela Leone from New York City. Coached by friend and MM Pro Sanya Shaka, Anngela was encouraged to step outside the gym and onto the stage for the first time. She says, "I am an attorney and Vinyasa yoga instructor for over 3 years. And, I and looking to complete my certification in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University next month. As a vegetarian of 20 years and vegan for the last 10, I am deeply interested in the power of nutrition on health and athletic performance. I work out 5-6 days a week, varying my workouts with running, boxing, yoga and weight training."
Fitness Universe star Jessica Halbert continues her blog this week as she prepares for the Superbody Championships next month in Atlantic City.

"So here we are less than 5 weeks out from Superbody. Translation - I still have 31 days before I can smear my favorite cinnamon ezekiel toast with almond butter at breakfast (yes I counted!) And while 31 days feels like a long time to wait for that breakfast deliciousness, this is also the week where I inevitably feel that little voice of doubt in my head - "One month? 31 Days? Will you be ready?"

"It does not matter how many shows I've done or how many times I have been through prep - when I hit around the 5 week mark, it is tough to ignore that self-doubt that starts seeping in to your thought process. See at around 5 weeks out a funny thing happens - there is still time for changes to occur (in fact you DON'T want to be show-ready that far out), but around the month mark - it is hard to trust the process and look in the mirror knowing that you will be stage-ready in 31 days time. You want to believe it will all come together but that show date starts to feel CLOSE. And it is easy to doubt your ability to make it to the finish line."

"Well there is one benefit to being kind of "old hat" at this competing thing. I've been here before - I have had this fear and every time it has come together. So I remind myself to exhale, take another deep breath in, and then exhale again. I try to remember that while there is much to do in the next 5 weeks, I have already put in a lot of work that will get me there if I can trust myself and trust the process. The doubt is just one part of the roller coaster ride - think of that knot in your tummy as the moment at the top of the coaster ride - a heightened anxiety where you wonder what you got yourself into - but the next four weeks is the wild ride down the track. It will be challenging but exciting and thrilling all at the same time."

"And no little voice is going to keep me off that ride. So time to breathe and strap in!"

Fitness Universe Weekend competitor Abby Huot is a 30-year-old bikini/figure competitor, fitness model, and regularly featured writer in Natural Muscle Magazine. Once 190 lbs., Abby began her fitness journey in 2007, widdling down to 127 lbs. for her first show in just 12 months. Abby says, "I was terrified. But then again, if you don't do something that scares you a little bit, your goals probably aren't big enough!"

With 10 shows under her belt, Abby is now a veteran in the competition world and admits she is a continual work in progress. Her love for writing and passion for teaching people about the true meaning of health and wellness have given her life new meaning. "I was a little lost on what to do with a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature after college", she admits, "I'm so grateful I found a channel for my writing skills! It was really cool to go to do the Universe and get so much positive feedback from people. I definitely have found the industry I belong in."

With plans of completing her personal training certification and taking on clients by the end of the year, Abby is looking forward to where her fitness career takes her in the future. She will be competing for the first time at Fitness America Weekend in Las Vegas this November with her boyfriend, Michael Duffy, who will be stepping on stage for the first time as well.
 Around Christmas last year, Kelley Tyan set a new goal for herself.

“I was turning 38 in February. I needed a new step. I'm always looking to do something better,” she said. So the Massachusetts native decided to sign up for a fitness competition in April at the Fitness New England show at Foxwoods. A lot of training would be needed to get in perfect shape to impress the judges (and everyone else watching) in the Ms. Bikini New England Classic Class for women 35 and older. “It's all about training and nutrition,” she said. Judges are looking for “a lean look. Your posing. Your walk. Your stage presence. Your body and tone.” There were more than 30 contestants in her category. She won! “It was unbelievable. I was a rookie coming in. I was just so happy to be on stage because of the training I had put in. When they called my name it was overwhelming. All the hard work paid off.”

Last month Tyan went to Miami to compete in the Ms. Bikini Universe (in the same Classic Class, though this time for women 35 to 45). Her field this time had some of the fittest and most beautiful women from across America and around the world. And, it would be another classic victory for Tyan! “I just went there to compete with all these girls, and then they called my name out again. I'm still celebrating,” she said. Next up will be Ms. Bikini America in Las Vegas in November.

Tyan is not unfamiliar with challenges and setting goals for herself - and others. For one thing, the mother of two runs Kelley's Bootcamp for Women at CrossFit Center. When she formerly did makeup and makeovers, she said, she saw a lot of women had low self-esteem about their bodies. Kelley's Bootcamp combines exercise with teaching good nutrition (“eating clean,” as Ms. Tyan puts it) in a four-week program that many women repeat. “I've always loved making women feel good about themselves,” Tyan said.

