Saturday, January 31, 2015

People ask Ms. Bikini America competitor Nicole Matthews how she stays in shape, what is her secret diet and what is the best way to train. She says, “I wish I had one answer, a simple one, one that would give everyone the magic formula. Truth be told, it is so many things. I’m driven by my past, inspired by my present and excited about the future. I have experienced what it feels to fail over and over again. I have learned what works and doesn’t work by trial and error. My diet is always changing and though. I have my favorite products. It is the goals I set for myself that makes each one efficient. My greatest piece of advice is to allow your story to guide you, find your tribe and support system and go after your goals and dreams. The answers will come, magic will happen but you have got to start and be all you can be. No one is just one thing.” 
Ms. Bikini Universe Pro Renee Brady has a message for people who set their goals big for the New Year. She says, “You are all 1 week deep into becoming a better, stronger, more achieving individual. Don’t let your goals scare you and hold your head high knowing you are living that dream you feel so passionate about. Moments of weakness are inevitable. We all experience them but don’t be scared to invest the time and effort into your dream. Even if you can’t see the finish line or the purpose at times, you will surprise yourself! Greatness wasn’t achieved by living in a comfort zone. It was painful, hard and miserable at times. Become that psycho freak you need to be. Block out the negativity, put your head down and work! 2015 can be the best or the worst year of your life. The choice is yours!” 
Fitness Universe Pro Tiffani Bachus tells us to jump and reach for the stars to make 2015 an amazing year. She says, “May the New Year give you the opportunity to live life to the fullest, learn from your past experiences and give you the knowledge and strength for future endeavors! Remember to aim high, dream big, go for it and stay true to yourself. Lots of love, happiness and strength in 2015.”

Friday, January 30, 2015

Figure Universe Champion Eun Ju Bae has represented Team Korea for 3 years and this past November she nearly won Figure America Pro Championships in Las Vegas. The mother of 3 is a professional costume designer and uses her talents for all of her show appearances. “I have appeared on many television entertainment shows in Korea and made custom costumes for many of them.” Eun plans on competing at the Universe again this spring and no doubt with a new, homemade costum.
Ms Bikini Lone Star Competitor Abi Christine is a personal trainer, mother, and a TSN athlete. She says, “What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. Fitness is a constant state of progress for me. Sometimes I feel as if I am doing great! I get all my workouts in, I feel strong, I feel on track, etc. Other times I feel like life totally gets in the way! I eat bad food, drink wine, miss a workout, etc.”
Model Canada Champion Sally Leung addresses a common concern about weight lifting for women. She says, “You can’t look like a man by lifting weights unless you want to. I lift 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes every workout and I lift heavy weights! With cardio, your muscles are staying basically the same size and shape. The key is lifting, because you will change the shape and size of your underlying muscles. You will not look similar to a bodybuilder. What you will do is raise your resting metabolic rate, harden your muscles and shape your physique.
Ms. Bikini Universe Pro Jacquii Alexander is the captain for Team Australia which won the Fitness America Team Championships 2 years in a row. When not competing, she is a senior executive with American Express. She says, “I have always loved being active. Growing up I was always doing something physical. I studied ballet for 12 years and represented my high school and college in eight “First” teams; everything from swimming, track, and baseball to water polo and snowboarding. My dad sailed yachts so I spent lots of weekends and holidays body surfing & swimming and even my first job, a paper route, involved exercise!”
’14 Ms. Bikini America Competitor Erika Strimer has never let setbacks excuse her from trying again. This blonde beauty says, “It often takes many attempts to be a success. Move forward with your shoulders back, your head high and a smile. With an enthusiastic spirit, perseverance, and integrity of character it’s time to put your intelligence, talents and passion into action.”
Fitness Universe Pro Staice Venagro has some motivational advice to share. She says, “Don’t think you can reach your goals? Well guess what, you can! Start off with small goals. Once you reach it, set another small goal to help you reach the big goals! If you are consistent and work hard day in and day out, you will reach your goals!”
Fitness and Figure Universe Pro Bethany Nelson has been reflecting on her year and obstacles she was able to overcome. She says, “Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle! I hope this can only encourage you to fight on and stay the course. Even if the light of hope is barely shining, it is there and will get brighter!”
- Photo by: LHGFX Fitness Model Photography
Figure America Competitor Jana Kovacovic worked in the fitness industry for over 20 years. At one point, she gained 20 pounds because she was too busy with work. Jana says, “Some of my coworkers began to ask me if I was pregnant. That shocked me, but it was a turnaround point. I started organizing myself, I made time to go to the gym 5-6 times per week, prepared my meals for the whole day and brought food with me when I traveled. When everything was already planned, there was no excuse for me to eat poorly or skip the gym. After the first few months, I’d already lost some weight.”

