Friday, August 31, 2007

Cross Lanes woman prepares for beauty, bodybuilding contest

By Rosalie Earle
Staff writer

Like beauty pageant contestants, Sousan Collias will be in a bathing suit and high heels today. Her long, black hair will shine, her skin glisten and her smile sparkle.

But most beauty contenders can’t dead lift 185 pounds.

The 32-year-old mother of two from Cross Lanes will compete today and Saturday in figure competition at the North American Championships of the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness in Cleveland, Ohio.

Figure competition, she explained, is part beauty pageant, part bodybuilding contest.

She’s already won two shows this summer — a regional competition and then a national qualifier.

At 5 feet, 4 inches, Collias weighs 119 pounds and wears a size 0 to size 2. Oh, yes, she gave birth to her second daughter a little more than a year ago.

It would be easy to be jealous until she mentions the time commitment. In the off-season, she spends an hour to an hour and half every day working out. When preparing for a show, she works out for three hours a day.

Collias is of Persian descent. She was born and raised in Kuwait. When she was 11, her parents moved to the United States, settling in West Virginia. The former Sousan Raissi graduated from Nitro High School, where she ran track.

She met her husband, Scott — in the gym, of course — when they were students at Marshall. She was working at the fitness center. As a teenager, Scott Collias, now a chiropractor, won national championships in several power-lifting categories.

Married for eight years, the couple still works out together. “We’re there to push each other,” Collias said.

She used to be a personal trainer, but with two children ages 3 and 15 months, she cut back to teaching three aerobics classes a week: on Monday mornings at Nautilus in Cross Lanes and on Monday and Wednesday evenings at Nautilus in Kanawha City.

Collias did skip this past Wednesday to rest before today’s competition. “You don’t want to get sore,” she explained earlier this week. “I’ll be flexing every body part from my head to my toe. It would be easy to cramp up.”

In figure competition, she will strike four poses. Judges will look at her muscle tone, dexterity, skin tone, hair, makeup and even her nails.

Today she’ll compete in a one-piece bathing suit, on Saturday in a two-piece. The rhinestone-decorated suits cost from $200 to $2,000, she said.

Competition classes are based on height. Collias won first place in her class and first overall in two shows this summer. In this weekend’s competition, she expects at least 120 women to compete. The top two will get a pro card and advance to the Arnold Schwarzenegger bodybuilding competition in Columbus, Ohio, in March.

This is the first year Collias has competed in figure competition, although it’s been a long-time goal. “The timing after two kids was perfect. I didn’t have to work and I had the time to put into it.”

While her children sleep, she said, she gets up at 6 a.m. for an hour workout at home. In the afternoons, they go to the gym with its nursery for another hour. “At night, I bathe them and put them to bed and then work out for another hour.”

She said she put on 37 pounds with the first baby, 26 pounds with the second. She worked out up to her due date and was back in the gym after three weeks. It took her about six months to get down to her normal weight.

For most women, Collias said 45 minutes in the gym three times a week is enough because the most important aspect is eating a healthy diet. “It’s 80 percent diet; 20 percent exercise,” she said.

“Every Sunday I cook what I eat for the week — fish, chicken, steak, brown rice, sweet potatoes and veggies,” she said. “I eat five to six times a day, every three hours.”

The only supplement she uses is protein powder and protein bars to provide fuel for her body.

Although her husband and children eat a lot of what she does, she also fixes pizza, pancakes, cinnamon rolls and eggs for them.

As for her workout, “I work every body part once a week ... plus cardio. I teach aerobics, run on the treadmill or use Stairmaster.”

She can lift 195 pounds in leg squats, 185 pounds in dead lifts, 140 pounds in chest press and 360 pounds in leg press.

When she misses a day of workouts, “it puts me in a bad mood. I am a stay-at-home mom. It gives me a break. You can relax for an hour and let all out all your frustrations of a long day — release some endorphins.”

Couple Blogs

Seems like they have the same social life but Eva Birath and Irene Anderson have pretty robust blogs although they need bigger pictures

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Video of Julia Zaugolova

totally cute and totally strong

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Don't just shrug.. power shrug

It's just a weird word. Weirder to type. Schrug

NCAA Women's Shot put

Sarah Stevens wins NCAA....and our hearts

Vintage Shot Put

Adrienne Blewitt

Will you marry me? I'm in love

Strong Shotput

This girl is swole

Romance inspires Tash to record

Timaru powerlifter Tash Armstrong wrote her name into the record books at the national championships.

By STU PIDDINGTON - The Timaru Herald | Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Armstrong impressed by breaking the long-standing New Zealand squat record previously held by former world champion Janelle Woolridge at 162.5kg

Armstrong broke the record by a kilogram, then came out to bench press 75kg and finished the day off with a very strong 150kg deadlift.

Her total of 388.5kg gave her the the best sub-junior lifter trophy and more importantly made sure of her place in the New Zealand team for the Commonwealth Championships later in the year.

The 18-year-old's effort in the squat means she should be in contention for the gold, as well as in the deadlift.

Those two lifts were Commonwealth records and an application has been made to have them ratified.

Armstrong's coach, her father Brian, said she did exactly what she had trained for.

"It was a great effort."

Also helping motivate her to the record was the fact she bet her boyfriend Peter Mackle she would lift more than him in the squat.

Armstrong, who has been lifting for four years, said it helped motivate her and the fact the pair trained together gave her even more motivation.

Last year Armstrong finished second at the world championships in the 67.5kg class.

Her passion for lifting could also be an advantage in her new career, with Armstrong hoping to shortly join the police in Timaru.

Mackle, who has been lifting for only nine months, also impressed on his debut.

He achieved personal bests in all three disciplines, with a 150kg squat, 95kg bench-press and 180kg in the deadlift.

Mackle's efforts placed him third in the 100kg junior men's division in his first national championships.

Armstrong senior said Mackle did extremely well under the pressure of competition.

Grandma pushes bench press to max

By Robert Annis
August 29, 2007
Zionsville resident Mary Miller is one of the strongest 65-year-old women in the world.
The petite grandmother of five set a world record in the bench press for her age and weight class, lifting 115.5 pounds in a World Association of Bench Pressers and Deadlifters competition in Lansing, Mich., last month. The previous record was 95 pounds.
She's now gearing up for the world championships in Anaheim, Calif., in November, where she hopes to hoist up 120 pounds.
Although Miller has been healthy and active, she hasn't always been as strong. Around age 50, she realized she was beginning to lose muscle mass, so she and her husband Curt began seeing personal trainer Pete Rogers.
"When we started out, I just wanted to stay fit," she said. "Pete made everything happen. He made me believe in the strength I have."
She credits Rogers and good genes for her strength. She points to her father, who was a 5-foot-4-inch, 135-pound boxer. He died at age 95.
"He was a feisty, tough little dude," she said. "The genes were there. We've just taken those genes up another step."
She and Rogers estimated she rates in the top 5 percent of women around her age.
Miller said it was Rogers that suggested she begin competing. In 1993, she set a state bench press record, lifting 105 pounds. When Rogers left for California, Miller stopped competing but didn't stop working out. She and Curt built a home gym in their basement and continued their workouts three times a week.
When Rogers came back to the area 10 years later, he began training the Millers again at their home.
Rogers has the couple doing supersets -- five sets of push, core, pull and leg exercises with little or no rest in between. He estimates the couple does 50 sets of exercise in 60 minutes.
Rogers changes their routines every few weeks to keep things fresh.
"They don't look like powerful people, but for their age group, they're incredible," Rogers said. "They're lifting weights like 30-year-olds."
Miller credits the workouts for increasing her stamina and her mental processes.
"I want total body fitness," she said. "I like the idea that I can have the total package and can do the powerlifting."
The Millers lead an active life, filled with hiking, cycling and paddling. In 2006, Curt was the blue tee champion during Crooked Stick's club championship.
They've also gone on a Canadian dog-sledding adventure where the couple and their guide each piloted their own dog sled.
"We enjoy doing things we wouldn't be able to do if we didn't take care of ourselves," Mary said.
She hopes her story will encourage more people to live a healthier lifestyle.
"I want to inspire other women," she said. "I don't do this to set world records, I do it because it makes me feel better."

When will this be available at GNC

I need to get my hands on this.