One of the impetuses, in turn, for Kelley's Bootcamp, which Tyan opened in 2009, was an “out of the blue” diagnosis of breast cancer in 2008. “As I went through it, I wanted to put the focus on something else. I put the focus on fitness,” she said.

Tyan was studying to be a fitness trainer when she “felt a lump. I found it myself. I never thought it was anything. I put off (going to) the doctor for three months. Then I went.” The bad news came in a phone call. “I was absolutely devastated. My whole world stopped,” she said. “I only let it stop for a moment, though. I had my cry and said, 'OK, I'm not going to let this get a hold of me.' ” She had a lumpectomy and then radiation treatments. As she dedicated herself to fitness and also studying nutrition, “I developed a business plan for Kelley's Bootcamp. That's what got me through everything. Kelley's Bootcamp started and is still going strong today.” She is clear of cancer.

Tyan graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a degree in early childhood education and Spanish. She taught at an elementary school, and with her husband, Tony Tyan (an insurance agent), also opened a tanning salon.

“I always did the gym thing. I always liked to work out. But it wasn't until I had my second child in 2006 that I made some big changes.” One of the results, as she became increasingly fit and ate better, was that migraines that had bothered her since childhood went away.

Karon Shea of La Femmina Modeling Training Center/ Karon Shea Model Management said that Tyan was a student of hers more than 30 years ago. They stayed in touch. “I've seen her develop into a beautiful and amazing woman over the years,” she said. After finding out that Tyan had been sick, some of Shea's friends took the “boot camp.” “At 5 a.m. they would drag themselves in because they said 'If she can work that hard with her cancer, so can we,' ” Shea said. Actually, the first class of the day for Kelley's Bootcamp for Women is at 5:15 a.m. “That's my busiest, believe it or not,” Tyan said. Women range in age from 18 to 60. She's never had anyone over 60. However, “I'll take them.”

She works out six days a week, an hour to an hour-and-a-half each workout. As for eating clean, “Just clean foods in their natural state. Not canned and processed. I just like to eat pure foods. I shop in the perimeter of the market. I don't shop in the aisles.” That means “fresh veggies and meats.” She's not a vegetarian. Furthermore, “I have two kids so I'm not 100 percent perfect.”

By the same token, “Some people feel that after they have kids it's all over, and I change that all around,” she said. “Once you turn 35, life's just starting in my eyes.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fitness Universe™ star Jessica Halbert continues her weekly blog as she prepares for Superbody™ next month.

"Back again - and here we are just 6 weeks from the Superbody™ show. This is where the anticipation starts to build and I can't decide whether August 25 feels like it is SO far away or right around the corner. It changes at least three times a day."

"But for me - 6 weeks is where the real excitement begins in show prep. Now I know that prep is a very personal journey - but for me a few things happen around the 6 week mark that really build those "ohmygosh" show butterflies. This is where I start to pull in my nutrition and see some real changes in my physique. Cardio usually inches up a bit and this is also where my routine practice takes center stage - cleaning up little details and tweaking elements throughout. While some of my hardest work comes in at the 6 week mark, I also feel like this is the time to get PUMPED. I try to celebrate the small changes that I see throughout the next several weeks knowing they will add up to a great show experience."

"I also make a special point at this time to carve out a little 'mental health' time each week. Rather than a dinner out with my husband, we'll go for a long hike or watch a movie that we've been swearing we would watch together for months. I go places where the focus is fun and company not food and drinks. It's not that places with food and drinks can or should be avoided (I refuse to be that person that abstains from even attending events because - egads! - there will be cheeseburgers that I have to turn down) - but I do make a point of seeking out fun and new things to do that don't revolve around temptation. And because it is summer time there are so many options! I'm lucky enough to spend a lot of my time at the Jersey Shore in the summer so that means reading in the beach breeze, mini golf, and my favorite pass time - beach mansion window shopping! I'll smack on the sunscreen and take a relaxing walk with my mom through some of my dream neighborhoods at the shore - each of us deciding which fabulous ocean front mega mansion we will be taking today. I have my eye on a big Mediterranean style house - now I just need to come up with an extra 6 millions dollars or so . . ."

