Saturday, March 31, 2012

Nevada model Sheila Repinski has never competed but with encouragement from trainer and MM Pro Rico Elbaz, she is training for Ms. Bikini Universe in Miami. At 5'7", 120 lbs. she says, "I enjoy working out, running, hiking and riding my GSXR motorcycle. I was born and raised in Cincinnati and moved to Las Vegas in 2004. I love challenges, I suppose growing up with 4 brothers made me very competitive." 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Behind-the-Scenes at Fitness America Weekend featured in Natural Muscle Magazine!
When she arrived at the '11 Fitness Boston, Melissa Toler was a complete newcomer to Fitness Universe shows. But, the end of the day, she went home as the Figure Boston Champion!

The 5'3", 155 lbs. pharmacist says, "During my high school and college years, I have always had an interest in fitness and athletics, but never participated in team sports. Now, being a Figure athlete is an important part of my life."

Melissa continued, "For me, this isn’t just about looking great or winning competitions - it’s about living my best life. I become immersed in my weekly meal prep by experimenting with new, clean-eating recipes. I thrive on pushing myself in the gym and seeing what my body can do."

"This has truly been a transformational experience. It has not only transformed me physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. I often wonder why it took so long for me to get to this point, where the athlete within me has finally emerged? Now I realize that this time is the right time for me . . . and it was definitely worth the wait."

"I didn’t do this alone. My close friends and family have been rooting for me from the beginning and now some of them are embarking upon their own fitness journeys after witnessing my transformation."

Melissa will be competing at Fitness New England at Foxwoods on April 28. She and over 200 amazing athletes will be on stage and broadcast LIVE at - Prejudging 1 PM ET, Finals 6 PM ET.

Team Korea at the '11 Fitness America Weekend was impressive both in the number and quality of the competitors. With two very large shows held in Korea each season (over 300 competitors in each show) , the winners and standout stars made the trip to Las Vegas fielding talent in the Ms. Bikini, Model and Musclemania® Divisions.
As a professional fitness, nutrition and wellness coach, Erin Melito has over 10 years experience as a corporate trainer. At 5'6", 125 lbs., the 35 years old fitness junkie says, "I found my passion for the health and wellness field once I began training and preparing for my first figure competition, last years Figure New England show." Erin is once again training for the show at Foxwoods on April 28 where more than 200 other amazing competitors will take the stage.
Always a sports jock, Katie Cates has been competitive in track, volleyball, softball, equestrian and weight lifting. The 26 year old personal trainer trains in her own studio gym and is preparing for Ms. Bikini Lone Star in Galveston. Katie says, "I found a love for fitness and nutrition while on my own journey to lose weight." She will join over 150 other Texas competitors at one of the most exciting regional shows of the season.
With no formal dance training, Bethany Nelson does her own fitness choreography. The 29 year old, 5'7", 110 lbs. graphic designer says she loves hip hop dancing and will show her stuff at Fitness Great North at Mall of America next month. Bethany says she would love one day to be back-up dancer in a music video production.
In college athletics Darrian Tissenbaum is known for her amazing gymnastics skills at Central Michigan University while carrying a 3.77 GPA as a biology major. But in the fitness scene, she is has earned a reputation as a rising competitor among the best in the nation. Darrian will be competing at Fitness Kumite in Pittsburgh which is her home base.