Experiment with mice sheds light on man’s muscle
Karl B. Hille, The Examiner2007-08-29 07:00:00.0Current rank: # 317 of 5,541 BALTIMORE -
Mighty Mouse now has good company.
The Johns Hopkins scientist who first showed how the absence of the protein myostatin leads to oversized muscles in mice and men has found a second protein, follistatin, which amplifies the first effect.
The results are some pretty muscular mice, said Dr. Se-Jin Lee, whose work appears today in Public Library of Science One. Mice missing the gene that makes myostatin have about twice the body muscle as normal. However, those which also overproduce follistatin double their muscle mass again.
“Right now there’s a lot of focus in pharmaceutical companies trying to block myostatin in order to promote muscle growth,” Lee said. “In order to maximize the effect you need to add the other protein.”
This added muscle booster could help “beef up” livestock or promote muscle growth in patients with muscular dystrophy and other wasting diseases, he said. However, “the potential for misuse is huge. Already there’s been a lot of buzzing in the professional bodybuilding community about how to exploit that pathway for muscle gain,” Lee said.
Muscular dystrophy is classified as a rare disease by the National Institutes of Health, meaning that the main form, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, affects fewer than 200,000 Americans. Symptoms include muscle wasting, poor balance and in severe cases weakening of the heart.
However, outside of one case of a German man with a genetic mutation, no one has studied the potential effects on people, Lee said.
Lee first discovered follistatin could block myostatin’s effectiveness in muscle cells grown in a dish. Normal mice bulked up when given the protein, just like mice with their myostatin gene blocked. He then genetically engineered a mouse that both lacked myostatin and made extra follistatin.
If follistatin was increasing muscle growth solely by blocking myostatin, then Lee surmised that follistatin would have no added effect in the absence of myostatin.
“To my surprise and delight, there was an additive effect,” he said. These muscular mice averaged a 117 percent increase in muscle fiber size and a 73 percent increase in total muscle fibers compared with normal mice.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Personal trainer aids steelworkers (w video)

Personal trainer Amber Fingers

Personal trainer aids steelworkers

By Mike Cronin
Monday, August 27, 2007

No way.

No way did Amber Fingers, 32, a personal trainer who teaches injury-prevention exercises to steelworkers, weigh 342 pounds three years ago.

The strawberry blonde today carries about 160 pounds, much of it muscle, on her 5-foot-8 frame. Fingers has won local powerlifting competitions. She runs and weight-trains six times a week. She eats every two hours, devouring protein-rich chicken breasts and steak.

Fingers trains employees of Allegheny Ludlum's Midland plant twice a week for Crafton-based Sonshine Fitness. She also works weekly with five families, helping them lose weight. She tends bar at Perrytowne Drafthouse in Ross, and she plans to pursue a master's degree in nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh this fall.

This is the same Amber Fingers who once smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, ate fast food daily and endured insults like "you fat pig" from people she didn't know.

"One time someone dumped food on me at a restaurant," she said. "I got tired of being me. I didn't like what I saw in the mirror. I didn't like what I felt like."

Fingers said no specific incident or defining moment triggered her transformation. She simply decided one day in 2004 that she wasn't going to live like that anymore. So she joined Wright's Gym in Crafton and lost about 120 pounds on her own during the next year. But she couldn't shape her body the way she'd hoped.

That's when Fingers hired Stasi Longo, who runs Sonshine Fitness out of Wright's Gym with her husband, Larry.

Fingers achieved so much that Longo hired Fingers as a trainer in January.

"Amber's the most extreme transformer I've trained in my 27 years of doing this," said Longo, 49, who won the 1998 professional natural Ms. Universe bodybuilding competition. "We call her, 'Amber-Our-Inspiration.' "

A little after 7 on a Thursday morning earlier this month, Allegheny Ludlum maintenance worker Bill Davidson finished up a set of exercises Fingers had taken him through.

"I don't like doing them," said Davidson, 54, of Wellsville, Ohio. "But I end up feeling better overall."

Two months of practicing Fingers' routine has lessened the pain that once ran from his neck down the length of his back. She leads the men through traditional weight-room sets, too, such as biceps curls and bent-over rows. Fingers disguises yoga poses as other exercises -- "I don't tell them that, though," she confided -- and even uses mats and yoga balls.

Longo said that ability to adapt and intuit what people want was one of the reasons she hired Fingers.

"She had so much desire to help others accomplish what she had become," Longo said.

Perhaps perversely, a personality trait common among the obese helped Fingers complete her own training -- as well as read her clients.

"When you're really heavy, you always want to please," Fingers said. "It's a coping skill. That's why I stuck to everything Stasi told me to do. I didn't want to let her down."

Fingers self-consciously conceded she now maintains her fitness for other reasons as well: the compliments she receives that never came her way before, the attention she receives behind the bar and the respect she receives from her clients.

"I mean, you can't really be a personal trainer unless you look the part."

(Original link with link to video below)

Turns out Serena is a computer nerd.

I guess that would explain the sizable forearms and large posterior. She's lovely.

Here's the youtube video.

Or the high rez link for HP's own site.

The Turkish Sports Page

I haven't seen this site in a long time but it seems they do a good job updating it. Lots of strong women over there it seams.

Strongwoman Video.

Pretty cool, and decently produced day-in-the-life video of strongwoman Danielle Smith.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

2 area bodybuilders go pro

Lean muscle mass is the goal of women in the figure division
August 18, 2007

Jessica Wright feels a little intimidated just before a competition.
Understandably so, considering she'll soon stroll across a stage wearing a bikini in front of gawking fans.
Then she remembers just what drives her in the first place. Things don't seem quite so daunting after that.
"I always focus on the work I put in," said Wright, 28, a Perry Township resident who competes in the figure division in International Federation of Bodybuilding competitions. "That's the first thing I think about before I go out on stage.
"I ate all the right food. I put in all this training. Now, let's just go out there and show them."
Wright and workout partner Jennifer Gates, Martinsville, are on the rise in the bodybuilding world. Each recently earned professional status in the figure division.

Top event

Gates qualified for next month's Ms. Olympia -- the sport's premier event -- by winning the Motor City Pro title this month in Detroit.
"You can't get up there without confidence," Gates said. "If you're not out there to win, you shouldn't be out there, and you have to be totally dedicated."
Jon Pedigo, a longtime Indianapolis bodybuilder and owner of Premier Fitness, where the two train, said most local women in the sport are strictly amateurs.
"For two girls in the same gym to go pro is phenomenal," Pedigo said. "There (are) no other girls around here even close to their level. I'm lucky to have them."
Both were around gyms as children and played other sports.
Wright's father was a competitive power lifter. She graduated from high school in Marion, Ill., and played volleyball at John A. Logan Junior College before graduating from Southern Illinois University.
Gates, 30, graduated from Ben Davis High School, where she ran track and was a cheerleader. Her father and husband compete in bodybuilding. She's a mother of two and works as a pediatric nurse at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.
Wright attended her first bodybuilding competition with then-boyfriend and now husband Jason Wright, who played minor league baseball and later basketball for the University of Indianapolis. She quickly became hooked.
"I think it was different in that it involved the weight training," she said. "It kind of pushed me to a limit that I had never been pushed before. Volleyball had pushed me in a totally different way."
Gates originally competed in old-fashioned bodybuilding, in which athletes are judged by bulk and size of muscles. In 2004, she switched to the figure division in which competitors try to develop more lean muscle mass.
It also has elements of a beauty pageant. The proper makeup and outfit are important, too.
"Bodybuilding is more volume," she said. "Figure is a lighter, more athletic body. It took me three years to learn the difference."

Endorsement deals

Gates earned her pro card this year. She signed with a manager who is looking for sponsors and endorsement deals. She traveled to Las Vegas last week for a photo shoot that will appear in Flex Magazine.
"I'm grounded," she said. "I have so many good things in my life. My confidence comes from my training. I'm starting to realize that I do look good."
They agree the sport isn't for everyone.
Anyone serious about it can forget trips to a fast-food drive through. They consume a low-fat, high-protein diet filled with oatmeal, asparagus and egg whites. Pasta and margaritas are on the menu only to celebrate after a major competition.
Wright goes through a nearly two-hour cardiovascular workout six days per week. She works out with weights 3-5 times per week.
Both say they never have used steroids, but might have been tempted if they had stayed in the more traditional bodybuilding.
Wright taught special education at Franklin Central for five years. She said she often lectured students about the dangers of steroids and wanted to set a good example.
Wright will compete in October in a professional competition in Louisville, Ky., and hopes to compete in the Arnold Classic -- named after famous bodybuilder and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- in March. Her goal is to compete in Ms. Olympia next year.
Gates is excited about potential opportunities created by her recent success.
And, yes, she does get a bit of a thrill when others notice she's in good shape. She's seen women working out at Premier Fitness point at her, saying hers is body they want to have.
"I've worked hard," she said. "This is a several-year process to build and maintain. I've paid my dues to do this."

Two R.I. women stride past adversity

01:00 AM EDT on Sunday, August 19, 2007


Journal Sports Writer

“Attitude is everything.”

That’s the way Melissa Janikies sees it.

When faced with an obstacle, she says, “deal with it and move on,” which is exactly what the Cranston woman did when she discovered a cancerous lump under her arm while taking a shower one day in March of last year.

“You have a choice,” said the former Bryant softball standout. “You can be a victim or you can be a survivor. I have a good life, and I choose to keep living it.”

Diane Kelly agrees.

“One of my favorite sayings is that, ‘Wisdom is avoiding all thoughts that weaken you,’ ” she says, quoting motivational speaker Wayne Dyer.

That was no small task when Kelly developed a brain tumor three years ago.

“It’s a lot of work to stay in the moment and to stay positive,” she said. “But I knew because of my strong faith that everything would work out well, regardless of what my fate was to be.”

Janikies and Kelly, who met and learned of each others’ recent struggles while training at their local gym last fall, will celebrate all that each has overcome when they tackle today’s Wild Dog Triathlon at Colt State Park in Bristol.