"For all my fellow competitors prepping for Superbody™ - Congrats! We are one more week down and it is going to be a great show! Looking forward to checking in with you all next week. Until then, thanks for reading."
Photo: FU star JESSICA HALBERT continues her weekly blog as she prepares for Superbody™ next month. "Back again - and here we are just 6 weeks from the Superbody™ show. This is where the anticipation starts to build and I can't decide whether August 25 feels like it is SO far away or right around the corner. It changes at least three times a day." "But for me - 6 weeks is where the real excitement begins in show prep. Now I know that prep is a very personal journey - but for me a few things happen around the 6 week mark that really build those "ohmygosh" show butterflies. This is where I start to pull in my nutrition and see some real changes in my physique. Cardio usually inches up a bit and this is also where my routine practice takes center stage - cleaning up little details and tweaking elements throughout. While some of my hardest work comes in at the 6 week mark, I also feel like this is the time to get PUMPED. I try to celebrate the small changes that I see throughout the next several weeks knowing they will add up to a great show experience." "I also make a special point at this time to carve out a little 'mental health' time each week. Rather than a dinner out with my husband, we'll go for a long hike or watch a movie that we've been swearing we would watch together for months. I go places where the focus is fun and company not food and drinks. It's not that places with food and drinks can or should be avoided (I refuse to be that person that abstains from even attending events because - egads! - there will be cheeseburgers that I have to turn down) - but I do make a point of seeking out fun and new things to do that don't revolve around temptation. And because it is summer time there are so many options! I'm lucky enough to spend a lot of my time at the Jersey Shore in the summer so that means reading in the beach breeze, mini golf, and my favorite pass time - beach mansion window shopping! I'll smack on the sunscreen and take a relaxing walk with my mom through some of my dream neighborhoods at the shore - each of us deciding which fabulous ocean front mega mansion we will be taking today. I have my eye on a big Mediterranean style house - now I just need to come up with an extra 6 millions dollars or so . . ." "For all my fellow competitors prepping for Superbody™ - Congrats! We are one more week down and it is going to be a great show! Looking forward to checking in with you all next week. Until then, thanks for reading."
Reigning Fitness America Champion Leigha Hervery is training to take the gold at Fitness Superbody next month in Atlantic City. The 26 year old fashion designer has been competing for only a year and yet has never lost a show. Leigh says she will have a whole new routine and wants to continue her dominance on the fitness scene. At 5'3", 114 lbs., she lost over 40 lbs. before taking up competitive fitness. Now besides being a fitness star, she designs and makes custom print suits and sportswears costumes for fitness competitors.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The daily of training, dieting, sacrificing and then traveling to compete at the Fitness Universe Weekend can be no more fulfilling then what AJ Newton experienced. Here's her story in her own words.

"My name is Alix James Newton. I was competitor #235 at the Fitness Universe Weekend in Miami a few weeks ago. I traveled from Australia to compete at your event and continued with my travels in the USA after the event, only arrive home in Australia this morning. It was just now that I had the opportunity to check the final scores and my placing for the Musclemania Womens Division, in which the records show I placed fifth.

On the day of the finals I missed the chance to be onstage at the awards for the finals because I was involved with reporting a crime to the police. During the time between performing routines at the finals and the announcement of placings I had gone across the road from the Hilton to the local grocery store (Publix), after being assured by Musclemania officials that I had ample time to do so, as I needed to purchase safety pins as my posing suit had become undone. Whilst I was returning from the Publix to the Hilton a pedestrian was struck by a taxi cab and I assisted with the persons first aid and then was required to remain with the police and give my version of events as I was a witness. This process took some time. When I returned to the show I was informed that the show was over. The next day I delayed my flight out of Miami in order to attend the showroom at the Hilton again in an effort to explain my situation to someone, however I had no such luck and could only locate staff from the Hilton.

I understand nothing can be done about the fact that I unfortunately missed my moment on stage to accept my award and all that would have come with that experience. However, I can take some solace in knowing I was able to apply my medical knowledge to help someone who was badly hurt in an accident on the street. As I am now home and have internet access and have been able to see the scores, I am equally proud knowing I actually been in the top five."

As a scientist with a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Health Science and Nutritional Medicine, the pedestrian was lucky to have such a capable person to attend to him/her.

We could not be more proud that a person of such character chose to grace the Musclemania stage. On behalf of all nearly 400 competitors at Fitness Universe Weekend, thank you, AJ!