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fitness Universe Pro Ada Abanobi is a nurse of over 10 years on an orthopedic/trauma unit. She became a personal trainer because she wanted to help people healthy lives. Ada’s love for the center stage stemmed from her former role as a NFL cheerleader. She didn’t stop with just the Fitness division. Ada went on to compete in the Figure and Physique divisions and won 1st place in the ’14 Physique Universe show. She says, “I am my only competition. I work to beat myself so that I am always better and stronger than my last show.”
Figure Universe Pro Cindy Canas is a posing coach, mother of four, and is aiming to also compete in the Musclemania Physique division. She stays motivated by seeing the constant changes and improvements she has made and how healthier she feels. Cindy says, “I used to be that person that was on anxiety and depression meds. Thanks to exercise, I have been completely off them for almost 4 years. I have four children, which is no easy task in itself, so the gym is my playground and my “mommy time”. It’s also motivating to know my children are watching my every move.”
- Photo by: Alfonso Aguirre Rocking Photography 
Fitness Universe Pro Stephanie Brewster is getting ready for a whole new year. She says, “2015 is just around the corner! Stop hoping and wishing that things happen for you. Get up and be proactive. You have every opportunity to make next year everything you want it to be.
Fitness America competitor Jessica Halbert shares some advice on what to do after a show is over. She says, “Set bigger and better goals! I have some really exciting things ahead and I’m set to compete again late next spring. The work starts now; it’s building season! A little secret of the competition world is that you are either building or dieting down. There’s no doing both at the same time. I’ll be putting those extra calories that crept in over the holidays to work! I can’t wait to see what results I can bring. How about you? Are you waiting to set goals for the New Year or are you getting busy with the barbells now!? – Photo by: Noel Daganta
Ms. Bikini and Model America competitor Candi Alterego believes we are who we choose to be. She says, “Nobody is going to come and save you. You’ve got to save yourself. Nobody is going to give you everything you want; you have to go out and fight for it. Nobody knows what you want except you and nobody will feel sorry for you if you don’t get it. So don’t give up on your dreams! – www.fitnessuniverse. – Photo by: Digital Icon Photography – Make-up by: Veronica Fensel Makeup Artistry
’14 Musclemania® America Physique Women Champion and personal trainer Laruen Austin says she has a passion for fitness and helping others. “I grew up being athletic but never in great shape. I suffered from an eating disorder for 10 years. Despite where I started and when I began my fitness journey, I always had a certain determination to follow through with something I start. I always wanted to compete in a fitness competition and so last year I started training with Dewayne Malone for my first figure show. I wanted to build a strong physique. So as time progressed, I planned to compete in Las Vegas in both Figure and Women’s Physique. Winning 1st Place in Women’s Physique was an amazing moment and I hope that other women will follow and help grow the new division.”
Isabelle Atkinson dreamed about competing at her first Fitness America Weekend show since the day she started training in September. She had already claimed 2nd place at the ’14 Fitness New England show. Isabelle says, “It was such an honor to place 2nd in the Ms. Bikini Open Medium amongst beautiful women from all over the world. I truly love competing in FAP. It gives me the opportunity to meet men and women from all different walks of life where we all have one thing in common – our passion for fitness. I’m excited to start working on my fitness career this upcoming year and my second season as a Ms. Bikini competitor!” – Photo by: Gordon Smith
Figure America competitor Norsiah Castellanos goes to the gym regain her composition. This pre-vet medical student says, “It’s where I go to regain my focus, my mental and physical strength. I go to remember it’s a means to an end and that giving my all means I’ve already won the battle. I’m also there to remind myself that the strongest and brightest all started from humble beginnings. When I am here, I become fearless. When we are fearless, anything is possible.”
Figure Universe Pro and Korean Fitness star So Hee Lee is looking hotter than ever! After a 2 year absence, she came back and placed 2nd in the Model America Sports division at the ’14 Fitness America Weekend show. The 2012 Figure America short class champion says, “I was so excited to be back on stage, but this time it wasn’t on the Figure stage. I wanted to change and step outside my comfort zone. I competed in the Ms. Bikini and Model Divisions this time around.” – Photo by: Steve Baek
’14 Musclemania America competitor Melanie Redington placed second at the ’14 Musclemania America show. She has participated in numerous fitness activities and taught PE to kids in K-12 for ten years. Melanie has received the Presidential Physical Fitness Council’s Community Leadership award for her contributions to improving the overall health of children in interior Alaska. She says, “When I train in my mind, I am pretty big. I feel ripped to the bone and not very feminine. However, when I actually see myself, I don’t really look like that haha. In my opinion this year’s physique is very feminine. I actually really like the long and lean look and I think it suits me very well. I do not really fit the typical female muscle profile and I am okay with that.” – Photo by: Gordon Smith
’14 Ms. Bikini America Open Short competitor Erika Strimer presenting her sportswear on stage at the show in Las Vegas. This 5’2 brilliant business owner started her own outdoor fitness boot camp 3 years ago. Since then, she has gathered over 200 members. She says, “I want to leave a legacy. In my town where a small boot camp truly changed my life, my free standing fitness space will allow me to leave my mark where my journey began. My goal is to hire a team that shares in my belief that all people should have a place where they can show up and believe.” – Photo by: Gordon Smith
Model America Commercial competitor Katie Stevens placed 2nd at the’14 Model America show. This high energy individual is a business owner of a promotional modeling agency. Katie says, “I am still so overwhelmed. I have just placed 2nd at Model America! I will never forget that day and the incredible world class athletes I met at the show. My next goal is to earn my Pro Card status!” – Photo by: Gordon Smith
Ms. Bikini America Nicole Matthews placed top 5 in the Ms. Bikini Classic division at the ’14 Fitness America Weekend Show. This brilliant beauty opened her own fitness and makeup studio. She loves teaching and hopes to create a brand of herself in the fitness industry. Nicole says, “I was so inspired by all the women that competed that day. Some went through transformations that would blow your mind. Others had overcome cancer and or another medical setback. I walked the stage with seasoned competitors, moms, business owners, doctors and so many more! Thirty seconds is our time on stage, but a lifetime of memories, friendships and lessons learned. To all the beautiful competitors of ’14 Fitness America Weekend, you are amazing! Let’s make 2015 a rock n’ year!” – Photo by: Gordon Smith