“It’s going to be a very emotional day,” said Kelly, 48, who still amazes herself each time she finishes one of her swimming, cycling or running workouts. She can’t help but think back to just three summers ago when none of this would have been possible.

Just when everything was going “tremendously well” personally, professionally and athletically, Kelly’s life came grinding to a halt in March 2004 when she developed an excruciating headache that lasted for more than two months with no reprieve.

“I felt like I’d been hit by a truck,” said Kelly, whose eyesight and hearing both began to diminish. “Morning, noon and night — I’d go to bed with it and wake up with it. I was like a zombie. I couldn’t go to work. I couldn’t go to the gym.”

After going from doctor to doctor frantically searching for an answer, Kelly learned on the Friday before Memorial Day that there was a large brain tumor on the left side of her head.

A few days later, Dr. Arthur Day, a neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, removed the tumor.

Although the surgery was a success and the tumor turned out to be benign, Kelly’s journey was far from over, as her body began recovering from the trauma caused by the large mass.

The former R.I. bodybuilding champion lost weight, as well as nearly all of her strength. She continued to have some hearing issues, and she could only partially open her jaw until the muscles and nerves healed.

Two months after the surgery, her epilepsy, which had been dormant for about two years, was reactivated by one of the medications she was taking, and she spent a weekend battling one seizure after another.

“I had a phenomenal neurosurgeon, and he did a great job,” said Kelly, “but any time you cut into someone’s head, you’ve got to go through muscles and tendons. It’s a very intricate surgery, and the risk factor was very high because of where it was. So I had a lot of complications from that.”

And that would not be the last obstacle Kelly would have to overcome. In March 2006, when she was getting back on her feet physically, she was let go from her job of 21 years.

A few months after that, she found herself back in the hospital undergoing emergency surgery for a ruptured cyst in her stomach.

As she did with the brain tumor, however, Kelly took each of those setbacks in stride. She has begun a new job working as a national relationship manager for RBS Lynk.

The newly appointed president of the Ocean State Women’s Golf Association, Kelly has gotten her golf game back on track, recently winning the Presidents Cup at West Warwick Country Club.

And, thanks to the suggestion of longtime friend and avid runner Brenda Rodrigues, Kelly has taken up a new sport, discovering that the natural endorphin release that takes place in her brain while she is running helps her battle the painful headaches that she still contends with.

“My glass is always half full,” said Kelly, who credits the support of Rodrigues, a strong faith and her positive outlook on life for getting her through every ordeal. “I can take the worst adversity that I have had and look at it and say that it’s been for a reason. Out of this whole adversity, I have a deeper appreciation for myself and being able to push myself to the next level. I still have some side effects, but all in all, I feel really, really good.”

Indeed, Janikies says that is the message that she and Kelly hope to convey to others when they both cross the finish line this morning — that one can get through even the most difficult of circumstances with the right attitude.

Janikies — vice president of operations for the family-owned Jan Companies — says that something in her gut told her that the lump she discovered under her arm last year was cancerous. She acted immediately and when the diagnosis was confirmed, insisted on the most aggressive form of treatment, undergoing a mastectomy in May 2006.

Last month, she finished up a yearlong course of treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston that included radiation therapy, a new form of chemotherapy and, because she agreed to take part in a clinical trial, antibody injections every three weeks.

Today, Janikies, 45, considers herself to be cancer free.

There were some low points, she says, such as losing her hair. But she even took control of that situation by shaving her head before the hair fell out from the treatments. As for losing one of her breasts, Janikies said, “it’s a body part,” adding that she always just considered it to be “ornamentation” anyway and joking that her prosthetic might just help serve as a flotation device when she sets out on today’s quarter-mile swim.

“The key is I found (the lump) and I reacted to it,” Janikies said of her battle with cancer. “I think people consider it devastating news. I just can’t see it that way. I was always taught to have a positive attitude or when it is (bad news), we’ll get through it.”

And while training for her first triathlon has been challenging, Janikies says she’s confident she will get through this task, as well.

“Diane’s a very inspirational and very supportive person, and I couldn’t have asked for a better training partner,” she said. “The training process hasn’t been easy, but certainly I know I can do it.”

Building bonds

Five sisters grow closer - and

Monday, August 20, 2007

The five sisters had been through a lot. Now it was time, as one of them said, to get their sexy back.

Inspired by their mother, who died last year after a decade-long battle with emphysema and breast cancer, Sarah Latham Perez, 43, of Austin and her four sisters changed their eating habits, lost weight and grew muscles — lots of muscles.

stronger - after they find a common interest

After training rigorously for seven months, the sisters entered the Europa Super Show, an international bodybuilding show, in Dallas recently. They competed in the figure competition — a combination of bodybuilding and beauty. As newcomers to the sport, they didn't place. But their dedication has earned them plenty of other rewards: Smaller dress sizes. Muscles. The discipline to say no to junk food. And of course, the compliments.

"I guess it's like the feeling people have when they say they are born-again Christians," says Perez. "For us, it's been a transformation of our minds, bodies and spirit. We always go back and say we did this for Mom, but really it's been a way for us to take control of our lives."

Leave it to Oprah Winfrey to have had a hand in this. One of Perez's sisters, Mary Jane Barnes, 40, of Frisco, caught a show in 2005 that focused on women 40 and older getting fit. That led to Barnes and another sister, 35-year-old Christy Ramirez, also of Frisco, attending a bodybuilding competition.

Then came the death of their mother, Susan Daniels, 67, in April 2006. Daniels' lengthy illness had rallied her daughters to become caretakers. Naturally, a family illness strains relationships. The daughters drew closer over phone conversations and e-mail, but the focus was their mother's illness. Barnes and Ramirez bore the brunt of it because their mother lived in Frisco as well.

"Don't get me wrong," says Perez. "Mom was an incredibly inspirational to us during the whole time. She worked until she couldn't. With an oxygen tank in tow, she took art classes. She always said, 'I have this illness; now let's deal with it.' But her cancer became our cancer."

"And like all families, when we all got married, had babies, and went through divorces, we all went our different ways," Barnes says. "We had the typical family ups and downs. When mom got sick, it brought us together."

But it became difficult for everyone. The communication wasn't all that positive. "It's just that our goal was different at the time. We were seeing that Mom was taken care of," Perez says.

This past January, Perez put out the challenge: Let's work out and enter one of these beauty/fitness competitions. Hence, the Europa show earlier this month.

"What an amazing experience for all of us," said Perez. "I've never seen my sisters look so good."

Six-pack tummies, rock-solid legs and bulging arms. That is what the eye sees. The sisters know their personal journey goes much deeper.

"We were doing something to better prepare our bodies in case we ever have to deal with an illness," says sister Amanda Daniels, 25, of Dallas.

The get-fit project they started as a tribute to their mother was bringing them back together.

"We had something in common again," said Ramirez. "This time it was fitness and health, but in a way it was due to Mom."

Sister Shelly Nelson, 45, of Las Vegas, says the sisters became one another's support group.

"Our communication now is about something positive. We got close again," Perez says.

All of the sisters had worked out in the past, but those efforts paled in comparison to the regimen of the past few months. Barnes and Ramirez began running together at 5:30 every morning. They began to lift weights.

"I even put up a mirror, a music system and a fan," says Barnes, who has 4-year-old twins. Ramirez got educated at and also bought equipment to work out at home.

Perez joined a gym, hired a trainer and began a rigid regimen of five small meals a day. "Basically, I began to look at food like fuel," she says. "I think about it in terms of a campfire. Every time I eat, I am adding small pieces of wood to keep the fire burning. It's helped me understand the concept of smaller meals but eating more often."

The sisters' phone calls and e-mails centered on exercise and better eating. When one of them cheated with chocolate or a margarita, the others got her in line again.

Perez's "transformation" goes beyond her desire to look better in jeans. Earlier this month, the single mom quit her teaching job at Perez Elementary School in Austin. The long hours and time away from her 5-year-old son, Xander, took their toll. "It was the pay, too, but then I fell in love with my new lifestyle," she says.

She has launched a personal training Web site, "Yes, it's a risk," she says. "I thought about health insurance, but hey, I started one business several years ago when I was on chemotherapy. I can do it."

Oh yes, Perez is a breast cancer survivor. At 35, she endured a double mastectomy. "Looking back on the cancer now, it was a blessing because it helped me with priorities in life," she said. She had a "miracle" child after being not given much of a chance to get pregnant. "That's when I discovered the body can be amazing," she said. "That's why I know now that I can be a good personal trainer."

She hopes to be an inspiration to others. "Our story," she says of her sisters, "should be proof to other women that it's never too late to exercise and eat healthier. I tell people they need to put a carrot out in front of them, whether it's a weight goal or fitting into a certain dress."

Ramirez, who is 5-foot-3, lost 21 pounds and now weighs 108. "At first it was a vanity thing," she said. "Now, it's a health-conscious thing plus the vanity."

"When you're 45 and still want to be a hot cougar, you have to work at it," says Nelson, who is 5-foot-7 and weighs 125 pounds.