Monday, March 19, 2012

As one Minnesota's most popular fitness competitors,Sarah Engstrom maintains a very busy competitive schedule. In fact, this spring she will appear at Fitness Great North, New England and Universe shows - all in 3 months! But, the schedule probably won't trump the challenge Sarah faced last season before Fitness America Weekend. "It was just two weeks out from my third and final fitness competition of the year – Fitness America in Las Vegas. The timing was not ideal, but I needed to travel to India for a week to work with my offshore team (I work at Target Corp HQ). When I told people I was traveling to India during my final weeks of training, they looked at me with a combination of pity and concern, but I looked at the situation as yet another exciting challenge along the journey I’ve been on since April! Spending a full week away from home, half way around the world in the final weeks before a big show can certainly present some challenges. But with the right planning and attitude, all the critical elements will fall into place. I want to share some of the critical components that made this trip a success. Prep Smart Foods This may seem obvious to seasoned fitness competitors, but the same applies to anyone dedicated to a clean and healthy lifestyle. I packed my carry-on with Isagenix meal replacements, whey protein, greens, a shaker, apples, almonds and protein pancakes. The flights were probably the toughest part, but I was able to scavenge veggies from the salad and sides they served on the international flight, eat the protein source and skip the carbs. Sticking to a clean starch only diet was the key here. Every meal comes with rice or pasta, and as much bread as you would like, but if you are serious about meeting your goals, the decision to forgo these is a simple one. I packed more meal replacements, whey protein, Ionix Supreme, dried oats, baby-food sweet potato and flax-seed oil in my checked luggage to supplement my meals for the week. I over packed, mainly as a result of the success I had with the next tip… Make Friends with the Hotel Chef. Chef Paul at the hotel where I was staying had exchanged emails with me before I even landed. I contacted the hotel in advance of my trip to let them know I was training and had specific nutrition requirements. I was checking to see what lean protein and clean starch options were available. When I arrived to order my first meal, the private dining service recognized me from my email requests and had the chef meet with me personally to talk about menu options. He ordered in brown rice and quinoa specifically for me (wow, did I feel special!). Every morning, I was able to order an egg white omelet with veggies, cooked in olive oil, and a serving of fruit and oatmeal. That was perfect, and it gets even better. Not knowing where I would be eating off-site for lunch, I was able to get “brown bag” lunches from Chef Paul. I even brought along flax-seed oil to make my own dressing for salads. For dinner, we mainly ate at the hotel restaurant (lucky for me) where I was able to have chicken or fish as my lean protein on top of salads with oil and vinegar. For my remaining meals, I was able to have an Isagenix meal replacement/protein shake, and always had my Ionix Supreme before my workouts. Contacting the hotel and making special modifications for your meals may seem like a lot of effort or high-maintenance, but most establishments will go out of their way to meet your needs. Locate a Gym and Bring Backup. Luckily, my hotel gym had free weights, machines and cardio equipment, and I made sure of that in advance. But just in case, and for variety, I brought a jump rope and exercise bands with me. Also, I made certain I flexed my schedule to accommodate AM workouts to stay consistent with what I now do at home. Consistency is key, and I believe that helped me get back to my “normal” state upon my return to the States – even with the 12 ½ hour time difference! Keep Drinking Water on the Flights. This may seem obvious to my fellow competitors as well, but I found that asking for the full 1.5L water bottle the flight attendants were serving from made it easiest. I got a lot of sideways glances at first, but after I downed my first bottle, they would know to just keep them coming, LOL. Another option is to bring along your own water bottle that the flight attendants can refill for you. Two legs of the flights were 9-10 hours, so I just kept flushing as much as I could (on the way there and back). And, Did I Mention SLEEP? Our bodies need rest to perform, so no matter how crazy the schedule, or how much needs to “get done”, we must remember to allocate the appropriate amount of time for recovery. For me, keeping up with my workout routine and meal plans helped my body adjust to the time zone changes pretty quickly and made it easier for me to get the sleep I needed. A little relaxation can go a long way! All of our bodies are different, but none of us can perform at optimum levels without the rest we need. These components were keys to my success for an extended trip, but we all have things that come up last minute, so I believe these tips can be utilized for any type of travel, before a fitness competition, or just a family vacation. I hope this helps!" 
After becoming '04 Ms. Bikini South Beach, Jennifer Zubaalso became one of the most popular ladies on the contest circuit. The 5'2", 118 lbs. mother of two has always been an active athlete including 20 years as an experienced performance dancer. Jennifer says, "I have grown and advanced as an athlete through the years. I feel like I can jump higher, run faster and move with more precision andfluidity." After a 5 year hiatus from competition, Jennifer is training for her comeback at Ms. Bikini New England next month at Foxwoods in Connecticut. She says, "I am constantly pushing myself to be better and will bring my best in April. I know who I am as a person and athlete and am more confident than ever."