Fitness Universe star Jessica Halbert will bring her athletic talents and natural beauty to the Superbody™ stage next month. Today, she begins her weekly update as she trains for Atlantic City! "I'm so thrilled to have a chance to blog my journey over these next 7 weeks as I head to the Superbody™ stage in Atlantic City on August 25th! I'll be competing in the fitness division, which is a Pro Qualifier this year - so the bar has been set high to bring my very best to the stage! In June, I competed in Fitness Universe in Miami and was over the moon to find myself in the Top 10. Before heading to Miami, I had sworn up and down (and left, and right) that Universe was my ONLY show this summer and that while I would be an excited attendee in the audience, I would not be taking the stage in Atlantic City in August. So what made me lose - errr, I mean - change my mind? Summer competing is TOUGH. I'm sure those of you preparing for a show this summer know exactly what I'm talking about. The sun is out, people are more relaxed, and happy hours and barbecues seem like they are on a continuous cycle. It is not easy to stay on track and avoid margaritas and bean dip and burgers when they seem to be around every turn. And really, isn't lounging by the pool or on the beach SO much more appealing on a hot summer day than working up a sweat? Well, after Miami I went on a week's vacation to the Dominican Republic and ate and drank and relaxed my little butt off. And you know what? I found myself in the resort gym by the second day. Because to be honest, while I loved indulging and partying it up on a gorgeous island, I've gotten used to my active and healthy lifestyle - and EGADS! - I missed it immediately. I also realized that I would be kicking myself sitting in the crowd in Atlantic City. This show is practically in my backyard! And now, with the show being a Pro Qualifier there is just no way that I could sit in the audience and watch all those amazing competitors without regretting the decision to sit the show out. So I'm back at it - and dialing down slowly but surely. I have to admit - summer competing may not be easy, but it is certainly manageable. First, not EVERY barbecue and glass of wine must be avoided. It was just a matter a picking a few events (early in my prep of course) that I wanted to attend this summer and making sure that these little indulgences were small in number and handled with moderation. And while it is hot outside (I don't know where you guys live, but PA and NJ have been like a freaking sauna these last few weeks) - this also means more light to the day and opportunities to take my workouts outdoors from time to time to spice things up. Ever try plyos on the beach? WOWZA. So I'm in and I'm looking forward to August 25th as I hope many of you are as well. I'll be writing again next week with another update. Until then stay strong guys - we can do this!"

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Figure and Fitness Universe Pro Divisions will launch next season with shows at the Universe, America, Europe and Superbody Championships. This season, new Pro qualifying events include the Universe, Superbody, America, Latino, Europe, New York, California, Texas and Florida shows. The new Pro Divisions will feature natural competitions in which all finalists will submit to urinalysis drug testing to help ensure a clean event featuring only natural and beautiful ladies.
The new series of Texas Natural Fitness Camps are coached by (L-R) Adriana Sanchez, Christine Anderson, Jennifer Wilson and Dawn Short. The veteran Ms. Bikini, Figure and Model America & Universe competitors teamed to bring their experience to beginners and novices in the Lone Star state. New camps are preparing ladies for the Space City and Texas shows being held on Sep 22 and Nov 3, respectively.

Former ballerina and professional dancer Jessica Starr is the new Ms. Bikini Universe. The 26 year old Florida health & wellness coach is used to stage performance. Jessica explains, "The excitement of getting to show your true personality on stage along with the support and sportsmanship from the competitors make the whole experience at this show a memory that I will cherish for life!"
By unanimous decision, Jessica Rinaldi took home the gold at Figure Universe in Miami. The all around athlete is a certified personal trainer and full time mom. Beginning in middle school, Jessica played basketball, softball, soccer and ran track. Soccer was her preferred sport but following an serious injury and rehabilitation, she turned to fitness training. Jessica recently announced that she and her long time boyfriend and trainer Michael Donathan are engaged.
'12 Model Universe Champion Cara Ovis graced the Miami stage with athleticism, elegance and charisma beyond her 20 young years. The University of New Mexico business student was already riding a wave after winning the '11 Model America in Las Vegas. As recently as 3 years ago, Cara was overweight but with encouragement from her family and friends, she dedicated herself to shedding body fat, conditioning her muscle tone and carry an aura of humility and class. Kudos Cara!

Just before the Fitness Universe Weekend, we received this following from Paris Ashley McBride who trained for and competed in the show. 

"I have been coming to the Universe Weekend this is my Third year, your show has completely changed my life. Two years ago when I went to the first one as a spectator actually that is a pic from the show. I had lost a hundred pounds but I didn't have any shape in my muscles. I have spent the last two years building transforming and sculpting my body into what it is today. The reason I never believed I could be a figure girl is because 2010 when I was there I saw a girl that lost 100 lbs. get second place and I was amazed how great she looked. I also believed if she could do it so could I. I know my skin is not as perfect as someone that never lost 100 lbs. but that dose not stop me from competing or continuing to build and sculpt my figure.