Barnes and Perez seem to be the ones more serious about future figure competitions. Perez, who is 5-foot-7 and weighs 145 pounds, plans to enter the Alamo Natural Classic Show in San Antonio in late September. "I've entered two shows," she says, "and the women I've gone up against are really cut and shredded and have been in this longer. At the show in San Antonio, I have a better chance to place because they test for steroids," she says.

"She's a natural," says personal trainer Austin Barbisch during a workout at Hyde Park Gym. "She's a beast on some of these machines."

Perez proceeds to easily do 20 repetitions of 450 pounds on the leg press.

She gets up and smiles. She didn't have to say a word.; 445-3632

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Local bodybuilders to show their stuff

Three months ago, Kathi Stokes was a fit 44-year-old grandmother who still turned heads everywhere she went. The pretty blonde was 5-feet-5-inches tall and 138 pounds, and kept herself fit by working out three times a week.

Today, Stokes has the body of a warrior, coated in nonstick cooking spray.

"The Pam brings out your muscle tone more," says Stokes' personal trainer, Dave Carhart, as he sprays nonstick cooking spray on the formidable musculature of his client.

Now 112 pounds, Stokes has added several pounds of muscle to her petite frame while reducing her body fat to 15 percent. She still has feminine curves, and that's why on Saturday, she will compete in the "Figure" division of the Tennessee State BodyBuilding & Figure Championships in Murfreesboro.

"Bodybuilders have body fat at 6 percent and below. It's like looking at that chart of the human body without the skin," says personal trainer Stephone Duncan. "Figure is about the natural physique of the woman. It's the 'pretty girl' contest. That's what we call it because they're the highlight of the show."

It was Carhart's encouragement that made Stokes decide to prepare for her first Figure competition in just three months.

"It's a challenge," Stokes says. "I always want to try something new. I'm going to be one of those people who have no regrets in life."

How she did it

Carhart gave Stokes a strict diet of six small, lean-protein-heavy meals per day. She did one to two hours of cardio five days a week, and lifted weights at Xtreme Fitness for an hour, three days a week.

"You work out as hard as you can, and when you think you can't do any more, you do five more," Carhart says. "You smoke your body as hard as you can on every machine."

For the past two weeks, the final pre-competition stretch, she has eaten only egg whites, raw broccoli and plain oatmeal.

"You can't have getting in shape on your mind one hour a day. You have to think about it 24 hours a day," Carhart says. "It's what you do outside the gym that counts."

Stokes says she isn't nervous at the thought of standing in front of a crowd of strangers wearing only a skimpy red rhinestone-spangled bikini. But she's eager for the moment the competition is over.

"I'm looking forward to eating pizza afterward," Stokes says.

Family support

Despite her food deprivation and the intense physical demands of her workouts, Stokes says it is her husband, Ricky, who has suffered during the last three months.

"My husband misses me," she says. "I only get to see him on Saturdays and Sundays."

Stokes works 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays as a collections manager at F&M Bank and spends many nights tending to responsibilities as part owner of Benne's Steakhouse on Franklin Street. She goes to Xtreme Fitness before work and after work every weekday.

Since her husband works the night shift at Trane, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., the couple sees each other when they kiss coming and going a few times a week.

Saturday, Ricky Stokes will be there cheering for Kathi along with their children, Amber, Keith and Darrell, and granddaughter, Starr.

"She's really proud of her Grammy, lemme tell you," Kathi Stokes says about her granddaughter. "She's 6 years old and she's tickled pink."

Bodybuilding gran prepares for championship

Aug 15 2007

by David James, South Wales Echo

Allyson Evans is a grandmother who is about to enter her first bodybuilding championship – after slimming from a size 16.

The mother-of-five swapped pasties for pumping iron after making a New Year’s resolution to get fit in January 2006.

But although the 45-year-old is chuffed with her new size eight physique, she’s still nervous about the competition as it means she’s got to strip down to a bikini.

Allyson, of Pontypridd, is doing the competition to raise money for children with learning disabilities at nearby Pontsion Norton school as two of her sons, Luke, nine, and Jay, 13, have learning disabilities.

She said: “I am really nervous. I have never been on a stage before in my life.

“I have got to wear high heels and a bikini for one part of it. I’ve got a lot of stretch marks but my trainer said you’ve got to wear this tanning cream which makes you look really dark.

“My body’s not perfect like some of the girls but I have lived. I have got five children and I’m lucky to have them.

“I am really excited because it’s a challenge. I’m not expecting to win.

“I am a winner just getting on that stage and doing what I have done.”

Allyson’s children who include Holly, 11, James, 21, and Gemma, 25 – herself mum to Mackenzie, two – are all rooting for her.

In the last 18 months she has halved her dress size and gone from 14 stone to eight-and-a-half stone by eating healthy meals seven times a day and pounding the Fitness Solutions gym in Caerphilly five times a week.

The mum, who is separated from her second husband, has had several jobs to raise money while bringing up her children and said her new healthy regime had changed her life.

She said: “I wasn’t happy before. Every time I went shopping I wasn’t happy with my appearance. I felt huge. I didn’t like myself.

“My personal trainer was brilliant. She gave me the confidence to go in the gym. Now I go and people ask if they can train with me.

“It’s even pushing me towards becoming a personal trainer.

“My life’s suddenly coming along so quickly.

“Mark and Bethan Woods, the owners of the gym, have been so supportive. I’m really grateful to them.”

Allyson will be entering the first-timers category at the Paul Grant 2007 UK BFF Welsh championship at the Princess Royal Theatre, Port Talbot, on September 9

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Great Glutes of YouTube

Mayer piles up marks

E. Greenbush weightlifter sets four world records

By DAVID REYES, Special to the Times Union
First published: Friday, August 10, 2007

ALBANY -- Like most teenage girls, Rachael Mayer feels like there's a lot of weight on her shoulders. The difference is, she can tell you exactly how much.

Mayer, an East Greenbush resident, set world records in every category she competed in Saturday at the world championships in Chicago. She squatted 325 pounds, bench-pressed 215 and dead-lifted a 292 pounds -- all records, as was her total of 832 pounds.

The victory added to her already-impressive resume, which includes three world championships at two different weight classes, 132 and 148 pounds. The fourth came at a third weight class and the heaviest she has competed at -- 165 pounds.

"The weight gain wasn't as drastic as it seems because I had a whole year to prepare for it," Mayer said.

Rachael, 17, and her mother, Patti, attribute a lot of her weightlifting success to gymnastics training she received when she was just 9. "Gymnastics made it easier to understand what the trainer would want me to do as far as discipline and technique," Rachael said.

Her weekly workout consists of two days of weightlifting, sometimes for up to four hours, and two days of boxing, not to be outdone by the mental training of sticking to a low-carb diet.

"Once you make weight, it's a relief, and the day after you can eat whatever you want," Patti said.

Having only two opponents in the competition didn't make winning so fulfilling. Instead, it was the respect Rachael got from past and present athletes that was one of the best feelings.

Compliments came from male competitor who squatted about 800 pounds and another who said her facial expressions showed great determination. "It feels really good to be able to be recognized," Mayer said.

She will spend most of her immediate future juggling her priorities. Mayer just sent in her application to the state as she tries to obtain a clerical position, and she plans to attend Hudson Valley Community College to pursue a cosmetology license.

Mayer said she also plans to drop below the 148-pound weight class to pursue modeling, a path she briefly took two years ago, coming in second place for a "Got Milk?" campaign in "Seventeen" magazine.

David Reyes is an intern at the Times Union and a student at the University at Albany. He can be reached at 454-5414 or by e-mail at

USA in Weightlifting at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio, lifting the bar.


RIO DE JANEIRO, BrazilJeff Wittmer (Florissant, Mo./94kg Weight Class), the lone U.S. weightlifter on the platform today in the Riocentro Convention Center Pavilion 2, finished in fifth place in the men’s 94kg weight class in the weightlifting competition at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Wittmer posted a total weight of 355kg, with a snatch of 158kg and a clean and jerk of 197kg. Wittmer just missed jerking 202kg. Wittmer’s total was a personal record by 10kg.

“It felt pretty good,” said Wittmer. “The clean was real easy and I got a little excited on the jerk and I left it out forward in front. I thought I would be able to do it. I was in really good shape for this contest. I was actually surprised I missed that last one. The Pan Am Games was a great experience for me. I’ve never been in any event like this before. It’s been a really good experience for me and hopefully I will be able to grow and learn from it.”

Super-heavyweights Emmy Vargas (Colorado Springs, Colo./75+kg Weight Class and Casey Burgener (Bonsall, Calif./Colorado Springs, Colo./105+kg Weight Class) will wrap up the weightlifting competition at the 2007 Pan American Games for the United States, tomorrow, Wednesday, July 18 at 16:00 and 18:00 respectively.