Recently named, "Sexiest Women on YouTube," and one of the, "Hottest Women of 2011," 2004 Ms. Bikini America™Jennifer Nicole Lee has become a household name in over 110 countries. Known for shedding 80 lbs. from a hefty 200 lbs. weight gain after the birth of her second child, JNL has turned her a transformation into fitness guru and international fitness celebrity. She has published several books, workout DVDs and launched her own swimwear line. JNL's weight loss journey and subsequent business ventures led her to appearances on Oprah and several other television shows. She say's, "It's my goal and passion to help increase the quality of everyone's lifestyle." JNL will be a guest star at Fitness Universe Weekend in Miami in June welcoming her fans and introducing some of her swimsuit line, DVD's, books, calendars and other new and exciting fitness products and programs. 
Last year's Kumite Fitness Champion Aubrey Worek is coming back for more gold. Once again, the Pittsburgh native is training for the annual Memorial Day extravaganza and says she's got a whole new routine this season. As a Top 10 Finalist at Fitness America and Fitness Universe, Aubrey says her competitiveness transcends all aspects of her life. She explains, "I feel that every time I step on stage, I am a winner. I believe in myself and strive to be a true inspiration to all women who dream big and desire to achieve more. I feel that my hard-work and determination have brought me so far; however, I have not done this alone. The moment I step on stage, I know I have won – I have done my best, and really, that’s all that matters to me!" Aubrey has her B.S. in Exercise Science with Minors in both Dance and Gerontology from Slippery Rock University. She is the President and founder of Wellness Solutions at Work, a corporate wellness company that implements work site wellness/fitness programs for large employer groups. Aubrey says, "I strive to improve the health and well-being of the employee population in order to increase work productivity, decrease their amount of sick days and lower their overall health care costs." "I have earned many health and fitness certifications with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). And, I have a diverse background in teaching group fitness classes, such as BodyPump, BodyCombat, Spinning, Zumba and YogaFit." Fitness is truly my passion and I have made it a successful career!" But Aubrey's real ambitions is to help other women with the physical challenges. "One of my main goals in life is to help empower women of all shapes, sizes, races and ages to build their confidence and reach their fitness goals. Personally, Aubrey says she wants to maintain healthy relationships with her supportive husband and loving family and friends. And, no doubt they will all be at the Kumite Fitness Championships cheer her on, hopefully to another 1st Place performance. 
At 47 years of age, Laura Bernstein took the stage at the '11 Fitness America Weekend - Figure Masters Division for the first time. The 4'11", 105 lbs. mother and grandmother has a personal passion for a fit lifestyle. Growing up Laura was always amazed at her father's musculature and whom groomed an interest in weight training. Trying to be fit with a small frame is a challenge, but Laura has found a way to make this happen. Her workout regimen consists of 5-6 days a week of weight training and cardio. After finding the right mix of foods for proper nutrition Laura's passion for the sport of fitness has grown. As a person who has always cared about others, Laura hopes to help and inspire young girls to find a confidence in themselves through exercise and good nutrition. Her advise to others is keep training hard and never give up.Laura will be taking her beautiful body and competitive spirit to the Fitness Great North show at the Mall of America in May. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Last season, Florida fitness star Gina Ostarly made her Fitness Universe debut appearance. At 40 years of age, she brought to the stage an incredible shape and natural beauty. The 5’4″, 118 lbs. wife and mother of three is a gym owner, personal trainer, fitness and swimsuit model and accomplished makeup artist. Gina stays in shape all year by maintaining an intuitive and flexible training regimen. She explains, "I try to be flexible with my workout schedule but usually train five days a week, a different bodypart at each workout, and I change exercises often. For example, my abs workout includes a combination of hanging knee raises, 3 x 30; flutter kicks, 3 x one minute; weighted crunches, 3 x 30; seated medicine ball twists, 3 x 20" Gina's nutrition regimen includes a healthful mix like chicken and sweet potatoes. But, she admits, occasionally she indulges with a few Krispy Kreme doughnuts! Gina brings a lot of maturity to any show and is an amazing example of a family oriented, healthy lifestyle. 
'06 Ms. Bikini America™ Danielle Mcglynn is back into contest training as she prepares for Ms. Bikini Universe in Miami in June. The 30 year old wife and mother says she is focused and aiming to win. Back in 2006, Danielle was challenged in many ways as she prepared for competition. "It was just 6 weeks before the 2006 Ms. Bikini America and my husband and I had just moved to Nashville, Tennessee. For the first time in 25 years, I left Florida for good. I left my family, my mother who was just diagnosed with cancer and I had to start all over. I didn't let the stress of moving away, starting over and knowing my mom was sick with cancer get the best of me. I followed through with my training, went to the show hoping to just make the top ten & I left as the Champion. 1st place!" Ever so photogenic, Danielle is a media darling and photographers dream. Come June, no doubt cameras will be following her everywhere and all the hard work and discipline will pay off, again.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