I was in the Fitness America in Las Vegas in Nov. when I cam home I got straight to work preparing for this years shows. I have trained everyday twice a day since Nov and my Figure has improved dramatically. I am also a Certified Sport Nutritionist and Cert. Master Trainer. Trained by some of the best in the fitness industry including Dexter Jackson, Gale Ellie, Jennifer Mitchelli, Lee Apperson, Shannon Dey and Team Bombshell and much much more... There have been many hands, knowledge and wisdom that has went into building my body over the last 4 years of my journey.

I thank you for taking time time to read a little bit about me and I am very excited to unveil my new body in this year's Universe Weekend."

Although she didn't make the Top 10, no doubt Paris went home from the show with a sense of personal fulfillment that he transformation was as unique an accomplishment as any competitor could ever expect.
At Fitness Universe Championships next weekend, Albuquerque hip hop and crew dancer Aaron "Spunj Bob" Hicks will bring his gritty, edgy and exciting performance to the stage. As a top performer on America's Got Talent and America's Best Dance Crew shows, Aaron is seasoned show performer and won the recent Fitness New Mexico Championships.
'11 Ms. Bikini Britain Emma Louise Burrows will be part of Team Britain at Fitness Universe Weekend. The television fitness star says, "I cannot wait to represent Fitness Britain in Miami. It still does not feel as if it is actually going to happen. Fitness Universe is a huge federation known worldwide and lucky me getting to join the fabulous Musclemania Pro Roger Snipes out there to see if I can achieve the US standard and do the fab job I hope to at representing Britain."
'11 Fitness Universe Champion Ancar Bucar is traveling from Europe to capture the title once again. The former Romanian gymnastics and acrobatics star has a complete new routine and will face a daunting line-up of new and veteran fitness women on stage.
With nearly 150 competitors, the '12 Fitness Lone Star had an incredible line-up of Texas belles in all categories including the Ms. Bikini Lone Star Tall Class - Anna Kolodziejska 1st, Jessica Vasquez 2nd, Dayna Liccketto 3rd, Brooke Castillo 4th and Abi Woodcock 5th. Anna and Jessica will be taking their game to the next level this weekend at Ms. Bikini Universe.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Georgian Tamara Diahann is making her foray into the competitive fitness when she competes at Ms. Bikini & Model Universe next weekend in Miami. With her BA and MA degrees, she began her fit and wellness profession in the "glamorous world" of pageantry where she has approximately 12 years experience. As a fitness trainer Tamara’s mission is to help, her clients incorporate enjoyable exercise into their daily lives.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

As an athlete, model, dancer, fitness consultant, dance instructor, dietetic technician and nutrition coach, Desiree Nathanson is as well rounded as any Fitness Universe competitor. She began her formal dance training at the age of four at Flash Dance at Florida Ballet Arts in Sarasota, and continued through her discovery of dance teams in high school. From there she became a Dazzler and went on to dance for the University of Florida Gators dance team where she performed all over the country, including the 2000 Men’s Basketball Final Four.

Following her four years at UF Desiree broke into the professional world of dance as an 'A-Town' dancer for the NBA's Atlanta Hawks. Currently, Desiree serves as an official trainer for the Atlanta Hawks Cheerleaders. She was privileged enough to perform at both the 2002 NBA All Star game and Celebrity All Star game. She has traveled internationally to represent the NBA in China, performing in the Guangzhou and Chengdu provinces and has also performed at games for the Reynosa Correcaminos, the Hawks' sister team in Reynosa, Mexico.

Desiree has worked with several music artists including The Sugarhill Gang, MC Hammer, Kool and the Gang, American Idol finalist Ejay Day, Bryce, Cat Chang and Pilar Montenegro.

Desiree earned her Master of Science (M.S.) in Health Sciences with a specialization in Nutrition, from Georgia State University, and has since earned the title dietetic technician, registered (DTR).

Throughout the week, Desiree teaches a variety of exciting dance and fitness classes at Dance 101 in Atlanta. She also trains and manages her individual fitness clients throughout Atlanta, in person and her clients throughout the country, online. She competes on the Fitness Universe circuit.

Always a vibrant and fresh performer, Desiree is always at the forefront of any show.

'05 Fitness America Champion Else Lautala will be performing at Fitness Universe in Miami. The Finish dancer and circus performer is a 7x Aerobic Champion and always presents an awe-inspiring, creative and stunning stage performance with a mix of dance, gymnastics and acrobatics. Else will be bringing Team Finland to Miami with beautiful Ms. Bikini, Model and Figure ladies.