2007 United States Pan American Games Weightlifting Team Results:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Men’s 94kg Weight Class
Gold; Yomandry Hernandez Cobras (Cuba); 393kg total (172kg snatch; 221kg clean and jerk-new Pan American Games record)
Silver: Julio Luna (Venezuela); 380kg total (170kg snatch; 210kg clean and jerk)
Bronze; Wilmer Herman Torres (Colombia); 376kg total (166kg snatch; 210kg clean and jerk)
Fifth Place; Jeff Wittmer (Florissant, Mo., USA); 355kg total (158kg snatch; 197kg clean and jerk)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Men’s 77kg Weight Class
Gold; Ivan Cambar (Cuba); 350kg total (156kg snatch; 194kg clean and jerk)
Silver: Jose Ocando (Venezuela); 337kg total (145kg snatch; 192kg clean and jerk)
Bronze; Octavio Mejia (Venezuela); 336kg total (151kg snatch; 185kg clean and jerk)
Fifth Place; Chad Vaughn (Konawa, Okla./Norman, Okla., USA); 332kg total (145kg snatch; 187kg clean and jerk)
Sixth Place; Matt Bruce (Baton Rouge, La., USA); 328kg total (148kg snatch; 180kg clean and jerk)

Women’s 63kg Weight Class
Gold; Leidy Yessenia Solis (Colombia); 224kg total (100kg snatch; 124kg clean and jerk)
Silver: Christine Girard (Canada); 221kg total (94kg snatch; 127kg clean and jerk)
Bronze; Natalie Woolfolk (Arnold, Md./Colorado Springs, Colo., USA); 213kg total (98kg snatch; 115kg clean and jerk)

Men’s 85kg Weight Class
Gold; Jose Oliver Ruiz (Colombia); 363kg total (160kg snatch; 203kg clean and jerk)
Silver: Jadier Valladares (Cuba); 363kg total (161kg snatch; 202kg clean and jerk)
Bronze; Herbis Marquez (Venezuela); 350kg total (155kg snatch; 195kg clean and jerk)
Fourth Place; Kendrick Farris (Shreveport, La., USA); 349kg total (158kg snatch; 191kg clean and jerk)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Women’s 53kg Weight Class
Gold; Yudelquis Contreras (Dominican Republic); 207kg total (95kg snatch; 112kg clean and jerk – both Pan American Games records; Robin Goad of the USA had held the Pan Am Games record in the snatch since 1985)
Silver; Ana Margot Lemos (Colombia); 190kg total (84kg snatch; 106kg clean and jerk)
Bronze; Melanie Roach (Bonney Lake, Wash., USA); 182kg total (74 snatch; 108kg clean and jerk)

Women’s 58kg Weight Class
Gold; Alejandra Escobar (Ecuador); 223kg total (98kg snatch; 125kg clean and jerk)
Silver: Rusmeris Villar (Colombia); 204kg total (90kg snatch; 114kg clean and jerk)
Bronze; Maria Cecilia Floriddia (Argentina); 200kg total (90kg snatch; 110kg clean and jerk)
Sixth Place; Jackie Berube (Colorado Springs, Colo., USA); 191kg total (86kg snatch; 105kg clean and jerk)

Remaining 2007 U.S. Pan American Games Weightlifting Team Schedule

BODYBUILDING: Abs-olute natural muscles way to title



For some odd reason Michelle Middleton had many nicknames as a child.

When SportToday asked her why, Middleton (nee Gannaway) wasn't much wiser after all those years. What she could shed light on, though, was that some nicknames pertaining to her physique, such as Snap, Abb and Bones - stuck.

"I was a very sinewy and lean person so I must have inherited it from my family," she said, not long after winning the Ms Hawke's Bay Figure overall category title at the Napier Municipal Theatre on Saturday night while competing in the National Amateur Body Builders' Association (Nabba)-organised Hawke's Bay Bodybuilding Championship.

Her father, Laurie Gannaway, was a Bay age-group and senior amateur and professional boxing champion in the 1940s and also a mile runner and rugby player.

Middleton followed in her dad's footsteps, showing talent at St Patrick's School when she won the sprinting title for four years in a row and broke the record for long jump. On February 26 this year, the 41-year-old mother of three was runner-up in the 40-plus veteran women's 13km event of the Kaweka Challenge (Highest Mountain in New Zealand).

"I aim to win that next year," said Middleton , who runs all year round on Napier Hill and does weights at the Sparta Gym.

"People think I'm a bit of a freak because I don't use any programmes. I just go to the gym, jump on any machine and I don't do food supplements. I just eat really good food such as chicken, vegies, avocado, nuts, seeds and porridge."

While Nabba does have a policy of not checking competitors for drug use, Middleton said her balanced workout with good diet and family life were adequate.

"I believe if you can't do something naturally then don't do it at all. I'm 100 per cent natural."

Her foray into bodybuilding began by accident two years ago when she filled out a competition form at a Napier gift shop and was surprised to receive a phone call to inform her she had won six months' free membership at Sparta.

There an instructor, El Bardi, who has returned to his home in Morocco, showed her a DVD on bodybuilding.

"My husband (Ron) said he could see me up there on the stage and I said 'no way'."

After some research she started working out and fellow gym goers began remarking on her muscular physique. Middleton, who won the 2007 Ms BOP overall title in April and the Open Figure Tall Champion title in Auckland in May was asked to represent New Zealand in Greece on June 16. "I had one months' notice and couldn't come up with $5000 but I was privileged to be chosen," said Middleton, who is now preparing for a pro-am event in Manawatu after a Nabba invitation to compete for a $1000 purse.

Andrew Murray, of Napier, took the Mr Hawke's Bay Athletic Men's title, while fellow Napier bodybuilder Sue Swannell was crowned Ms Hawke's Bay Shape.

The Steve Miller Memorial Top Gym Challenge Trophy went to Starr Fitness Gym, in Napier

Dallas beauty Linda McClain flexes her might at this weekend’s Super Show

By Daniel A. Kusner of the Dallas Voice

Earlier this week, Linda McClain was meticulously gluing rhinestones on a swimsuit.

When people see me in this, there will be so much bling, they’ll need sunglasses,” she laughs.

The dazzle of imitation diamonds will only highlight McClain’s smoking-hot bod. For the past eight weeks, she’s been “dieting down” for her third physique contest: no carbs, high-protein diet, two hours of cardio every day, 40 minutes in the sauna every day, lifting weights three times a week, running wind sprints … All to prepare for the masters figure competition at the NPC Texas Europa Super Show, held at the Dallas Convention Center.

Figure competition is all about lean, toned symmetry and beautiful poise — not freakazoid muscle mass. Being 5-foot, 8 inches and 37 years old, McClain guesses that she’ll compete against at least 100 other contestants in the “first masters” division.

A popular dancer who regularly entertains at Buddies II, McClain had always maintained her shapely legs by kicking up her heels.

“But I couldn’t do a pull-up because I had little bird arms,” she says.

So two years ago, she started working with a trainer. And McClain immediately saw results in her biceps and shoulders. After a year, her trainer suggested that McClain strut her stuff in amateur figure competitions.

In April 2006, McClain entered her first contest, the Ronnie Coleman Classic, which was held in Arlington. She placed fifth in the “figure tall” division for women over 35. Four months later, she competed at last year’s Europa Super Show and placed third in the masters division and fourth in her height division.

This weekend, McClain will compete in the Hot Body contest and the figure masters division.

She first started because she wanted to see if she could sculpt a six-pack.

“Now I’m in the best shape of my entire life,” McClain says. “I’m really happy with my training discipline. Of course, that leaves me with no social life. But I feel like I’m going to win this year. Man, if I had this body last year…”

McClain says that no matter how well she does, after the competition, she’s downing waffles at I-Hop.

Sarah Jessica Parker hits the gym?

Star steps out with bulging biceps

Sarah Jessica Parker must be pumping iron – the Sex And The City star has been snapped with bulging arms.

The actress, 42, was launching her latest perfume in New York – but all eyes were on her pumped-up physique.

In a strapless black dress, SJP sported sinewy arms and bulging veins that are more akin to Madonna, 48.

'As a former dancer, Sarah Jessica has always been slim and toned,' an onlooker tells the Daily Mail.

'But she definitely looks as though she's been stepping it up a gear or two in the gym of late.

'She didn't have an ounce of fat on her and her arms, in particular, where exceptionally honed. She has the kind of physique that an athlete in their twenties would be proud of.'

From fat and frustrated to muscle

By Cary Castagna

Sabrina Chanchan uses two F-words to describe how she felt back in the days when she was waging a seemingly futile battle of the bulge - "fat and frustrated."

It was circa 2003 and the five-foot-three Edmonton mom weighed 186 pounds.

"It was really hard for me to be myself. I felt I was trapped in somebody I didn't want to be and somebody I didn't like," Chanchan recalls of that miserable part of her life.

The chronic yo-yo dieter knew she had only herself to blame for her growing girth.

Since emigrating from Nicaragua in 1985 at a trim 110 pounds, Chanchan gradually packed on the pounds over the years.

Through a daily regimen of what she calls "being lazy and not eating the right foods," her bodyweight soared to a personal high while her self-esteem plummeted to a personal low.

Some of the wrong foods she ate included instant noodles, bologna sandwiches, Pizza Pockets and burritos.

Her weight fluctuated wildly, depending on how stringently she adhered to the latest fad diet.