'11 Figure Universe Champion Shannon Petralito treats competitive fitness as a personal passion and lifestyle. The 35 year old wife & mother is a personal trainer, nutritional consultant & motivational speaker/life coach for teenage girls & women. Shannon holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dessie Mitcheson is a new face of Playboy Intimates and a Miss Tropic Beauty. And, her beauty will come to the Ms. Bikini Kumite stage in Pittsburgh, PA on Memorial Day Weekend. Dessie's recent calendar work includes Tropicbeauty Swimsuit Calendar, Matco Tool and Burgh Babe cover model. Magazine appearances include Belle Morte, Gladys, Smokescreen, Allaboutbikes and others.
As a full time nursing student, Venessa Amaya has a passion for caring for people. And, the 32 year old mother and veteran fitness competitor will be taking the stage at Ms. Bikini New England at Foxwoods on April 28. The 5'4", 107 lbs., full time EMT has competed in various natural fitness organizations and been modeling for 8 years. Venessa says, "I have come along way and worked very hard to be here. I want to prove that you can be a mother and still be sexy and fit. Confidence and a positive outlook in life is the key to success." And, no doubt her confidence will be shining on stage soon.
‎'10 Ms. Bikini and Figure America Champion Lori Hardershot with Oxygen magazine this past weekend. As an Oxygen cover girl last season, she continues to representative the virtues of natural competitive fitness and sports. After conquering Ms. Bikini and Figure, Lori is now preparing for Fitness Universe Championships in Miami.  As the most athletic of the three divisions, Lori admits it will be her most challenging.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

‎'11 Figure America Champion Jessica Rinaldi has always been athletic started with being raised on a New Mexico ranch where she rode horses and lots of outdoor play. A self confessed tomboy, she always wanted to play sports. 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 is a mom and soon will be married to fellow competitor, trainer and nutrionist and friend, Mike Donathan. Next on her life's agenda, Jessica's will take her amazing athletic talents, incredible looks and sweet disposition to Miami and to take on the Figure Universe challenge.‎

Thursday, March 1, 2012

As one of the sports most stunning performers, Nikki Bongiovanni will be taking the stage at Fitness New England at Foxwoods. At 5'2", 110 lbs., Nikki has been a Top 5 Finalist at Fitness America and Fitness Universe and dominates the New England fitness scene. The 31 year old former US Gymnastics Team competitor from Pennsylvania State University comes from an athletic family with both brothers former NCAA baseball players and father an MLB professional player for the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs. But besides competitive fitness she has a lot of other aspirations. Nikki says, "I want to continue to grow an already successful gym and personal training business as well as expand upon my ability to inspire, motivate, and support others in achieving their goals both in and out of the gym."