As one of the Minnesota's hottest fitness stars, Tarah Aandrews earned her athletic strips as a former volleyball player, gymnast and marathon runner. At 5'7", 132, the '10 Ms. Bikini Great North Tall Class winner is a striking woman. But, she's a self proclaimed wacky lady. "I'm a quirky tomboy at heart," Tarah says. "My favorite thing to do is make my friends laugh! I'm known for busting out my "Irish jig" after a good cardio session. When I'm not in the gym I enjoy having healthy lunch dates with my teammates, walking my dog around the lake or taking my little sister out for ice cream! Also, this year (January) I graced my very first COVER of a fitness magazine! I hope to keep excelling in the modeling world."

Tarah is training for Ms. Bikini Universe in Miami in two weeks. But her reasons are more passionate than one would expect. "Living a healthy and natural lifestyle is my passion in life!," Tarah explains. "And to be part of Fitness America is a true honor as it represents classy, natural and hard working women. My hope is to inspire others to compete in this amazing federation!"

At the recent Fitness New England, Cynthia Evangelous triumphed as a Top 5 Finalist among an amazing line-up of ladies. The old 42 year old PT has been competitive for 20 years including the '91 National Aerobics Champion. Cynthia has a Bachelors of Science in Exercise Science and a group exercise instructor for 25 years, long before it was fashionable. With 3 kids at home and at 5'4", 100 lbs., she says, "I encompass the entire essence of fitness inside and out. I live a healthy lifestyle, maintain a positive image and teach others to do the same. At 43 years of age, I have never looked or felt better!"

Cynthia will be bring her veteran years of stage talent and performance to Fitness Universe Weekend in a couple of weeks.
New to the competitive fitness scene, Lisa Eveleth surprised everyone at the Mall of America last month. The 42 year old fitness director and personal trainer swept the Model Great North show and captured 2nd in Ms. Bikini Classic. And, now Lisa is training for Ms. Bikini & Model Universe in Miami in two weeks. But winning or loosing on stage was purely secondary for Lisa for facing the challenge itself was the victory.

In her own words . . .

"I was an active child, but looking back had symptoms that were overlooked. In high school I developed ITP, a blood disease that makes antibodies against your spleen which lead to high doses of IV steroids and then a splenectomy and exploratory operation. In 1993, while in college I was finally diagnosed with Lupus after some years of struggle with many symptoms including pain and swelling in joints, skin rashes, consistent fevers, severe mouth and nose ulcers, severe numbness, difficulty breathing, bloody lips, extreme fatigue, achiness, weakness, bloody lips, extreme hair loss and migraines.

Lupus is an auto-immune disease which causes inflammation in the body including connective tissue, blood and organs. Once the inflammatory response is turned on, it is tough to turn the immune system OFF! Symptoms became only worse in my Master's program in college. My Lupus finally attacked my kidneys and brain, leaving me with class 4 nephritis and cerebritis. I suffered many seizures and various TIAs (mini-strokes) and short term memory loss. My weight got down to 72 lbs. and I was in and out of ICU several times. Another bump in the road is when I developed the West Nile and CMV virus. What a frightening painful ride!

Since then, there have been many struggles with my lupus attacking my heart, brain, kidneys and other various organs, including losing 20-30 pounds each time and all muscle mass!! I survived several years of various treatments of numerous medications including chemotherapy and purchased many fancy wigs throughout my life. I have been ill more than half of my life, but now feel very blessed these last few years and have been able to overcome many of my symptoms.

I love my career as a Fitness Director, Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor! I love the gift I have been given to help people in their struggles because we all have struggles in life that we can overcome. Life gives you challenges to face and we can only grow and become stronger from them. I treasure each healthy day and feel completely blessed and loved by all my support. I feel so lucky in this world and would never change anything I went through because it has built my character and faith, and makes me who I am today."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

With just 5 months of fitness training, Kelley Tyan won the recent Ms. Bikini New England Classic Class. But the married mother of two boys biggest challenge was beating breast cancer. Kelley says, "I believe that hard work pays off in everything you do in life. My ambition is to be a mentor for women in the fitness industry, to guide them and lead down down a long, healthy lifestyle." Kelley will be among more than 400 natural competitors at Fitness Universe Weekend in Miami next month. But, she will be a true testament to the virtues of a healthy fitness lifestyle.
Model South Africa Champions Peter Gaiser & Michelle Van Rooyen rocked the house last weekend in Cape Town. They will be members of Team South Africa competing at Model Universe next month in Miami.
As one of the fitness industry's most prolific and legendary photographers, Alex Ardenti is a regular contributor to over 30 magazines worldwide Oxygen. His credits include magazine covers, major editorial features, commercial advertisements and more. Alex will be at Fitness Universe Weekend next month in Miami and offering his professional services to all competitors. Contact him directly for rates and availability - alex@alexardenti.com.