But Chanchan, who also went through four pregnancies, never gave up because she knew that underneath her excess flab there was a vibrant and healthy woman waiting to be unleashed.

Shortly after topping out at 186 pounds, Chanchan used a variety of weight-loss programs - basically touting good nutrition and increased activity - to eventually pare her weight down to about 140.

And then she stalled.

Despite cutting her daily food intake to a measly 800 calories, her weight stayed the same for several months.

"There was nothing I could do to get below 140. I thought what the heck, I will always be fat," she recalls. "I thought this is going to be impossible."

Refusing to give up, Chanchan began training with weights on a regular basis in the fall of 2004 and eventually enlisted the help of personal trainer Raejha Douziech in February 2005.

Douziech, a pro bodybuilder, showed Chanchan the error of her ways, starting with her 800-calories-a-day diet.

Chanchan explains that because her body had gone into starvation mode, her metabolism had slowed considerably.

The key, she learned, was to stoke her metabolism with smaller, more frequent meals

Chanchan - a lab technologist with the Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Plant - started eating six times a day. Her diet soon consisted of small portions of only the most nutritious foods.

Along with a gruelling weight-training and cardio regimen, the pounds began to melt off.

In fact, Chanchan showed such good progress, she opted to compete in a bodybuilding show - something she had always wanted to do since she was a young girl living in Nicaragua.

Weighing a lean 104 pounds, Chanchan placed ninth in the lightweight class at the Northern Alberta Bodybuilding Championships held in Red Deer in June of 2005.

"I felt so proud of myself," she says.

"It was one of my biggest achievements."

Chanchan improved her placing in 2006, before winning the contest's overall title two months ago, and then capturing first place in the lightweight class at the Alberta Bodybuilding Championships two weeks later.

She plans to compete at nationals in 2009.

In the meantime, she's maintaining a diet of up to 1,600 calories a day that includes oatmeal, chicken breasts, lean beef, tuna, cod, turkey, broccoli, steamed rice, skim milk and low-fat yogurt.

Chanchan, who weighs about 120 when she's not competing, is also pumping iron five days a week at Gold's Gym in West Edmonton Mall.

Her intense workouts consist of an hour of weights and 45 minutes of cardio.

Chanchan, looking to put on some Grade A beef, isn't afraid to lift heavy, employing three sets of six reps for each exercise.

"If you're not hurting by the fourth rep, it means it's too light," she says.

And now, instead of using those two F-words, Chanchan offers three words of sound advice: "Never give up."

Do you have an inspirational story for Keeping Fit?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

6 Common Female Bodybuilding Errors

Written by EditorChoice
Monday, 06 August 2007
How to do build beautiful female muscle? Many might say muscle is built by weight training, but that's only part of the equation.

Now, how do you build beautiful female muscle? The answer is weight training with the proper intensity, right form, and training just enough to stimulate growth.

If building muscle was so easy, how come so many ladies aren't building desired muscle mass so easily?

It's because many ladies are falling victim to the 6 common female bodybuilding errors.

When you can identify the 6 common female bodybuilding errors you can tweak your training program and successfully make satisfying muscle gains.

Common Female Bodybuilding Error #1

Not challenging oneself is the biggest muscle building mistake I witness. Granted, some women train hard, but few challenge themselves each training session.

You can squat 185 pounds for 8 reps and work hard, but unless you challenge your body to do one more rep or 5-10 more pounds, your muscle gains will be stagnant.

Muscle growth occurs when maximal force is applied using progressive overload.

Common Female Bodybuilding Error #2

Failure to employ heavy compound exercises is another training issue. You are not going to build well-developed and dense muscle by doing chest flys and leg extensions.

A compound exercise is a multi-joint exercise, where all the muscles and joints of that specific area are called upon to execute the movement. Compound exercises are the backbone to any muscle building program.

If your training program is lacking compound exercises, it's lacking muscle growth potential.

Common Female Bodybuilding Error #3

Lack of consistency is the third muscle growth error I witness. You are not going to build muscle by working out haphazardly. You have to set a scheduled plan and follow it with full force.

Common Female Bodybuilding Error #4

Failure to give a program enough time to prove itself is another common error. If you want your muscle building program to give you results, you have to be patient.

Jumping from one program to the next is only cheating yourself. How are you going to find out what works for your body if you continually change programs each week without rhyme or reason?

If you want to ensure muscle building success, log your workouts so you can visually see the progression, and be sure that you are challenging your muscles every workout.

Common Female Bodybuilding Error #5

Expecting overnight changes is a very common female bodybuilding error. You can make changes, but they are not going to appear overnight.

When you see well-developed built ladies, they worked hard for that physique. They didn't just pick up a weight and eat right and have that body overnight. Such well-built physiques followed the proper training principals and avoided these common female bodybuilding mistakes.

Common Female Bodybuilding Error #6

Another common female bodybuilding error is training too often. Don't say you are not guilty of it because everyone has trained too much at one time or another.

Weight training for muscle growth doesn't need to be a weight training marathon, and you don't need endless sets and reps every day in the gym. In fact, if you are guilty of overtraining, you will halt your muscle growth.

The purpose of weight training is to tear down the muscle so it can rebuild into a stronger and dense unit. Once you tear down the muscle in the gym, the work is done.

You can have a stable muscle building program just by training 3 times a week for 45 minutes, doing about 3 exercises per muscle group, 2-3 sets of 4-8 reps.

That's it. More is not always better.

Conclusion to Common Female Bodybuilding Errors

If you are serious about building muscle, then stop the training marathons. Set a schedule of training 3 days a week and follow one program for atleast 8 weeks to give it a fair shake. Be consistent and don't expect overnight miracles.

Karen Sessions has been in the fitness industry since 1988. She is a nationally qualified bodybuilder and holds two personal training certifications. She has written 6 ebooks on fitness and has helped hundreds of clients transform their bodies. "Use of this article is authorized provided it is reproduced in full, and all web URLS are active hyperlinks directed to the author

Petite Powerhouse Packs Weightlifting Punch

By Sara White
8 Aug 2007

Mom Julie is running laps around the track. Dad Scott is working on bodybuilding techniques. Little brother Robby is lifting weights. And there in the northwest corner of the Smith Fieldhouse, 17-year-old Michelle Glasgow is practicing squats.

This is no unusual day in the life of Michelle.

"It has always been a kind of thing for our family to work out together," she said.

Michelle had taken three weeks off as a reward after winning the 2007 National School Age Championships in weightlifting, but the break is over.

Her father, BYU math professor Scott Glasgow, and fellow champion lifter Dave Chui coach Michelle as she trains among the informal group of faculty, students and alumni that make up Dynamo Sports Club.

Michelle is also supported by her mom, brother and three sisters who describe her as "goofy, but a confident goofy," said her mom, Julie.

Four-and-a-half years ago, Michelle first discovered her true talent. She started out like many girls at her age - doing track and field, playing soccer and other athletic activities. Her veteran lifting father thought weights could add a little spark to her sprints.

"I told her that if she did weightlifting and squats and stuff her sprints would get explosive," Scott Glasgow said. "Then she started lifting more than the state records."

Michelle's interest in the sport was not very strong when she first began lifting competitively.

"[My dad] made me go to my first competition," Michelle said. "I didn't really have any goals. It was really kind of for fun."

Since then, Michelle's skill has only improved and her interest has only increased. On Aug. 19 of last year in Colorado Springs, she won the Pan American Sub 15 Weightlifting Championships in her 53-kilogram (117 pounds) weight class and went on to be named to top lifter in the country for her age group.

"A girl from Mexico gave her a run for her money," Scott said. "But she became the best weightlifter over all the classes."

The boys, however, have not been giving Michelle much competition.

At the 2007 National School Age Weightlifting Championships in Springfield, Mo., her lifts were even better than most of the boys - many outweighing her by more than 50 pounds.

"It was Provo's Michelle Glasgow who really brought down the house," Chui said in an e-mail.

Even though it is rare that Michelle is able to compete head to head against boys, she does enjoy it.

"Competing against the guys is cool sometimes - if you beat them."

Michelle said the boys she has outlifted never really say anything to her.

"They're just kind of afraid, but they won't talk to me," she said.

However, her dad remembers differently.

At the Utah Summer Games, where Michelle competed in the Open Men's Event and set nine state records in her first time lifting at the competition, the boy that she beat asked her for her number, Scott said. He also quickly reported as of now, no date has come from the phone number exchange.

In competition, Michelle's events are the snatch -

where the lifter bends with the legs and in one motion lifts the bar from the platform to the full extent of the arms overhead - and the clean and jerk, where the weights are lifted overhead by first being brought up to the shoulders and then, using the combined strength of arms and legs, being raised overhead.

The petite powerhouse is able to lift 67.5 kilos (148 pounds) in the snatch and 91 kilos (200 pounds) in the clean and jerk. To help stay in shape, she also lifts a personal record of 112 kilos (250 pounds) for squats.

Michelle said it is hard to pick a favorite lift. Each has its own positives and negatives.

"The snatch is quicker and you can get it over with faster, so it is easier but it takes more skill," Michelle said. "I think I like snatch better."

To add to the weight of Michelle's load, she is in high school and is also a champion ballroom dancer with the Provo High School team.

"There are obstacles of different activities like dance," Michelle said. "I have to go to dance, then work out and do homework. There's just a whole bunch of stuff that piles all on one day."

Currently, Michelle is training for the Pan American Sub 17 Weightlifting Championships that will take place in Quebec in November.

Michelle has yet to break any national records, but she has come within 2 kilos of the national record for the clean and jerk.

"It seems clear she is going to break all three national records," Scott said.

"Mighty McG," as her friends call her, said she is not really nervous yet because she just had her first workout on Wednesday.

"I'll probably get nervous when it gets closer," Michelle said.

The weightlifting wonder has decided to take things slow. As far as her future goes, she said her parents have had a goal for her to go to the Olympics.

"I try to be realistic, but it would be great," Michelle said.

Her dad says it is more realistic than Michelle thinks.

"I think she could make the Olympic team in 2012," Scott said. "Weightlifters peak when they are about in their mid 20s or so. London would be when she's at her peak."

Michelle's parents do have their fears with her competing in this sport.

"I guess my biggest fear is if it gets to the point where it's not fun anymore - if it gets too serious," said Julie. "But Michelle is really good about keeping her head on straight. I just want her to be happy and have fun."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

At 40, Torres Is Back In the Fast Lane

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 2, 2007; Page E01

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 1 -- Just after 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Dara Torres unrolled her yellow yoga mat on a patch of grass near the Indiana University Natatorium and moaned. She had been awake since 6 a.m., tossing restlessly in her hotel bed. Her shoulders ached. Her sore ankles cracked when she walked. She felt nauseous, so she rubbed her hands over a midsection that had been swollen by pregnancy only 16 months earlier.

At 40, Torres felt like a tired, middle-age woman, which presented a major problem this particular morning. In a few hours, Torres was scheduled to swim the 100-meter freestyle at the USA Swimming National Championships -- a race she considered crucial in her attempt to qualify for a fifth Olympic Games. After spending more than six years out of the water, Torres would compete at nationals against an elite field consisting of swimmers less than half her age. She lay down on her yoga mat and turned on her pink iPod to listen to Led Zeppelin.

Dara Torres
Dara Torres competed in her first Olympics in 1984, years before some of her competitors at the USA National Swimming Championships were born. (AJ Mast - AP)

Two physical therapists, who work full time for Torres, bent over her and began the daily process of coaxing her body into swimming condition. Anne Tierney squeezed and rotated Torres's quadriceps. Steven Sierra pumped Torres's rib cage to force toxins out of her lungs.

"We're trying to take some years off of you," Tierney said.

"Yeah".Torres said. "I guess that might be good."

In her historic attempt to become the first swimmer older than 40 to compete in the Olympics, Torres has devoted herself to overcoming age. She hired a team of experts to facilitate her comeback: two physical therapists; two masseurs; a strength coach; a nanny; a sprinting coach; a head coach. She special-orders food from an organic company in Tampa.

The holistic approach yielded surreal results again Wednesday. Torres, a nine-time Olympic medal winner who first competed in the 1984 Games, won the 100-meter freestyle in 54.45 seconds, outracing favorites Dana Vollmer and Amanda Weir. Less than 15 months after launching her comeback with aspirations of making an Olympic relay team, Torres has emerged as a threat to qualify -- and possibly even medal -- in the individual freestyle sprints.

"Her comeback is just mind-boggling," said Michael Lohberg, Torres's coach in Coral Springs, Fla. "I don't think people can actually comprehend what's happening here. It hasn't happened before and it probably won't happen again. A 40-year-old who hasn't been swimming for years should never go this fast."

Torres announced her comeback to the swimming world Wednesday by dominating her first national competition in seven years. She jumped ahead immediately in the 100 free and then out-kicked the rest of the field down the stretch, finishing only .02 of a second behind her career-best time. Vollmer, 19, and Weir, 21, looked at each other quizzically at the end of the race, seemingly miffed at the 40-year-old mother who had stolen their event. Torres entered the final seeded fifth, and her finish earned a standing ovation.

"It's all a little crazy," Torres said. "This is happening so much quicker than I expected."

Torres won five medals, including two relay golds, at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. When she came home, she told friends that she would never swim again. She took jobs as a television reporter for ESPN, TNT and the Resort Sports Network. She started running and bicycling to stay in shape, forcing two knee surgeries. When the 2004 Olympics came on television, Torres hardly watched the swimming. She just didn't care, she said.

Torres became pregnant two years ago, and a doctor recommended swimming as a low-impact exercise to keep her in shape. Torres joined a local swim club near her Florida home, and her old addiction took hold. At five months pregnant, she wanted to race again. At eight months, she mentioned the 2008 Olympics. In April 2006, Torres swam and lifted weights on the same day she gave birth to her daughter, Tessa Graceh,"

Ever since, Torres has led a life so dedicated that even her elite swimming peers -- all of them conditioned for obsession -- can only watch and marvel. Her holistic approach to training, typical of European swimmers, strikes some U.S. coaches as excessive. She sleeps for at least nine hours each night and then wakes and drinks an all-natural, berry-flavored powder shake to supplement breakfast. A nanny cares for Tessa Grace from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., so Torres can train.

"It's hard to leave her," Torres said. "Sometimes I definitely feel selfish. But when I'm done in the afternoon, the rest of the day is just me and her. That's something to look forward to after a rough practice."

Torres weighs 10 pounds less than she did in 2000, and her primary training goal is "to feel light in the water." She spends almost 10 hours each week stretching with her two physical therapists, who help strengthen her lower back and pelvis to improve her rotation in the water. The Florida Panthers' strength and conditioning coach spends seven hours each week toning Torres's core muscles. One of her masseurs, Jonathan Gellert, visits Torres for frequent 90-minute sessions to help relieve muscle kinks and aid her recovery.

Torres swims only five days each week, and she rarely stays in the water for more than a few hours. She rests Thursdays and Sundays. Her training partners, including 50-meter backstroke world record holder Leila Vaziri, lose to Torres in sprinting races and then listen to her complain about aging.

"She's like a different species," said Vaziri, 22. "If I come back from a two-week break, I feel awful and unmotivated. Six years? That's crazy. Dara could probably make another four Olympics if she wanted to. She just doesn't get old."

Said Lohberg, Torres's head coach: "It's a combination of God-given talent, of being tough as nails, of having a complete understanding of what it takes. She has the will to accomplish anything."

And she has the staff, too. Fifty minutes before she jumped into the pool to swim in her first national meet since 2000, Torres sat in the corner of the natatorium surrounded by her experts. Two coaches advised her on strategy for the upcoming 100-meter race. Gellert, the masseur who had just flown in from Florida, unfolded a massage table and worked briefly on Torres's shoulders.

The two physical therapists ran their fingertips over Torres's back and shoulders, a method of touch intended to rid the body of excess energy and tension.

"Maybe this works," said Tierney, one of the physical therapists. "We're not really sure.

"I love the way it feels," Torres said, "and what can it hurt? You know I like to try everything."

Hoff Expands Her Water Wings

By Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 4, 2007; E03

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 3 -- Katie Hoff refuses to talk about her specific plans for the 2008 Olympics, because that would be too presumptuous, she said. First, she must improve during another year of training; then she has to qualify for the team; then -- maybe-- Hoff will anticipate the Summer Games, once she's firmly on a plane to Beijing.

The 18-year-old from Towson, Md., still outlines her goals with the same touch-and-go fragility that she relied on as the youngest U.S. Olympian in 2004, even though Hoff has since matured into the best female swimmer in the world. She set a meet record in the 200-meter freestyle Friday night, winning her fifth medal at the USA Swimming National Championships. One of her two best events, the 200 individual medley, takes place Saturday.

A year away from the Olympics, Hoff has positioned herself similarly to Michael Phelps: Her biggest dilemma is deciding which events to swim. She dominates the individual medleys and at one point or another, she has ranked top three in the world in the 200 and 400 freestyles.

Earlier this week, she proved herself world class in the 800 freestyle and 200 backstroke. Conceivably, with relays, she could qualify to swim eight events at the Olympics -- and she's still experimenting with the breaststroke.

"I never think about the possibility of having Katie do too much," said Paul Yetter, Hoff's coach at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. "She has proved that she can swim a ton of events on pretty much any level, so why just stick with one thing? We're working to get fast in as many things as she can get fast in. That's our priority. Then, when it's time, we'll figure out what we like best."

In the 200 freestyle Friday, Hoff finished in 1 minute 57.57 seconds and destroyed a formidable field that included Kate Ziegler and Dana Vollmer. Once swimming's scrawny, kid-phenom, Hoff pulled through the water with hulking shoulders and biceps that she's developed by lifting weights three times each week. Her time was the fastest ever recorded in the United States, and she waved to the crowd as she pulled herself from the pool.

Hoff shies away from comparisons to Phelps, but the two swimmers have both used this meet to experiment and compete excessively. While inside the Indiana University Natatorium, Hoff has focused less on her core events than on things she might want to try. She swims twice each day to improve her ability to recover quickly between events. By winning the 200 backstroke and placing second in the 800 freestyle, Hoff added two potential races to her schedule at Olympic Trials next summer.