Also, this week, Alex begins a regular series about how to prepare for magazine and commercial photo shoots. If you've ever wanted to know the do's and don'ts about how to get real media publicity, you don't want to miss his guidelines and tips. And, if you want to know how to fully and properly prepare for photo shoots, then Alex's series will be indispensable for you.


"Even after 35 years in the game it still baffles me that certain models, bodybuilders and fitness competitors don't realize the perpetuity of their images. One thing I remember understanding right from the beginning of my career as a competitive bodybuilder and later as a photographer was that a photograph of yourself is a testimony on the level of conditioning you have attained at that certain point in time. So why not make that image as impressive as possible? Something that you will be able to show to everyone years after it was taken? Yet time after time I see models show up at a photo shoot unprepared and in less than stellar conditioning.

One crucial piece of advice I can give to anyone who has scheduled a photo session with a professional photographer is to take the event seriously. Whether you are paying the photographer to capture your best looks or if the photographer has hired you for a paid job or even if it's a simple "test shoot" the level of professionalism on the part of the photographer and crew will always be the same. You will need to treat the project with the same level of professionalism as everyone else working with you.

I'll go as far as saying that preparing for a photo shoot should be as meticulous and demanding as preparing for a contest. The best fitness models and competitors I work with always go through a mini preparation for their photo shoot. Some just need 10 days to "dial it in" while others train and diet diligently for 30 days or so to make sure their are immortalized at their best. A great image of yourself, especially in our digital age, will last practically forever from this point in time on. Make the photos count by giving it your best and by showing up at your best. No one is asking for perfection because your physique is always a work in progress but having done your homework will show both physically and in your attitude. You will have the confidence of knowing you did the best you can do and will be ready to show it off.

There are several things though that can detract form an overall perfect package. They can literally make or break a shoot. In the next installment I will have a list of the most essential things you should have under control for your big day under the lights!"

Alex Ardenti will be available for personal portfolio shoots in Miami from June 13 - 18. Contact him directly for rates and availability - alex@alexardenti.com.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

On and off stage, Megan Fish is a stunning woman. And at the recent Model New England Championships at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, the 5'7", 130 lbs. took 2nd Place among a tight field of amazingly talented ladies.

But beyond her body and looks, Megan has an extreme athletic background. As Captain of her high school track and field team, she holds 4 school and 1 state records. And, at Roger Williams University, Megan was honored All-Academic on the Women's Varsity Cross Country Team and was Top Ten in the Conference 3 years in a row. She explains, "Running has always been the foundation for my love of fitness and health."

Megan's interest are diverse including being an AFAA certified personal trainer since 2006. Currently, she teaches Pilates classes at a local gym. Megan says, "It's a little known fact that I tried for years to cover up to my jock high school friends that I played the alto saxophone in the jazz band and I also taught myself how to play the organ!"

Megan's fitness performances are also a family affair. "My mom is my official bikini seamstress!", she admits. "I am so appreciative of her talents and undeniable support."

Professionally, the 25 year old college graduate says, "My eyes are set on NYC and it is my dream to sign a fitness modeling contract with a top agency." And competitively, Megan explains, "It would be honored to win the Model Universe Championships because of the qualities that this federation possesses. Wholesome class, respect and pure credibility in such an ever-changing industry. Class never goes out of style. It is so important to me as a bikini athlete to have a family like Fitness Universe around me so that I understand how to represent myself as more than just a competitor. Winning the competition would solidify my ambition to be that role model so that I can help others feel good about themselves through prioritizing their health, making time for fitness, and building self-confidence."

As a first time competitor, Nora Shams was a Top 3 Finalist at the recent Ms. Bikini New England and Model New England at Foxwoods Resort Casino, an amazing show will over 200 talented competitors. The 5'7", 130 lbs., Magna Cum Laude college graduate is used to conquering life's challenges. Nora is also an Army airborne and Iraqi combat veteran which she says helped to forge a whole new perspective to her character.

She explains, "I am airborne qualified and a Operation Iraqi Freedom combat veteran (425th Infantry BDE stationed in Alaska). During my deployment I was the only female on my squad and I faced many challenges because of that.

Once I was off active duty, it was difficult for me to deal with my experiences overseas. I felt humiliated, destroyed and lost all my confidence. Thirty five pounds later (from gaining weight) I realized that I was unhappy with living an sedentary life style and most importantly I needed to rebuild what was knocked down from my deployment.

Working out has been my self-medication and through working out I feel empowered. I gained my confidence back and inspired people at the gym (that witnessed my weight loss). I gave them hope and the reality that hard work does pay off. I want to continue to give people inner strength through fitness and be a role model for other women that have shared similar experiences. For that reason, I recently joined the Army reserves."

No doubt, Nora will continue to be a fresh, exciting and unique presence on stage again soon.

'11 Figure America Champion Jessica Rinaldi is preparing for the upcoming Figure Universe Championships in Miami. Jessica says she is keeping an athletic approach to this competition & going back to her roots as she revs up her metabolism with higher intensity workouts like her college soccer training days. She is keeping her workouts fun and intense and even her 7 year old daughter, Mia, is doing it right along with her.
The couple that competes together, stays together! Kim Murgatroyd first stepped on the Fitness America stage in 2004, but it wasn't until husband ROB got inspired by watching the Mens Model Championships that there fitness-lifestyle really took off. Here's Kim telling it all in her own words:

"At first, when we told people we were going to start competing together, they were worried we'd end up killing each other from the stresses of training, dieting and competing together. But with our fourth national event coming up, we're stronger than ever! Doing this together has formed a bond that is unbreakable. We support each other, can empathize with each other and really have grown because of our experiences competing together. We have one rule that we live by. When one of us is anxious and freaking out, the other must be calm and in control. This way, we're always able to calm each other down. The most exciting part of this journey is doing it together as a family. Now our 14 year old daughter is catching the bug and getting ready to compete herself for the first time in Junior Fitness. With both of us having placed in the Top 15 of our categories in the past, now with Fitness Universe 2012 coming up, we're both aiming for a Top 5 slot!"

Friday, April 20, 2012

'11 Figure Universe Shannon Petralito is continuing her training for Miami. In her latest update, she talks about her leg trainer and how much he matters in her regimen.

"Its week #2 in my countdown until Figure Universe! Time is flying by and I am excited to share this weeks update. I have the honor of working legs this season with the one and only Mick Souza - Mr. Universe 1992! Mick & I have been training legs now for 3 weeks & I can tell you this - he brings it back old school & I love it!

Lying Ham Curls, Dead-lifts, Suspension Lunges, Squats, Leg Extensions & Sissy Squats & we end with some old school calve exercises. One word - AWESOME! Well maybe two words - OUCH - lol!

I have learned so much already training with Mick. He has helped me understand the biomechanics behind each exercise, helped me improve my form & has taught me that with focus I am stronger than I think! He is an incredible trainer - breaths every set with you - he is inside your workout with you - totally in that moment pushing me harder than I ever thought possible!

These past few weeks Mick & I have talked a lot and his stories are amazing! In 1980 after high school, Mick went to California with nothing more than his gym bag and some big dreams. His first night there he slept outside of the gym only to be greeted in the morning by Roger Callard (from Pumping Iron) who then took Mick under his wing. Within the first 24 hours of being there Mick was now training with Roger & Arnold Schwarzenegger! Mick trained with Arnold any many others such as Tom Platz who taught him about real intensity in training. Mike Christian was like a brother to Mick & many others such as Lee Haney while he was training for his first Mr. Olympia title. Mr. Olympia's Chris Dickerson and Franco Colombu and Mr. Universe Samir Bannout - literally the list goes on and on! Mick even placed third in the World Sumo Championships in Tokyo! Imagine that! You have got to check that one out - http://mick13.com/

Mick’s gym is filled with amazing photos that capture many incredible moments from those years. You can’t help but feel like your training “old school.” It feels as if your stepping back in time & it’s a whole different vibe when you train with him - I love it!

Today Mick is married to his beautiful wife Carla and he continues to train hard & spread his knowledge to others. Mick also teaches Religious Education to 5th, 9th and 10th graders as a volunteer! One of my favorite qualities about Mick is his faith in GOD - Mick has always had a strong faith & has always believed that his path has been chosen for him by GOD & he shows gratitude everyday.

I hope you enjoy this weeks video - it was a great workout & I wanted to share a bit of my experience with you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ujpS-h9ziQ&feature=player_embedded#!

I am very thankful to have the trainers & coaches that I have - we are all working together to help me be the best that I can be this season!

A special thanks to Mick this week for taking the time to pass

Thursday, April 19, 2012

'11 Figure America Champion Jessica Rinaldi & '11 Ms. Bikini America Champion Cara Ovis will be hosting Fitness New Mexico on May 19 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Both National Champions live in Albuquerque, train together and are great friends.