"Those two are on the same day, so I don't think I'll do both," Hoff said. "I'll probably pick the one that seems like the best chance and go for it. I think five or six events is probably enough for anyone out there. That's a lot to handle, even though it would be great to do everything."

National team coaches have said that Hoff could probably challenge the world's best swimmers in any event she decided to make a priority. She won gold at the 2007 World Championships in both individual medleys. To defend those events, Hoff continues to practice all four strokes.

"Who knows?" Yetter said. "Maybe in a year Katie's best event is going to be the 200 breaststroke. We're going to measure and play with everything, because that's what's most fun for her. If she only competed in the 400 medley, then that means she measures herself against a handful of people. She wants to measure herself against everybody. The last thing she wants to do is limit herself."

As usual Friday night, Hoff had a bit of a scheduling dilemma. She was supposed to be dancing to Beyonce at a recital in Towson with her hip-hop dancing class. After the World Championships in April, Hoff signed up for the class as a quasi-experiment in cross training. After long practices in the pool Tuesday evenings, she goes to the dance studio at 8 p.m. to hop and gyrate next to six or seven classmates. An hour later, she emerges soaked in sweat after a day filled with five or six hours of exercise.

Hoff has never liked the concept of limiting herself to one sport. Her mother, Jeanne, still holds the record for basketball scoring average at Stanford University, and Hoff hones her own athleticism by signing up to try a new sports every few years. Before she joined the dance class, Hoff had spent one day each week rock-climbing up an indoor wall.

"I think that helped me a lot with upper body strength, but it was really just for fun," she said. "I don't know if there was a huge difference, but I just really believe in cross training."

Body built to suit top placement

By Don BodgerNews Leader Pictorial

The second time around is always much easier than the first.

That’s certainly what the Valley’s Charlene Akhurst, soon to be from Fort St. John, discovered during a return engagement at the National Fitness and Figure competition in Edmonton.

Akhurst finished in a tie for ninth last year in the Figure Tall class, but rocketed up the ladder to fifth with more confidence and improvement based on the previous experience.

“It was great this year to increase that placing,’’ said Akhurst.

“You could tell on the first couple of call-ups, they weren’t calling out the really big girls.’’

Knowing what to expect with the judging and the whole experience put Akhurst more at ease.

“I felt actually quite relaxed for the most part,’’ she said. “That just makes all the difference. You’re having to stand there for long periods of time.’’

The whole contest was perhaps much harder on husband Damian Akhurst as a spectator than Charlene as a competitor.

“It’s tough for me in the audience,’’ he conceded. “I got an upset stomach. It’s absolutely horrifying for me.’’

Damian has been fully supportive of his wife’s efforts to train properly, eat right and prepare for the contest as much as possible by taking some of the load off her of looking after their four boys.

“There’s times where it’s tough,’’ he said. “She does it for all the right reasons. The competition is a byproduct of her lifestyle. She does it to relax and get away from the rat race, I guess, of five guys in the house.’’

“You need to stay grounded in that preparation,’’ conceded Charlene. “You’re competitive. You hate to say you’re not.’’

Even though some people have been known to use questionable means to achieve their goals, Akhurst sticks to a strict diet and workout routine leading up to the competition.

“The hard part is standing up for it,’’ she said. “People think you’re a mom, especially of four, you have this stereotype — the way you have to be. The kids, I don’t think they’d want me to be any different.’’

Akhurst has found she enjoys the element of being on stage. The main judging is done preceding the evening show in front of the audience, but competitors don’t find out the results until then.

Being extensively photographed while maintaining composure has become more comfortable with time for Akhurst.

“There’s so much in the modeling aspect that comes with it,’’ she said. “You have to keep yourself in check.’’

Akhurst has her own web site at where additional photos, competition results and more are posted.

She credits the staff at the gym where she does her training, Valley Health and Fitness Centre, for being so supportive.

“You start to feel a bit more like you live there,’’ Akhurst joked. “My favourite time to go is over the lunch hour. It’s such a great group at that time.

Charlene and Damian and sons Tanner, 14 in September, Branden, 12, Spencer, 10, and Prestin, 6, are moving to Fort St. John in September that will leave the Valley short four young hockey players, a bodybuilding role model and a model dad.

“I’ll be training with the polar bears,’’ joked Charlene.

Abbotsford athletes build best bodies

Abbotsford News

Abbotsford bodybuilders cleaned up at the recent B.C. Bodybuilding and Figure Championships in North Vancouver, sweeping the awards in the women’s figure competition.

Michelle Krack, Maria Sharp and Teresa Funk took first place in the figure tall, medium and short divisions, respectively. Krack followed up with a victory in the overall event, which pits the division winners against one another.

“That’s got to say something good about Abbotsford,” Krack said with a chuckle. “It’s awesome. Going into this meet, I knew the competition would be a completely different level. I only had eight months between shows to put on a little more size and firm things up, and I was a little bit worried because I wasn’t sure what they were looking for at the provincial level.”

Krack’s success at provincials belies the fact that she’s a relative newcomer to bodybuilding. The Abbotsford-born mother of two boasts an impressive athletic background, having played rugby for Dalhousie University and with the B.C. provincial team, but she didn’t give bodybuilding much thought until a friend encouraged her to compete at the Sandra Wickham Fall Classic in 2006. Krack won the tall and overall titles at the amateur meet, which qualified her for provincials. Funk won the short division at the same event.

Krack’s victory at the B.C.’s gives her a lifetime bye into the Canadian nationals, which will be held in Edmonton in June of next year. The overall winner at nationals will earn their International Federation of Body Building (IFBB) card, which allows them to compete south of the border in qualifying for the prestigious Olympia competition.

“I want to be on the Olympia stage in the next four or five years,” Krack said.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Muscles, motherhood and medicine

hursday, August 02, 2007
By Ngoc Huynh
Staff writer

Collin Fischer grew up in Queens with tough neighborhood kids who fought with knives and weapons. As a teenager, Fischer trained at the school gym to protect herself.

What started as a hobby to build strength became a passion as she pushed her muscles further and became a professional bodybuilder. While years of training helped Fischer win competitions, it didn't prepare her for life's obstacles.

After winning first place in the middleweight category at the 1997 NPC National Bodybuilding & Fitness Championships, Fischer received an invitation to the Ms. International competition.

Soon after that, her father suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Fischer postponed her bodybuilding career to care for her dad and attend Queens College in Flushing.

In 2001, the family moved to Bridgeport to live on Oneida Lake and Fischer transferred to the State University College at Oswego. Fischer's father died in 2003, which was the same year she graduated from Oswego with honors. She went on to earn a full scholarship at Syracuse University as she works toward her doctorate in biochemistry.

In 2004, Fischer married. The relationship was abusive and her husband would not let her go to the gym. One year into the marriage Fischer discovered she was pregnant. After giving birth to her son, Nolan, Fischer divorced her husband.

Fast forward to the present.

As a single mom now in her 30s, Fischer wants to make a comeback and compete as a professional bodybuilder once again. The last time she stood before a panel of judges was a decade ago.

This time around, she's juggling time at the gym, her duties as a mom and a career as a researcher as she works toward her doctorate discovering new medicines and anti-HIV therapies.

"I had to leave my dreams of competing as a pro on the back burner before, but now things are finally calming down enough for me to dig my heels in and do something for me," Fischer said.

For the remainder of this year, Fischer will be scoping out the competition at bodybuilding events in Dallas, Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J. Fischer said she will continue to network and talk to judges before selecting a show for her comeback in 2008. A typical Collin Fischer day, in her own words: 7 a.m.: I get up and run for about one hour on the treadmill while my son tries to pull me off. He also tries to stand on the treadmill or throws Cheerios at me so I would stop running.

8 a.m.: I get in the shower and hope he's not screaming or crying. Sometimes he'll scream the whole way through my shower and I'm trying to shave my legs as quickly as possible.

8:20 a.m.: When I'm done, I'll give him a bath if he needs it. Then, I get him dressed and put him on the high chair to feed him breakfast.

8:40 a.m.: While I'm feeding my son, I'll do my makeup. When he's done with his breakfast and wants to get out of the high chair and I'm not moving fast enough, he will take the top of the high chair and throw it on the floor with all the graham crackers, Cheerios and bananas. Then, I'll make his lunch and get him ready for daycare.

9:40 a.m.: I drop him off at Childtime Learning Center, on East Genesee Street, and then go to work.

5:30 p.m.: I get off work, pick up my son, get him something to eat and head straight to the gym. I train for about two hours while my son stays at the gym's daycare.

9 p.m.: I get home, prepare dinner and eat.

10 p.m.: I have a little bit of digestion time and then I look at mail, pay my bills, return phone calls, clean the house, take out the garbage and change the cat box.

11 p.m.: I do another hour of cardio while my son watches Disney movies. He won't go to bed early without me so I don't even try anymore. He doesn't see me all day so it's our time together.

Midnight: I wash up and go to bed.